Should You Send SAT Scores Straight to Colleges on Test Day?
When you register for the SAT, you have the option to send your scores to four schools for free. This sounds amazing, but there’s one catch—you have to send them before you know what your SAT score is.
Many students choose to send the four free score reports because waiting to pay for score reports can get pricey. At CollegeVine, however, we recommend only sending score reports after you know your score. In this post, we’ll explain why, and we’ll also:
- Go over what you need to know about sending your scores
- Explain how much it costs and how fee waivers work
- Point you to resources to help you improve your score
How to send SAT scores to colleges
Each time you send your SAT score to a college, the school receives a score report, which includes the your composite (total) score, section scores, and subscores.
The most common way to send SAT scores is to do it online. Here are the steps you’ll need to take:
- Login to College Board. You’ll see two options: “Send your scores to colleges and scholarship programs” and “Get ready for college – take the SAT.” Click on “Send your scores to colleges and scholarships.” If you do this after the free score report period has ended, you may get a notification that there will be a score report fee.
- A pop-up will appear where you can search for colleges and scholarships by name or state. For example, you could search for everything in the state of Massachusetts.
- Once you hit “Search,” colleges and scholarships will show up in the box under “All available recipients.” Click the one(s) you want to send your score to and click the button “Add” to move it to the right box under “Your selected recipients.”
- Once you’ve searched for all the schools and scholarships you want to send to, click “Continue”. You’ll be taken to an order confirmation screen displaying the total of the score reports you’ve selected, and a button that says “Make payment.”
- Fill out the payment information to send the scores.
You can also send scores by phone. You’ll need to call College Board Customer Service and have the following information ready:
- Your test registration number (printed on your Admission Ticket)
- Your birth date
- A credit card
Sending scores by phone is more expensive than doing it online, and it’s not a faster way to send scores to colleges.
Should you send them on test day?
Usually, this isn’t a good idea. Because you don’t know what your score will be, you could end up sending a low score to schools, which would hurt your admission chances. Many universities have test score deadlines, and won’t consider updated scores taken after that date when superscoring or making admissions decisions.
Some students think it’s okay to risk sending an unknown score to a “safety” or less-competitive college. Many of these schools have lower average test score ranges, but many of them also have merit scholarships and honors programs with high test score cutoffs. When you send a low score to a safety, you risk making yourself ineligible for these opportunities. We have an entire list of which colleges award automatic scholarships based on SAT scores, so you definitely want to only send your best scores.
The bottom line? We think you should hold off on sending scores until you know what your score is. Then you can make sure you aren’t accidentally limiting your choices.
How much do SAT score reports cost to send?
It costs $12 to send a score report. To rush your score report, it will cost $31 for a 1-2 business-day turnaround, which is good if you need to get your score in by a deadline. Sending scores by phone costs $15 per phone call.
Yes, it does get expensive to send your score to a lot of schools, especially when you add in your college application fees. But if finances are a barrier, the College Board offers fee waivers for students so that you can send your scores to colleges for free, after you know them.
How can you get a fee waiver?
College Board doesn’t distribute fee waivers directly to test-takers. Fee waivers are administered by school counselors, or by representatives from authorized community-based organizations.
In order to be eligible for the fee waiver, you need to be an 11th or 12th grade low-income student who lives in the U.S., a U.S. territory, or is a U.S. citizen living outside the U.S.
You may be wondering if you’re considered low-income. If any of the below criteria applies to you, then you can get a fee waiver once you’re a junior in high school.
- You receive or qualify for the National School Lunch Program (NSLP).
- Your annual family income falls within the Income Eligibility Guidelines set by the USDA Food and Nutrition Service.
- You’re enrolled in a program that helps students from low-income families (such as Upward Bound).
- Your family receives public assistance.
- You live in federally subsidized public housing, in a foster home, or are homeless.
- You are a ward of the state or an orphan.
If you qualify for a fee waiver, you need to use it when you register for the SAT. Once you use it to register for the SAT, you have unlimited free score reports and even application fee waivers for many colleges.
How to prepare for test day
Before test day, you should familiarize yourself with what you can and cannot bring to the test. Also, be sure to look at the average scores of the schools you’re interested in so you’ll know what score to aim for.
One of the best things you can do is to take a free practice test to see how you might do on test day. Do your best to simulate testing conditions when you take the practice test and score it. Since you know exactly what you missed, you can brush up on any skills to avoid missing similar questions in the future. You can also develop strategies to manage your time and improve your confidence. Give yourself plenty of time to study, practice, and improve before you take the official SAT.
If you’ve already taken a practice test and want to get specific pointers for improving your score, check out our Ultimate Guides:
- Ultimate Guide to the New SAT Reading Test
- Ultimate Guide to the New SAT Writing and Language Test
- Ultimate Guide to the New SAT Math Test
Preparing for the SAT? Download our free guide with our top 8 tips for mastering the SAT.
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