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Thursday, October 03, 2013

What you NEED to Know about Sending SAT Scores

There are three parts to this post..
  1.  How we (and many colleges) receive your SAT scores.
  2. The timing of SAT score reporting.
  3. What happens if you send scores after the deadlines.
This might get a little long, but I think understanding the logistics of score reporting will help you figure out when you want to take care of this part of your application.

1. How UVa Receives SAT Scores
So many students want to know if we will "accept" scores from the November administration of the SAT if they are planning to apply under the Early Action plan. That's coming in part 3 of this post. Let's cover how scores get to us first.

Let me address the vocabulary. Most colleges (UVa included) receive scores electronically. We do not "accept" the scores, our system files them automatically. At slow times, the reports come once each day (around 3 AM). Around deadline, the reports come more often. I get an email every time there's an electronic transfer, regardless of whether the delivery is of one person's scores or of a massive group of scores from a popular test date.

Okay, so we're clear that UVa doesn't accept or reject your scores. You tell the Educational Testing Service (ETS) to send them to us, they get sent electronically, and our system grabs them to add to your file.

2. The Timing of SAT Score Reporting
Now, let's talk about timing. The good news is that ETS has improved a lot over the years when it comes to how long it takes them to deliver scores. They aren't totally consistent in the dates that they say they'll deliver scores, but the general idea is that it takes a few weeks for scores to get to us.

From the student part of the SAT website, on 10/2/2013:

From the college administrator part of the SAT website: 

Again, the dates don't agree exactly, but you get the gist. Those dates only apply to schools you identified as score recipients during registration. Again, from the student part of the SAT website:

3. What Happens if You Send Scores After Deadlines
If you don't send colleges your scores until after you get to look at them or send scores after deadlines, it will take a few more weeks for the scores to get to us. I can't find language about how long it takes on the website, but once upon a time, ETS had a line on there that said it took five weeks. I really hope they have improved since I read that.

In our application instructions, we say that the last recommended test dates for students applying through Early Action are the October dates. The last recommended test dates for students applying through Regular Decision are the December dates.

If you take tests on those dates, we know your scores will be here when we start to review your file. Now, November is a super popular time to take SAT Subject Tests. Some students planning to apply through Early Action worry that we won't "accept" those November scores. We've already taken care of that "accept" part above. So, here's the deal with the rest of that question. The November SAT scores will be sent to us around Thanksgiving. There is a chance that we will have already started the review your file before those scores arrive.

You should still send those scores. After all, our review takes over two months and there's a possibility that you could be deferred to regular decision. There's a chance that the scores will be seen at some point in the process.

If you planned to apply under Early Action and are taking the November SATs, I encourage you to designate UVa as a score recipient in advance so scores aren't further delayed.