ACT Test Scores: What to Do Before Sending Them to Your Dream School

Tyler York
ACT Test Scores

On top of all the things that you have to keep in mind during college application, another tricky thing to add to the mix is where to send your ACT scores.

There may be a lot of things to consider and it might get a little confusing at first, but did you know that there are actually multiple choices you can make when it comes to sending out your ACT test scores? Tips, tricks, and a list of options — we’ve gathered all of these in one post that can serve as your handy guide to using your ACT scores.

How to Send Your ACT Scores

Not sure where to start in sending out your ACT test scores? The good news is that there’s actually two methods you can use depending on your needs: you may send your ACT scores either immediately after finishing the test or any time after getting your scores.

Let’s take a look at each method in detail:

Method #1: Use Your Four Free Score Reports

Upon registering for the ACT, you would be given the option of sending out your scores to four schools or college scholarships for free. However, there’s a catch: if you go for this method, you’ll be choosing to send out your scores before actually seeing them.

This method is recommended if you want to take advantage of the four free score reports and save money in the process. But again, the disadvantage is that your scores will be sent out regardless of whether you performed well or not.

Method #2: Request Additional Score Reports

Your ACT account will serve as your all-access pass to everything ACT, including your ACT scores. Having an account is essential because it’s here where you’ll find all your scores from previous ACTs (if any) and generate score reports to be sent to various colleges.

Method #2 lets you decide where to send your scores after you’ve seen your ACT scores. This will allow you to do the following:

  • Customize Score Reports. This gives you the liberty to use your scores of choice, as opposed to sending them without having reviewed them first. 
  • Highlight a good composite score. It’ll also be helpful for when your college of choice “superscores” or focuses instead on your composite score, allowing you to use your best section results from each section across multiple ACT tests.

However, method #2 literally comes with a price tag — you’d need to shell out $16 for each score report (except: no need to pay for additional score reports if you have a fee waiver). That could be a lot of money, especially if you have a lot of colleges to send your ACT scores to. Note also that there’s an extra $15 charge if you’ll send your score reports via phone rather than online or by mail.

Can I Choose Which ACT Scores to Send?

The ACT score ordering process is structured in such a way that test takers can pick which scores to send out to their preferred colleges. This means that you can choose whichever score would better reflect your best performance. For example, you’ve already taken the ACT once but you did not score as highly as you hoped. If you’re able to score better on your second attempt, then you may use that score instead.

In addition, ACT Inc., can now automatically generate superscores for students who have taken the ACT at least twice since September 2016. Through this, your composite score is calculated — ideal for sending to those schools that would only want to look at your highest scores. Depending on what your preferred school requires, you may either send the automatically generated superscore, or scores from specific test dates.

So I Can Choose Which Scores to Send… Does That Mean Old Scores Can Be Used?

The quick answer is: yes, you may still send old scores — there are just certain dates to keep in mind.

The first step is to request previous scores from the ACT archives. The scores you’ll order must be from before September 1, 2019. Each archived score report would cost you $43, with a nonrefundable archived scores fee of $27. You may only order your old ACT scores online as the phone/mail option is not anymore offered.

Score Reporting Timeline

Apart from deciding which scores you’d send, you should also be mindful of schools’ respective admission deadlines. In relation to application dates, here are the timelines you need to remember:

  • Test Scoring — It usually takes around 10 days before multiple-choice scores are released, though in some cases, it may take up to 8 weeks. If you took the ACT with Writing, it may take an extra two weeks. Taking the ACT outside of the U.S. or Canada might mean longer waiting times — and that is on top of the two weeks allotted for the Writing portion.
  • Score Posting/Processing — Multiple-choice scores are posted online as soon as they are available, followed by the Writing exam scores after two weeks. If you tested through State and District, School, or DANTES testing, you’d have to first receive your scores by mail before they can be viewed online. Moreover, availing yourself of the four free score reports means your scores will be sent out at once as soon as the full score report is ready.
  • Score Sendout — Most schools receive scores online, although it will depend on their preferred way of receiving scores. There are some colleges that receive scores via first-class mail. The general rule is to allot at least two weeks before the application deadline when ordering your ACT scores (one week for ordering your scores + one week for schools to get and file your scores), and to take your last test more than seven weeks before the application deadline if possible.

What Happens If My Scores Aren’t Sent Out On Time?

We’re crossing our fingers that you get to send out your scores before the application deadline. But in the event that your scores arrive past the prescribed date, you would then have to check what the individual policies are of each school. 

Some institutions such as Stanford University disqualify applicants due to late submission of application; some others may or may not review your application until your scores have arrived. Scores may also be reviewed on a case-to-case basis — your application may either be considered or rejected based on whether or not you may be a good fit for the school.

ACT Test Score Reporting Doesn’t Need to Be Confusing!

In a nutshell, you can send your scores out immediately without seeing them first, or send them later for a fee per college that receives them (and after you’ve seen them). We highly suggest keeping track of dates so that you don’t miss out on any deadline, and monitoring for any announcements regarding scores reporting or the exam itself. Finally, try not to stress yourself out too much! Doing so may only hinder you from attaining those stellar scores that you’re aiming for. Good luck!

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