Are you applying to college soon and wondering whether you should submit your SAT or ACT score?
This is a unique year for applying to college because many schools are going test-optional due to COVID-19. Do test scores even make a difference in this year’s college applications?
Before You Decide
Before you make any decision about submitting your score, you first should familiarize yourself with the policies of each school you’re applying to. Just because you submit your score to one school doesn’t mean you have to submit your score to another school. Some colleges will superscore, or take your highest score from each SAT/ACT section across all the dates you took the test. Other schools will only consider the score of a test taken in a single sitting.
After finding out the test score (superscored or not) that you are considering submitting, research the 25th to 75th percentile SAT/ACT scores for the schools you are applying to. You can find test score data for most colleges online, either on school websites or the Common Data Set for each school. Be wary of other websites, which might provide you with outdated information. It’s crucial you look at the 25th-75th percentiles to decide if submitting your test score will help or hurt your application.
If you are above the 50th percentile for a college, you should submit your score.
If you are at or above the 25th percentile, you are probably safe to submit your score.
If you are below the 25th percentile, you may want to hide your score. Students who have test scores in this lower range often get accepted due to a variety of other talents and achievements, so submitting your test score won’t help you in this case. This year, many students are just unable to take the SAT/ACT due to COVID-19, so not submitting your test score won’t harm your chances of getting in.
If you have a lopsided score, it’s a trickier situation. Let’s say you scored a 590 on reading but a perfect 800 on math on the SAT. You might be so proud of your math score and submit your SAT score despite the below 600 reading score. However, because COVID-19 made everything test optional, it might make more sense to take the SAT Subject Test in math, ace it, and submit that score instead of your SAT score. These subject tests will be able to highlight your abilities without having to show the colleges your low scores in other sections.
Groups That Would Benefit From Submitting/Hiding Scores
There are certain groups of students who would benefit from either submitting or hiding their score.
- If you are a part of an underrepresented group or come from a high school where their average SAT/ACT scores are lower than your score, you may want to submit your score, especially if it is above the 25th or 50th percentile. Colleges often review applications from a city or region together, so they will be able to see if your test score outperforms others at your school.
- International students should definitely submit a score. It’s hard for an American college to admit international students if they don’t know your high school. Tests are a way for American colleges to see if international students are competitive.
- If you go to a high school where the student body gets high SAT or ACT scores are yours isn’t as high as your classmates, you may want to hide your score and rely on your GPA and other factors to stand out.
- If you aren’t a great test taker, this is your year to skip our on studying and focus on other aspects of your application. Many students do not have the chance to take the SAT/ACT this year, so you won’t be at a disadvantage.
If you are still unsure on whether to submit your scores or not, we recommend you check out your colleges’ websites to learn more about what they’re looking for and get a feel for the type of students they accept. If your test score is above the 50th percentile, go for it! Otherwise, consider additional factors to make a decision on submitting test scores. We wish you the best of luck in your college application process!