Score Reporting: Fact vs. Fiction

There’s lots of facts-and-fiction out there about reporting college admissions exam scores (SATs, ACTs, and Subject Tests) to the schools on your list. Strap in, because it IS confusing.  Hopefully this will help.

Let’s begin with the SAT, administered by the College Board. First, be careful to distinguish between the SAT (the big exam comprising Critical Reading, Math, and Writing) and the SAT Subject Tests (one hour exams in specific disciplines, taken up to three at a time). The Subject Tests are easier to understand. Under the score choice policy, you can take as many as you want, including the same one more than once, and release ONLY the individual scores with which you are happy.  That is, you can take, say, Math I, Literature, and U.S. History on the same day, and then COUNT only the Math score.

With the SAT (formerly the SAT I, before that the SAT Reasoning Test, and before that the Scholastic Aptitude Test–today it stands for NOTHING, seriously ;-)), you have to release scores by TEST DATE.  That is, say you take the test in January and do really well on ONE section and not so well on the other two. You have to make a decision about whether to send the WHOLE test results (i.e., all three scores) or none at all.  Most college admissions committees will mix and match your best sections across different test dates, and some put that in writing right on the College Board website (see links below), but they will SEE all three scores for any given test date.  CollegePrepExpress, LLC is highly experienced at advising students and their parents about the strategic release of scores, and we’d be happy to help you navigate these turbulent waters.

With ACTs, it’s simple. Reports are sent to colleges by test date, and you must complete a separate report request for each test date you want sent to schools.  They don’t even have a report option for you to send in multiple test date results. And like the SAT, it’s all or nothing, meaning if a report for a given test date is sent to college, it will include results for English, Math, Reading, Science, and Writing.

Okay, now comes the tricky part. I’ve been hearing from many parents who claim THEY have heard (I personally have not) that college admissions committees have ways of finding out ALL your college entrance exam results, regardless of what you choose to release. From all the research I’ve done, I’m going to say emphatically that they CANNOT. If they do obtain them though some illicit means, they are violating your right to privacy. What they CAN do is ask or even “require” you to submit all your scores, but I see that request as analogous to asking an interviewee what other schools s/he’s applying to.  None of their business!  Imagine going on a job interview and being asked, “So, where else are you looking to work and what are they offering?” I always advise students to respond with something like, “Hey, my parents hired a college coach, at great expense ;-), who has advised me not to answer that question. Between you and me, I’d love to tell you, but I was raised to listen to my parents so my hands are kind of tied here….”  Many colleges have posted their release of score policies on the College Board site, and you can get it here:

In the same way, if colleges ask or require you to submit score you don’t care to release, they are subverting the express purpose of the new policy (as of March 2009), which is to reduce pressure and improve the test day experience.  Again, they can ask, but there is no good reason to tell.  And according to the CollegeBoard, there are NO LOOPHOLES.

Here are some blurbs from the official SAT and ACT websites to set you at ease:

“Students are encouraged to follow the score-reporting requirements of each college to which they apply, but their scores are not released for admission purposes without their specific consent. Colleges and universities will only receive the scores that students send them.”  (Source:

College Board’s Official Policy statement:

Q:  Is there a loophole that allows colleges to “opt out” of Score Choice?

A:  Colleges cannot “opt out of” or “reject” Score Choice. Score Choice is a feature available to students. Colleges set their own policies and practices regarding the use of test scores. The College Board does not release SAT test scores without student consent. This continues under Score Choice. Colleges, universities, and scholarship programs will receive the scores applicants send to them.” (Source:

If you’re unsure of how to sign up for score score, see the “How it works presentation for juniors” at

And for the ACT: “ACT maintains a separate record for each test date, and it is ACT’s policy to report scores only for entire test dates. In requesting a score report from ACT, you may not select test scores from different test dates to construct a new record; you must designate an entire test date record as it stands.” Source:

Bottom line? At CollegePrepExpress, LLC, we encourage lots of testing: I will make a case with my own kids take THREE (3) SATs and THREE (3) ACTs junior year in the hopes they’ll have ONE good day. Just imagine the feeling of being done with all your college entrance exams by the end of JUNIOR YEAR?! Hey, if I told you could go to any college you want if you hit the bulls-eye with a dart, and I offered you either one, two, three, four, five, or six darts, how many would you take?

About CollegePrepExpress

The primary purpose of CollegePrepExpress, LLC is to help students get into their top secondary schools, colleges, and graduate schools and to reduce stress surrounding the entire admissions process.

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