Should I Submit ACT Scores?

What are some of the best practices to submit ACT scores? When you began this process, you probably thought the hardest part would be the actual test preparation. Well, for students maybe. But for both students and parents it can be equally overwhelming deciding which scores to send to colleges. 

Most tutors and test prep companies do not give students and parents adequate counseling in sending test scores. Why? Because it's complicated, and many tutors and test prep companies would prefer to keep it simple and focus on the tests only.

Submission Options

Hang in with me as I try to enumerate the different options for submitting scores, so you can decide whether or not to submit ACT score or SAT score or both. If you are looking to score higher on the tests, here are my book recommendations for the ACT and new SAT or online SAT prep programs.

Option #1: Submit ACT Scores Only

Most often I recommend students submit the test score from the exam the student performed better on, whether that be SAT or ACT. You are not obligated to send both SAT and ACTscores, unless the individual college has a very restrictive policy (which is rare, such as Stanford). 

If you have taken the ACT more than once (which I recommend), then send in whichever test dates give you the best ACT superscore (which is when colleges use the highest individual section scores from different ACT tests and recalculate the Composite score). Here is a list of colleges that use the ACT superscore.

Option #2: Submit SAT Only (New, Old or Both)

If you have taken both the ACT and SAT tests, and you scored higher on the SAT, then you do not have to submit the ACT, unless the college specifically requires (hardly any do, mainly Stanford). Make sure the you use an updated conversion chart if you need to compare the ACT to SAT scores.

If you have taken both the Old SAT (Class of 2017 only) and New SAT, you can submit your best scores from either test. You are not obligated to send both scores, unless the individual college has a very restrictive policy (which is rare, such as Stanford). Here is a conversion calculator to help you compare the Old SAT to the New SAT.

Be Careful!

Because colleges are obligated to report the median SAT scores for all entering students to the college ratings organizations, like US News and World Reports, if you send in a lower SAT score, the college must report that score, even if your ACT score was higher. Up until now, these ratings groups have been focusing mainly on the SAT scores, not the ACT scores, so sending in lower ACT scores is typically less of a problem. As the ACT becomes more popular, this advantage may disappear.

Option #3: Submit ACT Scores, Not Subject Tests

Some highly selective colleges will allow students to submit ACT scores as a replacement for the SAT and SAT Subject Tests. This is a major advantage over the SAT for students applying to highly selective schools. Why? The Subject Tests are offered in limited areas and can be very difficult (much more than the ACT or SAT tests).

Important Tips

But before I give you those colleges, remember three things:

1. Only about fifty schools require (or strongly recommend) the SAT Subject Tests scores to be sent as part of the college application. Most colleges do not require Subject Tests. The ones that do require them are typically highly selective colleges, such as Ivy League schools, and highly selective liberal arts colleges.

2. If you submit the ACT as a replacement for the Subject Tests, then you do not need to submit the SAT exam either. The ACT test covers both. In fact, you may be better off NOT submitting SAT scores and instead submit ACT scores if higher.

3. Some schools are "test optional" or "test flexible", so before you submit scores, double check what scores the colleges require. Believe it or not, some colleges will accept Subject Test scores as a replacement for the SAT and ACT. And some colleges do not require any standardized test scores (and these are good, well-known colleges).

List of Colleges That Waive Subject Tests

Below is a list of colleges that require (or recommend) the Subject Tests BUT will allow students to submit ACT scores and waive the Subject Tests requirement. Because colleges do frequently change test score policies, visit the college's website for score confirmation before applying.

  1. Amherst
  2. Barnard
  3. Boston College
  4. Boston University
  5. Brown
  6. Bryn Mawr
  7. Duke
  8. Haverford
  9. McGill
  10. Pomona
  11. Rice
  12. Swarthmore
  13. Tufts
  14. University of Pennsylvania
  15. Vassar
  16. Wellesley
  17. Wesleyan
  18. Yale

News & Updates

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