Anytime you register for the SAT you automatically receive four free score reports. This means that the College Board will send your scores to any four universities you choose, free of charge. All you have to do is request the reports anytime up to 10 days after taking the test.
That sounds like an enticing offer, especially since regular score reports cost a whopping $11.25 each, with rush orders running as high as $31.
There’s a catch, however: you’ll have to send your scores before you know what they are.
The College Board doesn’t release your results until about three weeks after the test, or in other words until 11 days after you must decide whether or not to send the free reports. If you choose to send the reports, then, you risk sending low scores if you end up having bombed the test.
So should you send the reports? The answer depends. First, some background:
Most colleges will only consider your highest SAT score, either by “superscoring” (cherry picking your highest section scores from across test dates) or by taking your highest composite score. In fact, many of these schools use software that automatically selects your highest scores for your application file, so admissions officers won’t even see your lowest scores.
A much smaller number of colleges consider all your SAT scores together. These schools require that you send all of your SAT scores.
Only send the free score reports to colleges that require all your SAT scores. If you’re not applying to any of these schools, don’t use the free reports.
Because you’ll have to send your scores to schools that require all scores eventually, you might as well do so now for free.
For schools that don’t require all scores, why risk sending low scores to the admissions committee if you don’t have to? Even though they promise to only consider your highest score, and even though some of them won’t even see your lowest scores, some might. Could this negatively influence an admissions officer? Possibly – so why risk it?
You’ll also save money by reserving the free reports for schools requiring all scores, since you may be able to cut down on the total number of reports you send by doing so.
How do you know which schools require all your SAT scores? You can find the complete list on College Board’s website here. Make sure to check with any particular schools you’re interested in for their most current policies, however, as requirements change often.