Do I Have to Self-Report My Test Scores?

The concept of self-reporting test scores – that is, manually inputting them on your application – seems strange. Why do it when you are already sending official score reports to college? This guide will help you understand the purpose of self-reporting – and know if you should or should not self-report your test scores on your college application!

What is Self-Reporting?

Self-reporting is exactly what it sounds like: reporting your test scores to colleges within the Common Application. The “within the Common Application” part is what makes self-reporting different from the official score reports that you send from the ACT, IB, or CollegeBoard. This provides you an opportunity to report your SAT, SAT II, ACT, AP, and IB scores to colleges by yourself, before the official score reports are sent. (But, be reminded: whether or not you self-report, you still have to send your official score reports to colleges!)

What is the Purpose of Self-Reporting?

When reviewing your application, some colleges’ admissions committees will look at your self-reported score briefly while judging your application. Later on, they will verify your scores with the official reports. However, it’s useful for admissions committees for applicants to self-report test scores, because then all of your scores are in one place on the application (which means they do not have to sort through several score reports). It allows them to get a general sense for your testing prowess without doing too much work. More simply put, it is a quicker and more efficient way for them to understand your testing abilities while they are reading hundreds of applications.

Should I Self-Report My Test Scores?

For the ACT, SAT I, and the SAT IIs, you should probably self-report your scores. Admissions committees will verify your score with the official score report later anyway, so you might as well do it now. Plus then you can be certain they will see the right score upon first glance.

The only time you should NOT self-report your test scores is if, at the time you submit your application, any of your scores are not as good as you would like them to be, but you are extremely (extremely!) confident that you will get a higher score on your next take of the test. This is assuming the next test sitting will occur after your application is submitted but before you hear back from the college (so, during admissions committee deliberations). Typically, this is the November test sittings for students applying ED/EA I, and the January test sitting for students applying ED II or RD (though you should confirm this by looking at your individual schools’ websites).

In this unique circumstance (when your score is “artificially” or “temporarily” low), it can actually benefit you to not self-report your existing low SAT or ACT score so that the admissions committee doe not gain a preemptively negative impression when reviewing your application. In other words, if you do not self-report in this situation, the testing section of your application will remain a neutral “unclear” in the view of the admissions committee.

Instead of self-reporting, then, you should mark the date of the next test you are going to take to let them know that scores will soon be on the way. Then, once the official score report with your good scores arrive, the admissions committee will have no reason to have a negative impression of your testing ability. To put it more simply, this strategy is a way to avoid giving the wrong first impression. This is especially important if you have great scores to make the right first impression on the way!

What About Self-Reporting AP Exams?

Regarding self-reporting of AP Exams, it is up to you. Report only your good scores if you want. It is nice to show that you score high, but ultimately colleges are not so interested in the results your AP exams. Colleges do not even ask for your official AP score report until after you are admitted. This demonstrates that colleges generally don’t care too much about the outcome of your AP exams; otherwise, they would ask to verify them before admitting you.

The primary benefit of reporting AP scores is that they can serve as a point of reference for the difficulty of the AP class (for example, if you got a B+, but a 5 on the test, and demonstrates to colleges that you know the material well regardless of your grade), or as proof of competency in the subject for homeschooled students or those that self-study AP tests. If any of these apply to you, and you performed well on the tests in question, self-reporting your AP scores is probably a good idea.

In conclusion, in most cases, you should self-report your SAT I, SAT II, or ACT scores on your application to colleges. Unless you are in the special situation described above, it will help you create a good first impression and put your best foot forward to colleges.

If you still have questions on self-reporting, or any other part of the admissions process, be sure to fill out our free consultation form below. One of our admissions specialists will reach out to you soon with personalized applications advice!

Julia Mearsheimer

Julia Mearsheimer

Senior Blogger at CollegeVine
Julia Mearsheimer attends the University of Chicago. She is considering majoring in Philosophy, South Asian Languages and Civilizations, or Political Science, but remains undecided. In addition to writing, she enjoys listening to Nina Simone and baking bread.
Julia Mearsheimer