Why Do Some Colleges Superscore The ACT/SAT While Others Don’t?

Submitting your ACT or SAT scores to colleges isn’t as simple as mailing the scores of your latest test. Before you start thinking, “Oh no, not one more thing to worry about”, this one may actually be good news. Instead of looking at your latest test scores, some colleges prefer to take a look at your superscore of the ACT and SAT.

They then use this superscore to help inform their decision regarding admissions. Here’s a look at the ACT/SAT superscoring system, how it works and how it benefits both you and the college.

A high school student with her arms in the air doing a victory pose.

What is the Superscoring System?

Colleges that favor the superscoring system don’t consider the overall score you earned in any one ACT or SAT test. Instead, they look at your scores across different subsections in an exam. They then consider only the highest sub-score across all the dates that you took the ACT or the SAT tests. The resulting score is your superscore.

For example, let’s say you took the SAT test twice.

  • First Test: 600 in Reading & Writing and 750 in Math.
  • Second Test: 680 in Reading & Writing and 700 in Math.

A college that superscores will take the higher Math score from the first test and the higher Reading & Writing score from the second test. This gives you the highest possible score. Not bad, right?

Benefits of Superscoring for Students

How does superscoring help students applying to a college? This system allows you to use your best test scores for admission. If you’ve taken two or more tests, you don’t have to choose which test results to submit as part of your application. You benefit from using the best scores from each sub-section of the test, resulting in an overall higher score. This, of course, boosts your acceptance odds.

Benefits of Superscoring for Schools

You may wonder why a school would choose to superscore the ACT or the SAT. By superscoring, colleges show that their admitted students have obtained higher average ACT or SAT scores. This in turn helps to boost the college’s overall rankings.

Getting a higher ranking is always good news for any school. They are perceived as more prestigious and attract a better cohort of applicants.

What is important to remember is that not all colleges use the superscoring system. Before sending your ACT/SAT scores, make sure to first find if the schools you’re applying to superscore or not.

Why Some Colleges Choose Not to Use Superscores

To benefit from the superscoring system, students need to send multiple test scores. This can add significantly to the already high cost of applying to colleges. Some colleges choose not to superscore in an attempt to keep application costs down for students applying to their school.

Additionally, some schools may not put much weight behind the ACT and SAT scores—if they require them at all. If the ACT and SAT are optional, they may not bother with superscoring to keep things simpler.

See how your ACT or SAT scores affect your acceptance odds with College Raptor’s free match tool!

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