I want to share an ACT strategy that I was excited to learn about at the education conference that I attended this week in Baltimore.
I was fascinated to learn that an increasing number of colleges are cherry picking applicants’ ACT test scores.
To understand what this means, here’s some background: Historically, colleges used a student’s composite ACT score that’s made up of four underlying categories — English, mathematics, reading and science. ACT, Inc., averages the four scores, which each range from 1 to 36, to create a test taker’s composite average. Schools traditionally used the composite score for the most recent test even if it wasn’t the highest. The reasoning for this practice is that the latest test better reflects the student’s current ability. That sounds like hogwash to me, but that has been the reality.
As a result of this age-old policy, a child who scored higher on an earlier test was out of luck. So too was a teenager who scored better in some categories for a test that didn’t ultimately count.
Some schools, however, have now embraced ACT superscoring. With this policy, a college will select the highest subscores for each category and create what could be a more impressive superscore. This practice, by the way, is the standard procedure with the SAT. When a student takes multiple SAT tests, colleges routinely pick the best scores from the three SAT categories – math, reading and writing – and create a new score.
It makes sense for anyone, who suffers through the ACT college test more than once, to ask what a school’s policy is with ACT superscoring. Knowing this latest test trend is important because teenagers might be in better position to gain admission to some schools or capture fatter financial aid packages or merit awards if their ACT results are superscored.