ACT Superscoring: What Is It and Do Schools Use It?

Once I review scoring on the ACT with my students, one of the questions that they most commonly ask next is “Is the test superscored?” The short answer? Yes, there is superscoring on the ACT. The full answer is a bit more complicated than that, though. In this post, we’re going to dive a little deeper into the question of how ACT superscoring actually works. Buckle up.

What is Superscoring?

The term ‘superscoring’ refers to the process of combining individual section scores from different test administrations to get a picture of a student’s highest overall composite score, or ‘superscore’. As of September 2020, the ACT officially endorses superscoring and will implement it on all score reports.

So what does this mean? When you submit your ACT scores to schools as part of your applications, you select which test administrations you want to include on your score report. The report that schools get will contain the section and composite scores from each of those individual test administrations, as well as a combined superscore that includes your highest score in each section from across all test dates.

For example, let’s say that you’ve taken the ACT three times, and your results look like this:

  • September: English 26, Math 28, Reading 24, Science 23; Composite 25
  • October: English 28, Math 30, Reading 28, Science 26; Composite 28
  • December: English 29, Math 26, Reading 25, Science 28; Composite 27

You choose to submit the scores from all three of those test dates with your applications. Because of the ACT’s new superscoring policy, an additional row of data would be included on your score report, like so:

  • Combined: English 29, Math 30, Reading 28, Science 28; Superscore 29

This example makes it easy to see the benefits of superscoring: even though you maxed out at a composite score of 28 on your individual test administrations, your superscore is higher than that because your best scores in the various sections merit it. Better yet, you can be confident that all of the schools to which you’re applying will see that you’re capable of getting a 29 on the test, even though you weren’t quite able to put your best performances on the various sections together in one sitting.

It’s pretty clear that the ACT’s decision to include superscores on score reports is a significant boon for students. Unfortunately, however, the organization can’t force schools to use those scores during the admissions process; that decision still rests with each individual institution, and different schools have different policies. Which leads us to…

Do Schools Use ACT Superscores? 

As mentioned above, the bad news is that schools are under no obligation to use superscores during their admissions processes (though the ACT recommends that they do so). There are a couple of other approaches that schools commonly take. Many simply look at the single highest composite score across all of your test administrations, while others may consider only the score from your most recent test administration.

The good news, however, is that many institutions do accept ACT superscores as part of their application processes. Furthermore, the trend in recent years has been one of increasing acceptance of superscoring, so it’s reasonable to think that the number of schools who superscore will continue to grow as time passes.

As a final note: if you’re beginning the application process, it’s important for you to remember that the best place to get information about testing requirements is directly from each individual school to which you’re considering applying. Check out the admissions page of each college’s website. If you don’t see a specific reference to test scores there, call or email the admissions department directly. There’s no such thing as asking too many questions, and you want to make sure that you’re strategizing correctly when you plan out your ACT testing and prep schedule.

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And that about does it for our summary of superscoring on the ACT. The question of “do schools superscore the ACT” is super-important (sorry), and you definitely want to be sure that you’re familiar with the policies of any and all colleges you’re looking at. If you’d like more information about superscoring on the ACT or any other aspect of the test, head over to Inspirica Pros’ ACT headquarters. Our squad of ACT tutors would love to help you crush the ACT.

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