For many high school students, their SAT scores play an important role in their college application. College admissions officers from various institutions refer to SAT scores when checking the level of a student’s academic ability. This helps them ensure that you are ready to handle the rigor of complex college courses. However, not all schools realize that your performance on one test (i.e. the SAT or ACT) may not reflect your true academic skills.
In order to balance things out and address the unrepresentative nature of using just one test score, there are colleges that superscore. This enables them to get a clearer picture of how you can perform in the academics aspect.
In this blog, we’ll discuss SAT and ACT super scores and how you can use it to your advantage when entering the college that you want.
SAT and ACT
Most parents and students start the process of college prep by comparing the SAT and ACT. Generally, the two tests cover the same subjects. Score reports from both exams are used for awarding scholarships that are merit-based and decisions regarding college admissions. Take note that in many cases, colleges do not favor one test over the other.
Before we list down the colleges that superscore the ACT and SAT, let’s first find out what “superscore” really means.
Defining a Superscore
Superscoring is the method by which colleges consider the highest section scores you obtained across all test dates you took the SAT. Instead of referring at just your total score in one specific date, schools superscore by combining the highest section scores to create the student’s highest possible composite score.
Based on the current SAT, this means taking the highest scores for Math and Evidence-Based Reading and Writing (EBRW) across every test date.
Let’s say you garnered 750 on the Math section during your first SAT while your Reading and Writing scores fell around 600. In order to get a better EBRW score, you invested time and money for a test prep that worked wonders. You successfully increased your EBRW numbers to 100 points and you couldn’t be any happier.
But to your dismay, you realize that you prioritized reading comprehension and grammar that you failed to focus more on your math skills. Your excellent math score, unfortunately, dropped significantly during your second take. What do you do?
Here’s where superscoring can help. If the college you want to attend superscores, then there’s basically nothing to be worried about. They’d simply take the 750 you originally scored on Math and combine it with the higher EBRW score. While it took you multiple tests to reach, you’d still end up with the highest SAT scores in all parts of your exam for college application.
Even though the superscoring policy is beneficial for college applicants, it’s not something that’s completely borne out of free-handedness. Superscoring is also good for colleges as it improves their overall ranking. If they are able to prove that their admitted students have SAT scores higher than others, they can easily rank higher in the list.
Which Colleges Accept SAT Superscores?
The colleges listed below accept SAT superscores. In addition to the superscoring policy of each school, we have included their stance in terms of the Score Choice policy from the College Board. While the colleges we’ll be mentioning take your highest section scores, most of them don’t want you to use Score Choice that allows students to pick which scores admissions officers get to see.
Some of the information you see here may no longer be updated. Always make sure to contact your prospective college’s admissions office first to clarify its policy on Score Choice and superscoring.
For students who have taken the SAT multiple times, the college will take the highest section scores from every date and combine them.
The school will allow students to take the Score Choice option but they strongly suggest students submit their complete SAT scores. BU always considers the student’s highest SAT scores when making admissions decisions.
Students who have taken a test more than once will be evaluated according to the highest score they got in any individual subsection.
If you have taken multiple tests, Duke allows you to choose which scores to send them. For students who elect to send more than one test scores, the school will use whichever is the highest.
The university is not accepting the Score Choice option from the College Board. They require students to submit all scores from the SAT. If you have taken the SAT more than once, they will consider the highest math score and critical reading score from multiple sessions.
Georgia Institute of Technology
The university practices superscoring within one test–using the highest section scores from any test date. Every time you send over new scores, they will update your applicant record with your highest scores. Instead of just evaluating the composite, they also review the subsection scores.
Applicants are allowed to use the Score Choice option from the College Board.
The student’s highest section scores across the board will be taken, even if they were made on different test sessions. Johns Hopkins encourages students to update their application with new test scores every time they take the SAT.
For applicants who have taken the SAT multiple times, the highest score in each section will be considered. This superscoring method applies to students who submit scores from the old and new SAT. The school does this to consider all students in their best light. Students can also use the Score Choice option.
New York University
The university will review the highest of each section for both the ACT and SAT. Their review will be made regardless of test dates.
Applicants who submit multiple scores will undergo superscoring for the evaluation. Notre Dame will consider the highest composite score as well as the highest scores on every subsection–regardless of the date they were taken.
Applicants can use the Score Choice feature but the submission of complete test scores is encouraged.
Stanford requires scores from all sittings of either SAT or ACT (or both if you took the two exams). For SAT takers, their highest individual Essay, Math, and Evidence-Based Reading and Writing scores will be reviewed. The focus will be on the highest Math, Writing, and Critical Reading for SATs taken before March 2016. They cannot superscore across two tests so they will do it separately.
University of Chicago
The school recommends applicants to send all of their scores. During the review, only your best testing scores will be considered. Lower test scores submitted will not be used in the evaluation.
University of Connecticut
Highest scores will be combined from every subsection of a test to come up with the best total score for exams that were taken multiple times.
University of Miami
The university recommends you send all of your scores–especially if you’ve taken the test multiple times–so they have your best scores on record. Official test scores from different test dates will be taken into consideration. They will use the highest composite score from each exam you’ve completed.
University of North Carolina
For students who send over scores from different test dates, the university will review your highest score for every test section. They will consider those numbers when evaluating your application. If you have taken both SAT and ACT and submit the scores, they will refer to whichever has a higher score.
University of Pennsylvania
The school applies the superscoring method for the ACT, as well as old and new SATs. However, they only combine the scores within the same format and not between the old and new tests.
University of Southern California
Applicants who have taken the SAT multiple times will be reviewed by the USC according to the highest scores they submit for every subsection.
University of Virginia
The Office of Admission always considers the best test scores from applicants. During the review process, they focus on the highest score from each section. Scores from the old and new SAT will not be combined. The school suggests you send over all your scores while keeping in mind that they will recombine the sections for the best possible score set.
Students are strongly encouraged to submit scores every time they complete the SAT. The school allows superscoring among old and new SATs but never between the two formats. Only the highest scores for each section will be considered as part of the evaluation. They regularly update the students’ high section scores each time he/she submits SAT scores.
For Villanova candidates, they are required to submit all scores from each SAT session they attend. The school’s Admission Committee will superscore the highest Math scores and Evidence-based Reading and Writing scores during the application review.
Virginia Tech superscores across all exams and test dates. This means they will take a lot at the highest English and Math subscores, and combine your ACT and SAT scores. For instance, the Admissions Committee could consider your ACT Reading and SAT Math subscores when evaluating your application.
During the assessment of SAT scores, the admissions officers will look at the highest individual old or new scores from all sessions. For instance, students who took the old SAT two times will have their Math, Writing, and Critical Reading scores reviewed separately. The same thing applies to those who took the new SAT twice. If you completed both SAT types, they will be treated individually and the admissions office will evaluate the highest scores on each set.
Things to Remember when Adhering to Superscores
Keep in mind that not all colleges use the superscoring method. Check with the institutions to which you are applying to and ask about their scoring policy to be sure. For example, MIT accepts SAT superscores while Cornell University doesn’t.
Students are not allowed to send in just one score from their exam. You cannot select scores to send colleges (i.e. sending just the Reading part of the ACT or the Math subsection of the SAT). With superscoring, students are required to submit their complete score reports that contain all sections. This helps colleges to check how a student performed academically across the board.
Old and new SAT cannot be superscored. The New SAT with a total of 1600 points cannot be combined with the Old SAT that has 2400 points.
Although superscores help students who retake the SAT, sending too many scores will not be good for your applicant profile. Take note that students should never sit on the ACT or SAT for several times just to reach a high score on one or more subsections.
Ideally, students should sit for the ACT or SAT not exceeding two or three times. Scores have the tendency of plateauing after your third take. Unless you are getting comprehensive test prep, it’s highly unlikely your scores will have a dramatic increase.
If colleges want to check all your scores and most of it is inconsistent, it can appear as red flags and hurt your applicant record. Thus, you need to be strategic with how you use your scores and handle your test prep.
What Happens Next
There’s no denying the fact that SAT is still an important aspect when measuring a student’s success, especially at many top universities and colleges in the country. Therefore, it’s not surprising why students in the junior year feel a particular level of panic when they hit a low score. It’s a normal feeling and aspiring college students or parents should not really start crossing off their dream schools of their list just yet.
For parents, just because your teen failed to achieve the scores they had initially hoped for doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a cause for serious concern. Lots of students decide to retake the SAT because it’s an effective approach when it comes to boosting scores and increasing their chances of entering the school of your dreams.
This is a proven fact – a previous College Board report claimed that most junior students who take the exam see substantial improvements when they decide to retake it as a senior. It simply means students applying to universities that accept SAT superscores may be able to stack the odds in their favor by retaking the SAT.