Be prepared to send in either your ACT or SAT scores unless “test-optional” is a good fit for you.
Fall of senior year is here and it is time to decide if you will take advantage of test-optional policies or report your official ACT or SAT scores to colleges. Here are four tips on reporting SAT, ACT, & AP scores to colleges.
1: Decide if you are submitting scores.
Check the college’s website to determine if it is “test-optional.” Most colleges have continued their test-optional policies. If tests are required, you must report or send your best ACT or SAT score(s). Plan ahead because some colleges require the scores to be in your file by the application deadline. If the college offers a test-optional policy, determine the college’s middle 50% range (scores reported by students accepted last year that fell in the 25% to 75% range). If your ACT or SAT score falls within or above their average ranges, report your score. However, there are exceptions to this advice. For colleges admitting 15 to 20 percent or less of applicants, you want your scores to be at the 50th percentile or higher and it is a judgment call whether to submit or not if your scores fall between the 25th and 50th percentile. It is common for students to report scores to some colleges but not all.
2: Deciding which scores to report on your application
The first place to report scores is on the testing section of the Common Application (or whatever application you submit) where you will report your highest scores. However, if you are only submitting scores to some of the colleges on your list and not others, you will have to remember to remove the scores from this section before sending them to your test-optional colleges. This can lead to errors so another option is to not report scores in this section at all and instead send official score reports to the colleges via your SAT or ACT account.
Virtually all colleges superscore the SAT so if you took the SAT more than once and received higher section scores on different dates, report or send each relevant date and the college will focus on the highest score for each section.
You may be able to send your superscore to colleges.
The ACT is more complicated since colleges’ policies about superscoring vary and are continually evolving, generally toward acceptance of superscoring. To “superscore” the ACT means that a college will accept your highest section scores from different sittings of the test and essentially recalculate your composite score. Your best information source is to verify each school’s policy on their websites. Published lists can be helpful in determining which schools superscore, but keep in mind that lists such as this one from PrepScholar may not reflect changes since they were published.
If a school does not superscore, send your highest composite score test date. Bear in mind, if you send all test dates to a college that does not superscore, they will choose the sitting that puts you in the best light so it won’t hurt you to submit more than one test date as long as there are no glaringly low section scores on a particular date.
3. Officially send scores as needed
More and more colleges are allowing applicants to self-report test scores on their applications and only require official scores after acceptance. You can check the website for each school to which you’re applying, however, some families just feel more comfortable sending official score reports to all schools especially, as noted above, they are not sending scores to all colleges and don’t want to report their scores in the application. Once you’ve determined what scores and test dates you wish to report to which schools, log into your ACT and/or College Board account and list the colleges to which you want scores sent. Select the test date(s) to be forwarded, and have a parent available with a credit card to pay the fee. Allow 2-3 weeks for receipt. Plan ahead!
4. How to report AP scores
Report your AP exam scores and upcoming AP exams to be taken in senior spring in the testing section of your Common Application (or other applications). In most cases, you only want to report scores of 4 or 5. Some colleges will not consider self-reported AP scores, so you will need to have them officially sent through College Board. However, most colleges do not require an official AP score report until you enroll. Other exceptions are universities in the United Kingdom and a few colleges that offer flexible testing plans which require you to send AP scores officially.
Keep in mind that college testing policies are constantly changing so it is important to check the college’s website during junior year and as you apply to be sure you are adhering to their requirements.
If you are a sophomore, contact us today to develop a testing strategy and timeline for junior and senior year.