Your teenager’s taking the SAT or ACT and needs to get those score reports over to colleges in time for application deadlines.
There are a few things all parents should know about submitting those scores, and so I’ve laid out all of the whats, whens and hows of score reporting.
Which score report(s) should we send?
The answer here (as with so many things college admissions-related) is, “it depends.”
If a student takes the SAT or ACT multiple times, the testing agencies give him or her the option to select or deselect entire test dates to send to colleges. (The College Board calls this SAT Score Choice.)
This is not to say, however, that all colleges allow students to choose which score reports to send. Some colleges want to see all score reports across all test dates, while others want the highest composite scores. Check out the College Board’s SAT Score-Use Practices by Participating Institution document to learn how the colleges your teen’s considering applying to uses score reports.
Although it can be nerve-wracking for students to send all score reports to a college for admissions, in many instances the institution will only be looking at the best scores.
When should score reports be sent?
As soon as your teen knows which schools she’s applying to, she’s free to get those scores sent in to colleges. Ultimately, your teen needs to get scores over to college admissions offices before application deadlines during senior year.
Check the deadlines listed for applications on each college’s website to ensure your teenager’s taking the test and sending scores within plenty of time before deadlines. It’s best to get scores in at least a month or so prior to the application deadline, but they can certainly be sent earlier than that. I recommend at least a month prior, just to be on the safe side. Keep in mind that scores are typically released about two weeks after tests are taken, and then they’re received by colleges two weeks after they’re released. There’s really no reason not to send scores right away when your teen knows he is done taking the exam and knows which score report(s) he’ll send.
And don’t worry about colleges not being able to match test scores to applications submitted by your teen later on; everything will end up in the right place in your student’s file in the end.
How should we send scores to colleges?
There are a few ways to send ACT and SAT scores to colleges, and being aware of the pros and cons of each is important.
- Students can enter up to four colleges on the ACT or SAT registration form, which is included in the cost of registering. They’re sent one day in advance of a student seeing the scores online.
- Students can send whichever score reports they choose for either test directly from the College Board or ACT.org website any time after taking the exams.
The first (and free) option, while convenient and cost-effective, is something I don’t typically recommend. There’s just no option to review the scores before releasing them to colleges, and what if your kid has an off-day that day? One year I had four of the students I worked with take the June SAT exam, and all of them went into the testing center with the flu. And, not surprisingly, all of them had lackluster scores. It’s almost always best to see them before sending.
Remember that colleges do want the official score reports to arrive directly from the testing agency (College Board or ACT).
It’s typically in each student’s best interest to take the ACT or SAT at least twice in order to have an opportunity for higher scores to submit to colleges. Taking practice SAT and ACT exams is one of the best ways to become familiar with the format and content of the tests, and to then know where to focus to work on weaknesses. Access practice SAT and ACT exams for your teenager and have her take them well ahead of the official test dates.
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