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Articles / Applying to College / Sending SAT and ACT Scores: More on the Mix and Match Approach
Sally Rubenstone
Written by Sally Rubenstone | Oct. 10, 2012

Sending SAT and ACT Scores: More on the Mix and Match Approach

Question: Your recent q/a about sending SAT/ACT score raises another question. What happens when you throw SAT2 exams into the mix? My daughter took both the SAT1 and the ACT (one time each). Her SAT scores were very good, but her ACT scores were even better. We are sending her ACT scores to the colleges because her ACT scores are above the 75% for all her schools where her SAT are usually at or below the 75% (for two of the the three, for the third she is above the 75%). She also took 2 SAT2 exams and did well. None of her schools require these although a few recommend them. Is there a problem with sending JUST the SAT2 and the ACT score (and NOT the SAT1 score)? IF she'd never taken the SAT, the SAT2 would be the only scores she had with the College Board. Guidance and my gut says to send selectively. Do the schools see on the College Board report that not all scores were sent? Thanks.

“The Dean” has very little short-term memory left these days. This is why it’s wise not to have one’s first child at age 45. A 15-year-old notices this memory loss (and doesn’t hesitate to point it out). A more age-appropriate first-born might not. However, when I read your question, I did recall … albeit vaguely … addressing it in my earlier response about sending test scores. So I looked back at that post and saw this:


The hyper-selective places typically require two SAT Subject tests. Most of these colleges (though not all) will waive the Subject Test requirement for applicants who took the ACT with writing. BUT … if a student like your daughter submits ONLY the ACT scores, even though she will fulfill the college’s demands she will still be up against “competitor” applicants who have shown off strengths in a broad range of areas by submitting strong SAT II results in history, physics, chem, bio, foreign language, etc. Thus your daughter might disadvantage herself by not sending Subject Test scores, too.

Some colleges will allow your daughter to send ACT results plus Subject Test results without sending SAT I scores as well. But others say that if a student is sending ANY sort of SAT scores, she must send ALL of her SAT scores.

So if your daughter’s colleges are not “All Scores” schools, she can indeed use the mix-and-match approach, sending JUST her ACT and Subject Test scores and NOT the SAT I results. Depending on where you live and on your socioeconomic demographic, admission officials may guess that she also attempted the SAT Reasoning Test at some point but did better on the ACT. But they won’t know for sure … and that assumption isn’t going to have any bearing on her admission verdicts. So read Web site instructions carefully to determine whether your daughter is honor-bound to submit all scores or if she can send only the ACT + Subject Tests, as your gut (and your wallet? ;)) recommends.

(posted 10/10/2012)

Written by

Sally Rubenstone

Sally Rubenstone

Sally Rubenstone knows the competitive and often convoluted college admission process inside out: From the first time the topic of college comes up at the dinner table until the last duffel bag is unloaded on a dorm room floor. She is the co-author of Panicked Parents' Guide to College Admissions; The Transfer Student's Guide to Changing Colleges and The International Student's Guide to Going to College in America. Sally has appeared on NBC's Today program and has been quoted in countless publications, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, USA Weekend, USA Today, U.S. News & World Report, Newsweek, People and Seventeen. Sally has viewed the admissions world from many angles: As a Smith College admission counselor for 15 years, an independent college counselor serving students from a wide range of backgrounds and the author of College Confidential's "Ask the Dean" column. She also taught language arts, social studies, study skills and test preparation in 10 schools, including American international schools in London, Paris, Geneva, Athens and Tel Aviv. As senior advisor to College Confidential since 2002, Sally has helped hundreds of students and parents navigate the college admissions maze. In 2008, she co-founded College Karma, a private college consulting firm, with her College Confidential colleague Dave Berry, and she continues to serve as a College Confidential advisor. Sally and her husband, Chris Petrides, became first-time parents in 1997 at the ripe-old age of 45. So Sally was nearly an official senior citizen when her son Jack began the college selection process, and when she was finally able to practice what she had preached for more than three decades.

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