Strategies to Make Your Application Count: Testing Tips

Written by Nell McCormack Abom, Host Smart Talk TV | Sep 9, 2009 5:58 PM


1. You have options! Review your testing experience to determine which scores (SAT, ACT or both) you want to send to each school. Every college in the country will receive either the SAT or the ACT (or both), so submit the set of results that puts you in the most competitive light.


2. Decide which tests you will take this fall. If you have already taken the SAT two times and are disappointed by the results, you may be facing a point of diminishing returns. You might be better off turning your attention to the ACT. Achieving a respectable score on the ACT means that admission officers have options with regard to the test results they might use to rationalize offering you places in their respective classes.


3. Colleges strongly prefer to receive test results (SAT, ACT) directly from the testing services. Make arrangements with the appropriate testing service to have your results sent directly to the colleges to which you are applying.


4. “Score Choice” gives you options with regard to the testing information you need to send to most colleges. If you are taking tests this fall, you may want to wait until you have seen the results before deciding to have official score reports sent to colleges.


5. Remember that admission officers will look at the best combination of scores. If you have taken the SAT 2-3 times, your best Critical Reading score might have come on your third test while your best math might have come on your second test. In order for colleges to pull results from different test administrations, you will need to submit scores from each.


6. Don’t wait to submit your applications for admission until you have all of your results from tests taken this fall or to be taken this winter. You shouldn’t have to report actual scores on your applications. As long as you register with the testing service to have your scores sent to the colleges in question, the results will be forwarded automatically within 3-4 weeks.


7. Consider the “test optional” opportunities that might exist among the colleges to which you are applying. Compare your results with the range of scores reported for each test optional college. If your scores fall in the bottom 50% of the score ranges, logic would suggest that you not submit your scores as they will do nothing to enhance your application. A complete list of test optional colleges can be found at


8. Make sure you are choosing colleges at which your testing profile is a good fit. Remember, colleges are fond of reporting high scores for their entering classes. The further your scores fall below the mid-point of the reported range of scores at a college, the less likely you will be admitted at that college.


The following is the testing schedule through February 2010. For more information about test registration and score submission, go to and


Test                                   Test Date                 Registration Date
SAT & Subject Tests        10/10/09                           9/9/09
SAT & Subject Tests           11/7/09                        10/1/09
ACT                                    10/24/09                         9/18/09
SAT & Subject Tests           12/5/09                       10/30/09
ACT                                    12/12/09                          11/6/09
SAT & Subject Tests           1/23/10                       12/15/09
ACT                                        2/6/10                           1/5/10

Peter Van Buskirk is an author, consultant, speaker and creator of the Best College Fit™ Resources. Visit to learn more about Peter and his student-centered approach to college planning.

Published in Life After 12th Grade

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