How to Send SAT Scores to Colleges: A Detailed Guide

Jul 24, 2021

It does not matter if you have the best transcript or excel in your extracurricular activities or your essay is on par with William Shakespeare. Your application is incomplete without your SAT scores.

So how do you make sure your SAT scores are sent satisfactorily, at the right time, and with only the scores you are most proud of? Understand how you can make wise decisions in case something goes wrong.

In this article, I'll provide you with a comprehensive guide to go over the process of sending SAT scores.

How to Send Your SAT Scores

Use Your Four Free Score Reports

After you register for the SAT and for nine days after you take the test, you can send your four free score reports to scholarship programs and colleges. But remember that you'd be doing this without first seeing your scores.

Let's look at the Pros and Cons.

Pros: These four score reports are free.

Cons: You won't be able to see your scores before they get sent out. Meaning you won't be able to use SAT Score Choice to pick which scores colleges see and which they don't see. In the end, your scores will get sent out even if they aren't as good as you'd like them to be.

Important Note: Many schools allow students to self-report their SAT/ACT scores, and only after the students are accepted do they need official score reports. 

If you want to apply to schools that fall into that category and wait until you get your acceptance, send an official score report, you have to check out the following method, which I will be covering in the next point.

Order Additional Score Reports

You can order your SAT score reports through your College Board account after you get your scores.

Let's check out whether you should send your SAT scores after you see them:

Pros: Here, you know all your scores, so you can select only your best scores to be sent out.

Cons: It will cost you $12 to send a score report to a college, and every piece can include several test scores on it. In other words, if you want to send three SAT scores to Harvard University and two to MIT, you have to pay $24. (Students who are eligible for a fee waiver have unlimited free score reports.) Rush reports cost more: $31.

We recommend below when to order additional SAT score reports: 

  • Always send your scores with the best section results to colleges that superscore the SAT. In superscore colleges, make a new composite score using your best Math, Evidence-Based Reading and Writing (EBRW), and Essay scores from any SATs you took.
  • Send your single highest score to colleges that neither superscore nor require all your scores to SAT scholarship programs and the NCAA if you plan to play college sports.

Is it Possible to Send Your Old SAT Scores?

To send scores from an SAT you completed more than a year ago, you must request them from the archives. Each report costs $31, and each rush report costs an extra $31.

You can order SAT scores in two ways:

1. Fill out the Archived Score Report Order Form and send it to the following address:

  • SAT Program
  • PO Box 7503
  • London, KY 40742-7503

2. Contact the College Board at (866) 756-7346. Realize an extra $15 fee for ordering scores over the phone.

Choosing Which SAT Scores to Send 

You can choose whether you want the College Board to send all your SAT scores to or whether you want to use a Score Choice program.

With SAT Score Choice, you can pick which scores you want to send to schools. You can also select individual test dates but not test sections. You can choose the SAT date you wish to send in simple terms, and the College Board will only send out scores from that test.

For example, you took the SAT three times, and the second time you were suffering from it or just having a bad day. You can send only the first and third test scores to colleges with Score Choice.

You can also apply Score Choice to SAT Subject Tests. You can choose which Subject Test score to send to your target colleges.

Let's look at the pros and cons of the SAT Score Choice policy:

Pros:

  • Score Choice is great for colleges that don't require all of your SAT scores.
  • Score Choice is good for colleges that superscore—you can send them the test dates with your highest section scores.
  • Score Choice is excellent for any SAT Subject Tests you've taken the number of times since you just want colleges to get your highest score.
  • Finally, it's the perfect way to send your best single SAT score to scholarship programs and the NCAA.

Cons: You have to go through your target colleges' score submission policies very cautiously. Not able to send all your scores to colleges could land your application in trouble. Check out CollegeBoard's BigFuture site, which mentions the SAT score policies for hundreds of US schools.

What is the Best Timing to Send Your SAT Scores?

In this section, we'll look at how early you could send your scores when to expect scores to reach your colleges, is it reasonable to rush ordering your score reports, and ultimately, what to do if you miss a deadline.

Should You Send Your SAT Scores Early?

According to the College Board, sending scores early shows colleges that you are very interested. If you first take the SAT your junior year, should you go ahead and send that score to colleges you are interested in?

Sometimes, some colleges ask to prove that an applicant genuinely wants to go to their school; this we call demonstrated interest. But this is something that generally comes into play after you have turned in your complete application, usually as a way to move someone up on a waitlist.

Sending SAT scores early does not give you an edge. It doesn't count as demonstrated interest because if you send SAT scores to a college but haven't applied there yet, the admissions committee will simply save them under your name in a general file until your application comes up.

And not only that. If you send your scores early and are planning to retake the test, you won't get the full benefit of Score Choice since you won't compare your early score with the latest ones.

When will Your SAT Scores Get to the Admissions Office?

The official SAT score reports should get to your schools by their respective application deadline. Let's look out what this means when to send your scores. Let's understand the timing of everything that happens after you take the test.

Step 1: College Board Scoring Your SAT

  • It takes around two to three weeks but can take more than five weeks for the June test date.

Step 2: Score Reports Are Posted Online and Afterwards Processed

  • You can get access to your SAT score report through your College Board account.
  • If you registered for the four free score reports, they would be sent to colleges about one to two weeks after your scores appear online (if you took the SAT without Essay). If you took the SAT with Essay, your scores would be sent about ten days after getting them online.
  • As soon as scores get online, you can order additional score reports from the College Board website.

Step 3: Colleges Receive Your SAT Scores

  • Many colleges get test scores electronically that file your score with the rest of your application materials. Colleges select how often to download new SAT score reports; this is somewhere between once per day and once per week (for example, UVA gets SAT scores daily).
  • Remember that there is a lag between when a college gets your scores and adds them to your application file.

How your last possible test date math looks like this:

Three weeks for scoring + 3 weeks for ordering tests = take your last six weeks before the application deadline.

Is it a Good Idea to Rush Your SAT Score Report Order?

If you are tensed about beating deadlines, paying more can always help by paying extra for the College Board's rush service. Let's look at the pros and cons of doing so:

Pros: The College Board guarantees SAT scores will be sent out within two to four business days instead of taking few days.

Cons

  • This service does not accelerate how long it takes the College Board to score your test.
  • It also does accelerate how long it takes for colleges to receive your scores. Remember, this important thing, schools always choose the timing themselves, with some getting score reports only weekly. 
  • Colleges that get score reports online might not view priority reports at all.
  • The service costs $31 (but the advantage is you can rush reports to many schools at once).

Important Note: If your deadline is coming soon, it might make sense to pay extra to buy yourself a little more time. Just remember that colleges might not see your scores faster if their delivery preferences aren't set up for priority reports.

What Happens When You Miss the Application Deadline?

Some schools have a clear-cut rule: late application documents disqualify that applicant. For example, the University of Texas's policy cancels the school's guaranteed admission to any in-state students in the top 10% of their class.

In simple words, late test scores are like playing the luck on the horses—you're betting that your application won't get considered until further into the process and that, therefore, your SAT scores still have a chance to get there without issue.

For example, let's see what Stanford University's admissions site warns in regards to testing scores:

"We cannot obstruct the review of an application in anticipation of scores that will arrive after the deadline, nor can we guarantee that late [SAT] scores will be reviewed."

UVA informs out the following if your SAT scores are late:

"There is a chance that we have already started the review of your file before those scores arrive. You should still send those scores. There's a good chance that the scores will be seen at some point in the process."

In the end, some colleges judge applications on a case-by-case basis. In simple, it is a process followed by colleges where an excellent application might be put aside until SAT scores arrive. In contrast, an application that is not a good fit for the school will be rejected even before receiving scores.

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