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SAT Superscore vs Score Choice: What's the Difference?


You may know that the SAT offers both Superscoring and Score Choice, but do you know what separates the two? Much like a pair of dissimilarly flavored but equally delicious ice cream cones, each one benefits you, but in slightly different ways.

In this article I will briefly go over what Superscoring and Score Choice entail and tell you what separates one from the other.


What Is Superscoring?

Superscoring is what many colleges do with the SAT scores you submit with your application. They look at all the SAT scores you send, take your highest score from each test section, and combine those high scores from different test dates into a highest-possible composite score or superscore.

The example below demonstrates how superscoring works if you choose to submit results from three different test dates. In the eyes of colleges that superscore, this student has a perfect score since he or she managed to get an 800 on each section at least once. 

  Critical Reading Mathematics Writing Total Score
Test 1 800 740 750 2290
Test 2 780 800 700 2280
Test 3 750 750 800 2300
Superscore 800 800 800 2400

Superscoring benefits colleges because it places them higher up in the rankings for average SAT scores of admitted students. It also benefits you because you get credit for your best scores from each section even if they happened at different times rather than being stuck with a composite score from one test.


What Is Score Choice?

Score choice is something that you'll need to consider before sending scores to colleges. It just means you can decide which SAT scores to send and which not to send.

If you choose to send SAT scores from a certain test date, you can't pick and choose which sections to send - it's all or nothing. You'll have a choice of which test dates you want to send in the case of the regular SAT and your choice of which individual tests you want to send in the case of SAT subject tests.

Most schools allow Score Choice, but some don’t, including Yale and Stanford. Make sure you check the websites of colleges where you're applying to verify that they allow Score Choice.


body_yale-1.jpgCome on Yale, everyone knows you're not in Europe. Stop trying so hard.


What Are the Important Differences Between Superscoring and Score Choice?

You vs. Colleges

With Score Choice, you're making a choice about which scores to send. The scores from test dates you choose not to send will never be seen by colleges that allow Score Choice. Only the scores you choose to send will be eligible for Superscoring by colleges that allow Score Choice.

Some schools require you to send all your scores (no Score Choice) but also use Superscoring, so they will still only consider your best scores. Superscoring is something that you don’t need to worry about directly because schools do it automatically after you send your scores. It is, however, something that you should take into consideration when studying for and deciding when to take the SAT (more on this later).


Whole SATs vs. Subscores

If you use Score Choice to send your SAT scores from a certain test date, you have to send all of the section scores - you can’t cherry pick which ones you want colleges to see.

In the case of Superscoring, however, the whole point is for colleges to extract your best individual section scores to create the best total score possible. Score Choice is the first filter that scores pass through in their composite form. Then, colleges that superscore will choose the highest subscores from the SATs you send them to create your best score from bits and pieces of several different tests.


What Does This Mean for You?

It means that if you didn’t do as well as you hoped on one SAT, it’s not the end of the world. In most cases, you can choose not to send that score to colleges through Score Choice.

Even if you do have to send it, you'll probably also send better scores from other test dates. The lower scores won’t even be considered by most schools if they use Superscoring.

Here are some ways you might adapt your SAT strategy based on Score Choice and Superscoring:


Practice Specific Studying

Colleges that superscore will pick out your best section scores, which means you can focus your studying solely on one section for a given test date. If you already took the SAT once and are satisfied with your score on one section but want to raise the second score, you can focus your studying entirely on the weaker section as you prepare for the next test date.

You don’t need to worry about achieving a score that's the same or higher than your previous score on the other section because the highest scores for each section are the only ones that count.

Don’t go overboard and leave sections of the test you've already conquered blank, but you can feel relaxed knowing that it's not always necessary to shoot for your best composite score. You can just focus on getting your best score for a certain section!


Take the Test More than Once

This is something we advocate anyways, but knowing that Score Choice and Superscoring exist adds an extra incentive. Even if you don’t study much from one test to the next, your scores are likely to increase slightly.

You can choose which tests to send with Score Choice, and colleges will use your highest subscores from those tests with Superscoring. That means taking the SAT at least two or three times is in your best interests. 


body_highestscores.jpgThe only SAT scores that count, with the help of our good friends Score Choice and Superscoring!



Superscoring and Score Choice are two services that allow you to show colleges only your best SAT scores.

Score Choice means you can decide which composite scores to send to colleges. If you took the test on three dates, you could choose to only send two of them if one score was a lot lower.

Colleges then implement Superscoring, taking your best subscores from each section of the SAT and combining them to create your highest-possible composite score.

Superscoring and Score Choice mean that you have an incentive to take the SAT more than once and to study for specific sections so you'll be able to maximize your results.

Together, Superscoring and Score Choice make the SAT just a little less stressful!


What's Next?

Read this article to learn more about how SAT Superscoring helps you.

Check out these articles if you're trying to figure out whether to take the SAT again or just want to know how many times you should take it in general.

If you don't know your target score yet, use this guide to figure it out so you can get your studying started!



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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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