ACT Question


Nov 4, 2014
My son is in under Early Action, and after receiving advice from everyone he is related to I wanted the Forum's opinion on whether he should take the ACT again.

English - 32
Reading - 32
Science - 33
Math - 28

The Math is the one he could improve upon, and it's not a bad score by any means...just "heard" they like to see a 30 for each section. Thoughts?
Except for the cost of taking the test, there is no down side to retaking them. Your score can't go down. It can only improve.
1) Look at ACT score report, find out what questions he's missing - it will show level of difficulty and type (e.g. geometry, algebra). I'm guessing he's missing the hard level difficulty questions.

2) Either buy the official ACT review book and/or sign up for

3) Other scores are really good. Yes, math is critically important. Just study math, primarily in the area and level of difficulty he's been misssing questions.

A lot of doing well is being able to recognize the type of question and being able to work it quickly and accurately. There are only so many math concepts tested on the ACT, but they test those concepts in different question formats. With a 28, I'll venture that he knows the math concepts, just needs help with recognition and speed. Repetition helps immensely.

IMO, don't have him study anything other than Math since the other scores will be kept through the superscore system. An hour a night over several weeks can help a lot when you're just trying to improve in a narrow area.
Thank you...that's what we thought and thankfully math really is the easiest to study for...5th times a charm!
I agree that he should take it again. I have tutored ACT math for years. He is clearly a quick reader based on his Reading and Science scores. He does need to figure what type of problems he is missing. For instance, it is common for students in Calculus to miss some types of geometry problems because the took this math some time ago and don't use it. As was said, the official ACT book is a good resource. Hiring a tutor can be a good investment as well. There is no challenging math on the test for a solid math student. Scoring well is all about gaming the game and learning how to take the test. Practice can help some students a lot.
I completely agree with everything that everyone is saying, thanks for confirming!! He is a great math student, but his last two classes were statistics and college algebra through a college program his is doing. He is in pre-calculus type class now and Trig is the next section. We have a study book and he had one job last study math, and his score was a 26, ugh! Thankfully football is almost over and he will have more time, and even though he may disagree, it won't hurt him.
If it makes you feel any better, I am in AP Calc and only got a 27 on the math portion. It is a very difficult test, especially with the time constraints. I find your son's science scores to be really impressive! Regardless of having taken the test 3 times, the best I can get is a 26 on SR. So good on your son!
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Thank you baileydb! He just needs to study...he literally has not studied for even one minute. It is a terrible habit!! I know the score won't make or break him, but he shouldn't leave anything to chance. I'll be signing him up today!
YES he does need to study and take practice tests. My DD had a 29 the first time she took ACT, (she took it cold, no studying, the day after she got back from NASS.) She wasn't happy with this score, so she took practice test after practice test and then reviewed the answers after taking the test. Her score went from a 29 to a 34 the next time she took it! She used the ACT guide ordered from the ACT site at the same time she registered for the second test.
Flieger use to answer a question like this....the question was what is a good score to feel comfortable/competitive.

His answer was simple 1600 out of 1600 or 36 *composite out of 36. Until that score keep taking it!

In 6 months from now when you might get the TWE, do you want to look back and wonder if I had only taken the test one more time, would that been the difference between a BFE and a TWE?

If the answer is your okay with that, than don't retake it, but if your answer is going to be what if? Than you know what to do now.

He sounds like a bright young man. Kudos.

Studying math is of course critically important, but don't forget the test-taking strategies too. For example, just learning which questions are worth "investing" his limited time in can raise scores.

Lots of expert advice, guides, websites out there for you to research. And you might find he is also willing study more if it's not just on reviewing content he learned a couple of years ago; but also equips him with some techniques he can use to be better at the test taking itself. BTW - An important skill he is going to need throughout his career.

Personal story... DD is one of those kids that never says die on anything! So she would continue to work problems that didn't come in a snap and it cost her. Trained herself to go through test differently which included estimating which questions were going to need lots of investment from her and tackling those last. Raised her scores demonstrably.
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Awesome, I completely agree with everything you are saying, just totally helps to have it confirmed! Pima, you are right, and we've said that about different aspects of the application process, as long as he puts in the best application he can there are no "what ifs". He is a great test taker, just needs to study study study, and practice. He is happy with his other scores! He does need to learn better study habits...his GPA has suffered a little because of that as well. Kids!
Pima is dead-on accurate! :biggrin:

Let's see...

English - 32
Reading - 32
Science - 33
Math - 28

I have a kid that isn't sure if USAFA or USNA is his first choice:

English - 33
Reading - 36
Science - 35
Math - 35

So...I'd say...if you can afford the cost, he can definitely afford ruining his free-time on a few Saturday's...I'd retake them...just because I'm VERY greedy when it comes to SAT/ACT exams...especially since they kept me out of the academy for a year...

The more the merrier; you can't hurt yourself an he just MIGHT "slam dunk" them!! What a deal that'd be!!! :thumb:

A student's ACT/SAT score is one of the only things that can be easily changed on an application since their GPA, class rank, extracurricular activities, and most other credentials are set in stone. Retaking the ACT is only worth it if a student puts in a daily effort to improve their score over the course of two weeks or more by taking practice tests, learning new strategies, and taking more practice tests. Last year, I studied for roughly an hour a night for a month and went up about 3 points. Additionally, USAFA super scores, so definitely retake.
One might want to consider some math tutoring anyway, since ALL majors at USAFA take engineering, astro, aero... lots of Math, even for English majors.

No sense struggling right off the bat.
Definitely retake it! Focus only on Math to get that score up. If you improve on the others also, good, but since they superscore, if those go down, doesn't matter.

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He is signed up for the December test. Actually he's really good in math, just needs to "re-learn" some Trig/Geometry that has eluded him over the last two years. I appreciate everyone's advice and it is well received! Wait wait wait wait....and I also agree that it is one of the things that you CAN improve/change, so why not?
Does the Academy see the superscore and the single sitting? And if you only give one score, do you have to specify it's a superscore?

I'm taking the ACT in December, and I don't quit understand how you submit each of your highest scores.

Thanks! :smile:
Does the Academy see the superscore and the single sitting? And if you only give one score, do you have to specify it's a superscore?

I'm taking the ACT in December, and I don't quit understand how you submit each of your highest scores.

Thanks! :smile:

I have no idea what you're asking.

Superscore isn't something that ACT/SAT does. It's not some score you get. It's HOW the academy uses your scores.

EXAMPLE: On your first test date, you get a 25 math, 30 science, etc.... you submit your scores.

On the 2nd time you test, you get a 29 math and a 28 science, etc...

SUPERSCORE means, the air force academy takes the BEST of all your scores. If these were the only 2 times you tested, the air force would take the 29 math and the 30 science.... and the best of the other scores.

Does that make sense now? Take the test as many times as you can take it. Submit ALL your scores. The academy will take them all and on CLOSING DAY when you can't submit any more to your package, the academy will use the highest score from each subject matter in the tests.