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How to Calculate Your SAT or ACT Superscore
Most college bound students will sit for the SAT or ACT more than once. So, which scores should you send to the colleges on your list to present your best self?
It all depends on the schools and their test score policies. Some schools consider all test scores from all dates; some consider your highest overall score from a single test date; and some consider a composite of your highest section scores from all test dates. And at a growing number of schools’ test scores are completely optional.
Understanding the scoring policies of each school you are applying to will help you determine which test scores to send to which schools.
Learn more about SAT score reports, and get a FREE consultation on your SAT scores with our Educational Advisors.
What is a superscore?
Many schools (and the common application) will ask you to list the score and test date of your best individual test scores—such as your best ACT English, best Math, best Reading, and best Science scores—and then calculate a “super composite” or superscore based on these scores. Therefore, if you worry that some scores will rise as others fall when you take the ACT again, the “super composite” will reflect your best results.
Some colleges superscore across all your test dates, and some superscore across the test dates you choose to submit. (For example, you may take the test three times but decide to only submit two of those scores.)
New SAT Superscore The sum of your highest Math and Evidence-Based Reading and Writing scores
SAT Superscore (pre-redesign) The sum of your highest Critical Reading, Math, and Writing scores
ACT Superscore The average of your highest Math, Science, Reading, and English section scores
Which colleges superscore?
Most colleges, but not all, consider your SAT or ACT superscores. Find out the policy for each school you apply to, so that you can come up with the best application strategy. Some schools highly recommend that you send all test scores (even if only your highest section scores will factor into their admissions decision), so that they can make sure you are considered for other opportunities like honors college admission, scholarships, or bridge programs.
As for the SAT, The College Board publishes a handy chart with the score policies of participating schools, but it’s always best to check with each college directly.
Your SAT Score Strategy
If you take the SAT, you will have the option through the College Board’s reporting tool Score Choice™ to decide by test date which scores will appear on the score reports that the College Board will send to colleges. You may choose, for example, to eliminate your lowest test score from the report for those colleges that don’t require you to send all test scores.
Your ACT Score Strategy
If you take the ACT, a record is created each time you take the test, and you tell ACT which test records to release to schools. ACT will send only the test dates you request. Decide which and how many dates to send based on your scores and the school's guidelines about super scoring. If a college requests all of your ACT scores, it’s up to you to ensure that all your test records are released to that school.
Starting in September 2020, ACT will superscore every student’s record. This is part of a number of changes to ACT administrations, including the ability to take a single test (English, Math, Reading, Science, or Writing), rather than retaking the entire ACT. Because students who do a single section won’t have the other results with which to calculate a composite score, ACT will instead use the best individual sections from previous tests and report that as the student’s ACT score.
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