Superscoring is the practice of taking the highest subscore from individual test sections to combine them into one superscore. A superscore would thus cherry pick the best subscores across multiple test dates in order to come up with one, more impressive superscore.
For example, let’s say you take the SAT in the spring and score a 610 on the Math, a 630 on Critical Reading and a 540 on Writing for a total composite score of 1780. In an attempt to improve your score, you decide to take the test again the fall. On your second sitting, you score a 570 on the Math, a 640 on the Critical Reading and a 570 on the Writing. Again, your composite score is a 1780. However, your superscore is actually an 1820.
You see, some schools will take the 610 you scored in Math from the first test and add that to the best Critical Reading and the best Writing score regardless of test date. Thus, your superscore is more impressive than your composite score.
Same goes for the ACT. Some schools will select your best score in each section (Math, Reading, Science, Writing) and average those best scores all together for one ACT superscore.
Now, the rub is that not all schools follow this method. Schools undoubtedly want applicants with the best scores, thus making acceptance more competitive. However, some schools have not adopted the superscore policy.
The moral of the story is to check the school(s) that are interesting to you. Find out their policy and you can adjust your test strategies as such.
If you have any questions, contact CROSSWALK, the Monterey Peninusla’s local resource for test prep, private tutoring and ACT/SAT Boot Camps.