Taking the highest subscores received across each test administration and combining yields a “superscore” – a higher total score. For the SAT, a superscore is determined by simply taking the sum of the highest scores received in the EBRW (Evidence-Based Reading and Writing) and Math sections, no matter how many times the student takes the SAT. 

The ACT Composite score is calculated by taking the average of the Reading, Math, Science and English sections. Unlike the SAT, the ACT automatically superscores for all students who have taken the exam more than once; however, students still have the option of sending their superscore or a full composite test score to colleges. ACT test takers may also retake individual sections of the exam.

All colleges and universities have their own policies regarding superscoring, but the vast majority do superscore. You can find a school’s official testing policy on its admissions website, but it would be a good idea to seek out this information from admissions officers during in-person or virtual visit experiences.

If you apply to an institution that superscores tests, you will need to submit official records of all of the test administrations that you would like to be considered. For example, if you take the SAT three times and received their highest EBRW score on the second attempt and the highest Math score on the third attempt, you should prioritize sending the exam scores associated with only your second and third testing dates; in fact, there is no need to send the scores from the first test date, unless the university requires applicants to submit all scores. 

Students who take multiple attempts at the ACT or SAT are not advised to automatically send their scores to colleges, as normally prompted on test day. Instead, wait until you receive the scores and then you can later decide which score records you would like to have considered for superscoring.

Is there an advantage to sending a superscore?

This greatly depends on an applicant’s holistic profile. For some students, sending a superscore may help to compensate for weaker areas of their applications, for example, the high school transcript, essays or extracurricular activities. However, if an applicant has a strong high school transcript and is also competitive in other ways, then submitting a superscore may not make a huge difference. In recent years many institutions have also gone test-optional, including highly selective schools, so the submission of superscores is not as significant with regard to admission as it was five or ten years ago. Still, standardized testing can be used to determine eligibility for merit scholarships, honors colleges, or other special programs.

Discuss standardized testing with an AcceptU counselor to determine which standardized tests you need, if any, and how many times you should take your SAT or ACT. You should also discuss with AcceptU the ACT or SAT scores you should be aiming for, and whether you should submit all, some, or none of your scores to universities.

About the author
Obi Eneh

Obi has a BA in psychology and Asian studies, as well as an MPA, from Clark University. Additionally, Obi received an MA from Columbia University Teachers College, focusing on international educational development. Obi worked as an admissions reader at Johns Hopkins University and an admissions consultant for EducationUSA.

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