How Far Can a Perfect Score Take You?


I know this seems strange, but I have to confess: one of my favorite parts of my job is telling students that they never need to come back to LogicPrep again (though I hope they will!), that they’re “done” (whatever that means in the context of lifelong learning), and that they never, ever have to take another practice SAT or ACT (that, without qualification, we can all agree is something to celebrate!).

I’m often asked by students - and this is a very fortunate question to even be in a position to pose - when it’s appropriate to stop prepping and take satisfaction in their hard-earned accomplishments rather than continuing to strive for a higher score. My instinct - no matter what they’re aiming for - is always that students should do everything they can to maximize their potential. And through sustained hard work and dedication, we frequently see students exceed their goals.

But when is it time to focus on pursuits outside of standardized testing? Or, more directly put (and I get this question a lot): is there really a difference between a 32, a 33, a 34...or a 36?

The answer is, well, it varies. The answer largely depends, of course, on the student’s overall academic and extracurricular profile and goals. It can depend, too, on the colleges that the student is aiming for. We all know that the ACT, while important, is just one piece in the larger picture of the application narrative.

That said, once students hit the 99th percentile (which often starts at a 34 on the ACT, but may vary based on the individual test curve), I’m inclined to advise that they focus their energy and efforts on other pursuits. College admissions officers recognize that the difference between a 34 and a 36 comes down to a mere question or two, and the distinction between these outcomes isn’t meaningful enough to change the conversation. So, while the ever-elusive 36 may be alluring, it’s probably not worth pursuing for most students.

Ultimately, I feel it’s my responsibility to help every student become the best version of him or herself. But chasing “perfection,” well..that’s not so productive, is it?