When to Send ACT and SAT Scores to Colleges

Student in a purple sweater thinking about when to send ACT and SAT scores to colleges
September 5, 2022
When Do I Need to Send ACT Scores?When Should You Send Your SAT Scores?Methods for Sending ScoresPros and Cons for Each MethodFAQs: When to Send ACT and SAT Scores to Colleges

”Rohan

Reviewed by:

Rohan Jotwani

Former Admissions Committee Member, Columbia University

Reviewed: 5/2/22

Not sure when to send your ACT or SAT scores to colleges? In this article, we’ll go over everything you need to know when sending in your ACT and SAT scores.

Picture this: you’re applying to college, so you need to complete a required standardized test, either the SAT or ACT. After registering for the best exam for you, you spend the next few months studying hard in hopes of getting the score you want. When test day eventually comes, you fill in every answer you can to the best of your abilities. Once you hand in the test, all that’s left to do is wait until you finally receive the notification that your score is now available.

You might be sitting at your computer, palms covered in sweat as you wait for the page to load. Then the score comes up and you got the score you wanted! You might be leaping off your chair, celebrating when you realize you have completed another obstacle. You are one step closer to getting that offer to the college of your dreams. 

You did everything to get a good test score, so your worries are over, right? Not exactly. Sure, getting a good score is very important, but it’s pointless if your prospective schools don’t see them. You need to send the scores to colleges after you’ve got them. Once that’s handled, you will have completed your school’s standardized tests requirement. But when should you send in your SAT scores? How do you send in your ACT scores?

Don’t worry; sending test scores is fairly straightforward. You just need to have an idea of what to do, and this article will help you with that. We’ll discuss exactly when you should send your SAT scores and ACT scores to colleges and how to do it.

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When Do I Need to Send ACT Scores?

During your registration for the ACT, you can select up to four colleges/institutions to send score reports to. The ACT will automatically send out these reports to your designated schools once the scores are released. 

If you haven’t made up your mind yet, or want to change which schools to send scores to, that’s okay. After your ACT scores come out, you can send them to schools online with your account once they are available; you can send scores this way any time you want. 

The day you need to send your ACT scores depends on the deadlines set by the schools you’re applying to. Some schools need to receive your ACT scores before the application deadline, while others have different deadlines for score submissions and still accept score reports after the deadline. 

If you intend to submit an application early, or apply for scholarships, the due date of sending in your scores may also be affected. Make sure to adjust your plans accordingly. It is important to do your research and find out when colleges require you to hand in score reports.

Another important factor is to know how long it takes for score reports to reach the designated colleges. Your ACT scores are usually available two weeks after the test date, but it can take as long as eight weeks. If ACT doesn’t release your score after eight weeks, you should contact Customer Support

Keep in mind that ACT Customer Support cannot provide your scores by phone, email, chat, or fax. If you took the ACT with the writing test, it could take an additional two weeks for your scores to come out. In this case, ACT will not report your overall scores until they calculate your writing scores. 

If you’ve requested to send score reports during registration, ACT will normally do so on the same day that the scores come out. Additional score reports requested online through your MyACT account will take one week to process before ACT can send them out. The entire process will take roughly two to four weeks, although it can also take as long as seven weeks for colleges to get your scores. 

If you’ve taken the ACT with the writing section, score reports might take a few more days to reach the designated schools. This means that you need to send ACT scores at least two months before the deadline. Of course, when answering the question: “When do I need to send ACT scores?” The general rule is the earlier, the better. But know that if you send out your ACT scores any later than two months prior to the deadline, your reports may not get there in time.

When Should You Send Your SAT Scores?

Now that we’ve covered when you need to send ACT scores let’s move on to when you should send your SAT scores. Like the ACT, you will be given the option to select any colleges or scholarship programs you want to send your scores to when you register for the SAT. And once your scores become available online, you can send them to additional schools. There are no restrictions on when you can send SAT scores once they come out.

Much like the case with ACT score reports, the deadline for SAT score submission depends on the school and program you’re applying for. 

So when do scores come out? SAT scores for any test date during the school year will almost always come out within two to four weeks after you take the test. However, for SAT tests taken during the summer, the scores may take longer to be released. Once your scores are available online, you will receive an email as a notification. You might not be able to see them right away, however. But either way, you can then go to the Student Score Report, sign in with your College Board account information, and view your scores if available.

College Board will send your SAT scores to your chosen colleges within ten days after they come out. If you took the SAT with Essay, it might take another day or two longer for colleges to get your scores. Therefore, you must send your scores at least two weeks prior to the deadline for SAT score submission. 

Again, it is always better to send out scores as early as you can so you have more time to deal with sudden mishaps. Therefore, it is best for you to send out score reports at your earliest convenience as soon as the colleges request you to do so. The bottom line is that two weeks before the deadline for score submission is the very last due date for you to send out your scores.

Methods for Sending Scores

For both the ACT and SAT, there are normally two ways you can send scores to colleges and institutions. You can either request the ACT and College Board to automatically send your scores to colleges and institutions during registration (which is normally free), or you can send scores yourself online (which normally costs a fee). 

Sending scores, either way, is simple and straightforward, but each method has its own instructions that you must be mindful of. Without further ado, we’ll go over these instructions to send scores in detail.

Free Score Reports

As mentioned before, for both SAT and ACT, you are given the option to send score reports to selected colleges at the time of registration. Sending out score reports this way is completely free.

For the SAT:

If you take the SAT on a weekday at your school, you can choose to send your free score reports on your answer sheet as instructed by your school. After test day, there is a fee for sending out score reports.

If you register to take the SAT on the weekend, you can send up to four score reports for free once you finish registering. You have until nine days after the test to designate your score recipients and send out the free score reports. After that, there’s a fee whenever you send a score report.

For the ACT: 

During your registration for the ACT, you can select a maximum of four schools and/or institutions to send your scores to for free. On the same day that the score becomes available online, ACT will send the score for that test date to the schools you selected when you registered. 

Additional Score Reports

As mentioned before, if you wish to send score reports to colleges or institutions after the scores come out online, you can do so online with your college board or ACT accounts, respective to which test you took. For both the SAT and ACT, you need to pay a fee for each report you send out.

To send out any additional SAT score reports, here are the instructions:

  1. Sign in to your College Board account. 
  2. After you’re in, go to the Send SAT Scores page.
  3. Search for colleges that you want to send scores to by finding the name or code of the colleges.
  4. Click one or more colleges to add them to the score recipients list, then click Continue.
  5. For each recipient, you can send all scores or only some of your scores. 
  6. Review your order. Make sure every piece of information is correct.
  7. Agree to the terms and conditions and select a payment method, and check out.

To send out any additional ACT score reports, here are the instructions:

  1. Sign in to your MyACT account.
  2. Once in, go to your scores dashboard and request to send score reports.
  3. Select which score(s) or superscore(s) you wish to send
  4. Select either the valid ACT college code(s) or the college name(s) to decide which college(s) you’ll send your score(s) to.

Note: if you can’t find the school(s) you’re looking for with either of the two options, you can also try other available search options, such as search “by location.”

  1. You’ll be given the option to edit the list of schools you’ll send scores to by removing schools or adding more by clicking “add a choice.” Once you’re done, click “continue” to advance.
  2. Review your order. Make sure every piece of information is correct.
  3. Fill in your credit card information to make the payment, and then click “submit” to submit the order.

The fee for sending ACT score reports is $16.00 per report, whereas the fee for sending SAT score reports is $12.00 per report. It is worth knowing that once you finalized and submitted your orders, they can not be canceled or revoked, and all fees are non-refundable.

Pros and Cons for Each Method

Now that we’ve discussed how you should send your SAT or ACT scores let’s discuss the pros and cons of both methods. 

Free Score Reports

Before you decide to request a free score report for the ACT or SAT, let’s take a look at its pros and cons. 

Pros

Requesting a free score report, which can be done during or after registration, has many benefits. For one, it’s completely free. It also allows you to send your scores out as soon as they are released - without you having to lift a finger, saving you time and effort. This is not only a convenience, but it can be a lifesaver if you ever have to take the test at a late time. 

Cons

Of course, there are also cons to this method. The biggest one is that your requested scores will be sent out no matter how high or low they are. In other words, you can’t see your scores and decide whether or not to send them out to colleges; there’s a good chance your prospective schools will see scores you don’t want them to. 

In fact, once the scores come out, you can’t make any decisions about which scores to send and where to send them. This can put additional pressure on you to do well since a bad score report can hurt your application profile.

This option is also not strongly recommended for test-takers who haven’t made up their minds about which schools they want to apply to. But if you have already chosen the schools you are going to apply to, and you are confident that you can do well in the ACT or SAT, then this method is a great option for you!

Additional Score Reports Online

When it comes to ordering additional score reports online, there are pros and cons that you should be aware of before you choose this method. 

Pros

The greatest benefit of this method is that you get more control over your score reports. You can select which scores to send so that only your best scores can be sent out. You also get to choose which schools receive which scores so that your scores will reach where they’re needed the most.

Cons

A con of this method is that it is not free. While the fee for sending reports isn’t necessarily expensive, you will have to pay for each report you send out. So, the cost can pile up fairly quickly, especially if you’re planning to apply to many schools. 

Sending out scores with this method can also take a bit longer than if you were to send a free score report. You will have to take the time to request each report yourself; it also takes additional time to process each request before the report can be sent out. The ACT, for example, takes about one week to process your requests.

After this period, it takes the same amount of time to reach schools as the free method. But still, taking these additional steps makes this option more time-consuming. For the SATs, you have the option to request College Board to send scores faster, but this comes at an additional fee.

Nevertheless, sending scores online yourself gives you complete control over which schools get to see which scores. This method is an excellent way of getting colleges to see how well you did on your standardized tests!

FAQs: When to Send SAT and ACT Scores

Still have more questions about when to send SAT and ACT scores to colleges. Check out the FAQs to pick up any additional considerations that you might find useful!

1. Can You Send ACT Superscores?

Just in case you didn’t know, an ACT superscore is the composite score calculated by taking your highest individual subject tests scores taken from all of your ACT test attempts.

And yes, you can send superscores. To send a superscore, you must have scores from at least two test events. Same with sending regular test scores, you send superscores by going online and going to your MyACT account dashboard. 

2. Do You Need a Corresponding Online Account to Send Scores?

Yes. For both ACT and SAT, every option of sending out score reports requires either an online account to complete. ACT account or a college board account. Colleges will not accept printouts or copies of your score reports or school transcripts that include your scores. 

If you have any issues with sending your scores, you can contact customer service of the testing organization or reach out to the schools you are applying to and try to negotiate accommodations depending on your specific circumstance.

3. Can I Use Fee Waivers for Sending Out Scores?

Both SAT and ACT have fee waivers that you can use to send as many scores as you want for free. If you match the eligibility criteria for the SAT fee waiver or the ACT fee waiver, you can apply to get a fee waiver. Further information can be found on the College Board website and the ACT website.

4. Can You Send Archived Scores?

Yes. Both SAT and ACT offer the service to send archived test scores, although additional fees may apply. 

The colleges will also know that the score is archived. Archived scores may be considered less reliable than recent test scores, but they are still considered by colleges when reviewing applicants.

5. Does the SAT Have an Optional Writing Section Like the ACT?

Not anymore. Ever since January 2021, College Board has removed the optional writing section (more accurately called the optional Essay) of the SAT. Whether or not it will be added back is to be announced in the future. 

That being said, if you’ve taken the SAT with the optional Essay, and the score is still valid, you can still send your score report with your Essay score, as colleges may still take it into consideration when reviewing applicants. 

Final Thoughts

As you can see, sending scores is not at all complicated, but it certainly is very important, and you should be aware of the process and other aspects of it. Once you’re familiar with everything you need to know about sending your scores, colleges should be able to get your reports with little to no problem at all!

Of course, the most important part in terms of the SAT and the ACT is to do well. Not getting a good score on the standardized tests will give you no scores to send in the first place. So definitely take the time and study to strive for the best you can do. You got this!

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