Application and Essay Tips

What to Do If Colleges Say They Haven't Received Your Test Scores

iStock

You finally got your test scores? Great! But that doesn't mean your target colleges have received them yet. It usually takes a week or two for a college to process and file your score report after it's been sent out by the College Board or the ACT.

If it's been a couple weeks already and there's still no sign on the college application portal that your test scores have been received, there's no need to panic.


Before you call the testing organization out of stress, it's a good idea to double-check that the delay wasn't due to your mistake. Look at your score report again to make sure you chose the correct college, or log into your College Board or ACT account to see that you've ordered reports for the right colleges.

In case you did accidentally use the college code for Yale instead of Harvard, don't worry, it can be fixed. You'll need to go to your College Board or ACT account and order the rush delivery option for another score report. The fees are $31 for the SAT and $16.50 for the ACT. The wrong college won't do anything with your score report if it doesn't have an application, so there's no need to contact that school and explain.

Consider Calling the School

While you're waiting for the report to be delivered (about four or five business days) to the correct college, you can call the admissions office, explain what happened and let the admission reps know the report is on the way.

If there has been no mistake on your end, the next step is to call the college's admissions office. A majority of colleges receive test scores electronically on a weekly basis, but might only download new scores once in two weeks. Therefore, it could be the case that the college hasn't yet downloaded the batch containing your test scores.

Another possibility is that your application information (name, date of birth, etc.) in the college's database does not match the information associated with your test scores, so the college has not been able to match your scores to your application. When you call the college, tell the admissions officer why you're calling, verify your personal data to clear up any possible errors and ask for the reps to check whether your test scores have been downloaded yet.

What if the college still can't locate your test scores? Now it's time to call the College Board or ACT. You can contact the College Board by calling a main office or a regional office. You can contact the ACT's main office or also speak to someone via live chat if you prefer. Make sure you have your registration number handy and the names of the colleges that have not received your score reports. Explain that you've checked to make sure that you input the correct college name and that you already called the college admissions office.

Let's see what the testing organizations have to say about missing or delayed score reports:

From the College Board website:

“Most scores are available around the same score release date, but some might not be. If you fall within this group, you'll get a message telling you to check back — usually about a week later.

Some reasons scores may be delayed:

- You took a makeup test later than the actual test day.

- Your answer sheet was received late.

- Your answer sheet is missing information.

- Your answer sheet information is inconsistent with your registration information.

- An irregularity was reported at your test site.

If your scores aren't delayed, you can troubleshoot missing scores or call Customer Service at 866-756-7346.”

From the ACT website:

“ACT normally reports scores for the ACT within two to eight weeks after the test date. Scores for the ACT with writing are normally reported within four to eight weeks after the test date. Please allow at least eight weeks for a college or university to confirm receipt of your scores. Keep in mind that after they receive your scores, the college may need additional time to process them and match them to your application. Colleges and universities determine how often they receive scores from ACT — at least every two weeks.”

If you contact the testing organization and find that the above reasons don't apply to your score report delay, your only option is to order a new score report with rush delivery if necessary. Yes, it's frustrating and adds to your cost, but if your college needs your official score report to review your application, you'll have to send it again. Of course, if the testing organization is at fault, you can always try requesting a refund for the missing score report(s).

Most of the time, your score report will be delivered in a timely manner. But stuff happens, files get mislaid or disappear mysteriously. Be sure to regularly check your college application status online so you can be prepared for any hiccups in the application process.