Choices are a huge (and stressful) part of the college application process. You have to choose where to apply, whether to take the SAT or ACT, what to write your application essay about, and more. While students may be more familiar with test optional policies, they may be less familiar with other test score options, including Superscoring and Score Choice that give students more ways to be more strategic when it comes to test prep and submitting test scores to prospective colleges. So, read on to better understand and take advantage of these test score policies.
Definitions and Calculations
What is Superscoring?
Superscoring is a college admissions policy where those reviewing your application consider only your highest subsection scores across all test dates. For the SAT, those best section scores are added together to create the highest potential composite score. A student who took the SAT three times and whose best verbal score (Reading + Writing & Language) was a 650 on Test 2 and best math score was a 700 on Test 3 would be considered to have earned a 1350 on the SAT.
For the ACT, instead of adding high scores on each section, scores are averaged (add up the best subscores, then divide by 4). So, for example, a student who took the ACT twice whose best English score was a 32 on Test 2, best Math score was a 30 on Test 1, best Reading score was a 30 on Test 1, and best Science score was a 28 on Test 2 would be considered to have earned a 30 on the ACT. The Writing, or essay, section of the ACT is not counted as part of an ACT superscore.
Cool, right? You bet! However, you might be wondering why colleges would be so kind to do this for applicants. What’s in it for them? The truth is superscoring doesn’t just benefit you, the student. It also benefits colleges by increasing the average scores of students admitted. In short, it makes it easier for colleges to look better to applicants and for applicants to look better to colleges.
What is Score Choice?
While Superscoring uses the highest subsection scores across all test dates and is something a college will do automatically when they’re considering your application (if it’s their policy), Score Choice allows you to submit only the highest total scores from your best test dates and it’s something you, the student, must choose to do before you send any scores to a college (if a college has a Score Choice policy). In other words, Score Choice lets you pick the composite scores you send, and it’s all or nothing—all subscores from one test date or none of the subscores from a test date.
So, for example, if you felt sick the day you took the SAT for the first time and bombed it, but felt better and did better the second and third time you took it, you can decide to take advantage of Score Choice and just send your Test 2 and Test 3 scores to colleges that do Score Choice. Even better, if those Test 2 and 3 scores are Superscored, the best subsection scores will be combined for your highest possible score.
That said, keep in mind that if a college Superscores, but doesn’t use Score Choice, they will still see every score from every test date even though they will just consider the Superscore. So, always do your best and be consistent regardless of what scoring policies you might be able to take advantage of later.
Applying with Superscoring and Score Choice
As awesome as Superscore and Score Choice policies are, it’s not guaranteed that every school you apply to will do one or both for you. Always check college websites or reach out to colleges to confirm what their score policies are. It’s also important to understand how your approach to score reporting affects how you complete applications. For instance, there is only one place to report scores on the Common Application. If you’re applying to multiple schools with different Score Choice policies, you will have to submit multiple Common Apps to avoid sending scores you don’t want to be seen to colleges that do allow Score Choice.
How A+ Can Help
Although options like Supercoring and Score Choice can benefit students who don’t instantly earn their preferred score, it doesn’t replace good test preparation and planning; it’s not guaranteed that the colleges you want to apply to will allow you to take advantage of Superscoring and Score Choice and taking tests frequently isn’t likely to earn you that perfect high score or combination of scores. Instead, the best approach is to plan on taking the SAT or ACT two to three times at most and study well beforehand, especially prior to your first test. To find out which test (ACT or SAT) is best for you and to get help preparing to take the test, A+ Test Prep and Tutoring is here to help. We offer free proctored exams, and one-one-one SAT/PSAT and ACT test prep programs.
At A+ Test Prep and Tutoring, our practices are based on the latest developments in educational theory and research. We have an excellent team of tutors who can help you with standardized testing, executive functioning, or achievement in any other school subject. If you want to find out more about our services, our Client Service Director, Joelle Faucette, can be reached at 215-886-9188 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.