Missouri university will let applicants ‘superscore’ by combining their best ACT scores

Ever wish you could have mixed and match your best college admission test scores from different exam dates?

A Missouri university says it will adopt the practice next year.

In an effort to boost the number of students eligible for academic scholarships, Missouri Western State University announced this week that it will allow incoming freshmen next year to “superscore” their ACT scores.

Typically, students who take the ACT — a standardized college admissions test with math, science, English and reading sections — receive a composite score, a compilation of the results from the individual sections for a single exam.

“Superscoring” allows students who have taken the ACT more than once to submit their best scores from each of the ACT’s four sections, even if the results weren’t achieved on the same testing date.

More than 200 schools nationwide allow students to superscore for the SAT, ACT or both, according to The Princeton Review.

“Missouri Western will determine the student’s composite score using the highest section scores, such as English and math from September and reading and science from February,” a press release stated this week.

The new model applies to freshmen starting undergraduate classes in the fall of 2018.

School administrators say they hope the new admissions model will allow more students to qualify for sliding-scale academic scholarships based on a student’s high school GPA and ACT results at a time when the cost of education is an issue that college students and higher education officials are grappling with.

“We’re always looking for a way to make Missouri Western affordable,” said Paul Orscheln, the associate vice president for enrollment management and student retention at Missouri Western. “By superscoring the ACT this could allow more students to regain full admission to the institution.”

The decision to use a “superscore” admissions method was made this fall, though college administrators had discussed the shift prior, Orscheln said.

School officials were motivated by data that showed that last year more students would have obtained the 21 ACT score needed to be eligible for admission, and at least 70 freshmen would have received a higher level scholarship if they could have submitted their strongest subscores from the ACT, he said.

Already, the university uses a student’s best ACT math and reading subscores to place college freshmen in classes.

“We want to recognize their achievement and recognize their potential for being successful here,” Orscheln said. “(The ACT) is a big stressor for high school students and their parents. I firmly believe if they are going to take the test multiple times and spend the money to do so, they should get the full benefit.”

While some of the area’s largest universities such as the University of Missouri, the University of Missouri-Columbia and the University of Kansas do not accept superscores, the option has become more common.

Missouri schools such as Washington University in St. Louis and Northwest Missouri State University have opted to include the practice in their admissions process.

Education experts say there are benefits for universities, too — schools can use superscores methods to boost rankings for average ACT scores of admitted students.

Does it help universities become more competitive as more schools adopt the practice?

“I guess whether there is a market advantage remains to be seen,” Orscheln said. “But I do think you are going to see this become more and more popular. The bottom line is it helps students.”