How Do Colleges Use Test Scores?

by | Mar 12, 2024 | College Admissions, College Applications, Compass Academics Blog, Test Prep | 0 comments

Universities use ACT and SAT scores in a variety of ways to evaluate the academic preparedness and potential of prospective students. Not only are they often used in admission decisions, but they are used to determine merit-based scholarships. The higher the test score, usually the higher the award. Here are some common ways in which these scores are used, including the concept of superscoring.

1. Initial Screening: ACT and SAT scores are often used as an initial screening tool by universities to assess a large pool of applicants. Institutions may set minimum score requirements to ensure that applicants meet a certain academic threshold.

2. Admission Decisions: ACT and SAT scores play a significant role in the admission decision-making process. Admissions committees consider these scores alongside other factors such as high school grades, extracurricular activities, recommendation letters, and essays. The weight placed on test scores can vary from one institution to another.

3. Academic Scholarship Consideration: Many universities award scholarships based on academic merit. ACT and SAT scores are often considered when determining eligibility for these scholarships. Higher scores can increase the chances of receiving a merit-based scholarship.

4. Course Placement: Some universities use ACT and SAT scores to determine course placement for incoming students. Higher scores may exempt students from certain prerequisite courses or allow them to enroll in more advanced courses right away.

5. Program and Major Selection: Certain programs or majors within universities may have specific requirements for admission. ACT and SAT scores can be used to assess an applicant’s aptitude and potential for success in these specialized programs.

6. Superscoring: Superscoring is a practice followed by some universities where they consider the highest section scores across multiple administrations of the ACT or SAT. Instead of looking at the overall composite score from a single test, superscoring allows universities to consider the best scores from individual sections across multiple tests. For example, if a student scores higher in Math on one test and higher in English on another, the university may consider the higher scores from each test to calculate a superscore.

Superscoring can benefit students who perform well in specific sections but may not have achieved their best overall score in a single test sitting. However, it is important to note that not all universities practice superscoring, so it’s essential to check individual school policies regarding score reporting. Schools update their testing policies annually, so it’s important to check with individual schools to determine their current approach. Don’t rely on search results for “which schools superstore”-these lists are often out-of-date.

It’s worth mentioning that the specific use of ACT and SAT scores can vary from one university to another. Many institutions are still test-optional, placing less emphasis on standardized test scores and focusing more on holistic evaluations of applicants. It’s always advisable to consult the admissions websites of the universities you are interested in to understand their specific policies regarding ACT and SAT scores.


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