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Articles / Applying to College / Must We Submit Lousy SAT II Scores?

Dec. 4, 2004

Must We Submit Lousy SAT II Scores?

Question: My son's grades and SAT scores are well within the median range at the

colleges on his list, and his extracurriculars are super. These schools don't require SAT IIs, but he took the tests anyway. He did poorly (16th percentile on Math II!). His counselor says to send the scores to all colleges because they show he tried. Is this good advice?


Frankly, I don't agree with your counselor. Your son should not send very poor scores to colleges that do not require them. Nonetheless, the colleges may see them anyway. If your son has not yet sent all the required SAT I score reports to his target schools and is still in the process of ordering them, then his SAT II scores will show up on those same reports. The College Board issues cumulative score reports which means that it's not possible to submit SAT I's without also sending SAT II's. However, if your son ordered all his SAT I reports sent out before he took the SAT II, then the SAT II results will NOT be on his earlier score reports, and new reports will not be issued unless he orders them. (Confusing, eh?)

In addition, many high schools automatically put testing results on every transcript. If your son's school does this, then colleges will see the SAT II scores there. You can ask the counselor to eliminate them before sending out your son's transcript, but some counselors seem reluctant to comply. Since your son's counselor is pushing for SAT II score submission anyway, you may not be able to get transcript scores removed.

If the option does exist to keep admission folks from seeing your son's SAT II's, that's the strategy that gets my vote.

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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