Why have the SAT and ACT become so important in the college admissions process? Basically because most admissions officers can use the objective metrics these tests provide to better evaluate more subjective data like grades and class rank. Like it or not, the SAT and ACT provide awesome opportunities for students to enhance their applications. But exams like these do have obvious drawbacks, the most glaring of which is that a given test score represents a snapshot of student performance on one long weekend morning, rather than over a longer period of time. Talk about pressure!
However, various changes in both how scores are reported and how they are evaluated have taken some of that pressure off.
On the testing side, both the College Board and ACT, Inc. allow students to select which test scores they wish to send. This benefit, which was a long time coming on the SAT side, ensures that students can, in most cases, bury the results from disappointing outings. Note that a handful of schools block the SAT Score Choice option, so do your research carefully.
Even better, many colleges allow you to send scores from multiple test administrations, from which they will construct your superscore. What is an SAT or ACT superscore (or super score, if you prefer)?
SAT Superscore = best Evidence-based Reading & Writing + best Math (+ best Essay)
ACT Superscore = best English + best Math + best Reading + best Science (+ best Writing)
Pretty sweet, right? A superscoring policy makes perfect sense in a world where we understand that we can’t always score our best on every single test. Any given test score represents more of a range of potential. Colleges that superscore institutionalize the obvious by allowing students to present all the evidence for their best possible test scores.
Do all schools superscore both the SAT and ACT?
Traditionally, colleges are more likely to superscore SAT scores than ACT scores, but more and more schools are doing both. However, colleges do not share one universal policy for evaluating student test scores. Some schools still look at a student’s best individual administration. Others allow students to send in multiple SAT administrations and superscore those tests. Still others include the ACT as well. Always contact each college you are applying to for its specific score policy.
Are superscores considered inferior to single administration scores?
As far as we are aware, no stigma is attached to having a superscore rather than one overall best test administration. In most instances, the person who assembles the admissions folder and calculates the superscore is not the person who evaluates the application.
Can I just send the specific section of a test that I want to be superscored?
Say a student earns an amazing SAT Math score but bombs the other sections on a given administration. Can she choose to send only the Math score for that test? Absolutely not. Any SAT or ACT administration you report scores for will include every section score.
Can I combine both my SAT and ACT into one superscore?
Most colleges wisely shy away from patching together some sort of SAT/ACT Frankenscore. However, some colleges dare to explore the forbidden corners of score analysis and create their own hybrid superscore models. Always do your research!