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9 months ago
Admissions Advice

Act composite vs subscores

Do colleges care more about the composite score on the ACT, or do they focus mainly on the subscores? Also would it make a difference if someone had a 34.5 composite vs someome who had a 35 composite flat or a 35.25 composite, since they would all just appear as a 35. Or would colleges just consider all 35s equally.

ACT
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4 answers

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9 months ago

I'll answer this in a different way.

If your ACT score is 32 or less, I think that some colleges have their own subscore criteria and like to see that either you're sort of equal across the 4 test buckets or at least have the subscore they consider a min.score for a single or more bucket. For instance, if you are applying as an English major and have 31, 30 for your English, Reading score and 34, 33 for Math and Science score, that doesn't look as good as it flipped the other way.

Since you have a 35 composite already, I do not believe there is a single school out of 5300 colleges that would scrutinize your subscores. In fact, an unwritten rule is that if you have a 33 or over at Harvard, they treat you the same as someone with a 36. They only care that you have met the standard and know that there's not much difference between someone in the 98th Percentile or 99th Percentile in terms of what they test measures which we all know is not content, but test-taking ability. If that doesn't make you happy then at least know that the historically hardest school to get in to with test scores is now Test Blind and that is CalTech. (the 25/75% middle is 35/36). This cycle if you submit a score, they redact it before the reader reads your file.

Best of luck.

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9 months ago

All of the answers provided have included good information and I think answer your question well enough. With a 35 composite you don't need to worry about those minor 1/4 or 1/2 point differences. You're in the top percentile of ACT test takers and at that point you've crossed that threshold and the AOs are going to be more concerned about the rest of your profile.

I think @CameronBameron gave a great suggestion that it's time to move on to areas of your application where you have more room to improve and which will most likely have a greater impact on your application. I'd make sure to nail down your essay as priority one only because I imagine it will be hard to improve ECs with the current COVID situation (if you can improve ECs definitely do). If you have any follow-up questions please let me know.

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9 months ago

So generally it’s composite but it heavily depends on major. A school I looked at believe it was Michigan requires a minimum of x in math for all engineering majors. Also a pure engineering school will weigh math more than English so it depends on school and major. For example K state requires a score of 1200 if I remember correctly requires 21 ACT and doesn’t care if it’s a 18 ACT Math and a 36 in English as an engineering student you’ll still be admitted.

Hope this helps and please comment if you need clarification as I’d be happy to help clarify!

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9 months ago

It honestly depends on the colleges you're applying to. Most colleges look at your subscores and will average your highest scores in each sections. Make sure to check the college's website to make sure. I believe al 35s will be considered equally.

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