Test Prep

Your Goal College Doesn't Superscore -- Which Test Sitting Should You Submit?


After months of research, you've finally got a well-crafted list of target schools where you're excited to apply. But you also realize that one or two of your target schools doesn't superscore the SAT or ACT. Does this mean you have to modify your study strategy? Strive for a different score goal? Take the test a couple more times?

Lisa Bleich, who is president of College Bound Mentor and author of “Surviving the College Application Process," thinks you should just keep doing the best you can and working on your weaker skill areas between tests.

“I don't think it would impact the number of times a student takes the test, because even if one college does not superscore, others on their list may," Bleich points out.

Still, the million dollar question remains: Should you send in the test date with the better Math score or the better English score? In this case, if you absolutely must choose, you might want to go with the stronger score that is more relevant to your intended major. This is especially going to be true if you apply to international universities.

Don't Forget Self-Reporting

Bleich says that because the Common Application and Coalition Application allow you to self-report your highest score in each section of both the SAT and the ACT, you can still report your highest score for each section on whichever test you took.

“I still recommend that students send in their highest single score, and if one test is substantially higher in another area, they can send that in as well to corroborate what they self-report on the Common App or Coalition App."

A majority of colleges now superscore the SAT, but there are fewer colleges that superscore the ACT. If you're taking the ACT, Bleich explains that “it really comes down to the individual and how the composite is affected. I would look at the relative difference in scores, how much that impacts the composite and whether or not a school looks at the individual scores or just the highest composite. For example, the University of Pittsburgh used to superscore the ACT, but last year they moved to just looking at the highest composite ACT score. So for schools that only look at the composite and not the individual scores, the student should send the test date with the highest overall composite regardless of how they did on the individual sections."

Don't Use Score to Decide College

If you are starting to worry about a non-superscoring school on your list, Bleich reminds students that this should not be a deciding factor for where to apply. “Students should apply to schools based on their interests and alignment with the school's academic, social and financial fit."

However, if you still find that your SAT or ACT scores do not properly reflect your academic strengths, you can always search for test optional schools instead.

Remember that at first glance, you may think that your school doesn't superscore just because they don't mention the word “superscore." But take a closer look at the wording of their score submission policy. If they mention anything like the following, then the college does, in fact, use some version of your superscore: “We give most weight to the highest scores across test dates" or “We will be certain to review the strongest score in each category across all exams." If you're ever in doubt, just call the admissions office and ask.