What is ACT Superscoring? What about ACT Score Choice?

Preparing for the ACT is hard work. Students must study for long hours, hone their test-taking skills, and sometimes take the test three or even four times. This article aims to help students capitalize on their admirable efforts when presenting their ACT score to colleges. It will first define two important terms: ACT superscoring and Score Choice. Then, it will offer advice on how to incorporate these terms into the application process. Ideally, with the help of this article, students and parents will take full advantage of colleges’ policies regarding the ACT.

What is ACT Superscoring?

ACT superscoring means combining the best scores on individual ACT sections from different test dates. The result is always at least the same score and often a higher one. The table below depicts a hypothetical student, John, who took the ACT twice and super scored:

English Math Reading Science Total
Test Attempt One 27 28 30 32 29
Test Attempt Two 25 31 32 29 29
Superscore 27 31 32 32 31

Notice that John scored higher in English and Science the first time and higher in Math and Reading the second time. Although his total score was 29 for each test, he combined the best scores by section from the two test dates to reach a score of 31. He also scored better in Writing the second time and kept that score as well. 31 and 9 are John’s official scores.  

Superscoring Strategies

The ability to superscore gives students a major advantage if they take the ACT multiple times. The second time, they can focus on improving their weaker areas, as there is the more potential to improve. Moreover, if a student is satisfied with how they scored on a section the first time, they aren’t required to study for that section again because they can save the score from the first test date. John likely used this strategy for English and Science.

In addition, students who take the ACT three or four times can hone in on a section they struggle with while neglecting the other sections. That said, taking the ACT more than twice is expensive and labor-intensive. It is usually preferable to take it fewer times and earn a high score in multiple sections at once. Of course, this is easier said than done.

Finally, while most students calculate their own super scored results, admissions representatives also do the calculations themselves. There is no need to indicate a superscored result on an application. Sending the original scores is sufficient.

What is ACT Score Choice?

Score Choice is the applicant’s ability to present as many (or as few) ACT tests to colleges as they would like.  In other words, students can decide that they do not want colleges to see one or more ACT result. Unfortunately, Score Choice is all or nothing: an applicant cannot omit individual sections from different test days.

Score Choice Strategies

Score Choice can be useful for many reasons: perhaps a student performed poorly on a given day due to illness or a personal issue. Score Choice would allow that student to hide that test from colleges.

In addition, Score Choice and superscoring are closely related. Because colleges superscore the tests themselves, a test that is omitted through Score Choice cannot be factored into a super score. This crucial point shows that while both superscoring and Score Choice work in the applicant’s favor, they have potential to counteract each other. For example, a student who on a given day does extremely well in Science and very poorly on the other sections would likely hide that test and forfeit the opportunity to superscore with Science. This is another reason why doing well in multiple sections on the same test is so valuable.

While both superscoring and Score Choice come with limitations, they are powerful tools in an applicant’s arsenal. One’s presentation of the ACT to colleges can undergo a major facelift if a bad score is omitted and the remaining tests are strategically super scored. However, not all colleges superscore or allow Score Choice, so students should research schools’ policies before deciding to apply. On the other hand, most schools do use these policies and reward students’ improvement throughout multiple attempts at the ACT.  

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