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What is The Highest Possible ACT Score?

The highest possible score on the ACT is 36 (on a scale of 1-36).

Whether you are currently just researching about the ACT exam or are already deep into the preparation, having complete knowledge about the marking scheme can go a long way into improving your chances. This comprehensive guide of EduQuest that we have prepared makes sure that you get all the information about the marking pattern so that you not only work harder but also smarter.

Why does the ACT score matter?

If you are planning to appear for the ACT exam soon, then you must know the highest possible score that you can get in this examination.  Having complete knowledge about the ACT scores and the marking scheme gives you an idea about the areas you need to work on and the goals to set.  A good ACT score gives leverage to your college application and improves your chances of getting into your dream college.  The above-average score makes you stand out among all the other applicants. So make sure you put forward your best efforts for the highest possible score.

How is the ACT score calculated?

The ACT score is a composite score that is calculated from four subjects, namely:

Subjects Score distribution
English 1-36 (5 Passages)

Usage/Mechanics 1-18
Rhetorical Skills 1-18
Essay 2-12(not included in the ACT score)
Mathematics 1-36

Section Name Score Distribution Percentage of Questions
Pre-algebra/Elementary algebra/Intermediate Algebra 1-18 Pre-Algebra- 20-25%

Elementary Algebra-15-20%

Intermediate Algebra-15-20%

Trigonometry/Co-ordinate geometry/Plane Geometry 1-18 Trigonometry- 5-10%

Co-ordinate Geometry- 15-20%

Plane Geometry- 20-25%

Reading 1-36 (4 Passages)

Social sciences/sciences 1-18
Arts and literature 1-18
Science 1-36 (no breakdown for science)

7 Passages


The ACT score, as mentioned earlier is not a stand-alone score. When we talk about the perfect score, it means the average of all the mentioned subjects. All four subjects are marked on a scale of 1-36 as shown in the table above. So the perfect ACT score does not mean getting 36 in all the subjects. Thus, for example, if you score 34 in one subject and 36 in all the other subjects, your ACT score will still be a perfect 36.


And because the ACT score is a whole number, this score would round up to 36.

The ACT exam includes the optional subject which consists of essay writing. The essay is marked on a scale of 2-12. The essay score is not included in the ACT score which means you can get a perfect ACT score irrespective of how you perform in the essay section.

How are subject scores calculated in the ACT exam?

All four subjects are marked on a scale of 1-36 on the basis of raw scores. The raw scores depend upon the number of questions that you correctly answer. You score one mark for each correct answer and lose no marks for the omitted or wrong answers. Thus if you answer 40 questions correctly in science, you will get a raw score of 40.

Scale Score Test 1


Test 2


Test 3


Test 4




36 74-75 59-60 40 40 36
35         71-73 57-58 38-39 35
34 70 55-56 37 39 34
33 69 54 36 38 33
32 68 53 34-35 32


The above table shows the pattern of raw scores and how they translate into the scaled scores which will be further averaged for the ACT score. Thus, as you can see in the above chart, you can get a perfect score of 36 even if you miss one question each from both the English and the maths section.

Changes from September 2020

  • ACT Superscore has been introduced for the candidates who take the test more than once. The best scores from each section from the multiple attempts will make the final ACT score.
  • For improving the ACT score, you need not sit for the entire exam now. You can simply take the test for the sections you want to improve.

How to Prepare for the best for Act Exam?

Now that you have the knowledge about the ACT marking scheme, get to the preparation! Even if your dream college does not require you to take this test, a good ACT score will help you get the merit scholarships.

  • Time Management

Time management plays a crucial role in the ACT exam. As you can see from the table below, you get one minute for each math question and less than a minute for the English, reading, and science questions. The test is not just to see the question-solving ability but your ability to solve the questions under pressure and constraints of time. Make sure to consider time management while strategizing for preparations.

Subjects Total Time No. of Questions
English 45 minutes 75
Math 60 minutes 60
Reading 35 minutes 40
Science 35 minutes 40
Writing Test (Optional) 40 minutes 1 essay


  • ACT Syllabus

Refer to the table given below to understand the ACT Syllabus so that you can prepare well for the exam:

Section Name Syllabus
English Usage and Mechanics: Punctuation, Sentence Structure, Grammar Usage

Rhetorical Skills: Style, Strategy, Organization

Science Research Summaries, Data Representation, and Conflicting Viewpoints
Mathematics Trigonometry, Coordinate Geometry, Plane Geometry, Pre-Algebra, Intermediate Algebra, Elementary Algebra
Reading Reading Passages that focus on different subjects such as Social Science, Natural Science, Humanities, and Literary Function.


  • Work on your weak spots

Make sure to cover the areas thoroughly that you find yourself slightly lacking in. There are various subsections in all the four subjects and covering each and every topic is important. If you leave your weak sections for the last moment, they will prove to be a headache in the end. Considering the exam is also time-bounded, you must be on your toes for all the sections.

  • Take practice tests

The practice tests help you with time management and identifying your weak spots. If you are practicing regularly, you know the areas you need to direct your focus on. Thus make sure to take as many practice tests as possible at regular intervals of your preparation.

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