Taking the SAT or ACT test is hard. But sometimes, dealing with the results is even harder.
Many students aren’t satisfied with their standardized test scores. In fact, in a survey of more than 800 Niche users, only 22% reported being “very satisfied” with their SAT outcomes.
However, if a student takes the SAT or ACT multiple times, he or she can “superscore” the scores.
What is superscoring? It’s when a college takes a student’s highest subscores from different test dates for a new, higher “superscore.” Not only do the students benefit from superscoring, but the colleges do, too, as they like to report higher test scores to raise their rankings, so it’s a win-win situation.
Superscoring the SAT
How does SAT superscoring work? It’s pretty straightforward. The two sections — Math and Evidence-Based Reading and Writing — are each worth 800 points. The composite score (1600) is the sum of the two section scores.
For example, say a student takes the SAT twice:
- The first time, this student gets an 800 in Math and a 500 in Math and Evidence-Based Reading and Writing. Composite score: 1300
- The second time, this student gets a 650 in Math, a 650 in Math and Evidence-Based Reading and Writing. Composite score: 1300
If a student wanted to superscore these tests from two different test dates, he or she would create a new score from only the best subscores, which would be:
- 800 in Math (from the first test) and 650 in Reading and Writing (from the second test) to give the student a Composite score of 1450.
SAT Superscore Schools
Not every institution superscores the SAT. To find out whether your prospective school does, check this list of participating schools.
Superscoring vs. Score Choice
Score Choice is another option for managing scores that allows students to choose specific test dates they want to submit to colleges. So if a student took the SAT at three different times, he or she could choose to send only one or two of those dates’ scores to a prospective college instead of all three, which many schools require. This is different from superscoring, where you can send specific scores rather than entire tests.
However, like superscoring, Score Choice is optional. If you’re interested in Score Choice, make sure your school offers it. Remember: If it is offered and students choose not to use it, all scores will be sent to a school automatically.
Here’s a look at SAT score-use practices by participating institutions.
Superscoring the ACT
A similar kind of superscoring is available for the ACT, but since the ACT is scored differently than the SAT, the superscoring process is different as well.
Where the SAT has two sections, the ACT has four: Math, Science, Reading, and English. In each section, a student can score between 1 and 36. Then, instead of the scores being added (like in the SAT), the composite is the average of the section scores, and those scores can be rounded up to the next number (.5 and up). Therefore, the composite score will also end up being between 1 and 36.
So, how does one superscore the ACT? Let’s look at an example:
Say a student takes the ACT twice.
- The first time, the student gets a 23 in reading, 26 in math, 28 in English, and 29 in science. Composite score: 27 (rounded up from 26.5)
- The second time, the student gets a 22 in reading, 28 in math, 25 in English, and 32 in science. Composite score: 27 (rounded up from 26.75)
If a student wanted to superscore these tests, from two different test dates, the student would create a new score from only the best subscores, which would be:
- 23 in reading (from first test), 28 in math (from second test), 28 in English (from first test), and 32 in science (from second test), to give a student a new composite score of 28 (rounded up from 27.75).
ACT Superscore Schools
Again, not every school will superscore these tests. Here’s a list of colleges that superscore the ACT.
The Bottom Line
Superscoring can be beneficial to students whose SAT and ACT scores weren’t so hot the first time around, or that dropped during the second test date. If you’re interested in superscoring, talk to a prospective school’s admissions office about whether the school offers it.
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