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Articles / Applying to College / When to Send SAT Scores

Jan. 8, 2012

When to Send SAT Scores

Question: Does it matter when one sends SAT scores? Will colleges look at all scores you send them or just the first (then possibly discard your name)?

Your question isn’t clear. ("The Dean" doesn’t know what you mean by “discard your name.”) But here’s how the system works, so hopefully this will provide the information you need:


It doesn’t matter when you send SAT scores as long as they arrive by the application deadline. (And, in most cases, even if they’re a little bit late, you won’t be penalized.) If you send scores to a college but you haven’t applied there yet, the admission staff will save them under your name in a general file until your application shows up (even if you’re a junior and won’t be applying for many months.)

Some colleges require that you send ALL scores for every SAT or ACT you took. Many others honor “Score Choice” which allows you to decide which scores to submit. Admission officials are likely to look at all of the scores you send them … whether they subscribe to the “Score Choice” policy or not. However, many colleges only officially “use” the best of your scores when they evaluate your application.

If admission officials have made a preliminary decision to waitlist or deny you (but haven’t formalized the decision yet) and then new, better scores arrive, the officials may review their earlier decision and decide to admit you.

I hope this answers your question.

(posted 1/8/2012)

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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