Laura Berlinsky-Schine 3 min read ACT Info and Tips

ACT Superscore: What It is + How to Calculate It

In what came as welcome news for many college-bound high school students, in September 2020, the ACT implemented superscoring in their score reports. This means that the ACT now sends score reports with a superscore, or a score that averages a student’s highest section scores from different test sittings. Along with the superscore, they also report the highest composite score from a single sitting.

 

ACT points to research showing that superscores are better at predicting college success than other methods of scoring, including using only the highest composite score.

 

In light of decreased access to testing due to COVID, most colleges are test-optional at least temporarily. However, for those that do take the ACT this school year, the superscore may reduce the overall amount of preparation necessary and relieve stress.

 

What is the ACT superscore?

 

The ACT includes five subsections: reading, math, science, English, and writing. The first four subsections are graded on a scale of 1 to 36, while writing is graded on a scale of 2-12. A composite score is the average of all of these scores except writing. In the past, students could only use a single set of scores from the same sitting on their official score report — that is, your highest composite score from the same test date.

 

With the new superscoring policy, ACT score reports will take the highest subscores from different test dates to calculate a superscore. That means the score colleges see will reflect your best performance on each section, not just your highest overall composite score. (Writing is a separate score.)

 

Initially, the ACT intended to allow students to retake individual sections instead of having to retake the entire test starting in September, but this policy was put on hold because of the pandemic. While superscoring means students will still have to retake the complete test, they’ll still be able to use only their highest subscores.

 

(NB: Not all colleges use superscoring. See below for the top schools that do.)

 

How to Calculate Your ACT Superscore

 

To calculate your ACT superscore, simply add your highest subscores together and divide the total by 4. If you get a non-integer, round to the nearest integer. So if you get a 30.5, round to 31. But if you get a 30.25, round to 30.

 

Here are some examples:

 

Test date

English score

Math score

Science score

Reading score

Composite score

September

32

27

26

33

30

October

30

28

27

31

29

April

34

30

27

30

30

 

(34+30+27+33)/4=31

 

Test date

English score

Math score

Science score

Reading score

Composite score

October

35

33

29

32

32

December

34

31

30

33

32

 

(35+33+30+33)/4=32.75, round to a 33

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Which schools superscore?

 

Many schools are already embracing ACT superscoring, although not all of them have. 

 

The liberal arts colleges in the top 20 that accept the ACT superscore are:

 

College

Location

Williams College

Williams, MA

Amherst College

Amherst, MA

Swarthmore College

Swarthmore, PA

Pomona College

Claremont, CA

Bowdoin College

Brunswick, ME

Claremont McKenna College

Claremont, CA

United States Naval Academy

Annapolis, MD

Hamilton College

Clinton, NY

Middlebury College

Middlebury, VT

Washington and Lee University

Lexington, VA

Grinnell College

Grinnell, IA

Vassar College

Poughkeepsie, NY

Davidson College

Davidson, NC

Colby College

Waterville, ME

Haverford College

Haverford, PA

United States Military Academy

West Point, NY

Wesleyan University

Middletown, CT

 

The universities in the top 20 that accept the ACT superscore are:

 

University

Location

Columbia University

New York, NY

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Cambridge, MA

Yale University

New Haven, CT

Stanford University

Stanford, CA

University of Chicago

Chicago, IL

University of Pennsylvania

Philadelphia, PA

Johns Hopkins University

Baltimore, MD

Northwestern University

Evanston, IL

Duke University

Durham, NC

Vanderbilt University

Nashville, TN

Rice University

Houston, TX

Washington University in St. Louis

St. Louis, MO

University of Notre Dame

Notre Dame, IN

 

See a complete list of colleges that use ACT superscores for more info. Keep in mind that while some colleges, like Harvard, don’t superscore, they will consider your highest section scores (they just won’t calculate a superscore). You should also note that Caltech is not on this list because they’ve gone test-blind for the next two years, from 2020-2022.

 

In the future, we’ll likely see more colleges superscoring the ACT, and the ACT will also hopefully be able to introduce the ability to retake single sections. This will allow you to focus on preparing for your weaker subjects when you retake the test, rather than having to practice all the subjects for each sitting.

 

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Laura Berlinsky-Schine
Senior Blogger at CollegeVine
Short bio
Laura Berlinsky-Schine is a graduate of Johns Hopkins University, where she majored in Creative Writing and minored in History. She lives in Brooklyn, New York and works as a freelance writer specializing in education. She dreams of having a dog.