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What is an SAT Superscore?

As you begin applying to colleges, you’ll see that some of them accept an SAT superscore. You’re probably wondering what this term means, and how it affects your chances of admission. To put it simply, the superscore is a score composed of the highest scores you’ve achieved on each section of the SAT. This means that if you take the test multiple times, the college will consider a score composed of the best run-through of each section that you accomplished. Let’s get into what that means and how it affects your chances.

How does SAT scoring work?

The SAT test is divided into two sections, which are summed up to find your score. The two sections are:

Mathematics (800 points)

Evidence-Based Reading and Writing (800 points)

Grand total: 1600 points

During the actual test, you’ll have breaks within these sections. However, this is how the College Board divides it for scoring.

Related: PSAT to SAT score conversion

A quick example

Let’s say that you took the SAT two times. Here are the scores you got during each run-through.

Test 1

Mathematics – 730

Evidence-Based Reading & Writing – 620

Total – 1350

Test 2

Mathematics – 700

Evidence-Based Reading & Writing – 690

Total – 1390


Mathematics – 730

Evidence-Based Reading & Writing – 690

Total – 1420

In this example, you did 70 points better on the Reading and Writing section during your second test, but your performance dropped in Mathematics by 30 points. Without a superscore, your highest SAT score would be Test 2 – 1390. However, if you take the superscore from the tests, you’ll earn a 1420. This is because you would add the Mathematics score from test 1 (730) to the Reading and Writing score from test 2 (690). This means that you come away with a higher score!

What score do you want to have?

While the things above are important, they won’t mean much unless you have some context to put them in. So, let’s talk very briefly about what a good SAT score looks like! Unfortunately, not everyone will need the same SAT score. Students looking to attend a nearby state school won’t likely need the same score that a student looking to attend an Ivy League will need. 

Start by looking at what the average SAT score is for your state. Then go and look at what the average SAT score is or the colleges you’re applying to. From those things you can gain a better idea of where you need to fall on the map to gain acceptance into your dream college

Do all schools accept superscores?

Not all schools accept superscores. You should look at your potential colleges’ websites to see what their policy is. In addition, some schools require that you send all of your SAT run throughs. This is to ensure that every student can take advantage of the superscore policy. If you want to choose schools to consider based on who accepts superscores, try consulting this list of all the schools that accept superscores.

What is SAT Score Choice and how does it relate to superscores?

Score Choice is a tool on the CollegeBoard website that you can use to send your superscore. It allows you to only send your highest scores, without sending your scores for the entire test. Some schools use Score Choice, and therefore will only see your highest scores. Other schools will require you to send your entire test scores. Even if they accept superscores, you’ll have to send them all of your scores.

This difference may seem trivial, but some students could be concerned if they performed very poorly in one section during one run-through of the test. Our answer is not to worry too much. If the school accepts superscores, that means that that’s what they’ll be looking at. Even if you have to send all of your scores, it’s more of a logistical concern than anything else.

If superscores help everyone’s scores, do they really help me in the competition?

The answer to this question depends on your scores. If your superscore is much higher than any of your individual scores, then yes, it will help. If you performed very well on math during one test and very well on English during another, you’ll get a disproportionate advantage from superscores, especially if you studied hard between your attempts to improve in a certain area. So, although most students will see an increase in scores, some will have higher increases than others.

Key Takeaways

Key Takeaways

  • A superscore takes your best score from each section of the SAT across multiple attempts and combines them to give you the highest possible score
  • If your superscore is significantly higher than any of your individual scores, you should take advantage of it
  • Not all schools will accept superscores, so be sure to check into the policies of the colleges you’re applying to
  • A superscore may only bump you up by very small number of points, but at the end of the day, every little bit counts
Key Takeaways

Frequently asked questions about SAT superscores

Does superscoring look bad?

If a school accepts superscores, you shouldn’t worry about looking bad for using it. It’s true that a supescored 1500 may not carry quite as much weight as a non-superscored 1500, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t use it.

Does Harvard accept superscores?

Harvard’s frequently asked questions page states that they “will evaluate your application noting the highest test scores in each section across test dates for the SAT.” While this is their current policy, you should check back on their website to see if anything changes before you submit your application.

Is a 1400 superscore good?

In 2023, the national SAT average was 1028. So, scoring a 1400 even with a superscore may make you look very desirable as a candidate. Remember though, that there is much more to your application than just test scores. Take your time writing your college admissions essays. Even an engaging essay as short as 250 or 500 words could make a huge impact on your application!