Preparing for College

Do Colleges See ALL SAT scores?

Question: I took the May 1 SAT and don't think I did very well. I am just a sophomore now and would like to know if colleges can access all of a student's past SAT scores even if the student didn't mail his scores to that college? I don't want to show a low score to my top college choices. If I don't mail score reports to them, will they be able to check the records for all my scores?

If your May 1 SAT scores don't turn out well, and you take the test again as a junior and senior (which you probably will), and your scores go up (which is likely) then colleges won't pay very much attention to your sophomore scores. Moreover, since your class will be the first to take the new, revised SAT, if your soph scores aren't up to your usual standards, that's all the more reason for colleges to disregard them.

Here, however, are a couple additional thoughts:

1. If your May SATs aren't good, and they don't improve significantly next year, you might want to consider trying the ACT. Some students have comparable ACT and SAT results, but others do markedly better on one test than on the other. If your ACT results are much better than your SAT results, then you can order only ACT scores sent to your target colleges. An added bonus will be that many colleges that require SAT II's will accept the ACT in place of both the SAT I and SAT II.

2. If you decide to use your ACT scores, and you don't want colleges to see your SAT performance, make sure that your high school doesn't automatically put your SAT scores on your transcript. Many high schools do this, but most will white them out before copying and sending the transcript, if you request it.

3. Keep in mind that standardized test scores often climb quite a lot after 10th grade, but if yours are bad now and don't get much better, there are many good colleges and universities that have eliminated a standardized test requirement.