3 years ago
Admissions Advice

Is having a low act score but high GPA ok when applying to colleges?

I am a early college student that has a 3.9 gpa and a act score of 18. I know I didn’t do “great” on the act, which is why I’m anxious of not being of getting accepted. Does this have a negative impact on my resume when applying?

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2 answers

3 years ago


Yours is a very peculiar case. A 3.9 GPA (on 4 I am assuming) doesn't correspond to the ACT.

I would certainly not question why you scored so low. But what I would suggest is take the ACT again. You might have scored low because you did not understand the exam pattern or did not manage your time well or any other reasons which I won't divulge in.

In case you feel that you can't take another ACT, apply test-optional. If you are applying test-optional, it significantly hurts your chances for ivies and other selective schools. However, such schools would most probably ignore an application with an 18 ACT. Applying test-optional would give you an outside chance.

Another solution to it is that you take the SAT. No test is preferred over the other. Its just that some students tend to score better on the SAT while others do better on ACT.

Hope this helps!

3 years ago[edited]

Submitting an 18 ACT which is a 38% percentile score equivalent to a 940-970 SAT score does not look good if you have a 3.9 GPA. Does that make sense to you? A 3.90 is like a 94% letter grade and you score 38% on your ACT, something is out of balance here and doesn't add up, right?

So if you were an admissions officer would you think that your college aptitude for performing well in college should be based on your 38% score? Would you agree with them if they thought your school suffers greatly from grade inflation and that the 3.90 (94%) is overstated? Or do you think they should completely ignore the 18 composite scores and give you a pass? That's what you're asking correct?

I was looking at a few colleges that have an automatic admissions policy to see how they saw the relationship between GPA and ACT scores for auto admit. What is clear is that there is some sliding scale that suggests that the higher your GPA is, the lower your ACT score can be however the floor is a 21 ACT score which is the national average 50% for test-takers. I think colleges feel there is some risk in admitting students that have less than a 21 ACT at highly rated schools. I'm certain that some colleges wouldn't care about an 18, but I think 99% of them would earmark your application as a concern.

Arizona State

Earn 3.0 unweighted GPA in competency courses

Earn an ACT score of 24 for nonresidents

Truman State

27 ACT and a 2.5 GPA


21 ACT/ 3.25 GPA or a 24 ACT/ 3.0 GPA

Therefore unless you can significantly upgrade your 18 ACT to 25 or better, perhaps it is in your best interest not to submit an ACT score when you apply to colleges. I would focus on other parts of your application like ECs, Essays and getting the best recommendations you can.

Good luck.

What are your chances of acceptance?
Your chance of acceptance
Duke University
+ add school
Your chancing factors
Unweighted GPA: 3.7
SAT: 720 math
| 800 verbal


Low accuracy (4 of 18 factors)

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