It can be hard keeping track of all of the pieces of your college application. Standardized testing is a hefty chunk of the college admission process. Since test scores are a big requirement, you've got to make sure your scores reach the colleges you're applying to, and that your scores are delivered on time. We've compiled some quick reference info to help you keep on top of your testing requirements and to help you report your scores.
What: Many colleges require that you take the SAT (and some require that you also take SAT II Subject Tests). But, you can't just take the test and tell the colleges how well you did. You need to send official score reports from the College Board (the guys who administer the test).
When: Your scores are usually available online 19 days after you take the test. The College Board will send you email reminders about when you should be sending your official score reports to colleges. College admission websites also offer deadlines that tell you when they need to receive your scores. Allow for about 2-3 weeks for your scores to reach the colleges.
How: Once your scores become available, you can send your scores to the colleges you're applying to by going online here.
The Strategy: You get to choose which SAT scores you send to colleges. (The program is called Score Choice.) For example, let’s say you took the SAT in the spring of your 11th grade year and again the fall of your 12th grade year. Let’s say you scored higher overall in the fall. You can choose to only send that higher score to colleges. They’ll never see your spring scores.
Keep in mind that you get four free score reports when you register for the SAT. All other score reports will cost you precious dough. The only problem is that you have to use these free score reports the day that you take the SAT, without knowing what your scores will look like. You may want to think carefully before deciding whether or not to use the free score reports.
The Cost: It costs $47 to register to take the SAT. The SAT IIs cost $21 to register to take the Subject Tests. After that, it costs $10 per test to register. (You can take up to three Subject Tests on a testing day.) It costs an additional $21 to register to take any Language with Listening tests. Fee waivers are available for those who can’t afford this expensive fee. (Go here to see if you are eligible for a fee waiver.)
You get four free score reports when you register for the SAT. After that, it costs $10 to send your scores to each college you're applying to. If you are taking the SAT very close to your college's deadline for receiving scores, there is also an option for a rush delivery for $29.
What: Many colleges require that you take the ACT (or the SAT). But, you can't just take the test and tell the college how well you did. You need to send official score reports from the folks at the ACT.
When: You can usually view your scores online 2-3 weeks after taking the test. If you took the writing portion of the ACT, your writing scores may not be viewable online for 5-8 weeks.
If, while registering for the ACT, you requested that your scores be sent to a college, your score report will be sent as soon as all of your scores are available. If you took the writing portion of the ACT, that means your scores may not be sent for 5-8 weeks. If you filed the request after you've taken the test and looked at your scores, it could take up to 3 weeks for the college to receive your scores. Rush delivery options are also available, in which case your scores will reach the college in about a week.
How: When you register for the ACT, you can indicate the colleges you want your scores sent to. However, if you want to, you can wait and see your scores before deciding whether or not to send them. After you receive your scores, send the ACT a request that your scores be sent to the colleges of your choice. Click here to request that your scores are sent to a college.
The Strategy: You get to choose which ACT scores you send to colleges. For example, let’s say you took the ACT in the summer before your 12th grade year and again in the fall. Let’s say you scored higher overall in the fall. You can choose to only send that higher score to colleges. They’ll never see your summer scores.
While registering for the ACT, you can select which colleges you want your scores sent to. The only problem is that if you enter college names while registering, you don't know what your scores will look like. While your score report will get to a college a bit quicker if you list it while registering, you may want to get your scores first and then submit a separate request to have your scores sent to a college.
The Cost: Registering for the ACT costs $33, or $48 if you're also taking the writing portion. Reporting your scores to colleges costs $10 per school you're sending a report to. For rushed delivery, the cost is $15 per school.
What: AP exams are administered by the College Board and test your knowledge of Advanced Placement subject areas. Some high schools offer Advanced Placement courses, and students generally take an AP exam at the end of an AP course. Colleges typically do not require AP exam scores. However, there is usually an opportunity in the application to report any AP scores that you might have. This is additional information that can be useful if you have done particularly well on one of these AP exams.
When: Everyone takes the AP exams at the same time in May. (Check out the AP testing dates here.) Scores are available in July.
How: When you take an AP exam, you enter the information of the college you want your score report sent to. If you're taking the exam during your senior year, you probably already know what college you'll be attending. You can simply send the score there.
If you’re taking an AP exam during your junior year or earlier, you may not be sure what colleges you plan on applying to yet. In that case, you can hold off and report your scores to a college later. To send your scores, you actually call the College Board and request that they forward your scores. If you're not satisfied with some of your scores (for example, if you scored below a 3), you can request that specific scores are "withheld" or "canceled." Check out this College Board web page for more information. Also note that many colleges do not require official AP score reports; sometimes they just let you self-report your scores in your application.
The Strategy: Only report your strong AP scores. A 3 or higher is as passing score, so don't report anything lower than a 3. If you are applying to a selective college, only report your 4s and 5s.
The Cost: AP exams are really pricey. They cost $87 per exam, and $57 with a fee reduction (for lower-income students). However, they can help you place out of certain required classes once you get to college. If you took AP exams during your 11th grade year or earlier, before you knew which colleges you wanted to apply to, you can request that your scores be forwarded to a college for $15 per college.