A Guide to ACT Superscoring
If you have recently taken the ACT or are currently preparing to do so, you have probably heard your peers, teachers, or guidance counselor mention superscoring. However, you may not know exactly what superscoring is or how it can affect your college admissions process.
In this guide, we will unravel the mysteries surrounding ACT superscores and explain the benefits of a superscore, how to calculate it, and when to submit it to a college or scholarship program in place of a Composite score.
What Is an ACT Superscore?
An ACT superscore is an average of a student’s best scores from each of the 4 subjects tested on the ACT across multiple exam attempts. It is designed to help students showcase their academic ability more effectively by drawing from their best scores on several ACT exams. Keep in mind that the Writing section does not factor into superscoring because it also does not count toward calculating individual Composite scores.
Let’s say, for example, that you scored well in the Math section the first time you took the ACT. Then, the second time you sat for the exam, your Math score fell while your Reading score rose. Rather than choosing between the two individual Composite scores you earned, which may be very similar due to the rise and fall of your results in different sections, you can instead use your higher Math score from the first test and your higher Reading score from the second test to calculate a superscore that more accurately reflects your academic ability.
Note that in order for students to be eligible for superscoring, they must have taken the ACT more than once from September 2016 onward.
How to Calculate Your ACT Superscore
So, how do you calculate your ACT superscore? The first step is to gather all your score reports together, which should be easy since you can access all of them online. Then, create a table that allows you to compare your results in each subject across each exam attempt. You can set up your table in any way that makes sense to you, but here is an example to help you start:
|ACT Score Table
Next, circle the highest score you achieved in each individual section. For the student in our example, those scores are:
- English: 25
- Math: 24
- Reading: 22
- Science: 23
We’re almost there! The final step is to find the average of your highest scores by adding them all up and dividing by 4. Our example student’s superscore is: 25 + 24 + 22 + 23 = 94 / 4 = 23.5.
You can access your ACT superscore on your MyACT account as soon as the scores for your second ACT exam become available. Your superscore will be automatically calculated for you.
How to Apply to Colleges Using Your ACT Superscore
It’s important to note that not all colleges accept ACT superscores. However, an increasing number of schools have begun to accept superscoring as a student-friendly practice that helps incoming students showcase their academic abilities outside of one test score. But, since ACT superscores are not universally accepted at all colleges, your first step should be to find out whether or not the schools on your list do accept superscores.
Here are a few examples of popular schools that currently accept ACT superscores:
- Duquesne University: Calculates superscore for you.
- New York University: Calculates superscore for you.
- Stanford University: Considers all subscores from previous test dates.
- University of Pennsylvania: Considers highest subscores from all previous test dates.
- Vanderbilt University: Superscores both the ACT and SAT.
- Massachusetts Institute of Technology: Considers highest subscores from all previous test dates.
- Georgia Institute of Technology: Superscores and updates with the highest subscores upon each resubmission.
You can find a full list of ACT superscoring colleges here.
Once you know that your school of choice does accept superscores, you can log into your account and send a score report on the ACT website. You can decide to send either your superscore or an individual score from one particular exam. The choice is entirely up to you.
Remember that many schools have switched to test optional admissions policies. In these cases, you may want to reach out to the school directly for more information about how they evaluate test scores.
Should You Apply to Colleges Using Your ACT Superscore?
For many students, superscores are an excellent showcase of their academic abilities. Some have raised concern that superscoring could overestimate a student’s capabilities upon entering college. However, research conducted by the ACT in conjunction with Harvard University found that superscores were actually better at predicting a student’s college performance than traditional Composite scores.
Superscores also tend to be higher than any singular Composite score. A higher ACT score makes you a more competitive candidate when applying to both schools and scholarship programs. You may find that none of your individual Composite scores reach your target score range for your top schools, but your superscore could break into that range. In that case, submitting your superscore would most likely increase your chances of admission at a given school or of earning a scholarship.
That being said, this decision should be made on a case-by-case basis for each individual student. Colleges will most likely be able to view your score reports in their entirety, not just the superscore itself, for each exam when you send your superscore. If you scored particularly low in some sections on one of your exams, this may be an important factor to keep in mind. Be sure to carefully consider all your options before sending in your scores.
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