So you’ve put in all the work preparing for the SAT, hurdled through the test, and received your scores—now what?
Having a strategic approach on your college application process doesn’t stop the moment you leave the testing center. After all, you still have to submit your results in order to complete your application. But how do you send SAT scores to colleges in a way that maximizes your chances of getting in?
In this article, we’ll give you our best advice on how to smoothly and smartly go through this process. We’ll help you ensure that your SAT scores are sent properly and right on time, and we’ve included information on how to deal with unexpected mishaps (like missing scores!), as well.
You have three options to choose from when sending out test scores to colleges—each with its own pros and cons. As such, you have to carefully assess your situation in order to arrive at what would work best for you.
When you register for the SAT, you’re given the option to automatically send four free score reports to different colleges once your results are available. You can assign recipients from registration day up until nine days after your test date.
Some colleges require you to send in all of your SAT scores. As such, it’s wise to use your four free reports if the schools you’re applying to have this requirement. Otherwise, it’s best to wait until you know your scores before sending out a report. If saving money is a big deal to you because of financial constraints, we recommend that you apply for an SAT fee waiver, which lets you send as many free reports as you want, provided that you meet the eligibility requirements.
You can send out score reports after the aforementioned nine-day window has passed. This method, which asks for $12 per report, is great if you want to know your scores before deciding to submit them. This will also apply if you’re requesting additional score reports after you’ve used up the four free allotments mentioned beforehand.
If you’ve taken the SAT more than once, logging into your College Board account will show you all of your test dates and scores. Opting to send score reports through this option will allow you to select the specific test dates you want to send out.
Submit your single highest score to schools that don’t require to see all your scores. However, if some of the schools you’re applying to superscore the SAT, then you should send out reports containing the scores with your best section results. You can also use this option when applying to SAT scholarship programs or when you have to submit your results to the NCAA.
If you have made last-minute additions to your application list and need score reports sent out ASAP, you can request an SAT rush order for $31. This method sends reports to your colleges of choice within two to four business days, as opposed to the 10-day period for Option #2.
Try to finalize your application list as early as you possibly can to avoid having to order rush reports in the future. However, if it can’t be avoided and you find yourself not having a lot of wiggle room with regards to meeting the due date, then it’s better to err on the side of caution and avail of this service. After all, late submissions are never a good thing, and you must use everything in your power to avoid missing deadlines.
Now that you’re aware of your options, it’s time to discuss how exactly you can send your score reports to different colleges. Use the steps listed below as a guide:
1. Go to the College Board website and sign in to your account.
2. Click on Send Scores, and then either Send Available Scores Now or Send Scores When Available, whichever applies to you.
3. Add your preferred colleges to the recipients list. They are sorted by state and by name. Do this until your list is complete.
4. Double check to make sure that everything is correct.
5. Pay the corresponding fees.
6. Regularly check your account to monitor if the scores have been sent.
If you somehow can’t access your released SAT scores, you might have to log in to College Board’s student portal to verify your account. You can also contact them directly for additional assistance.
We’d like to expound on our earlier recommendation that you wait until your scores are released before sending them out. In a nutshell, there’s simply nothing to lose and potentially everything to gain if you go along this path. Of course, we understand that this decision will incur higher costs than using up your free allotment. But this is exactly why we strongly urge you to apply for an SAT fee waiver if money really is an issue.
Some may argue that it’s okay to send these free reports to your safety schools. After all, your scores don’t have to be as competitive to be granted admission to these colleges, right? Well, that may be true, but you have to consider the potential repercussions of this decision. As we’ve previously discussed in our article explaining what SAT scores are good for 2019, many of these less competitive colleges offer grants and scholarships on the basis of how well you did on the SAT. In the event that you end up sending them a mediocre report, you’re basically lowering your chances of getting awarded such privileges.
In addition, many schools allow applicants the benefit of Score Choice—that is, you’re entitled to submit only your best results if you took the SAT or ACT more than once. This gives you the opportunity to make your application as strong as possible. In situations like this, sending unimpressive scores because you opted to blindly submit your SAT results equates to wasted opportunity.
Again, the only sensible reason to use up your free reports is for compliance with admission processes that require or highly encourage you to send your complete score history. For example, in UPenn’s case, Score Choice is permitted but submitting your entire testing history is encouraged. UPenn superscores both the ACT and SAT, so only your best scores will be considered in the end.
Lastly, some of you might be tempted to send your scores blindly in order to demonstrate interest. Many are under the notion that submitting SAT scores as early as possible will give you extra brownie points. However, demonstrated interest only matters after you’ve submitted a complete application. Sending your scores early to a college that you haven’t applied to won’t give you an edge. Your scores will simply be filed under your name and will only be considered after your application shows up.
At the end of the day, whether we’re talking about your dream schools, your target schools, or your safety schools, you’d certainly want to send in only your best scores (if the schools in question allow it, that is).
Now that we’ve established that it’s almost never a smart move to send your test scores before they’re released, it’s time to discuss the expected timeframes involved when sending in your results.
Obviously, your official score reports should get to your chosen schools before the set deadline. If you receive your scores and are happy with them, it’s best to send them right away.
For many schools, the test score deadline is different from the application deadline, so you must carefully take note of all the important dates. Sending your scores too late can have varying degrees of repercussions depending on the school’s policy. Some automatically disqualify late applicants, while some will disregard late score submissions when superscoring test results.
But what if you’re contemplating a retake? What if you’re still unsure about a college and would like to have a bit more time to decide if you want to push through? The guide below should help you determine the last possible test date, as well as the amount of decision-making time that you can comfortably afford to take. After all, we encourage you to improve your chances by sending in your best scores (if you’re allowed to)–but being well within the application deadline is just as important.
It usually takes two to three weeks to score the SAT. If you’re taking the test on June, it can even take as long as five weeks. Meanwhile, your score reports are sent out to colleges about one to two weeks after scores are released.
Colleges receive new score reports under different timeframes. Some download new reports daily, while others do so only once a week. If you’re planning to retake the SAT, the last possible test date that you can comfortably take would be at least six weeks before the deadline, or eight weeks if you’re taking the June SAT.
If you want to buy yourself more time to decide on a school, you’re totally free to do so as long as you take note of the deadline. Assuming you already have your scores and will be using the regular $12 service, make sure to order SAT reports at least three weeks before the deadline. If you’re using the rush $31 service, then you can afford to make your decision two weeks before the due date.
We hope you found this guide helpful. If you need expert guidance on your college applications, check out Big Brains Education’s personalized college admissions counseling service. If you’re yet to take the SAT, we highly recommend that you invest in the best SAT Test Prep service in Bellevue and Redmond.