Is it possible to get a perfect score on the SAT or ACT?

Believe it or not, that impossible summit of perfection, the flawless 1600 or 36 (on the SAT and ACT, respectively) can be yours!

Just one catch: earning a perfect score is very, very difficult. Several million U.S. students take the SAT and ACT each year, and out of those, only a few hundred land in that lofty 99.9th percentile. It’s easy to write those kids off as outliers–and they might be, but not necessarily because they were born brilliant.

To give some more detail, the SAT has a total of 158 questions, and the ACT has a total of 215 questions (not counting the optional essay). To earn a perfect score, you’d have to miss or skip no more than two or three questions throughout the whole test, depending on how it’s being curved. In fact, for the Math section of the SAT, you have to nail all 58 problems with no room for error.

We’ve said before that the SAT and ACT are not intelligence tests, and brains alone won’t get you the kind of endurance and precision needed to achieve perfect scores. The kids that do achieve them are outliers not for their intelligence, but for their drive. It takes countless hours of practice, to the point of knowing the tests backwards, forwards and inside-out. You would have to deeply understand exactly how the tests operate and how they’ll try to trick you, to make the most of each second and of course, to know the material like the back of your hand.

That doesn’t come easy. In fact, it’s grueling to get to that point, and even then, a perfect score doesn’t guarantee admission to top schools. They’re a huge leg up, of course, but students who aren’t applying to Stanford or MIT really have no reason to run themselves ragged for that perfect 100%. But if you want to shoot for the moon, you’re in the right place to learn how to stick the landing.


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