How Colleges Use SAT & ACT Results – Everything You Need

Navigating test-optional policies can be difficult at colleges and universities. But there is a second layer of possible uncertainty for college applicants who wish to apply their ACT or SAT scores: how institutions then use those scores.

It is possible to break down college scoring policies into two categories: score preference and super-scoring.

Score selection is when a student can freely determine which ACT or SAT scores to submit and not send to a college, which is both a general term and a particular College Board choice for the SAT.

Superscoring is when a college accepts the highest scores for an exam from each section through all sessions.

These two definitions can also be further broken down into more detailed policies:

  • The submission of all examination scores is necessary.
  • The submission of all examination scores is essential.
  • Students will determine which ratings to submit.
  • Many colleges superscore immediately.

The Submission of All Exam Scores Is Required

Several colleges across the U.S. require applicants to submit the scores from all the ACT or SAT examinations they have taken in a normal college admissions year, one not affected by the novel coronavirus.

Both include Carnegie Mellon University in Pennsylvania and Yale University in Connecticut, both of which, owing to the coronavirus pandemic, have been tested optionally for the first year of fall 2021, and Georgetown University in Washington, D.C.

That is because the school needs to check both your high and low scores when you are asked to submit all of your ACT or SAT scores. One potential explanation is that colleges are interested in seeing if their test performance is improved over time by students. The choice of scores will also benefit students who can afford test planning or multiple review sessions over those who can not.

On the application, one or two low scores are not generally grounds for rejection since standardized test scores represent only one of many variables in admissions decisions. However, scores that fluctuate significantly or stay low could be a red flag for some highly selective colleges.

Students applying to schools with a policy of no-score-choice should be aware of it in advance, as unexpected low scores can harm the chances of being accepted. It is also important to remember that you could be rejected or lose your acceptance if you withhold scores from a school that finds out later. Always be frank.

The Submission of All Exam Scores Is Recommended

If a university or college suggests but does not mandate all test scores to be submitted, applicants are encouraged to do so. Suppose one of your ACT or SAT scores is substantially lower than the others, only after speaking with people like your guidance counselor. Can you carefully consider omitting that score from your application?

Remember: on documents other than your actual application, such as your transcript, your ACT or SAT scores can appear. To show a clear record of your achievement is always in your best interest.

Students May Decide Which Scores to Send

If students choose which ACT or SAT scores to send, it is presumed that only their best scores will be sent. The freedom of score option, just like superscoring, is particularly advantageous to students who have scored inconsistently. One well-known school that allows score selection is Columbia University in New York City. However, it has been evaluated optionally for first-year fall 2021 applicants due to COVID-19, like many other colleges.

Students should extensively study the scoring policies for all of their schools of interest. Even if an organization requires you to determine which scores to send, it can be advantageous to send all your scores. This is because the rising number of applications received at some colleges each year has led some to turn to a more convenient and automated superscoring technique.

Many Colleges Automatically Superscore

Fortunately, for high school students, both the ACT and the SAT are now exceeded by a growing number of schools. A college that superstores only recognizes the applicant’s highest section scores, thereby enabling the student to obtain the highest composite score possible.

Superscoring is used by many prestigious colleges and universities, such as Boston College and Stanford University in California. The choice of superscoring is provided by both the ACT and SAT providers. Boston College and Stanford are also among the schools for first-year fall 2021 applicants that are test-optional.

Students should rest assured that test-takers need not do anything if their prospective colleges conduct superscoring. Officials of college admissions automatically conduct Superscoring once test scores are available.

The Submission of Test Scores Is Optional

Many more schools implement a test-optional approach for the admissions period this year in response to the disorder triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic. In such cases, whether they opt out of sending their ACT or SAT scores or having been unable to take any exam due to the pandemic, students would not be disadvantaged.

A test-optional program is being extended for a limited period by individual universities. Before the pandemic, other colleges, including Bowdoin College in Maine, were test-optional and would remain so throughout and after the pandemic.

Before taking action on your ACT and SAT scores, be sure to look into each college’s test submission policy where you can apply.

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