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How Does ACT Superscoring Affect Your Test Strategy?

Posted by Samantha Lindsay | Jul 12, 2015 9:00:00 AM

ACT General Info

 

feature_superscoreACT.jpgMany colleges now use Superscoring for ACT scores as well as SAT scores. It’s important to know whether the schools where you’re planning to apply use Superscoring and how you can take advantage of this policy to demonstrate your best performance on the ACT.

In this article I’ll give a brief overview of Superscoring and tell you what it means for you in terms of your testing plan.

 

What is ACT Superscoring?

ACT Superscoring is when colleges calculate your highest possible composite ACT score based on subscores from several different tests. They will take your highest ever score from each section and then average those scores together to arrive at a new composite score that represents your best performance.

This chart shows how it might work across three test dates:

 

English

Math

Reading

Science

Composite

Test 1

30

28

31

20

27

Test 2

32

25

30

28

29

Test 3

29

23

35

25

28

Superscore

32

28

35

28

31


As you can see, this student’s composite Superscore was higher than any of the composite ACT scores for individual test dates because Superscoring combined all of the highest subscores.

Superscoring benefits colleges because it puts them higher up in the rankings in terms of average scores of their admitted students. It also benefits you! If you do poorly on a section on one test date, it won’t affect you with colleges who use Superscoring, as long as you get a higher score for that section on another test date.

Check the websites for the colleges where you plan on applying to see if they use Superscoring for the ACT, or take a look at this list that we’ve compiled of Superscoring schools. There are now nearly 100 schools that superscore the ACT!

 

What Does This Mean for You?

Superscoring should affect your studying strategy and registration timing for the ACT. Here are a couple of pieces of advice that you should follow if the colleges where you're planning on applying use Superscoring.

 

Start Testing Early

Superscoring means that you should definitely plan to take the ACT for the first time early in your junior year so that you can have enough time to improve your scores. If you don’t do as well on the first test, it will give you the opportunity to learn from your mistakes, and those lower scores won’t count in the long run after you take the test again.

If you score very well on one section but don’t do well on one or two other sections, that means that you can focus your studying for future tests on your weak sections and not worry too much about the section you aced. Colleges will still incorporate the first score into your Superscore if it’s the best one you ever end up getting for the section.

Take a look at these ACT test dates for the upcoming fall if you’re heading into your junior year so you can plan ahead.

 

Take the ACT More than Once

As a follow-up to the previous point, Superscoring definitely means you should plan on taking the ACT more than once (unless you reach your target score on the first try!).

Taking the test two or three times means that you are likely to improve at least some of your subscores from test to test, especially if you put significant time into studying between test dates. Even if you manage to improve just one of your scores, that higher number is the one that will count for your Superscore.

 

Practice Focused Studying

This is probably the most essential takeaway from Superscoring. If you take the ACT and are unsatisfied with one or two of your section scores, you can direct all of your energy towards studying for those subject areas on future tests. Once you get a section score that you are happy with, you won’t have to worry about that part of the test in the future because that score (or potentially an even higher one) will become a part of your Superscore no matter what happens on the next test.

The really great thing about Superscoring is that it means you can focus completely on improving weaker section scores and not worry about preventing already great section scores from decreasing.

 

body_focusedstudying.jpgThis book smells amazing. And I'm learning so much.

 

Don’t Get Stressed!

You should always take each test date seriously (you paid to register, after all), but Superscoring can take away a lot of unnecessary anxiety. Doing poorly on one test doesn’t mean you won't get into your top choice school.

If you completely screw up a section of the test on one date but do well on another section, that’s also ok. With Superscoring, that one high subsection score means the time you spent taking the test was still worthwhile, and you can work on doing better on the section you bombed next time!

 

Overview

Superscoring for the ACT means that schools will calculate your best composite score by averaging all of your highest subscores across the tests you send them. Superscoring is great for you and for colleges because it reduces stress, lets you show your best possible scores, and allows schools to rise in the rankings in terms of average test scores.

If you’re applying to schools that Superscore the ACT, you should:

  • Start testing early
  • Take the test more than once
  • Practice focused studying
  • Not freak out!

Follow all of this advice, and you’ll be on your way to a SUPER Superscore!

 

What's Next?

Want more details about how exactly the ACT is scored? Read this article for an in-depth description.

If you're not sure whether you should take the ACT again, take a look at this guide to help you decide.

If you're trying to figure out when to take the ACT, read our guide to figure out the best test date for your circumstances.

 

 

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Samantha Lindsay
About the Author

Samantha is a blog content writer for PrepScholar. Her goal is to help students adopt a less stressful view of standardized testing and other academic challenges through her articles. Samantha is also passionate about art and graduated with honors from Dartmouth College as a Studio Art major in 2014. In high school, she earned a 2400 on the SAT, 5's on all seven of her AP tests, and was named a National Merit Scholar.



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