What Is Superscoring?
Superscoring is not (unfortunately) a notification that you have done so outstandingly well on your test that the College Board had to create a whole new scoring system just for you! It is an admissions policy used by some colleges and universities when they evaluate an applicant’s SAT or ACT scores. The good news for you? This policy can greatly benefit students who take their standardized tests more than once.
Superscoring is most advantageous when a student’s high scores in different sections occur on different test dates. Let’s take a look at Jenny’s SAT score history below.
Jenny took the SAT twice in 2016, once in the spring, and again in the fall.
Spring 2016 SAT scores Fall 2016 SAT scores
SAT Verbal 590 680
SAT Math 710 670
Jenny’s first total score is 1300 (590 + 710), and her second total is 1350 (680 + 670). However, a school that superscores will look at the highest score in each section (highlighted in red). This gives Jenny a new total of 710 + 680, or 1390. The final “hybrid” superscore thus becomes a reflection of her personal best.
Note: Essays are not superscored.
Superscoring the ACT works somewhat, although not exactly, the same. The main difference is that colleges are less likely to superscore a student’s composite score.
Like Jenny, Jason tested in the spring and the fall, but took the ACT. Jason scored as follows:
Spring 2016 ACT scores Fall 2016 ACT scores
English 32 27
Math 28 31
Reading 33 31
Science 29 33
Composite 31 31
In Jason’s case, schools that superscore the ACT will record the scores in red. Some schools will record Jason’s composite score as 31 (the highest score from a single sitting), not 32 (the composite of his highest scores shown in red, regardless of sitting).
Not all schools practice superscoring, though, and those that do sometimes follow slightly different procedures. A good guide for you and your family is The College Board’s “SAT Score-Use Practices by Participating Institution.” This handy document provides “score-use practices” from a wide variety of schools, although its authors do suggest that you double-check their information with the college or university itself.
The College Board provides a helpful table of “Practice Descriptions” before its list of schools. The jargon can be somewhat confusing at first (Version 1 vs. Version 2, and highest section vs. highest sitting), but a little careful reading should give you a good idea of your desired school’s policy. Saint Joseph’s University, for example, states that their practice is categorized under “Highest Section Scores Across Test Dates—Version 2.” A look at the table tells you that Saint Joseph’s will indeed use only your highest scores. Furthermore, if you should take the test a second or third time and score even higher, the university will replace your previous high score with the new one. The Temple University admissions department, on the other hand, simply asks that all scores be submitted and does not indicate that the school superscores.
How much importance should you assign to this particular aspect of applying to colleges? Certainly a school’s standardized test scoring policy should not be the deciding factor in whether or not you apply there. However, such information can help you and your tutor better design your testing strategy. You may decide that it is worth your time and energy to take the test again, even if you have already tested once and are happy with your scores.
Remember, A+ Test Prep and Tutoring is always here to help make the testing process as easy and stress-free as possible. We help you determine which test—the SAT or the ACT—is better aligned with your strengths, and we match you with tutors who can teach you both content and testing strategies to help you attain your “personal best” score.
If you would like more information on anything related to testing or your college career, our Client Service Directors—Anne Stanley and Susan Ware—are available to answer questions, provide solutions, and assist you in achieving your educational goals. You may reach A+ Test Prep and Tutoring at 215-886-9188.
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