Test Prep

To Send ... or Not to Send ... ACT Scores

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My son received a 27 on the ACT exam. We are grappling with whether or not to submit his scores or just let his application speak for itself. He has a 4.0 GPA, played hockey in school for four years, wrote a solid essay for his college application and has a decent amount of extracurricular activities. Do you think it makes sense to submit the 27 score to the four target and safe schools shown below? For the three reach schools, it's probably not a good idea to report the scores considering the 27 is below the ranges.
  • Cornell: ACT Range 32-34, Reach school
  • Boston University: ACT Range 30-33, Reach school
  • University of Michigan: ACT Range 30-34, Reach school
  • University of Maryland: ACT range 29-33, Target school
  • Ohio State: ACT range 27-32, Target school
  • Penn State: ACT Range 25-30, Target school
  • UConn: ACT Range 26-31,Target school
  • U. Mass Amherst: ACT Range 26-31, Safe school
  • University of Rhode Island: ACT Range 21-27, Safe school

If your son were mine, I'd have him send his 27 ACT only to Penn State, UConn, UMass and URI. While Ohio State is borderline, "The Dean" has advised students and parents throughout this crazy COVID year (when colleges will be bending over backwards to evaluate applications using criteria other than test scores) to withhold SAT or ACT results that are below a college's mid-point (and I don't mean median range).

I'm assuming, of course, that your son is not being recruited for hockey by any of these universities. If he is, that's a different story, and he should definitely send his scores anywhere that a coach is after him.

I'm also assuming (because you didn't say otherwise) that your son is not an underrepresented minority student and he doesn't come from a disadvantaged background. If I'm wrong, please write back and explain. If not, then only submit his test scores to the last four colleges on the list.

Good luck to him — and to you — as you continue to navigate this maze.

About the Ask the Dean Column

Sally Rubenstone is a veteran of the college admissions process and is the co-author of three books covering admissions. She worked as a Smith College admission counselor for 15 years and has also served as an independent college counselor, in addition to working as a senior advisor at College Confidential since 2002. If you'd like to submit a question to The Dean please email us at editorial@collegeconfidential.com.