When to Send Test Scores

By Kevin McMullin

When to send test scores college applications

Bernice asks:

Should I wait until my SAT or ACT scores arrive before I apply to the top colleges of my choice? Or should I go ahead and apply?

This is a good question, Bernice, one that has both simple and more complex versions of the answer. The simple version is to go ahead and apply. Most colleges will allow you to not only list whatever scores you have, but also list the dates you intend to take future tests. They’ll wait to make a decision until they have all the required test scores, and delaying your application process usually isn’t a good strategy.

But the more complex and college counseling-nuanced version of the answer requires more information, including:

Where are you applying?
Are you applying to an early action or early decision program?
Did you take the tests already? If so, how many times and what are your scores?
When do you plan on (re)taking the exam(s)?

So here’s what I recommend you do:

1. Consult the websites of each of your chosen colleges and find out two things—what tests are required, and by what dates do they recommend taking tests and sending scores?

2. Register for the test(s) soon if you haven’t done so already. Fall test dates are popular and you don’t want your preferred location to fill up.

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