Everyone who asks me to advise them on increasing their ACT score is concerned about doing well enough to get scholarships to help pay for college. It seems that this is a bigger concern than getting a score that is high enough to get them into the school of their choice.
The first thing that I tell them is that they have to be realistic. Increasing an ACT test score of 18 to a 25 is a lot more achievable than increasing a 25 to a 32, even though both increases are the same 7 point spread. That's not to say that it can't be done, but the higher your score, the more difficult increasing each point becomes.
In order to qualify for more scholarships, you generally need an ACT test score of about 25 to 27. How hard is that? Well, the national average ACT test score is 21.1, so getting 5 points above that really sets you apart.
The average test score for students of each state varies widely, from 18.7 in Mississippi to 24.1 in Massachusetts. This is also something to consider when you are setting a goal. The easiest thing to do is go onto the website of the college you are considering and, under the "Admissions" section, they will have the average GPA and ACT test score of incoming freshmen. They Financial Aid section will usually list the bigger scholarships and whether there are any minimums for GPA or ACT score to qualify.
The fact is that a lot can change between the time you are taking the ACT test and when your college admission packet is reviewed and scholarships determined. The best thing is to learn how to work smart instead of just working hard in order to make yourself a better test taker and thereby improve your ACT score dramatically.