Do colleges superscore ACT and SAT equally?
Every time high school students sit for either the ACT or SAT college admissions tests, I am asked about the nuances of superscoring. With tens of thousands of rising high school seniors getting ready to take the ACT on Saturday, it’s a good time to review.
Superscoring is done by some colleges for students who take the same admissions test more than once.
Colleges look at the results of each test a student takes. If a student takes a test twice or more, the college will look at the subscores from each section (math, reading, etc) on every test date submitted, and take the highest for each.
Taking a test multiple times gives kids a chance to raise a score in a particular area (and, of course, it means that more test fees pour into the organizations that own and administer these exams).
There is mixed opinion on how much a student can raise a score on multiple tests, but there is enough anecdotal evidence to convince many kids that it is worth it. Sometimes, a bump of even 20 points on the SAT, or 1 to 2 points on the ACT, can make the difference between being accepted or rejected.
Still, many students labor under the misconception that most schools superscore both the ACT and the SAT. While many schools do, many more do so for the SAT than the ACT.
Why is this so? It’s not really clear.
Some counselors say the ACT folks used to discourage superscoring, insisting that the test parts constituted a whole that should not be broken apart for the sake of grading.
I asked ACT, the organization that owns the test, and here’s what spokesman Ed Colby said:
“I’m afraid we don’t really have a definitive answer for why fewer schools superscore the ACT than the SAT. We would defer to the colleges themselves on that question, as the answer may vary from school to school.
“ACT doesn’t make a specific recommendation to colleges in terms of how to deal with multiple scores. We leave it to them to decide which approach is best for their purposes. They are obviously in the best position to understand their own particular needs and the context in which they use the scores.
"As for knowing which institutions use the superscore option: That’s not really something we keep close track of.
"There’s more information about use of multiple scores on our website."
The bottom line is that while a growing number of schools are superscoring the ACT, many still don’t. There are some lists you can find on the Web (see below, but it is important to check each school because school policies changes).
It would be unfortunate to pursue a test-taking strategy that depends on superscoring -- such as concentrating on different sections on different test dates -- when the school a teen really wants to attend doesn’t superscore.
Here are some Web sites with superscoring information:
College Admissions Partners:
College Board (SAT):
Here’s more on the College Board’s “Score Choice” option for the SAT, which I wrote about recently: http://bit.ly/cU5svX
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| June 9, 2010; 10:00 AM ET
Categories: College Admissions, SAT and ACT | Tags: college admissions, college admissions tests, college application process, sat and act, superscoring, superscoring act, superscoring sat
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