Which test scores should I self-report? How do I report them? Do I have to send official score reports and when? What is a “superscore”? Can I use one? What is “Score Choice”? Handling test scores has gotten complicated. Read on for an overview:

Self Reporting:

All test scores that you intend to submit to colleges should be self-reported on your applications. The Common App and Coalition App ask for your scores to be reported as a “superscore”. This means that they want you to report your highest score in each section of the test and the date that you earned that score (even if your highest scores in the subsections occurred on different dates). Once you answer the question about which test scores you wish to self-report, a space to do so will appear in the testing section of your application. (FYI, you may not fabricate a new composite subscore for the ACT but should report the highest composite score that you earned.)

Official Score Reports:

Test scores that you self-report on your applications need to be verified for accuracy by ordering official score reports to be sent by the testing agency (CollegeBoard and/or ACT). Some colleges want the score reports to be in hand by the application deadline while other colleges are now allowing you to wait to submit the official score report after you have been accepted and have decided to attend. To order score reports to be sent to the colleges, log in to your account with the CollegeBoard and/or ACT and click on “order score reports”, select the colleges to which you would like your scores to be sent and be ready with a credit card to pay for the transaction.

Which score reports to order:

The CollegeBoard sends all tests as their default when you order a score report. You can select which scores you would like to have sent by using their “score choice” feature. Be forewarned; some colleges do not accept score choice and want you to send all scores received.  The CollegeBoard will identify for you those colleges that will not accept score choice

The ACT will only send score reports for the date(s) that you ordered (and will charge you for each score report sent, so if you order two sets of scores to be sent to one college, you will be charged for two sets of scores). For both testing agencies, you will need to order score reports for all the test dates that you are self-reporting in your college applications.

When to order score reports:

Ideally, you want to order the official score reports to be sent to your colleges two weeks prior to submitting your application to that college. There is an exception to this rule: you may submit them later if the college is one that does not require an official score report until after acceptance (and you self-reported your scores on your application). If you know the colleges to which you will be applying, you can order all of your score reports to be sent at one time.

If you don’t wish to submit test scores at all:

More and more colleges are going “score optional” which means they will make an admit/deny decision without regard to test scores at all. If you are applying to a college without test scores, make sure that there are no scores recorded in the “testing” section of your application before hitting the submit button. If you elect to submit scores, an official score report will need to be sent to verify the scores. If no scores are being submitted, then score reports do not need to be ordered.