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 Jul 09, 2020
The Ins and Outs of Superscoring

The majority of students and parents go through the entire test preparation and college application processes without learning about superscoring. In this article, we’re going to explore not only what superscoring is, but also how you can use it to your benefit as you make your way through high school.

What is superscoring? When can it come handy?

Some colleges look at the highest scores that students receive on individual sections of different SAT or ACT tests. Rather than looking at one test as a whole, colleges may be willing to take a look at how you performed on each section of exams you took on different dates. This process is called superscoring. 

Let’s say that you took the SAT twice. When you first took the exam, you received an 800 in Math and a 620 on the verbal section, giving you a composite score of 1420. Frustrated with your verbal score, you decided to give the exam another shot. The second time around, you aced the verbal section with a 780 but your Math score dropped to a 650, making your composite score a 1430. Chances are that the college that you want to go to will superscore your results, meaning that it will add up your Math score from your first test and your verbal score from your second test to give you a “super composite” of 1580. Pretty sweet, right?

Which colleges superscore the SAT and ACT tests?

Well, that is definitely a long list! This link tells you all the colleges that superscore the ACT, and this link does the same for the SAT. Knowing which colleges do and don’t superscore can give you the best possible chance of being successful in your college applications. We recommend that you talk to college admissions officers or research college admissions policies to learn more about the superscoring specifics of the college(s) that you wish to attend.

Are the ACT and SAT tests superscored in the same way?

Nope! This handy chart tells you everything you need to know about how both tests are superscored.

ACT TestSAT Test
Four Sections: English, Math, Reading, and ScienceTwo (Main) Sections: Evidence-Based Reading and Writing, and Math 
Maximum Score Per Section: 36Maximum Score Per Section: 800
How is Scoring Normally Done? The scores (1-36) from each section are  averaged to create a composite score (also 1-36).How is Scoring Normally Done? The scores (200-800) from both sections are added to create a composite score (400-1600).
So…What About Superscoring? Your highest score from each of the four sections is taken and averaged to create your new composite superscore (which, again, will range from 1 to 36). So…What About Superscoring? Your highest scores from each of the two main sections are added to create your new composite superscore (which, again, will range from 400 to 1600).

What is the difference between superscoring and Score Choice?

Both superscoring and Score Choice are optional ways for students to raise their chances of getting into certain colleges. However, that is where the similarities end. Take a look at the following chart for more information.

SuperscoringScore Choice
What is it?
Colleges look at your highest individual section scores for each ACT or SAT test rather than the entire test score as a whole. 
What is it? 
You can choose specific SAT or ACT test dates to submit to colleges rather than submitting every test you took. For example, if you took four SAT tests, you can choose to submit your two best ones instead of all four. 
What are the benefits?
By looking at your highest scores for individual sections, colleges will see your maximum potential in different subjects. 
What are the benefits?
Let’s say you rocked your first two SAT tests but didn’t do so great on your third one. That’s okay! You don’t have to disclose your third score to certain colleges.
Do all colleges superscore?
No. Look at the links above for a comprehensive list of all participating colleges.
Do all colleges accept Score Choice?
No. Some colleges require you to submit all your test scores. Make sure to do your research in order to facilitate your college application process. 
Where can I learn more?
In this article!
Where can I learn more?
This College Board link tells you everything you need to know about Score Choice for the SAT. As for the ACT, take a look at this link if you have further questions.

How do I send my superscore to colleges?

All you have to do is send your ACT and SAT scores to the colleges of your choice, and the colleges’ admissions centers will take it from there. This link has detailed instructions on how to submit both ACT and SAT scores to colleges. For further convenience, here is the link to the College Board, where you can submit your SAT scores to be superscored by colleges.

Are there any disadvantages to superscoring?

The answer — it depends on what college you wish to attend and how many times you take the SAT or ACT. If your dream college does not superscore, you will need to submit your test scores to be evaluated as a whole rather than as individual sections. Moreover, if you take the SAT or ACT too many times, colleges may begin to notice inconsistencies in your scores and express their concern. Also, you cannot just send your score from one section of any exam. For example, even if you ace the Math section of every SAT you take but score poorly on every verbal section, you cannot only send your Math score(s) to colleges.

Although superscoring may come with a few downsides, you can take advantage of it with the right test preparation methods and a positive attitude. If you think that superscoring might be for you, make sure to take a look at which colleges participate and which ones do not. Before you know it, you will be one step closer to success.

Trisha Bhujle is a former Brilliant Prep student with the goal of answering your questions about high school, standardized tests, and everything in between. Having received a 36 on her ACT and a 1560 on her SAT, she now actively works to inform students and parents alike of how to prepare for not only these tests, but also other high school hurdles. In her spare time, she likes to experiment in her kitchen, conquer DIY projects, and most of all, write!