I still vividly remember a conversation I had with my high school guidance counselor junior year (a decade ago!) after receiving my SAT score. I knocked the Reading and Writing sections out of the park, but my Math score was only so-so – pretty reflective of my high school transcript, let’s be real. I was debating retaking them. Sure, I could potentially raise my Math score, but what if my Reading and Writing scores dropped? I didn’t really want to take it if it might not actually help my overall score, so was it pointless? Turns out, this is the moment when superscoring comes in.
Superscoring refers to the process where colleges take your highest section scores, across however many times you took the SAT. In other words, if I improved my Math score but my other scores dropped, it wouldn’t matter – the school would take whichever scores were highest. Obviously, this is great news for applicants who have taken the SAT more than once and raised section scores.
So, why do colleges do this? As you may have guessed, it’s not entirely just to help out their applicants. The average SAT scores of incoming freshman affect ranking, so this superscoring process makes you look more impressive while actually boosting their rating. It’s win-win!
However – and this is important – not all colleges use superscoring. Taking the SAT five times to college different section scores won’t actually help you if your top choice school doesn’t take the highest ones. Luckily, PrepScholar has compiled a full list of colleges who do superscore, as of August 2018.
When in doubt, I always recommend emailing or calling the admissions office at the schools you’re most interested in, and asking them directly if they superscore. Once you know, you can plan your SAT “strategy” accordingly!