Super scoring is not always a good idea
Many parents and students think that super scoring is always a good idea, but this can be dangerous in some situations.
What is super scoring? Super scoring is when you send test results from multiple dates to a college and the college calculates a super score. The super score is the best result for a particular subject across dates. For example, consider the SAT scores for a hypothetical student:
March May Super Score
Verbal 500 700 700
Math 700 500 700
Total 1200 1200 1400
If you were working in the admissions office, would you consider this applicant a 1400? I know that I would not. If it were me, I would take a close look at the transcript to see whether there are fluctuations in grades and I would take a close look at the guidance counselor recommendation for any explanations. These scores would raise red flags for me.
The argument for super scoring the ACT is less persuasive because many colleges do not super score the ACT (virtually all colleges super score the SAT). But even if you are applying to a college that super scores the ACT the same issue can arise. Consider these ACT scores for a hypothetical student:
February March Super Score
English 27 35 35
Math 35 27 35
Reading 27 35 35
Science 35 27 35
Composite 31 31 35
If you were working in the admissions office, would you consider this applicant a 35? Not me.
Of course, most scores are not so dramatically lopsided. But often times the nuances of super scoring are ignored because students and parents do not realize that they have to send all the scores in order for the college to compute a super score. Or they may be thinking that the college will only look at the super score and never look at the individual test results.
Super scoring is usually the best approach but not always. Sometimes it is best to have the student re-take the test. Other times it is best to send just one set of scores versus multiple sets of scores. If you are applying to an engineering college it may be better to send only the first set of scores in the examples above.