Superscoring is a practice that lets you submit your best scores from across different times you took either the SAT or ACT.  For instance, let’s say you took the SAT twice and scored a 1500 each time. The first time you received an 800 in Math with a 700 in Reading, but the second you scored a 750 in both sections. Using superscoring, you could submit your 800 in Math alongside 750 in Reading, for a composite score of 1550.

This practice carries obvious benefits.  If you had a bad testing day, then you have the opportunity for a do-over.  It also allows you to recalibrate your study strategy. Returning to the previous example, if your target score is a 1550 and you already have an 800 on your Math section, then you can stop studying for it entirely.  Perhaps that’s an extreme example, but the lesson stands firm if we lower the numbers slightly. If you got a 780, there’s little use in continuing to study for the Math section, since you can only raise your score an additional twenty points.  This isn’t to say that you shouldn’t fight for every single point, but rather that you should choose your battles. Superscoring lets you do so.

Superscoring takes two forms.  Some schools such as MIT and Harvard will only look at your highest score, period.  Others such as Brown choose to focus on your best performances, but still want to see your score from each time you sat for the exam.  You shouldn’t rely upon the score choice, however. A small number of elite universities such as Stanford do not offer it.  If Stanford is on your radar, then you need to put your best foot forward on every single question on every single test.  Since few students know the exact set of schools to which they’re applying until very late in the process, Ivy Admissions recommends continuing to do a full suite of preparation for every standardized test, in case our students become interested in applying to a school without score choice.

There are no disadvantages to superscoring.  But it comes with one caveat: you cannot mix and match tests.  If you have a 36 on the Math portion of the ACT and an 800 on Reading for the SAT, then you can’t mash them together.  Colleges will try to create the best profile for each applicant by using either the SAT or ACT – not both. Additionally, if for some reason you took the SAT when it was out of 2400 points and again when it returned to a 1600-point scale, you cannot superscore between the two tests.  Since the change to the SAT happened nearly two years ago, this is almost exclusively relevant for transfer students.

Combining your best scores is a no brainer; there’s no reason not to superscore.  But, you need to get those great scores in the first place. Take a look at our post on boosting your Math score up to 300 points and passage mapping on the Reading section to ensure that your scores are the best they can be.