ACT questions

iVillage Member
Registered: 11-19-2004
ACT questions
Mon, 04-04-2011 - 9:30pm

I have been following this board since my daughter was 3 (she is 15 now) and I know that there are some very knowlegable parents on this board. My daughter is now a junior and has always been a less than motivated student. Although she gets A's with minimal effort, she doesn't mind if she gets a B, so we were quite astounded last week when we recieved her ACT scores and she got a 34! (ENG 35 READ36 MAT 31 SCI 32) . The only hicup is she only scored a 6 on the writing portion(30 ENG/WRIT combined). Which really surprises us because she is an excellent writer.

My question is does she need to rewrite the test because of the writing scores? Will schools be concerned about the poor writing score? She wants to retake it to raise her math score even though she knows it won't really affect her composite. Should she leave well enough alone, what are the odds that she would be able to repeat those results?

I have one more rather petty question. Her sub tests for ENG were 18 and 18 , does anyone know how that comes out to a 35 not a 36. I thought that if you got a 18 on the subtest it meant that you didn't get any wrong. I know, petty, but just curious.

iVillage Member
Registered: 11-19-2004
Thu, 04-07-2011 - 8:54am
Thank, that makes me feel much better!

Thanks, I feel much better! I am so not prepared to send her off to college next year. I feel there is so much I need to learn about the college application process.

iVillage Member
Registered: 09-13-1999
Thu, 04-07-2011 - 8:36am


iVillage Member
Registered: 11-19-2004
Tue, 04-05-2011 - 7:43pm

Thank you both for your responses, especially about the writing portion. That score was as much a shock as the composite. Your comments made a lot of sense It was disappointing that the only comment

iVillage Member
Registered: 01-05-2005
Tue, 04-05-2011 - 6:29pm

The subscores don't add up to the total score - from ACT:

  1. We compute your seven subscores (Usage/Mechanics, Rhetorical Skills, etc.) in the same way, but subscores range from 1 (low) to 18 (high). There is no direct, arithmetic relationship between your subscores and your test scores—this means your subscores don't add up to your test score.

As far as retaking it, she can, but it probably won't make a material difference. Most scholarships, admissions decisions, etc are not going to differentiate between a 34 (99th %-ile) and a 35 or 36 (also 99th %-ile). I honestly don't think that it matters.

However, the good news is: the math is the easiest score to bring up (again, not that she didn't do amazingly well, but if she really is set on it). I would recommend looking at her subscore sections and figuring out what she needed to know and maybe forgot (if she's ahead in math, some of this stuff might be a few years old).

Now, as for the writing, I think it's pretty specific. My dd18 is a brilliant writer - an English major who has won awards and who is a standout in her Honors 300 level creative writing courses. I forget what she got the first time she took it, but I remember it being low - in spite of the 36s in Reading and English. I think we figured out that the "creative" part was the bad part. She re-read her ACT prep book carefully and adjusted her writing to what they wanted and she did very well the second time - I do remember it wasn't perfect, though, which was a little demoralizing considering that she wants to be a writer! We had to remind her that they really are looking for one particular thing, not necessarily the best writer overall.

The only reason I *might* consider retaking it is if the school where she will attend gives differing credit/placement for a higher writing score, but they usually look at writing/English combined, and/or AP scores.

Overall, she did FABULOUS!!!! Great news!


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iVillage Member
Registered: 05-13-1998
Tue, 04-05-2011 - 10:56am
Hi there! I'm not an expert on the ACT but I can share the little I know. For starters, she can retake without fear. The colleges will take the highest score no matter the order in which you took them. That said, kids usually increase in score and I suspect your DD will too.

As to the writing, timed writing is really a skill in itself. A lot of excellent writers (my DD included) fumble in this area. The last timed test DD took she only wrote the opening paragraph before "pencils down." To be good a timed writing, you have to be OK with your wording being less than perfect. This can be really tough for talented writers!