by Abigail Anderson, former admissions officer at Reed College
Sending Standardized Test Scores to Colleges: How and When?
You just hit submit on your last college application and now, the rest is up to everyone else. Your teachers are sending in their recommendations, your parents are working on the financial aid application, and the college counselor is taking care of your transcript and the school report. Time to kick back and watch some Netflix, right?
Submitting standardized test scores is also your responsibility, not your school’s. While some high school transcripts include test scores, most colleges and universities require official score reports directly from the testing agency. That means you need to make sure your SAT or ACT scores are on their way to each of the schools to which you’re applying.
To send your SAT scores, you have three options:
- When you initially register for the SAT, you can choose up to four colleges to send your score reports. This is done at no additional cost to you. If you’re not ready to pick four schools at the time of registration, you have up to nine days to amend the registration and add your four free schools. In general, we do not recommend families take advantage of these free reports, as you will not see these scores before they are sent. As we’ve written before, we feel one of the most important things you have control over in this process is which scores you choose to send to each school. If you would like to take advantage of this option, we recommend you choose four schools that have favorable testing policies (always take the highest score or super score, for example), or four schools that are “safeties” where you know you’ll apply.
- After the nine-day registration period, you can send your scores at any time by signing into your College Board account and following all the instructions.
- The College Board also offers a “rush reporting” service, wherein they send a score report within two business days of a request being made. Not all colleges will process rush reports, so it’s important to double-check with a school before paying for this option.
A word about Score Choice
Some schools will allow you to choose which of your SAT tests you’d like to send and which to withhold; for example, the full set of SAT scores from March and May (but not the June test). This isn’t allowed by all colleges. While the College Board does keep a full list of SAT evaluation practices at U.S. colleges, it may not be up to date. For this reason, the only true place to get a school’s policy is directly from their admission office or their website. Please note that schools that require “All Scores” will not allow you to use Score Choice.
To send your ACT scores, you have two options:
- Just as with the SAT, you can choose to send your ACT scores to four schools for free when you register for the exam.
- You can send your scores any time by signing into your ACT account and then following all instructions under the “Send Your Scores” link.
Because you would never want your application to be incomplete due to late test scores, we recommend sending your scores at least one month in advance of a college’s application deadline. Many highly selective schools will take scores from test dates as late as November, but you must check with each school to verify their policy. Keep in mind that colleges set up their own methods for receiving test scores, so time frames for delivery can vary from college to college. Furthermore, giving yourself plenty of time in advance of the deadline is always a smart idea.