On the ACT, I got a 33 on English, 31 on Math, 34 on Reading, and 36 on Science. The exact average is a 33.5, but on my score report it's rounded up to a 34. Can the colleges tell that my actual score was a 33.5?
Yes, colleges can definitely distinguish between a 33.5 and 34 on the ACT and generally any exact fractional score. This is simply because colleges get your section-by-section breakdown and can calculate the average themselves.
However, your technical composite score is still a 34, so for any scholarship or application that requires a 34 composite score, your ACT score should still technically count.
Practically, a 0.5 score improvement is indeed better, but not that much better than it is worth stressing a retake over. The only reason to retake is if you're applying to schools that superscore the ACT and you had one or two particularly low sections that you believe you can improve on a retake.
To summarize, a 33.5 is NOT the same as a 34:
- If you care about whether colleges can tell the difference at all.
- In that a 34 is definitely strictly better.
However, a 33.5 is similar to a 34 in that:
- For technical cutoffs of 34 on the composite score (since the composite score is rounded), you should pass the cutoff.
- For students worrying about whether it will make a large difference or not - it likely will not.
- Reviewing the score report that colleges receive.
- ACT Policy On Rounding