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Thomas Broderick

How to Get a 30+ Score on the ACT

If you’re hoping to reach the 95% percentile on the ACT, it can seem pretty intimidating at first glance. After all, scoring above 30 on the ACT means that you’d have the highest score in a group of 20 test takers. Yet earning a 30+ score on the ACT has become a goal for many students hoping to attend selective colleges, and you shouldn’t let the statistics discourage you! In this post, we’ll cover how to get a 30+ score on the ACT. You’ll see that it’s not only possible, it’s also achievable!


get 30 act score -Magoosh

No, it doesn’t have to be!

So if you’re one of those students who wants to see a 30+ on your ACT score reports, know that it’ll take some work—sky-high scores don’t happen overnight! And if you’re ready to put in the effort, let’s begin.

Why 30+?

If you’re applying to top-tier U.S. universities, a score of above 30 on the ACT will really help your application. Looking at the table below, you can see that, at the top-ranked 19 universities, 75% of students scored above a 30 on the ACT. If that doesn’t light a fire under you, I don’t know what will!

College ACT Score Range for the Top 100 Universities

College RankingCollege Name25th Percentile Scores75th Percentile Scores
1Princeton University3235
2Harvard University3335
3 (tie)Columbia University
3 (tie)Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)
3 (tie)Yale University3335
6 (tie)Stanford University3235
6 (tie)University of Chicago3335
6 (tie)University of Pennsylvania
9 Northwestern University3335
10 (tie)Duke University3335
10 (tie)Johns Hopkins University3335
12 (tie)California Institute of Technology (CIT)3536
12 (tie)Dartmouth College
14Brown University3235
15 (tie)University of Notre Dame
15 (tie)Vanderbilt University3335
17 (tie)Cornell University3234
17 (tie)Rice University3335
19Washington University in St. Louis3235
20University of California--Los Angeles
21Emory University3134
22 (tie)University of California--Berkeley2834
22 (tie)University of Southern California3034
24 Georgetown University3134
25 (tie)Carnegie Mellon University3335
25 (tie)University of Michigan--Ann Arbor3034
27 Wake Forest University2933
28University of Virginia3034
29 (tie)Georgia Institute of Technology3134
29 (tie)New York University2934
29 (tie)Tufts University3134
29 (tie)University of North Carolina--Chapel Hill
29 (tie)University of Rochester3034
34 (tie)University of California--Santa Barbara2632
34 (tie)University of Florida2732
36University of California--IrvineN/AN/A
37 (tie)Boston College3134
37 (tie)University of California--San Diego2633
39 University of California--Davis2531
40 (tie)Boston University3033
40 (tie)Brandeis University2933
40 (tie)Case Western Reserve University3034
40 (tie)College of William and Mary3033
40 (tie)Northeastern University3234
40 (tie)Tulane University3033
46 (tie)University of Wisconsin--Madison2732
46 (tie)Villanova University3033
48 (tie)University of Illinois--Urbana-Champaign2632
48 (tie)University of Texas--Austin2733
50 (tie)Lehigh University2933
50 (tie)Pepperdine University2632
50 (tie)Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute2933
50 (tie)University of Georgia2732
54 (tie)Ohio State University--Columbus2732
54 (tie)Santa Clara University2832
54 (tie)Syracuse University2532
57 (tie)Florida State University2630
57 (tie)Pennsylvania State University--University Park2530
57 (tie)Purdue University--West Lafayette2532
57 (tie)University of Miami2932
57 (tie)University of Pittsburgh2832
62 (tie)Rutgers University--New Brunswick2531
62 (tie)University of Washington2732
64 (tie)Loyola Marymount University2731
64 (tie)Southern Methodist University2933
64 (tie)University of Connecticut2631
64 (tie)University of Maryland--College Park2833
64 (tie)University of Massachusetts--Amherst2631
64 (tie)Worcester Polytechnic Institute2933
70 (tie)Clemson University2932
70 (tie)George Washington University2530
70 (tie)Texas A&M University--College Station2531
70 (tie)University of Minnesota--Twin Cities2631
74 (tie)Fordham University2832
74 (tie)Stevens Institute of Technology3032
74 (tie)Virginia Tech2531
74 (tie)American University2731
77 (tie)Brigham Young University--Provo2631
79 (tie)Baylor University2631
79 (tie)Binghamton University--SUNY2832
79 (tie)Gonzaga University2530
79 (tie)Indiana University--Bloomington2431
79 (tie)University at Buffalo--SUNY2429
84 (tie)Colorado School of Mines2833
84 (tie)Elon University2530
84 (tie)Marquette University2430
84 (tie)Michigan State University2329
84 (tie)North Carolina State University--Raleigh2731
84 (tie)University of California--Santa Cruz2431
84 (tie)University of Iowa2328
91 (tie)Clark University2831
91 (tie)Miami University--Oxford2631
91 (tie)Stony Brook University--SUNY2631
91 (tie)University of California--Riverside2329
91 (tie)University of Delaware2530
91 (tie)University of San Diego2530
97 (tie)Drexel University2530
97 (tie)New Jersey Institute of Technology2530
97 (tie)Saint Louis University2531
97 (tie)Texas Christian University2630
97 (tie)University of Denver2631
97 (tie)University of San Francisco2329
97 (tie)Yeshiva University2230

But don’t despair! With some work, a 30+ score may just be in reach.

Liam got a 35 on the ACT. Get a higher ACT score with Magoosh.

Your Starting Line

We’re all coming from different places when we approach the ACT for the first time. Our home lives, our educational backgrounds, even our parents’ educations all have some correlation to our ACT scores. But no matter where you’re starting from, remember this: your ACT score wasn’t carved in stone on the day you were born.

So if you’re discouraged by early practice test results, keep in mind that your determination and grit are the most valuable assets you have, and with some practice you can learn how to get a 30+ score on the ACT.

Discovering Weak Spots

The first thing to do, as you might have guessed, is to take a timed practice test. Once you do this, look over your results. Let’s say, for example, you got the following scores:

(Now, even though it’s not what you’re hoping for, a 28 is a really strong score, and we’re just using it as an example—your initial score may be lower and it’s still possible to bring it up to over 30!)

Now it’s time for the most important part of your early ACT prep: triage!

get 30 act score 2 - magoosh

Get this Math Test two hours of studying, stat!

Just like a doctor in an ER, you need to make some judgment calls about which “patients,” (or, you know, exam sections) you’ll treat first. In the above scenario, Science and Math are the lowest scores, so they take top priority. English might come later if there’s time, but Reading is good to go—for the moment. If you do have time, aiming for a perfect 36 in that strong section will help bring up your composite (overall) score, but it’s definitely your last priority right now.

Raising Your Score

So you’re focusing on the Math and Science Tests. The first thing to do is set some reasonable goals. Remember, you’re not aiming for perfection, just 30+. Using our handy-dandy ACT Raw Score Conversion Chart, we can see that on the Math Test, you answered 37/60 questions correctly. You answered 30/40 questions correctly on the Science Test.

To earn a score of 30 on both the Math and Science Tests, you would need to get these raw scores:

  • Math: 50/60
  • Science: 35/40

In the simplest terms, 18 missed questions stand between you and a 30+ score on the ACT. That’s going to take some work, but there are a few tips I can offer you.

The first thing is to take time to focus solely on the Math and Science Tests. As you review the results of your practice test and create a study plan based on your weaknesses, set aside topics with which you are already comfortable.

Also, consistently apply new knowledge and techniques to practice questions. Doing this will reinforce learned material. Finally, take multiple timed practice Math and Science Tests to determine whether or not your studying is having the desired effect.

If you are doing these things, your sub-scores—that’s those scores on the different sections, or tests—will improve. But let’s say that, in this scenario, weeks spent studying Math and Science have still not resulted in a 30+ score. At this point I would suggest turning to the English Test. Getting just two more questions correct would raise your English score from 29 to 31. On the actual ACT, that goes a long way to earning a 30+ composite score.

Final Thoughts

In a nutshell: how to get a 30+ score on the ACT? Identify your weaknesses, attempt to fix them, and only then reinforce your strengths.

It’s a hard road to a 30+, but I hope this article makes your journey a little smoother. If you need more practice, check out Magoosh ACT prep for helpful videos and interactive tutorials. Good luck studying, students, and I’ll see you next time!

About Thomas Broderick

Thomas spent four years teaching high school English, social studies, and ACT preparation in Middle Tennessee. Now living in Northern California, he is excited to share his knowledge and experience with Magoosh's readers. In his spare time Thomas enjoys writing short fiction and hiking in the Sonoma foothills.

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