If you've taken the ACT or SAT and are unhappy with your score (as many students are), you may be wondering if it's worth taking the test again. If you take either or both tests more than once, you may end up with a superscore that is higher than your composite score from any individual test date. Superscoring can be a win-win for students and colleges—it boosts your overall score and allows colleges to claim higher scores among their applicants, which spells higher ratings. Keep reading to discover how superscoring works, what colleges' policies for superscoring are, and what universities look for when they review your ACT/SAT reports.
How Superscoring Works
Superscoring uses your highest subject scores from different test dates. Let's break it down.
Superscoring the SAT
The SAT consists of two main sections: Math and Evidence-Based Reading and Writing. Total scores in each of the two sections range from 200 to 800, with a composite score ranging from 400 to 1600. Let's say you took the test twice. Suppose that your initial scores were 600 in math and 700 in reading, for a composite score of 1300. The next time you tested, you got 580 in math and 720 in reading, once again giving you a composite score of 1300. Your superscore would factor in the highest subscore in each area—in this case, 600 in math and 720 in reading—for a new composite score of 1320.
Superscoring the ACT
Superscoring this test works somewhat differently because the ACT has four sections—Math, Reading, Science, and English—that are each scored from 1 to 36. Your composite score is an average of the four subscores, which can be rounded to the nearest point (if your composite score is 25.5, it's rounded up to 26).
Like the scenario above, let's say you took the ACT twice. The first time, you got a 26 in reading, 24 in math, 26 in science, and 28 in English. Composite score: 26. Let's suppose on the next go-round that you scored 28 in reading, 26 in math, 24 in science, and 26 in English (composite: 26). Your superscore would take your highest score from each section: 28 in reading, 26 in math, 26 in science, and 28 in English. Superscore: 27.
What's the Policy on Superscores?
Unfortunately, not all schools superscore these tests. Here is a list of schools that superscore the SAT, and these are the schools that average your highest ACT subscores. Some schools let you select the scores you want to submit, an option called Score Choice.
What Do Colleges Look For?
Although most colleges require ACT or SAT scores, these test results are usually not the most important factor in the admissions decision—high school grades and course selections are. You can look at schools' listings of average ACT/SAT scores for incoming freshmen to get an idea of what they're looking for.
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