FAQ'S ABOUT TESTING IN GENERAL
 

How many times should my student take the tests?


Most students take the test they are better at three times, twice in the junior year and once senior year.  However, some students take it more times or fewer depending on their score goals.


How long does it take to get the scores back?

For the SAT, 17 days in your student’s online account. For the ACT, 10 days in your student’s online account (often the essay score takes a bit longer.) For both tests,  3-4 weeks in the mail and 6-8 weeks for Q+A and TIR.



What is the chance that my student will be able to take the test if he or she goes on standby?

Pretty good.  To be extra safe, you can register your student for a future test and have her bring the registration printout with her to the test center.  This will give her priority over kids who have not already paid. Keep in mind that some students can be stressed by the uncertainty of not knowing whether they will get to take a test. If your student plans to go standby, it's good to talk this over ahead of time and make sure she can keep herself in a good frame of mind.



Should I have the scores sent automatically to any schools?

That depends.  If your student is very anxious, she may feel more confident knowing that no schools will see the scores if they are bad.  However, schools do not penalize students for low scores if they have higher scores from another test, so from an admissions perspective, there is no downside to having scores sent automatically.


Can I send a reading score from one test date and a math score from another date?
 

No, the College Board and ACT will send all the scores from any test date you those to report.  For the SAT, most schools will select the highest score in each subject and create a “superscore.”  For the ACT, most, although not all, schools will use the highest composite score.  However, there is no disadvantage to reporting lower scores.


 

Can I cancel the scores?

You can cancel SAT scores by 11:59PM on the Wednesday after the test.  The College Board must receive a written request, including a signature.  Go to www.collegeboard.com for instructions.  For the ACT, you can delete scores from your student’s record, but you cannot cancel a score before it goes on the record.  Go to www.actstudent.org for instructions.


Can my student finish taking the tests by the end of junior year?


Although this is ideal, it is not very common.  Many colleges like to see senior year test scores.  Also, some students who already have good scores may take the tests again for in-state tuition, scholarships, or honors programs.  Still, if you and your student are satisfied with the scores, he does not have to take any tests in the senior year.



If my student may be recruited for a sport, does she need to start early?

Coaches may make recruiting decisions during the summer after junior year, so recruited athletes cannot count on taking the test senior year.  We recommend that students who may be recruited take the SAT for the first time in the fall of junior year or in the spring of sophomore year.



Is there any downside to having my student take the SAT even if we think he or she will be better at the ACT (or vice-versa)?

From admissions perspective, there is no downside. Ihe scores are weak, you just won't send them. However, some students have a limited tolerance for taking the test. It's not wise to use one up when it's unlikely to improve college admissions prospects. Some students can be very traumatized by receiving low scores. Doing poorly on a test can undermine their confidence even if it’s not a test we expected them to do well on anyway. In those circumstances, students should stick with the tests that are  likely to be better for them.


What are the SAT Question and Answer Service (Q+A) and the ACT Test Information Release (TIR)?
 

Both the Q+A and TIR send you a copy of the test booklet and your student’s answers.  They are invaluable for future preparation.  Both arrive 6-8 weeks after the test date. 

 
When are the Q+A and TIR offered?

The Q+A is available for the October, January, and May SATs.  The TIR is available for the December, April, and June ACTs.  For the November, December, March and June SATs, you can order a report that indicates which questions your student missed, but you cannot get a copy of the questions themselves.  No extra information is available for the September, October, and February ACTs.



Can I order the Q+A or TIR after my student takes the test?


You can order them for a few months after the tests.  They may take up to 8 weeks to arrive.


Aside from the Q+A and TIR, can I get any information about my student’s performance on the tests?


The SAT offers a breakdown by question type and a copy of the essay on your student’s online College Board account.  The ACT offers only the information on the score report.



If I miss the registration deadlines, can my student still take the SAT or ACT?

If you miss the late registration deadline, your student can go standby. On the morning of the test, she can go to any testing center with a check and a photo ID.  If there is extra space, she will be able to take the test.  The College Board and ACT websites give complete directions for this.


What is the chance that my student will be able to take the test if she goes standby?

100% as far as we know.  In five years, we have never had a student turned away.  To be extra safe, you can register your student for a future test and have him bring the registration printout with him to the test center.  This will give him priority over kids who have not already paid.



If my student takes the test standby, can I still order the Q+A or TIR?

You can order it after the test if it is offered on that date.

 
Do colleges know when students take the test with extra time?
 
No and most don’t care.  Only the service academies (e.g., West Point) do not accept scores with extra time.


Are there any alternatives to the SAT and ACT?

A few schools allow students to submit AP and/or SAT Subject Test scores in place of the regular SAT or ACT.  Check the schools’ websites.


If schools do not require test scores, are students who do not report them at a disadvantage?

No. If your student’s scores are high, they may strengthen the application.  If they are not, do not report them.
Pretty good.  To be extra safe, you can register your student for a future test and have her bring the registration printout with her to the test center.  This will give her priority over kids who have not already paid. Keep in mind that some students can be stressed by the uncertainty of not knowing whether they will get to take a test. If your student plans to go standby, it's good to talk this over ahead of time and make sure she can keep herself in a good frame of mind.
Pretty good.  To be extra safe, you can register your student for a future test and have her bring the registration printout with her to the test center.  This will give her priority over kids who have not already paid. Keep in mind that some students can be stressed by the uncertainty of not knowing whether they will get to take a test. If your student plans to go standby, it's good to talk this over ahead of time and make sure she can keep herself in a good frame of mind.