My SAT Score Is “Under Review”: What Does It Mean?

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What’s Covered:

 

If you have received notice that you SAT score is under review, you might be confused or even scared as to what that means. But, you shouldn’t have to worry too much, since having your score flagged for review is rare and often not cause for major concern. In this post, we will cover what it means for your score to be under review, and the next steps you can take.

 

What Does “Under Review” Mean?

 

For each SAT administration, only a small portion of scores are flagged for review. Of the scores that are under review, an even smaller amount of them are canceled. 

 

The main reason a score is flagged is similar answer sheets: after you take your test, College Board runs statistical analyses on your answer sheet to see if there are matches with other students. For example, if there is an agreement between two answer sheets that is too close to be likely, the statistical software will likely flag both those answer sheets.

 

During this process, no personal information is known. The answer sheets only correspond to student ID numbers, and race, gender, or other data is not considered in the process.

 

College Board conducts this process of analyzing answer sheets to ensure that no student has an unfair advantage over any other student. This also helps to establish the validity of scores to both the students and colleges that receive them.

 

How Does The College Board Review These Scores?

 

Once the statistical analysis software flags certain scores, College Board will look further into the matter. Specifically, College Board searches for additional evidence to indicate that a score might be invalid.

 

For instance, if the students who have similar answer sheets have had their test scores canceled previously, College Board is more likely to flag the score and review it. In this case, College Board is looking for a pattern of this behavior, so if you haven’t had a score canceled before, you shouldn’t need to be too concerned.

 

College Board is also cognizant of any answer keys or “cheat sheets” circulated by students, and will flag answer sheets that closely match these.  

 

Another reason College Board might flag a score if a test booklet has no scratch work. So, even if you’re the type of person who does mental math, be sure to jot down some notes or work for each section—this will help ensure your score doesn’t get flagged and prevent you from making careless mistakes.

 

Most scores that are flagged for review are eventually validated and released to the student. However, if College Board does find something unusual about your score, they will continue to review it and offer you the chance to provide additional evidence for your score.

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Steps You Can Take To Validate Your Score

 

If your score is placed under review, the most important thing you can do is to be patient. Most likely, your answer sheet just happened to match another student’s, and College Board will eventually validate your score.

 

But, if College Board continues to review your score and contacts you for additional information, here are some steps you can take to help them during their review:

 

Submit supporting evidence

 

If you have taken other standardized tests (like the SAT, ACT, or AP tests), you can submit those scores to demonstrate your knowledge. Sending these test scores will give College Board a better idea of your academic history and help them to understand your score.

 

Also, you can submit other academic information, like your grades or high school transcripts. This will help solidify your academic background and give College Board additional insight. If you have this information readily available, and you’re comfortable sharing it with College Board, you should send it to help validate your SAT score.

 

Retake the SAT

 

If you’d prefer to justify your score by retaking the SAT, you can do so. College Board will allow you to take the SAT for free, and you can take it at your convenience. This route may seem daunting, but you don’t need to closely match your original score.

 

In fact, in the past, College Board has validated scores that were within 120–150 points in each section. For example, if your flagged score was 700 in Math and 700 in Reading, scoring at least 550 in each section should be enough to validate your score. So, if you’re willing to sit for another SAT test to prove your score, you should definitely consider this option.

 

Ask for a hearing

 

College Board also extends the option to ask for a hearing with a neutral third party. If you opt for this route, the American Arbitration Association will assign an independent arbitrator to hear your case. The arbitrator will review the evidence and help College Board to determine the validity of your score.

 

Cancel your score

 

If you’d rather just cancel your score and take the SAT at another time, that’s one of your options. College Board will fully refund the past test and you’ll be able to take the SAT again at any time. 

 

If your score is under review, just keep in mind that most scores under review are eventually validated, so chances are that you have nothing to worry about! 

 

How Will The SAT Impact My College Chances?

 

Many colleges use a metric called the Academic Index (AI) to assess your application strength. Your AI is calculated based on statistics like your GPA and standardized test scores (including the SAT and ACT). A high SAT score is crucial to your admissions chances, since selective colleges sometimes automatically reject applicants if their AI is too low. (Keep in mind that many schools are test optional due to COVID-19, however).

 

To see how your score compares, check out CollegeVine’s free Admissions Chances Calculator. This tool will determine your chances of admission to various colleges, and even give you additional tips on how to improve the rest of your profile!

 

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Short Bio
Nisha Desai is a second year student at the University of California, Riverside. She recently started working at CollegeVine, but has done application guidance and tutoring in a private capacity for a couple of years. She is in school to eventually get her Masters in Education and enjoys reading and running in her free time.

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