Superscoring and Score Choice: what are they, and how do they work?

If you’ve taken the SAT or ACT more than once, you may be wondering which scores to send to colleges or whether you even have a choice. We hear the terms "superscoring" and "Score Choice" thrown around a lot, but what do these mean, and will you be able to take advantage of them? 

The answer depends on the colleges to which you’re applying. Some colleges accept superscoring, meaning they’ll add up your best section scores from multiple official exams and use that number for admissions. Some accept Score Choice, meaning you’ll get to pick the best set of scores from one exam sitting and submit only those scores.

Below, we’ll clarify those policies and explain how colleges interpret scores.

What is superscoring?

Your superscore is the composite score you’d have if you combined your highest section scores from all the dates you took the test. Only some colleges consider your superscore. These colleges believe that your performance on a single exam doesn’t necessarily indicate your college readiness. Indeed, the available evidence suggests that students’ superscores provide a better prediction of how students will perform in their college courses. As such, some colleges want to focus on your best section-specific performances across multiple sittings.

How do I calculate my superscore?

To calculate your superscore, look at your highest section scores from all the dates you took the test.

For example, suppose that you received the following scores on two different official SAT exams:














Because your superscore is the combination of your highest section scores, your superscore would be 570 + 640 = 1210. Note that your superscore combines your highest “Evidence-Based Reading & Writing” and “Math” scores—not your individual subsection scores on the Reading, Writing & Language, Math (No Calculator), and Math (Calculator) tests.

Let’s look at an example of superscoring on the ACT:




















On the ACT, your superscore is the average of your highest English, Math, Reading, and Science section scores, so your superscore would be (25 + 24 + 25 + 22) / 4 = 24. Make sure to round your average to the nearest whole number. For example, if the average of your highest section scores is 29.5, then your superscore is 30. If the average is 29.25, however, then your superscore is 29.

Which colleges consider my superscore?

Not all colleges take your superscore into account, but many do, and the number is increasing. In fact, beginning in September 2020, the ACT will automatically send colleges your superscore (and allow you to retake individual sections from the ACT) in an effort to encourage colleges to consider your superscore. While you may find third-party websites that have compiled lists of colleges that superscore, we recommend that you check colleges’ superscoring policies on their admissions websites or contact colleges’ admissions offices directly.

What is Score Choice?

Score Choice allows you to choose which scores you send to a college. As with superscoring, the reasoning behind Score Choice is that a particular test performance might be a poor measure of your academic ability. Maybe you fall sick the day you’re taking the SAT, which leads you to receive a composite score that is exceptionally low compared to your other scores. You can withhold this bad score from colleges that have a Score Choice policy. However, you cannot choose which individual test sections you send to participating colleges. Score Choice doesn’t mean that you can send your Math section score from June and your Evidence-Based Reading & Writing section score from October—that’s what superscoring is for. 

Which colleges accept Score Choice?

Like superscoring, Score Choice is accepted only by some colleges. If you took the SAT, you can select which scores to send through your CollegeBoard account, where you’ll see the Score Choice policy for any college you choose. If you took the ACT, visit the admissions pages of colleges’ websites to determine their policies.


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About ArborBridge

ArborBridge is the global leader in innovative, digital, one-on-one tutoring. With nearly a decade of experience teaching students online, ArborBridge supports students of all kinds: home schoolers, AP students, test preppers, and more. Our tutors specialize in creating personalized plans and in providing compassionate support for students and families.

Preston Evers

About Preston Evers

Preston graduated cum laude from Princeton. As an undergrad, he tutored high school students in SAT/ACT prep, college essay writing, English, math, and political science. At the end of his senior year, Preston was awarded the Class of 1869 Prize for his thesis on responsibility for historic and structural injustice. When working with students, Preston recognizes that high school and the college application process can be a stressful time. In addition to seeking concrete improvements in test scores and grades, Preston hopes to be a mentor whose lessons will extend far beyond individual sessions and exams.

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