It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s a… Superscore? Educators helping their students with test prep have already heard discussions of ideal scores, score ranges, predicted scores… but many students forget, or struggle to understand, the superscoring process and how it can be relevant to them. How can you help? Well, knowing the ins and outs of superscoring, and serving as a resource to help your students and their families make sense of it all, needn’t be confusing or unnerving. With a few pointers, you can guide your students to use superscoring to their best advantage:

What Is Superscoring?

Superscoring is a service offered by both the SAT and, since 2016, the ACT, specially designed for students who take the test more than once. Your students’ SAT or ACT Superscore is the combined total of the best scores they got on every section of the test, across all the times they’ve taken it. For instance, a student taking the SAT twice, who got Verbal 720, Math 690, and Writing 750 the first time, and Verbal 680, Math 710, and Writing 780 the second time, would have an SAT Superscore of 2210—a combined total of 720 + 710 + 780, the best scores from both tests.

How Can You Help Your Students Use Superscoring to Their Best Advantage?

First things first: your students and their families need to know that superscoring is only relevant if they’re taking the test more than once. Many students wonder whether retaking the test is a good idea, and knowing that superscoring can help “preserve” an unexpectedly good score in any given section can help them decide that a retake would be a good idea for them after all.

However, your students also need to be aware that not all colleges accept superscores, and if they’re applying to a school that doesn’t, they’ll have to choose which of their single-test scores to send. With that in mind, there are a huge array of fantastic colleges and universities across the country that have superscoring policies in place, and you should advise your students to look up if their top choices are among them. Remember to tell them that many colleges have slightly different policies from each other, so it’s important to make note of what the official guidelines are for the schools where they’re applying.

Should Superscoring Affect How You Advise Students on Test Prep?

Absolutely! When students are doing test prep, they’re often torn between focusing on the subjects they’re struggling with and staying up to the moment on areas where they’re already strong. With superscoring, you can direct your students to prioritize in a much clearer direction. If they’re already strong in an area, and they’ve gotten a great score on their first try, they can relax. Even if on their retake, they don’t score quite as high in that section, they can “keep” their original high score from the first test, while also picking up gains in the sections they’ve used their second round of test prep to improve.

Since superscoring is most important for test prep leading up to a retake, it’s also important to make sure your students are aware of every resource at their disposal, from literature, to online prep, to support groups, to private tutors like our team at A-List. By guiding them in the right direction, and encouraging them to use superscores and retakes to optimize their test scores as much as possible, you can send them on the road to acceptance in the college of their dreams!

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