getting accepted to college

Will my October Scores be Considered for Early Decision?

The results from the October SAT are scheduled to be released later this week, just a couple of days before November 1 deadlines for Early Decision and Early Action. The close proximity of these related events has a lot of people confused and concerned, and understandably so. I’ve answered questions around this issue at least ten times just this week, and I hope this short post will help you clear up your confusion and provide a little bit of stress relief. Read on to see how you can manage late-arriving scores with your EA and ED applications.

Step One:  Notify Colleges of Future Test Dates

Under the Testing section of the Common Application, there is an option to report the future test dates a student plans to take. Here, students should click “yes” when asked if they want to report future dates, and then select October 2014 as the date from which scores will arrive (the same practice will apply for students taking the December SAT who are applying under regular decision timelines). This will serve as a cue to colleges that those scores are on the way even if they haven’t yet arrived in the office. Schools that do not use the Common App typically also provide a space for students to indicate future testing; keep an eye out for these fields!

Step Two: Arrange for Scores to be Sent

While some scores can arrive after the deadline and still be considered in the review of a student’s application, many schools will want at least one set of scores in hand by the deadline. If October is not your first test date, you should arrange to have your other SAT or ACT scores sent to colleges so that your application is considered “complete.” Do this now if you have not already done so.

Next, arrange to have your October scores sent to all your early schools when they arrive. For those with favorable testing policies (automatic super scoring or highest overall date), there is no harm in sending your scores now because lower scores will be ignored in favor of the higher scores already in hand, and higher scores will effectively replace the lower scores. For those schools that require All Scores for admission, students should arrange to send scores now; waiting to see your results is irrelevant. For those schools with that accept Score Choice, students should wait until scores arrive to decide what to do. As long as colleges have one set of scores in hand and are aware of future test dates (see Step One), the later arrival of one set of scores will not negatively affect the application.

For a full list of institutional score use practices from the College Board, click here.

Step Three: Submit the Application on Time!

The most important thing is that you do not let your concern about your test scores affect the timely submission of your application. For the vast majority of colleges and universities, it is most important that the student’s application & supplemental materials arrive by the deadline. Typically additional forms like letters of recommendation, transcripts, and test scores can arrive after the deadline and still be considered “on time” for purposes of admission. Colleges will pair these materials with the student application as they arrive. Some colleges are stricter about this than others, but all colleges are strict in expecting that your application arrive before the deadline, so do not miss it!

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Written by Ian Fisher
Ian Fisher is an experienced educational consultant, part of College Coach’s team of college admissions experts. Ian received his master’s in policy, organization, and leadership studies from the Stanford Graduate School of Education. Prior to joining College Coach, Ian worked as a senior admissions officer at Reed College. Visit our website to learn more about Ian Fisher.