Student-centric advice and objective recommendations
Higher education has never been more confusing or expensive. Our goal is to help you navigate the very big decisions related to higher ed with objective information and expert advice. Each piece of content on the site is original, based on extensive research, and reviewed by multiple editors, including a subject matter expert. This ensures that all of our content is up-to-date, useful, accurate, and thorough.
Our reviews and recommendations are based on extensive research, testing, and feedback. We may receive commission from links on our website, but that doesn’t affect our editors’ opinions. Our marketing partners don’t review, approve or endorse our editorial content. It’s accurate to the best of our knowledge when posted. You can find a complete list of our partners here.
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 comprised 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. Each section is worth up to 800 points, so the maximum score you can earn is 1600. The two sections are Mathematics, and Evidence-Based Reading and Writing. 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:
Mathematics – 730
Evidence-Based Reading & Writing – 620
Total – 1350
Mathematics – 700
Evidence-Based Reading & Writing – 690
Total – 1390
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.
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.
Also see: What is a high SAT score?
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. So, although most students will see an increase in scores, some will have higher increases than others.
Next steps for taking advantage of superscores
If your superscore is significantly higher than any of your individual scores, you should take advantage of it. Make sure to apply to some schools that accept superscores. They will view your application more favorably.
Additionally, you can take steps to maximize your test scores. Check out our guides for when to take the SAT, how to find the perfect test prep tutor, and whether to focus on the SAT or ACT. If you’re not happy with your current scores, check out SAT dates to retake it. You can also find when to apply for college, and some tips for people who are low test takers. Good luck and be sure to check back for more resources as you continue the application process!