I am taking the SAT this weekend and the ACT next weekend. There's a good chance my scores won't be back by my first deadline (October 15). Should I send them anyway? Is there a chance that colleges will allow slightly later test scores following the deadline? I have had a really hard time getting a test sitting this year. My PSAT was really high so I don't want to miss the chance to try and get a high SAT or ACT.
Even in the past, prior to this crazy COVID year, admission officials have typically been flexible when it came to accepting test scores that arrived a bit after the application deadline (although they may not have exactly advertised their flexibility!). This year, however, you can expect more wiggle room than ever before. College officials understand that their applicants have been plagued by rescheduled and canceled test dates. So it's highly likely that your test scores will be included in your application review, if you want them to be, even if they show up a little past a deadline.
However, because you anticipate that the college with the October 15 deadline won't receive your scores by then, you'd be wise to send a quick email to your regional rep to provide a heads-up that the tests have been taken but the scores will be tardy. Your regional rep is the admissions staff member who oversees applicants from your high school. You can often find the name and email address on college websites; if not, just call the admissions office to ask. Perhaps you've already established a "relationship" with your regional rep and have exchanged a message or two. But if not, this is a good time to initiate these ties.
Granted, admission folks are going to be really busy for the next six or more months, and they're not looking for new pen pals, so don't use this score snafu as a way to launch an ongoing chat. But even so, a brief note to your rep right now is a good way to say hello and to provide an alert that your test results will soon be on the way. Then, once you do get your scores, you can ask your school counselor to please email them to the college with the early deadline. Even if scores that come directly from the testing agency are necessary at this school (a requirement that's quickly changing in favor of self-reported scores), admission staff will be able to use the scores sent by your counselor while they wait for the official ones.
Good luck on your tests just ahead!
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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