Sending SAT Scores to College: A Comprehensive Guide

January 31, 2024
4 min read

Are you ready to send your SAT and ACT scores to your dream school? Read on if you want to know the best strategies for sending these important numbers.

Though it might appear like they’re just numbers, SAT and ACT scores hold a lot of power; they can be the deciding factor in your college admissions. 

You might understand the concept of these scores, but do you understand all there is to know about sending SAT scores to college? Keep reading to learn how and when to send your scores to improve your chances of getting into the college of your choosing.

Timelines for Submitting Test Scores to Colleges

Before we explore the details of sending standardized test scores, it's important to understand the timelines associated with score submission. Each college has its own set of deadlines and requirements, so you must research and familiarize yourself with the specific guidelines of the colleges you are applying to.

It’s always best to send in your scores at the earliest possible date as this not only shows your enthusiasm but pride in your studies.

Timing for Sending ACT Scores to Colleges

The ACT offers two score report options for students:

  1. Sending your scores before your test
  2. Sending your scores after your test

If you select the option to send scores before taking the test, your scores will be automatically sent to the colleges you designated during the registration process. However, if you decide to wait until after taking the test, you can still send your scores directly to colleges once you receive them.

Here are the pros and cons of sending in your test results before taking your exam.

Pros Cons
Shows that you had an effective study plan Might not have achieved your desired results
Can start the next part of the process right away You must remember to submit test scores before the deadline
Scores are automatically sent
Can retake the test to submit higher scores in the following year

As you can probably tell, the pros outweigh the cons. It might be best to send your scores automatically, but for those wanting to see their final results first, waiting is likely your better option.

Timing for Sending SAT Scores to Colleges

Similar to the ACT, the SAT also provides flexibility in terms of score submission. When registering for the exam, you have the option to send four free score reports to colleges of your choice. These reports can be sent either before or after taking the test. 

These score reports are sent to the four colleges of your choosing when you enroll in the SAT. You may change any of these colleges up to nine days after your exam. It costs around $11.25 to send a report to a school on your own, so these four reports save you $45!

If you choose to wait until after completing the exam, you can send your scores directly to colleges using the College Board's score-sending service. If your test scores arrive before the deadline, you can send your SAT scores to colleges after submitting an application.

female student on laptop

Sending SAT and ACT Scores: Step-by-Step Process

So, you’ve got your scores, but now you’re wondering how to send your ACT and SAT scores to college. Although the process is quite similar for both tests, it’s important to distinguish between the two to prevent confusion.

Sending SAT Scores to Colleges: Procedures

Now that you have a general understanding of the timelines, let's explore the step-by-step process for sending your scores to college. Here is a breakdown of the procedures involved:

  1. Create a College Board Account: Before you can send your SAT scores, you need to create an account on the College Board website. This account will serve as your central hub for managing your SAT scores and other related information.
  2. Choose Your Score Sending Option: Once you have an account, you can select the option to send your scores to colleges. You can either use the four free score reports included with your registration or choose to send additional score reports for a fee.
  3. Select Your Colleges: After choosing the sending option, you will need to select the colleges you want to receive your scores. Make sure to double-check the college codes and names to ensure accuracy.
  4. Confirm and Pay: Once you have selected your colleges, review your choices and proceed to the payment section. If you are sending additional score reports beyond the four free ones, you will need to pay the corresponding fee.
  5. Verify and Submit: After making the payment, verify all the information you have entered and submit your request to send your SAT scores to the designated colleges. Double-check the accuracy of the information to avoid any potential errors.

It’s a simple task that can be done in five steps, but it can have a big impact. As long as you’ve followed your study plan and achieved your desired results, sending SAT scores to college should be something to feel excited about!

Sending ACT Scores to Colleges: Step-by-Step Guidelines

The ACT also provides a five-step process on how you should send your ACT scores to college:

  1. Create an ACT Account: To get started, you will need to create an ACT account that will serve as your platform for managing your scores and other related information.
  2. Choose Your Score Sending Option: Once you have an account, you can select the option to send your scores to colleges. The ACT offers various sending options, including sending scores before taking the test or sending them after receiving your results.
  3. Select Your Colleges: After choosing your preferred score sending option, you will need to select the colleges you want to receive your ACT scores. Ensure that you have the correct college codes and names to avoid any confusion.
  4. Confirm and Pay: Review your college choices and proceed to the payment section if applicable. Some score-sending options may have associated fees, so make sure to check the details beforehand.
  5. Verify and Submit: Before finalizing your request, verify all the information you have entered, including the colleges and payment details. Once everything is accurate, submit your request to send your ACT scores to the designated colleges.

Like with submitting your SAT scores, submitting your ACT scores should be one of your biggest accomplishments. Getting a head start on college admissions is an excellent choice!

Evaluating the Advantages and Considerations for Each Sending Method

Now that you understand the step-by-step procedures for sending SAT and ACT scores, let's explore the advantages and considerations of each sending method. Remember, your standardized test scores can make or break your application, so it’s important to take every step seriously.

two male students looking at laptop

Free Score Reports

The SAT offers four free score reports, with each additional report costing around $15. Not only does this save you time, but it also saves you up to $60!

The ACT also provides a similar service in its Fee Waiver Program, where you can send one additional score report to a college of your choosing at any time during your search process. Once registered, you can request unlimited score reports for free.


There are many benefits that each program offers, but the primary benefit is saving money. College applications can get expensive, but if you apply to ACT’s Fee Waiver Program, “students who test… may also request a Waiver or Deferral of College Admission Applications Fee.”

This also saves you the stress of sending your score in yourself, making sure to get it in before the deadline. Since every college has a different deadline, keeping track of them all can get confusing.


While free score reports are beneficial, keep in mind that you need to register for the ACT and SAT before each deadline.

If you're uncertain about your college preferences or prefer to wait until after receiving your scores to finalize your decision, the free score report option might not be the best choice for you. 

Opting not to use your free score report won't result in any penalties, and submitting your scores early won't give you an advantage over others in the competition.

Additional Score Reports Online

Both the SAT and ACT provide students with a chance to receive admission to the college of their choosing with additional score reports. 

For the SAT, you can utilize a resource called Soar Choice which, “puts your best foot forward by choosing which scores you send to colleges.” With this option, you choose which scores you want to be sent to colleges.

If you don’t use Soar Choice, all your scores will be sent to colleges. This way, you can pick and choose what score works best for your application.

The ACT will prepare scores in three ways:

  1. Student Report: This report will be posted online in the student’s account 2-8 weeks after the test date.
  2. High School Report: In the case where a student has authorized their high school, the scores will be sent to the faculty 2-8 weeks after the test date and will then be administered to the student’s academic transcripts.
  3. College Report: Mailed about 3-8 weeks after the test date, this option sends a student’s scores right to the colleges and scholarship of the student’s choosing. 

With so many options, sending in your standardized test scores can be a breeze. The best option for you might not be the same for someone else, so it’s important to lay out all your options before making an informed decision.


If you want more flexibility, this option allows you to choose the specific colleges you want to receive your scores, even after completing the test. This gives you greater control and allows you to wait until you have your scores before making a final decision on which colleges to send them to.


While the option to send additional score reports online provides greater flexibility, if you decide to send scores to colleges beyond the initial free reports, you may need to pay a fee for each additional report. Consider your budget and the number of colleges you want to send scores to when deciding whether to use this method.


Submitting your scores can feel like a difficult process, and you may have questions. Below, we aim to address the most common questions regarding this topic.

1. Do You Have to Send SAT and ACT Scores?

Sending SAT and ACT scores is not mandatory for all colleges. Some colleges have become test-optional, which means they do not require SAT or ACT scores as part of the application process.

2. What Happens If I Don’t Send My SAT Scores?

If you choose not to send your SAT scores to colleges, it may limit your options for admission. Many colleges consider SAT scores as a critical piece of their review process.

3. Should I Send All ACT Scores?

Whether you should send all ACT scores to colleges depends on the specific policies of the colleges you are applying to. Some colleges only consider the highest composite score, while others may consider the highest score from each section across multiple test dates.

4. Can You Send SAT Scores After Submitting Application?

Yes, you can send SAT scores to colleges after submitting your application. Both the SAT and ACT offer the option to send additional score reports online, allowing you to send scores to colleges even after completing the test.

Final Thoughts

Sending SAT scores to college is a critical step in the college application process. Understanding the timelines, procedures, and considerations associated with score submission can help you navigate this aspect of your college journey with confidence. 

By carefully managing your SAT scores, you can better optimize your chances of gaining admission to your dream college. Good luck!

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