What Is SAT Superscoring? How Can a Student Benefit?
There’s no denying it– the SAT still remains an important measure of student success at many of the country’s top colleges and universities. Consequently, it’s no surprise that teens and their parents would feel a degree of panic over a low score. Still, your teen shouldn’t start crossing those “reach” schools off their list just yet.
Just because your teen didn’t score as well as they (or you) had hoped that doesn’t mean there’s cause for alarm. Many students decide to take the SAT more than once as retaking the exam is an effective way to boost scores and improve college admissions prospects. In fact, the College Board reports that most students who take the exam as a junior see score improvements when they retake the test as a senior. In particular, students applying to colleges that superscore the SAT may be able to significantly improve their odds of getting accepted by retaking the exam.
What Is Superscoring?
Superscoring is a process some colleges utilize when interpreting prospective students’ SAT results. Instead of only considering a student’s highest composite score, colleges that superscore consider the highest Math and highest Reading and Writing scores, regardless of the dates they were obtained. So, if a student scored a 750 on the Math section and a 640 on Reading on their first attempt, and a 720 and a 700 respectively during their second sitting, colleges that superscore would record the higher component result from each sitting (750 Math and 700 Reading).
What’s the Benefit of Superscoring?
Superscoring offers benefits for both institutions and students. For colleges, superscoring allows them to report that admitted students had higher SAT scores and consequently, improve their rankings. For students, superscoring can mean building a more competitive applicant profile. For instance, consider the same student who scored a 750 on the Math test and 640 on the Reading test before retaking and earning a 720 and a 700 respectively. Superscoring their results would give this student a composite score of 1450, a 60 point increase from their first composite score, and a 30 point increase from the second. However, the benefits don’t stop there. Not only can superscoring boost applicants’ odds of getting into their target schools, but it can also help them qualify for scholarships and other financial grants.
Clearly, superscoring affords advantages to students. However, even if your teen’s dream college does superscore SAT results, they should aim to sit for the test no more than two or three times. Students who take the SATs more than that risk raising red flags with admissions officers. Moreover, it’s unlikely for students to see significant score increases after the third attempt.
What Schools Superscore?
Not all colleges superscore SAT results, so students should do their research on this topic before deciding where to apply. However, a number of top schools do currently superscore the SAT, including Boston College, Carnegie Mellon University, Dartmouth College, Emory University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, New York University, Princeton University, and the University of Southern California.
Wondering if your teen’s top colleges superscore students’ SAT results? Visit our post Which Colleges Superscore the SAT? for a list of popular colleges and universities that superscore, as well as tips for staying competitive when applying to these schools.
How Can a Student Improve Their SAT Score?
Superscoring enables students who did significantly better on the Math section of the SAT on one testing date and the Reading section on a different date to combine their two scores for the best composite result. However, if a student isn’t scoring within a school’s target SAT range, superscoring will only have a limited effect. Fortunately, there are steps parents can take to help their teens improve scores and gain admission to their dream schools.
The first step in boosting low SAT scores is identifying problem areas. The College Board website offers eight full-length practice SATs that students can take for free. By simulating test conditions, these assessments allow students to evaluate how they will perform on exam day while determining their strengths and weakness. Additionally, students can pinpoint the types of mistakes they’re making, with the most common errors generally falling into the following categories:
- Careless errors resulting from a failure to read the question thoroughly or consider all the answer choices
- Pacing problems, which result from spending too much time on too few questions
- Content gaps, which occur because students lack key knowledge or skills
Once students identify their problem areas, they can take more specific steps to boost performance. While it’s crucial for test takers to study on their own, many students benefit from joining a study group. Not only does studying with peers help hold them accountable, but it also gives them the chance to brush up on problem areas. After all, one student’s weaknesses may well be another’s strengths, and vice versa.
Preparing for the SAT? Download our free guide with our top 8 tips for mastering the SAT.
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