Will Lower Math ACT Score Hurt Admissions Chances?

Question: I’m a rising senior now and I take my ACT test soon ,and as I’ve been doing the practice tests I’m finding that I always score in the really high 30s for Reading, English, and Science but in the mid to high 20s for Math. I’m frustrated because even though math has NEVER been my strong suit I’ve always worked very hard and taken higher level classes for the best grades in math (mostly always high Bs excepting an A in calc junior year yay!). I’m pretty hopeful that I’ll get a composite score above 30, but I’m not sure if colleges just look at the composite score at at every little component. What do they look at? I’m shooting for schools like Georgetown and UVA (resident) and I am kind of worried. Will a lower math score really hurt me in admissions for these kind of schools?

Admission officials will look at ALL of your ACT sub-scores, not just the Composite, and if one score (in this case, math) is well below the others, it will be duly noted that it is an exception. Also, if your math score is on the low side but you’ve already taken calc as a junior and gotten an “A” in it, this will be more important than your ACT score on that section.

But, even so, your math ACT score could still have some impact on your college verdicts, especially at the hyper-selective colleges like Georgetown, where your “competitor applicants” may have similar transcripts and high test results across the board. However, your other stronger ACT scores and your calc grade will help to push the math result towards the back burner.

Yet remember that the most sought-after schools are looking for applicants who not only have top grades and test scores but who also submit applications that include other distinctions … atypical extracurricular activities, extraordinary achievements, an unusual background, etc.

So if you don’t get the good news you want next year, it may not be at all connected to your math ACT score.

Hope that helps. Have a great summer.

(posted 6/20/2014)