In horse racing, breeders struggle to match and breed horses with the best possibility of successful offspring. By looking at a mare and stallion’s family history, a breeder can determine the likelihood of that pair creating a “Superhorse” capable of wining major horse races. It’s not easy work predicting the future; breeders often breed several horses in a lifetime to find one horse that is suitable for taking on a task as large as say, the Kentucky Derby.

Despite obvious differences, the pressures and strategy involved in horse racing, remind me of some of the challenges students and teachers have while preparing a student for college. You could prepare a student for 6 to 8 weeks for a test, but just like with a horse on race day, you never know if that test preparation will pay off in the student’s final score. You can only prepare that student to the best of your (and their) abilities, cross your fingers and hope.

Fortunately for students who are in the college races, there is a way to help guide yourself across the finish line and into the college of your choice, even after the race is finished: Superscoring.

What is Superscoring? Why Superscore?

Some colleges allow students to superscore a student’s test results from tests that they’ve taken more than once. That means that if a student takes the SAT two times before applying to a college, they can submit both scores to the college and the college will take only the best scores from each section.

Let’s say a student “Johnny” studies for 6 to 8 weeks for the SAT and despite all that effort, really botches the critical reading section of their exam. His math scores are fantastic, however, which helps pull up his score, but not enough to stand a chance at the school of his choice. Tough luck, right? Well, maybe not. If “Johnny” takes the SAT again and does much better on the critical reading section, but his math score is still higher on his first test, he may be able to combine those results to create a Supertest score. It all depends on if the college he’s submitting his application toward superscores tests or not.

Superscoring is a Parachute not a Strategy

Here at Socrato we recommend that students looking to increase their college test scores work with a tutor to help diagnose if the ACT or the SAT is right for them. Using learning analytics, such as the analytics Socrato offers, tutors and students can now delve deeper into test results and identify strengths and weaknesses early on in the test preparation process so that students aren’t surprised on test day. We suggest taking on a test preparation regimen that focuses on 1 test (the ACT or SAT) for 6 to 8 weeks.

Superscoring should not be used as a strategy. Instead it should be used as a parachute in the event of a test-taking emergency. No student should strive to superscore their test results. However, in the event that the student performs under expectation in a certain area of a test, superscoring can be extremely helpful to give that student the leg-up that they need.

Before You Superscore, Read This

Ross Blankenship of Top Test Prep recently wrote a very helpful post on his blog called “Superscoring –3 Points to Consider.” I agree with Ross when he says that superscoring is a great band-aid for students who got sick before the test or had a bad night, but probably won’t help individuals who are already struggling to keep up with school work.

Also, not all colleges allow superscoring. Before retaking the SAT or ACT with the intent to superscore results, it’s important that a student look into the colleges they want to apply to and see what their policy is on superscoring. If the college prefers to accept only 1 uncombined score from 1 test, than it’s not likely that taking another test will be worth the preparation, money and time. Afterall, if the student is unwilling to work at improving the second score or if they have multiple demands at school which would be sacrificed for the sake of the second round of the test preparation process, I would strongly advise against Superscoring for the student.

featured photo is from *raymond

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