Does Northwestern superscore the SAT?

By Eric Eng

By Eric Eng

Taking an exam in a desk.

Does Northwestern superscore the SAT?

Does Northwestern superscore the SAT? Yes, Northwestern University superscores both the SAT and the ACT, allowing applicants to submit scores from different test dates. In its holistic review process, Northwestern evaluates scores alongside other application components if an applicant chooses to submit them.

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Historically, a combination of high school grades and standardized test scores has enhanced the prediction of academic success in college. Although grades are a significant predictor on their own (more so than test scores alone), Northwestern still values test scores. Thus, even if you believe your application stands strong without test scores in this cycle, Northwestern will appreciate it if submitted.

Northwestern uses a holistic assessment that considers grades, course rigor, recommendations, academic honors, personal essays, and other applicant-specific information. Due to the pandemic’s impact on academic and extracurricular records, Northwestern’s review process emphasizes context, ensuring fairness in evaluating applications given the challenges faced by students.

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While Northwestern does superscore, applicants can take the SAT multiple times, choosing to submit their best scores. Superscoring calculates the composite score using the highest scores from each section across all test attempts.

For instance:

Attempt 1: English: 30, Reading: 29, Math: 31, Writing: 9

Attempt 2: English: 33, Reading: 27, Math: 30, Writing: 10

Superscored Results: English: 33, Reading: 29, Math: 31, Writing: 10

With the SAT’s “Superscoring” feature, applicants present their best section scores. However, they cannot simply combine scores and report a self-calculated total. They must report scores from each test attempt, and the university’s admissions team will then determine the superscore.

Both the SAT and the ACT permit superscoring, but one cannot combine scores from both tests to create a hybrid score.

How Do You Apply to Schools that superscore?

While you might believe that applying to schools that superscore might simplify the admissions process, remember that many of these institutions remain highly competitive. A strong test score alone might not guarantee admission.

Check Average SAT Scores from Previous Years

Even if these are superscored averages, they can provide a useful benchmark for the score you should target when taking the SAT.

Understand All Application Requirements

Essays, letters of recommendation, and possibly other types of information might be necessary for some schools. If they request certain information, it indicates its importance in the admissions process. Hence, ensure every aspect of your application is completed diligently.

Unidentified person typing in a desk.

Take the SAT During Your Junior Year

Ideally, attempt the SAT twice during your junior year: once in the fall and once in the spring. This strategy alleviates the stress of preparing for the SAT while working on college applications in your senior year. If you can’t take it twice, ensure you sit for it at least once in the spring of your junior year. This will help you gauge how much additional preparation is needed for subsequent attempts.

What is the Average SAT Score at Northwestern?

The Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) is a standardized test given to high school students to evaluate their readiness for college. It gives colleges a single point of data that can be used to compare the qualifications of each applicant.

The scores you received on standardized tests will be considered by college admissions officers, along with your high school grade point average, the subjects you studied in high school, letters of recommendation from previous instructors or mentors, extracurricular activities, admissions interviews, and personal essays.

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As part of its test-optional policy, Northwestern has decided to refrain from publishing the SAT scores of their class of 2025. On the other hand, the range of SAT scores that comprised the middle 50% of accepted students for the class of 2024 was from 1460 to 1540.

The following is a breakdown of the SAT scores that the class of 2024 at Northwestern University received:

Section Average Score (50th Percentile) 25th Percentile 75th Percentile
SAT Reading and Writing 730 715 745
SAT Math 760 745 775
Total 1490 1460 1540

This is a below-average score because less than 25 percent of students at Northwestern University had SAT scores that were lower than 1460. With a score of 1540 on the SAT, you would be considered comfortably above average among students at Northwestern University. The code for the Northwestern University SAT Reasoning Test is 1565.

In addition, the optional essay portion of the SAT is not required for admission to Northwestern. It is essential to keep in mind that Northwestern superscore your SAT scores.

This indicates that the admissions office will take into account your highest score obtained from each individual section of the SAT, regardless of when you took the test. At Northwestern, the SAT Subject test requirements that you must meet vary depending on the college to which you are applying; therefore, it is imperative that you carefully review the requirements that are specific to your application.

What Exactly is the Scorechoice?

Score choice is a feature that is available for both the SAT and the ACT, and it gives you the ability to select which test dates you want to send to the colleges of your choice. If you took the SAT or ACT four times, for instance, you do not need to send the colleges all four of your score reports when applying to colleges.

Two students talking in a table.

You have the option to make a decision about, or “choose,” which of the two you would like to transmit. Let’s say you took the SAT in August, October, November, and December, and the scores you received in August and November were the highest you achieved overall. You only need to send in the results of the tests taken in August and November if you use score choice. The colleges will not be able to see how well you performed on the tests in either October or December.

Northwestern University does not strictly adhere to the “Score Choice” policy that some colleges and universities implement. This means that while they do superscore the SAT and ACT (using the best section scores from different test dates to form the highest possible composite score), they typically expect students to send all of their scores from every sitting of a particular exam.

However, like many other institutions, Northwestern University’s admissions approach is holistic. This means they evaluate an applicant’s entire academic and extracurricular profile, not just test scores. If they see multiple test scores, they’ll generally consider the highest score, but they will also see the range of scores and the number of times a student took the test.

Does Northwestern Require the SAT for 2022?

Until 2020, undergraduate applicants to Northwestern were required to submit their SAT or ACT scores to be considered for admission. NU has decided to implement a test-optional policy for incoming students through the 2022–2023 admission cycle to assist students in navigating the difficulties associated with testing and college access during the pandemic.

There is no requirement for applicants to submit their SAT or ACT scores; however, applicants are welcome to do so if they choose. Regardless of whether a student chooses to send in their scores from the SAT or ACT, they are welcome to send in scores from other forms of testing (such as those from the Advanced Placement or International Baccalaureate programs) to be considered during the review process.

NU acknowledges that cancellations and registration caps have resulted in disruptions to students’ study schedules and a reduction in their ability to take an exam multiple times. Therefore, even if a student is able to sit for the SAT or ACT, they may be dissatisfied with their score and request that NU does not take their score into consideration when evaluating their application. This preference will be taken into account throughout the admissions process at Northwestern, but applicants are not required to report their test scores.

Having said that, NU is happy to consider your test scores if you believe they accurately reflect your potential in the classroom. As part of our holistic review, Northwestern University will continue to consider an applicant’s scores in conjunction with all of their other application materials if that applicant chooses to report them.

To provide some context regarding how NU makes use of scores, as well as the reasons why they have required them in the past: The combination of grades from high school and scores on standardized tests has been shown to strengthen the prediction of academic success in college.

This is true despite the fact that grades alone are a strong predictor of academic success in college. (On their own, test scores are not nearly as reliable a predictor of academic success as grades are.) Therefore, despite the fact that Northwestern believes that applications can hold their own without test scores in this year’s cycle, they will still find value in scores if you choose to send them in.

If you need help putting the finishing touches on your early applications or want some advice on whether or not applying Early Decision or an Early Action is a good option for you, at AdmissionSight, we have over 10 years of experience guiding students through the competitive admissions process, including our athletic recruitment program.

AdmissionSight can help you put your best foot forward when applying to college this fall. Contact us today for more information on our services.


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