It’s test day. You’ve really prepped for the SAT and you feel very strong on the math section. Your scores come out and you’re happy but confused: 800 in Math and a 650 in Reading and Writing.
“It’s not the end of the world!” you say. You spend the next month reading the New York Times for stamina, Scientific American for analysis skills, and Vogue (because why not?) You take countless SAT practice tests to boost your reading and writing skills. It’s a new test day for the SAT, and you walk out of the room feeling good.
This time, you scored a 750 in Math but a 770 in Reading and Writing.
You might be frustrated that your A-game on these two different test days led to a 1450 and 1520, with different emphases on the different days. But thanks to super-scoring, there is a plethora of schools that will only judge your best: the 800 in Math from the first test and the 770 in Reading and Writing for the second test, for a grand total of 1570.
What is super-scoring?
Super-scoring is a method of taking the best sections from separate test days for the SAT and ACT, and combining them into one score that you can then send out to colleges. For the SAT, it’s as straightforward as taking the best sections, adding them up, and sending out the super-score.
Super-scoring should be differentiated from Score ChoiceTM, an option offered by CollegeBoard. The latter method only allows you to choose particular test dates, with those respective scores, to send out to colleges; the former sends the best sections from any test date to colleges. By the way, there is a $12 fee per school to use Score ChoiceTM.
For the ACT, super-scoring is the same idea but computed differently. Instead of the scores being added up, they’re averaged across the sections. So, say on one test day someone scores a 24 in reading, 25 in math, 29 in English, and 28 in science. Their composite score is a 27 (rounded up from 26.5). The second time they take the test, they score a 23 in reading, 27 in math, 26 in English, and 31 in science. Their composite score this time is still a 27 (rounded up from 26.75)
If we take a super-score of these two tests, the new score is composed of a 24 in reading, 27 in math, 29 in English, and 31 in science for a 28 composite score (rounded up from 27.75).
Remember that if you don’t use Score Choice, all your scores will be sent to the colleges you apply to. After that, those schools will determine your super-score if they practice super-scoring.
Which colleges accept super-scores?
For a complete list of schools that super-score the SAT, check out this link.
For a complete list of schools that super-score the ACT, check out this link:
In the end, it’s all about moderation. Schools that choose to super-score will be glad to judge the best of your test-taking abilities. However, they don’t enjoy seeing huge variations in test date scores. They want students to show consistency. If possible, don’t take either test more than 3 times. Most importantly, do your research with the above links and make sure you know your school’s testing policy. Building a test-taking strategy is key to college admissions success.