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In some skills, it is written that if you have three or more ranks in the skill, something will happen, such as the Acrobatics skill:

If you have 3 or more ranks in Acrobatics, you gain a +3 dodge bonus to AC when fighting defensively.

The same thing is written in some feats.

If you have 10 or more ranks in one of these skills, the bonus increases to +4 for that skill.

But what does that mean, exactly? Does this apply only when I have that number in my character sheet's ranks column? Or is it okay to use the final rank score (total bonus column) for that skill instead?

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up vote 26 down vote accepted

Your total bonus column is your total bonus column, and it's comprised of your Ranks, your Ability Modifier, and any other modifiers you might have. So your first option is the right one - Ranks describes the number of skill points you explicitly put into that skill. Anything else is your "total skill modifier", not the number of Ranks.

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+1. It's a matter of specific training that the synergy stems from, not actual ability. – LitheOhm Sep 11 '12 at 18:54

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