Seniors: Get a head start on your college apps this summer!

What Is Superscoring and Which Colleges Superscore the SAT and ACT?

Tuesday, March 19, 2024

Side view on diligent college girl studying using pc in computer class in library

For students who submit standardized test scores during the college admission process, superscoring offers a strategic advantage in showcasing their academic abilities. But what is superscoring and how does it work? Let’s take a deep dive into superscore policies and how they can enhance your college application.  

What Is a Superscore?

The practice of superscoring allows students to submit their highest section scores from multiple test sittings to showcase their best performance in each subject. It can be helpful when doing your college research to find out each school’s policy on superscoring — some may only superscore the SAT, while others superscore both tests. Stanford University, for example, is one school that superscores the SAT and not the ACT.   

What’s the Difference Between Superscoring and Score Choice?

Colleges have different policies and recommendations regarding superscoring and Score Choice, which is an option offered to students who take the SAT and ACT. Score Choice allows students to choose which score reports to send to their list of colleges. Instead of sending numerous sets of scores and having a college choose the highest across all test sittings to superscore, a student may send only one or two score reports for the college to review. It’s important to check the college’s application requirements since many colleges prefer to review all scores from every sitting. 

What Is an SAT Superscore?

So, how do colleges superscore SAT results? Let’s say you took the SAT twice. The first time, you scored a 590 on the Reading & Writing section. The second time, you scored a 640 on the same section. A college that allows superscoring would take the highest score section (640) and combine it with the highest score section from the math section to create a new composite score. Colleges then use the new superscore SAT results to help inform their admissions decisions. 

Want to see how ACT and SAT scores compare? Check out our SAT score conversion chart.  

What Is ACT Superscoring?

Colleges may treat ACT superscoring a little differently by practicing true superscoring or weak superscoring. Colleges that practice true superscoring identify the highest score in each section on your ACT score report from each sitting, add them together, divide by four, then round up to the nearest whole number to create a new composite score. For weak superscoring, your highest scores from each section are not averaged to form a new composite score — instead, colleges will consider the highest composite score of all sittings along with the highest section scores. 

What’s the Advantage of Superscoring?

Superscoring gives students the opportunity to be evaluated based on a higher composite score in the admissions process. For example, you may have done well on the Math section of the SAT on your first sitting but struggled with the Reading & Writing. If you retest and improve your Reading & Writing score (but maybe your Math score went down a little,) you can be evaluated based on a composite of both the original high Math score and the new, improved Reading & Writing score. Ultimately, this gives you the opportunity to create a new composite score — a superscore with your best results from each section across each test. Again, this concept can also be applied to the ACT, but superscoring policies for both the SAT and ACT vary by school. 

Superscoring Disadvantages: Is Superscoring Bad? 

Superscoring isn’t bad, but it’s important to keep a couple of things in mind.  

  • You can’t send just one section score from an exam. Superscoring requires you to submit your entire score report (containing all sections) so schools will see how you performed across the board. 
  • Sending too many scores can weaken your applicant profile. At IvyWise, we advise students to sit for the SAT or ACT no more than two or three times. First, scores tend to plateau after the third sitting, so unless you’re receiving intensive test prep, it’s unlikely your scores will improve dramatically. Second, if colleges want to see all your scores across all sittings, and you have a lot of inconsistent scores, it can send up red flags and weaken your applicant profile. This is why it’s important to be strategic with your test prep and how you use your scores. 

How Can Superscoring Affect You? 

Superscoring can potentially improve your overall ACT or SAT scores, which can enhance your competitiveness in the college admissions process. By allowing colleges to consider a combination of your highest section scores across multiple test sittings, superscoring enables you to showcase your strengths. This practice can provide you with more opportunities to present your academic abilities in the best possible light, making you a stronger candidate for admission.  

Ivy League Colleges that Superscore the SAT 

While Dartmouth College, Brown University, and Yale University have recently reinstated testing requirements, all other Ivy League colleges remain test optional — though this is subject to change. IvyWise always recommends that students submit strong test scores to colleges whenever possible to enhance their applicant profile. Here’s a quick overview of Ivy League scoring policies: 

Does MIT Superscore?

As you research how to get into MIT, it’s important to know that test scores are required as part of your application. MIT uses superscoring as well as Score Choice. This helps MIT admissions look at each student in the best possible light as they review applications. According to the admission statistics for the class of 2027, the middle 50% score range for the ACT composite was 34-36, SAT Math was 780-800, and SAT ERW was 740-780. These ranges can help you determine your goal score.  

How to Be Strategic About Taking the SAT or ACT 

The key to scoring well on the SAT or ACT is to use test-taking strategies that set you up for success. It’s important to start your test prep early — we typically recommend taking a diagnostic of both tests your sophomore year so you can choose which one is the best fit for you. Check out our video from IvyWise counselor Robin offering additional advice for deciding between the SAT and ACT. 

As you prepare for your test, you can practice strategies to help you with time management and pacing.   

Your SAT Score Strategy 

Before you come up with a strategy to reach your ideal SAT score, it’s important to determine what is considered a good SAT score for the schools on your list. You can typically find this information on each school’s Common Data Set. Once you have a score to shoot for, you can start preparing.  

We recommend taking at least three or four practice tests under timed conditions so you can get a sense of the pacing. Once you determine the areas that need improvement, schedule time every day to work on those skills. You can find a variety of test prep resources that can help you practice specific skills you will need for the test.   

Your ACT Score Strategy 

If you decide to take the ACT, you’ll want to prepare a strategy similar to what you would do for the SAT. Look at the most recent Common Data Set for the colleges on your list to determine the ACT composite score range for admitted students. This will help you determine what score you want to achieve.  

Then take a few practice tests, simulating real test conditions as much as possible. Evaluate what sections need more practice and focus on those areas using the test prep resources that work best for you.  

How to Send Your SAT Scores 

Most colleges require students to send official scores from the College Board, since most do not accept copies of online score reports or score report labels on transcripts. You can send four free score reports to your designated recipients every time you sit for the SAT. If you register for a weekend test date, you can select where the scores will be sent during registration up through the day of the test. If you take the SAT during the week, you must choose your recipients during exam setup or within three days of completing the test. There is no fee, and this is the fastest way to send scores. 

After test day, sending SAT scores within nine days is crucial if you want to avoid the fees — you are eligible to send up to four free score reports. You can send an unlimited number of score reports for free if you have a fee waiver.  

How to Send Your ACT Scores 

Most colleges require students to send official scores from the ACT, since most do not accept copies of online score reports or score report labels on transcripts. At the time you register for the ACT, you can designate four colleges or scholarship organizations where the test scores will be sent for free. Additional score reports can be requested for a fee unless you qualify for a fee waiver. 

The ACT allows you to send a superscore as long as you have completed at least two test sittings. Or you can opt to send scores from one sitting. For additional information, visit the ACT’s website. 

Choosing what scores to send and how it factors into your college admissions strategy can be confusing. For help with your college application strategy or improving your SAT or ACT scores to maximize your chances of admission to your top-choice colleges, contact us today. 


Related Topics

Sign Up for the IvyWise Newsletter
 简体中文 »
close wechat qr code