How to Send ACT Scores to Colleges: Step-by-Step Guide

Good ACT scores help many college applicants gain admission to top schools. Learn how to ensure your scores arrive before application deadlines.

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by Thomas Broderick

Published on June 9, 2022

Edited by Tyler Epps
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How to Send ACT Scores to Colleges: Step-by-Step Guide
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A good ACT score can give you a leg up on the competition. College admissions counselors respect a high score, as it can help predict incoming first-year students' academic performance. A good score can also qualify you for a merit-based scholarship.

High-achieving applicants can demonstrate their potential to succeed and meet testing requirements by sending an ACT score report to their preferred schools. Let's go over how to send ACT scores to colleges.

What Does an ACT Score Report Look Like?

An ACT score report contains much more than a single number.

First, you'll see your ACT composite score, which uses a range of 1-36 (36 being a perfect score). This number is found by taking the average of your four section scores (English, Math, Reading, and Science).

Your ACT score report will also explain how you rank in your state and nationally. This information gives you an insider's look at how you compare to the competition.

Finally, your score report will break down your college readiness in different subjects, including math and science. With this, you'll get a better sense of where your weaknesses lie and what you'll need to improve should you retake the exam.

When Should You Send ACT Scores to Colleges?

College applicants asking themselves, "When do I need to send ACT scores?" must consider many factors.

Perhaps the most important factor is your college application deadlines. Because scores can take up to eight weeks to get to colleges, it's best to send them at least 1-2 months in advance of any due dates.

Note that an incomplete application could lead to an automatic rejection or a notification letter. If you receive the latter, make sure to submit any missing scores as soon as possible.

Sending ACT scores involves long-term planning. High school students wanting to apply to competitive colleges should take the ACT by the spring of their junior year. This should give you enough time to schedule a retake (if needed) in the summer or fall of your senior year and still meet all application deadlines.

How to Send ACT Scores to Colleges: 3 Methods

You can select from three ways to send ACT scores to colleges. You can send scores when registering for the ACT, after receiving your score report, or after applying for an ACT fee waiver.

1  Send Scores for Free When You Register for the ACT

You may send your ACT scores to up to four colleges when you register for the exam. There is no fee for sending ACT scores this way. What's more, making use of your four free score reports allows schools to see your results as soon as possible.

One potential downside of sending your scores when you register is that colleges could receive a lower-than-expected score. Despite this, you should send all score reports to schools accepting ACT superscores. A lower composite score on one exam may still feature a top section score on English, Math, Reading, or Science that could impress admissions officers.

2  Send Scores for a Fee After You Receive Your Scores

As of June 2022, ACT Inc. charges $16 to send one report to a college. This fee may impact some applicants significantly, especially if they need to send a report to many schools.

Fortunately, applicants with at least two score reports can combine their results into a single superscore.

Students wondering how to cancel an ACT score may also benefit from waiting to receive their scores. Your ACT account lets you cancel or send scores easily.

3  Send Scores for Free With a Fee Waiver

An ACT fee waiver allows applicants with financial need to send scores for free to up to six colleges. Other benefits are free testing and learning resources, including over 30 informational videos and more than 2,000 practice questions.

Requirements for a fee waiver include being enrolled in 11th or 12th grade, having U.S. residency, and demonstrating financial need. You can indicate financial need by qualifying for reduced-price lunches, enrolling in a federal aid program, and/or living in a foster home. You can also qualify if your family receives public assistance.

How Long Do ACT Scores Take to Send?

Students wondering how long it takes for their ACT scores to send can consult the ACT website for the latest information. In general, colleges receive ACT scores 2-8 weeks after the test date (if you designated those schools when you registered).

You must compare schools' application deadlines to the ACT score release schedule to leave a buffer between the end of the reporting timeframe and colleges' deadlines. Doing so ensures delays do not pose any problems.

Students wanting colleges to receive their scores as soon as possible should choose schools when they sign up. Waiting until after you take the ACT could extend the time it takes for colleges to get your scores.

Frequently Asked Questions About Sending ACT Scores to Colleges

When do I need to send ACT scores to colleges? true

You should send an individual or ACT superscore to colleges well before any application deadline. This strategy ensures college admissions counselors receive a complete application portfolio as soon as possible.

You can keep track of deadlines and application materials by creating a spreadsheet. This method helps you stay on top of every application.

College applicants following this plan may face unexpected circumstances, such as needing to retake the ACT close to an application deadline. If you find yourself in this situation, contact your colleges' admissions departments for more information. Remember that admissions policies vary depending on the school.

How do you find your old ACT scores from high school? true

College applicants and current college students can see old ACT score reports on their ACT account. However, scores from exams before Sept. 2016 do not feature an automatic superscore. College applicants in this group must request an ACT superscore to be able to combine two or more exam results.

Fortunately, ACT scores never expire, meaning nontraditional students returning to school may use their scores from many years in the past if needed. Those who took the ACT before 2016 will view a different score report than the current version. This difference exists because ACT Inc. overhauled the exam in Sept. 2015.

How much does it cost to send ACT scores? true

As of June 2022, ACT Inc. charges $16 to send a single ACT score report or ACT superscore to one college or scholarship program. Those who took the ACT before Sept. 1, 2019, must pay $43 per ACT score report. You can pay with any major credit card and store payment information on your account.

To select schools and scholarships on your ACT account, you must know a school's name or unique ACT code. You can select from hundreds of U.S. and international postsecondary institutions.

Students with financial need may qualify for an ACT fee waiver as long as they meet one or more eligibility criteria.

BestColleges.com is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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