How to Determine When to Send Test Scores

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With many ACT and SAT tests being canceled during the covid-19 pandemic, it’s no surprise that universities have gone test optional. 


The real mystery for those students who have been able to take the tests is whether or not to submit their scores. This quick blog post will shed some light and hopefully make your score sending decision easier. We will cover SAT and ACT and also AP test scores.


Whether or not to submit test scores boils down to the common and simple question of, “what is a good test score, anyway?”


It’s all relative, depending on the schools you’re applying to. The beauty of Google makes this a simple thing to figure out. You can literally search, “average ACT score at Clemson,” for example. Google will provide you with a range of scores. Clemson’s range is 27-32. If your score is in the middle of that range or higher, it’s a good idea to submit it to that university. This indicates to that school, “I’m the type of student you typically admit. Let me in!” So if you’re applying to Clemson, you’d want to send your score if you earned a 30 or higher (and maybe a 29). 


If your score is below the middle of that range, it’s a good idea to apply test-optional.


These score ranges will vary from school to school, so if you are applying to a healthy mix of schools (say, 8-10, as recommended by College Board), you will most likely be applying to some schools that have averages below your score and others with averages above your score. The great thing about the Common App is that you can choose whether or not you want to apply test-optional on a school-by-school basis. So before you submit that application, simply search for the average test scores for each of your target schools and select the appropriate option.


One caveat: some special programs/scholarships may require test scores, so be sure to look into this when making your decision.


Another thing to note about sending scores: you may want to apply test-optional regarding your ACT/SAT scores, but you might still want to submit your AP test scores. Just like with the ACT and SAT, you can Google what score you need to earn on the AP test to receive college credit. Some schools will give credit for scores of 3 and above, while others will give credit only for a score of 5. Some schools might not give you actual college credit, but they may allow you to test out of some introductory courses. A good rule of thumb is, if it won’t get you college credit at your target school, opt not to submit the AP score on your application. The admissions officers will still see from your transcript or course list that you took the AP classes. There’s no need to draw extra attention to low scores that won’t bring you an advantage. 


If you’d still like more help on crafting an application that stands out and increasing your chances of getting accepted to your target schools, upload your application to ApplyHereFirst. Our real admissions officers are happy to give you thorough feedback about every section of your application to make sure that it’s the best it can be and that you haven’t missed a single thing.