Many students ask me whether or not they should self-report their standardized test scores in the Common Application, so in this post I’m going to share my answers.
QUICK answers about Self-Reporting SAT, SAT Subject Tests, and ACT Scores
If you’ve aced your exams and feel like they’re a very strong component of your application, you should just plug those standardized test scores into your Common Application.
In the Common App, you get to superscore your SAT and ACT scores.
You rarely need to share (through self-reporting or official score reports) both your SAT and ACT scores (if you took both). Most colleges only want to see one or the other. Stanford, however, requires you to share all standardized test scores.
Some colleges require you to share/send all your SAT scores, but that doesn’t mean you also have to share all your SAT Subject Test scores, so if you have a lower-than-desired score on one or more of your Subject Tests, you can refrain from sharing it/them.
Remember that self-reporting usually doesn’t replace the need to send official score reports for the SAT and ACT. Stanford is an exception (scroll down for details).
You can change your responses to the testing section (and any part of the main Common Application) for different schools, so don’t worry if one school requires you to self-report but your other colleges don’t (and you don’t want to self-report all of them).
Need more detailed information about the self-reporting section of the Common App?
Let’s make sure you’re super clear on all the basic options for self-reporting scores.
In the Common App, there’s a section called Testing. You’re asked:
“In addition to sending official score reports as required by colleges, do you wish to self-report scores or future test dates for any of the following standardized tests: ACT, SAT/SAT Subject, AP, IB, TOEFL, PTE Academic, and IELTS?”
For the ACT, you’re asked to share how many ACT scores you want to report and how many future ACT tests you plan to take. You’re also asked if you’ve “taken the ACT Plus Writing test” and to share your “highest composite score,” “highest English score,” “highest math score,” “highest reading score,” “highest science score,” “highest combined English/Writing or Writing Subject Score” as well as the dates for them (month, day, and year).
For the SAT, there’s an option to share scores from the older version of the test as well as the new one (March 2016 or after). You’re asked to indicate how many “past SAT scores you wish to report” and the “number of future SAT sittings you expect.” You’re asked if you’ve “taken the SAT essay” and to share your “highest evidence-based reading and writing score,” “highest math score,” and “highest combined essay score” as well as the dates for them (month, day, and year).
For SAT Subject Tests, you’re asked to indicate the “number of SAT Subject Tests you wish to report, including tests you expect to take,” the “date taken or planned” (month and year), the subject, and your score.
AP refers to scores on Advanced Placement Tests. You’re asked to share the same basic info as for the SAT Subject Tests.
IB refers to scores on your International Baccalaureate Subject Tests. You’re asked to share the “number of IB Tests you wish to report, including tests you expect to take,” “date taken or planned,” subject, level, and your score.
TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) refers to a test for international students. You’ll be asked to indicate how many “times you have already taken the TOEFL iBT” and the “number of future TOEFL iBT sittings you expect.” You’re also asked to share your “highest reading score,” “highest speaking score,” “highest listening score,” “highest writing score,” and “highest TOEFL iBT total score.” For all of these, you’re asked to share the month, day, and year of the test.
The PTE Academic Test (Pearson Test of English) and IELTS (International English Language Testing System) are other English tests for international students and have self-reporting requirements similar those for the TOEFL.
SHOULD YOU SELF-REPORT
YOUR AP TESTS?
You don’t submit official AP score reports in the admissions process, so if you’ve earned impressive scores (4 or higher) on them, you should consider self-reporting them. I mean, why not share some positive scores with the admissions team?
In general, you only need the official AP score reports when you’ve been accepted and want to receive credit for them.
Stanford: “Students currently enrolled in AP courses are not required to submit AP scores as part of our admission process. AP scores that are reported are acknowledged but rarely play a significant role in the evaluation of an application. Grades earned over the course of a term, or a year, and evaluations from instructors who can comment on classroom engagement provide us with the most detailed insight into a student’s readiness for the academic rigors of Stanford.”
Princeton, on the other hand, “recommend[s] that you self-report all of your AP or IB scores on your application.”
SHOULD YOU SELF-REPORT
YOUR SAT AND/OR ACT SCORES?
Most of the time you don’t need to self-report your SAT or ACT scores because you have to send your official score reports from the College Board (for the SAT) or the ACT.
Stanford used to require you to self-report your test scores, but in July 2017, they updated their policy.
Let’s take a look at Stanford’s new requirements:
“All scores from all high school sittings of either the ACT or SAT (or both if you took both) are required. Stanford will review applications from students attending U.S. high schools using either official or self-reported ACT with Writing or SAT with Essay scores. Official score reports are not required unless the student is admitted and chooses to enroll. Please self-report your highest scores in the Testing section of either the Coalition Application or the Common Application. If you have taken the test more than once, first enter your highest scores in the Testing section. Then use the Additional Information section to report the rest of your scores or send your student score report(s) as an email attachment to firstname.lastname@example.org. All official scores will be required if you are offered admission and choose to enroll.”
Students graduating from a high school outside the U.S. and transfer applicants are required to send an official score report at the time of application. In order to be considered official, scores must be sent to Stanford directly from the testing agency or reported on a transcript.”
Just FYI, Stanford requires “test scores from either the ACT with Writing or the SAT with Essay.” As they point out, “we want you to have the best test representation possible, and we will superscore your results.”
Here’s what Princeton says:
“You must submit your SAT and/or ACT scores to Princeton directly from the testing firms.”
In other words, for Princeton, you don’t have to self-report your SAT or ACT scores.
Unlike Stanford, if you’ve taken both the SAT with Essay and the ACT with Writing, you don’t have to submit scores for both. Princeton just “requires the submission of one” of those tests. Also, Princeton allows you “to use the score choice feature of both the SAT and ACT, but. . .encourage[s] the submission of all test scores.”
SHOULD YOU SELF-REPORT
YOUR SAT SUBJECT TESTS?
You usually don’t need to self-report your SAT Subject Tests because you have to submit your official score report/s. However, if you’re proud of your scores, you might as well self-report them.
Read this article on the SAT Subject Tests to learn more about them, how many you should submit, and which tests you might want to consider taking. Also, get an MIT student’s first-hand account of his SAT Subject Test strategy, scores, and more.
SHOULD YOU SELF-REPORT YOUR IB SCORES?
A number of my students have self-reported them, but some haven’t. As always, consult the admissions page of your colleges to learn their requirements and preferences.
Stanford states that if you’re “currently enrolled in the IB Diploma Program,” you’re “required to send us [your] predicted IB marks (including TOK/essay bonus points). Generally, students applying to Stanford with the IB diploma will have taken three higher-level and three standard-level courses.”
Princeton tells you that they “recommend that you self-report all of your AP or IB scores on your application.”
SHOULD YOU SELF-REPORT
YOUR TOEFL OR OTHER ENGLISH
You almost always have to send your official TOEFL score reports to schools, so you usually don’t need to self-report.
If you’re still trying to raise your score, I’d recommend not self-reporting (unless required). However, if you’re proud of your score, you might as well share it.
Just FYI, most schools do not superscore TOEFL scores, but the way you report in the Common App allows you to superscore.
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