You've studied hard, taken your standardized tests, and just got back the results. But the scores aren't as stellar as you had hoped for, but they are not outright dismal either. Should you still submit your scores to the colleges that you're applying to? If this was pre-covid days or if the colleges you are applying to still require test scores, the answer would have been yes. However, now that over 900 colleges have gone test-optional, the decision on whether or not to send your SAT scores your standardized test scores becomes a question of strategy.
How long after taking the SATs do you get results?
Typically it takes up to 10 days for the College Board to send score reports to colleges, that is unless you order a rush report (which you would use to send your scores asap as it only takes 1-2 business days). But when do you actually see your scores?
2021-2022 Test Dates and Scores Release Schedule
2021-22 SAT Test Date
Score Release Schedule
Sending SAT Scores
There are two options for sending your SAT score. You can choose to send your scores automatically before you take the test, or you can choose to send them afterward. Unfortunately, choosing the former means that you will not see your test scores before you send the scores, which may not be the wisest choice if you are shakey about how well you'll do on the exam.
Before your SAT scores are released (and the 4 free score reports you'll receive)
The SAT gives you the ability to send up to four free reports per test before you take the test and up to 9 days after you've taken the test for free. However, sending your scores early prohibits you from seeing them before sending them to colleges, which may be a significant risk. We recommend only sending your SAT score report like this only if you are super confident about how well you've done with the tests.
After Scores are Released
After the scores are released, there is a $12 fee for additional sat score reports, unless you have an SAT fee waiver. However, if you are close to missing deadlines, choose the SAT rush order option to send your scores to colleges within 1 - 2 business days (for $31 per order). However, waiting until after your scores are released allows you to take advantage of their Score Choice policy.
What's the SAT Score Choice Policy?
Score Choice is an SAT policy where you can choose to send only your best scores to colleges. For instance, if you took the SAT on August 28th and on December 4th, and your overall score was higher on your December 4th test, you can choose to only your best scores official score reports for the December 4th test rather than both the August 28th and December 4th test.
The one caveat is each college admissions process is unique, and so some colleges require that you submit all scores, only your highest score, for many colleges submitting your SAT scores is optional, and in the case of the UC's and CSU's, test scores are prohibited from being a factor in their admissions decision (but it can be used to help with placement). Typically, if a college requires that you send all your scores, they will "super score" your test results, which means that they will combine the highest scores of each section to create a composite score to use in their admissions decision.
How Do You Send Them?
Of course, you can send your by logging into your College Board account on College Board's website, www. college board.0rg, or if you are submitting your college application through the Coalition App, you can choose to send your score reports as you apply to colleges.
But what about the Common App?
Thankfully students can also send SAT scores through the common app by using the code 7949. If you want to submit your ACT code, use 7060.
Score Reports Strategy
Ok, now that we've covered the basics, let's get onto the strategy portion.
When is it better to send test scores?
You want to be considered for highly selective colleges
Your GPA is in the bottom 50% of admitted students, but your SAT/ACT score is in a higher percentile
You have some red flags, like C's or Ds, on your transcript
You want to show strength in a particular subject that you scored well on
Your education has been non-traditional (Waldorf, Montessori, homeschooled, prolonged leave of absence), and you want to show that you're capable of succeeding in a traditional setting
You want to be considered for highly selective programs, honors colleges, & special scholarship programs at a test-optional university
You are a student-athlete (your coach will tell you)
You are applying to a guaranteed admissions college (a college that will ensure your admissions if you hit a specific benchmark on your SAT/ACt or GPA. However, there are limitations, so make sure to double-check the universities website or talk to your school counselor.)
When Should you Skip Sending Your Scores?
You studied hard, took the test more than once, but feel like your score doesn't reflect your abilities.
You are applying to ONLY test-optional/free universities, AND your GPA is in the top 50% of GPA's of admitted students.
You are applying to test-blind universities (like CSU or UC), and you do not want to use your SAT or ACT score for placement.
This strategy checklist comes from our SAT/ACT survival guide, which you can download below:
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