Superscoring on the SAT and ACT: What College Applicants Need to Know
If you’re getting ready to apply to colleges, you’ve probably got standardized tests on the brain. Between all the pressure to perform well and to get those score reports where they need to go, you may not realize that there’s another factor to consider. Not every college weighs standardized test scores the same way. Some are test optional, some require tests, and some use a practice called superscoring to weigh your scores.
To learn more about superscoring and what it means for you, don’t miss this post.
What Is Superscoring?
Superscoring is simply a practice used by some colleges in evaluating and weighing standardized test scores. It is most commonly used on SAT scores, though it’s not completely unheard of to apply the practice to ACT scores as well. When you apply to colleges, you should be aware of their superscoring policy in order to understand how your scores will be evaluated.
When a college uses superscoring, it considers your strongest section scores on the SAT from across multiple test administrations. For example, if you scored a 630 Verbal and 740 Math on your first SAT, and then scored a 690 Verbal and 710 Math on the second administration, a college that uses superscoring would consider your scores as 690 Verbal and 740 Math for a composite score of 1430. This could make a big difference for some students, especially when applying to selective colleges.
Why Consider Superscoring When Sending Score Reports?
When you send your standardized test scores to colleges, you need to understand how they are being used to evaluate your strengths as an applicant. To fully grasp how your scores will be used, you should know if your test scores will be considered individually or if superscoring will be used.
This can make a difference when you are deciding which score reports to submit, or how many score reports to submit. When superscoring is used, you may be tempted to submit more score reports than you usually would.
In general, we do not recommend that you send more than three score reports for the SAT or ACT. Ideally, you should submit only one or two score reports. If you submit many score reports, you risk giving the appearance that you took many attempts before you mastered the test. This could be a disadvantage when you’re compared with an applicant who submits only one strong test score.
If you know that a college uses superscoring, you should submit two score reports. These will be the reports on which you scored the highest in each individual section. If you took the test a third time and had a stronger composite score, but lower section scores, this score report does not need to be submitted. In contrast, if a college does not use superscoring, you need only send the test on which you scored the highest composite score.
Do Any Colleges Use Superscoring for the ACT?
While superscoring is a fairly common and straightforward practice when it comes to the SAT, it is less so when it comes to the ACT. This is likely because the SAT only consists of two primary required sections, whereas the ACT consists of four required sections.
This makes superscoring a little more involved, as it essentially means that an applicant could submit four separate ACT tests, with different scores to be taken into consideration from each. Then, the average of each of the four highest section scores will be taken to create a new highest composite score.
Which Schools Use Superscoring?
Many colleges use superscoring. These range from small, local community colleges to super selective Ivy Leagues. Some popular, selective colleges that superscore both the ACT and SAT include:
Superscoring is not always completely straightforward. Some colleges will consider highest section scores only for specific sections of the ACT or SAT. For example, at Stanford, the admissions committee considers the highest Composite and the highest English and writing scores from all test sittings.
Other colleges will superstore results but only for tests of the same format. This means that if you took an older format SAT (on the 2400-point scale), you cannot expect these section scores to be combined with section scores from the new format SAT when superscoring is used.
How Can I Find Out If a College Uses Superscoring?
Most colleges publish their official superscoring policy on their admissions websites. If you visit the admissions website, you will usually find this information listed alongside other standardized testing policies.
If you cannot find the specific policy online for a college that you intend to apply to, you should contact the admissions office to request their superscoring policy. It’s important information that should always be considered when you decide which scores to submit as an applicant.
How Can I Select Which Scores I Submit?
Once you know whether a college uses superscoring, you should make an informed decision about which standardized test scores you submit with your application. With the College Board’s Score Choice program, you can select exactly which test administrations that you submit to each individual colleges.
To learn more about the College Board’s Score Choice program, check out our post What You Need to Know About Submitting ACT & SAT Scores to Colleges and the College Board’s Score Choice policy.
Getting ready to take your first standardized test, or looking to improve on your last score? Preparing for standardized tests isn’t easy, but you don’t have to do it alone. Get started with our free collection of SAT tips below, then consider the benefits of CollegeVine’s full service, customized SAT Tutoring Program, where the brightest and most qualified tutors in the industry guide students to an average score increase of 140 points.
Want more SAT tips sent to you?
Sign up below and we'll send you expert SAT tips and guides.