Has SAT superscoring left you super confused? Have you spent hours scouring college websites to understand what SAT scores they require and use and how they use them? Every college, and sometimes each college department, will have different SAT score-use policies. Let’s explore the ways colleges interpret your scores.
What Is an SAT Superscore?
Imagine you’ve taken the SAT two times, once in the spring and once in the fall. The second time around, your Evidence-Based Reading and Writing score increased 80 points, but your Math score came out 10 points lower. Colleges that superscore the SAT use your best section-level scores, even if they were from different tests. Many colleges that follow a superscore policy encourage students to submit all test scores, and some require it. This allows them to see and consider the highest section scores consistently and fairly across all applicants.
While many colleges superscore the SAT, it’s always a good idea to review the SAT score-use policy for each college on your list. You can usually find this policy on the admissions website, usually in an “application requirements” section.
What’s the Difference Between Superscoring and Score Choice?
The College Board provides Score Choice™, which allows students to select which scores or sets of scores they want to send to a college. With Score Choice, students can control which score reports, by test date, will be sent to each college.
What Other Types of SAT Score-Use Policies Are There?
Single Highest Test Date
Some schools will take your single highest total SAT score, regardless of whether it was your most recent. These schools may request that you send scores from all test dates, as you receive them, so they can update your records to use your highest total score.
All Scores Required for Review
This policy requires students to submit scores from every SAT test date they participated in. Don’t stress it if a school you’re applying to has this requirement. These schools take into consideration the highest section scores and will see any improvements you may have made between sections or the whole exam itself. Here's how you can figure out what a school's SAT score use policy is:
- Visit Bigfuture and click on Find Colleges
- Enter the college you're interested in and click Go
- On the left panel click on Applying
- Select the Application Requirements tab
- View "SAT Score use policy" under the "Test Policies" header
Let's use Stanford University as an example:
From the example we can see that Stanford requires all SAT Scores. Aside from SAT score use policy, these college profiles on BigFuture offer a lot more information on the college itself!
How Many Times Should You Take the SAT?
No matter if colleges on your list superscore or not, you should consider taking the SAT more than once. It will give you the opportunity to demonstrate perseverance, show your growth, and possibly improve your scores. Having two or three SAT scores also allows for more score sending options.
Colleges don’t look poorly upon retaking, so don’t worry about it hurting your admission chances. And it can strengthen your application! In fact, 2 out of 3 students raise their scores when they take the SAT a second time.
Many students will take the SAT for the first time in the spring of their junior year, then again in late summer or the fall. Some will take the SAT a third time in the fall. There are three national SAT administration dates before even early college application deadlines—in August, October, and November. Spending time with Official SAT practice on Khan Academy and continuing to learn in your classes will increase the possibility of improving your score. Just be sure to put your effort into every section of the test with each test date because you never know which section score could end up higher than last time
For SAT practice materials leading up to that first test date and beyond, you’ll find everything you need to succeed on the College Board website.