SAT scores are displayed using three 40-point basis scores . . . why do they do that?
The Air Force Academy Candidate Kit allows a qualified candidate to apply for an appointment to the school. As you open the "AF Academy Portal," you will note below your 'welcome screen' and a photo of the Wing Commander and her staff, a display of SAT and ACT components. They will be blank until you ask the College Board and/or the ACT organization to submit your scores to USAFA Admissions.
One interesting feature is the SAT score display. As you will note above, three separate scores are displayed: SAT Math, SAT Reading and SAT Writing.
So, what do they represent?
The SAT uses a set of scores consisting of Math and EBRW, or Evidence-Based Reading and Writing. Each one is based upon a 40-point score basis. For the SAT Reading and Writing sections, each is scored in one-point increments on a scale of 10 to 40 points. Math, however, is scored on a 200 to 800 point basis. Thus, you will find that USAFA converts your Math score to match the same 40 point scale used for the other two sections, Reading and Writing.
To make the conversion, AF simply divides your Math score by 20 points to display it on a 40-point basis. The image noted above is based on a Math score of 790 and an English score of 730 for an 'impressive' 1520 composite score.
So, why do all of this work?
USAFA Admissions is simply helping you create the highest 'super score' possible. Instead of just using two components to super score, AF is using three. Let's look at an example.
A student in this case has taken and submitted three separate SAT tests consisting of composite scores of 1320 (M620/E710), 1300 (M580/E720) and 1190 (M640/E550). However, as you review the individual Math and EBRW components, you will find an interesting outcome:
SAT 1 Math 30.5 Reading 34 Writing 35
SAT 2 Math 29 Reading 35 Writing 37
SAT 3 Math 32 Reading 16 Writing 39
SAT SS Math 32 Reading 35 Writing 39
The composite superscore, in this example, is a 1380
Using this example, your AFA Candidate Kit would display the three numbers noted above: 32, 35 and 39. Converting to a 1600 basis gives the following result: 32 x 20 = 640 for Math and (35 + 39) x 10 = 740 for English. If USAFA only used the two scores to 'super score,' then this particular student would have had a 1360 (M640/E720) superscore result. Thus, the benefit of using the three EBRW components is a full 20 points (i.e., a 1380 instead of a 1360 superscore)!
The Air Force Academy seems to be the only service academy to use this type of superscoring. It may seem confusing, but it may very well provide some good 'upside.' Now that you know how this scoring works, you may try a strategy where you concentrate your preparations on one of the three SAT sections.
In the original example, with the third SAT, our fictitious student seems to have purposely 'skipped' much of the Reading section to allow herself to focus more on the Writing and Math sections. The good news is that it worked allowing her to move both scores higher. You may want to do the same.
The new Digital SAT, which will be introduced in March 2024, will allow USAFA to continue this same practice. My blog about the D-SAT will provide some more details for you.
One last point of interest: Air Force ROTC also displays SAT scores in the same manner, plus they display the two 800-basis component scores, Math and English. However, unlike the AF Academy, AFROTC does not superscore as they simply take the best "set" of scores that you submit.
AF Academy Admissions uses a unique 'superscoring' method for the SAT. However, it provides an advantage for Air Force Academy candidates. Use it and make it work for you!
[I would welcome a chance to discuss details with you. I offer coaching services to pace and prepare you (and your parents!) for the entire Academy application process . . . along with stategy advice around your SAT and ACT testing! Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org, 503.515.7406 or my contact form on this website.]