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SAT® Scores: To Send or Not to Send

MR#A | date created: 2006:06:13Applying to college can be an exciting time, but also a time when families really start to think about the many different expenses they’ll need to cover.  With college costs rising, it might seem like a no-brainer to send your SAT scores out for free if given the choice. But it actually might be in your best interest to not take advantage of the free score report option.

The SATs allow you to send your scores to up to four schools at no cost. Yes you save money, but the downside is that you won’t get to see the scores before they’re sent out to the colleges. And with scores only costing $12 to send out, it might be better to pay the fee and get to see your scores. SAT scores can impact merit-based scholarships that schools award, so while it may cost you to send the scores, you have the potential to be awarded much more in scholarships if you only send colleges your best scores.

In 2009, The College Board introduced Score Choice, which allows you to send only the scores you want. Score Choice only applies to test dates, not individual test sections. So for example, you couldn’t send only your math scores but leave out your critical reading and writing scores from the same date. But if you have one particular date where you don’t do as well as expected, you can decide that no schools ever have to see those scores. This can help relieve some of the pressure from students who worry that they have to get a perfect score every time they take the test.

It’s also helpful to know that lots of colleges use something called super scoring, where they combine students’ SAT section scores from different dates to give students the best total score possible. Because of this, you’ll want to send scores from all test dates when you had the highest score in each of the three sections to all schools that participate in super scoring.

Another thing to remember is that a small amount of schools require students to submit all of their SAT scores. In this case, a student would not be able to use Score Choice. A list of colleges that require all SAT scores can be found on the College Board website, but it’s always best to check each college’s individual website for the most up-to-date information.

So when should you submit your scores if you decide to opt out of the free score report? It’s recommended that you send them about a month before the application deadline, although you can always send them earlier than that. Score reports can be viewed and sent directly from the College Board website. The college will hold onto the scores until it has received a student’s full application, at which time the college will then put the scores with the rest of the student’s file.

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