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Monday, September 18, 2017

Standardized Test Advice for #UVA Applicants

The College Board tweeted that students can see the results of the August SAT test today. Score release days always result in questions from students and parents about how we process and use test scores, so let's go over those topics.

The Basics

1. Take the SAT or the ACT. We don't care which one you show us.
2. There are no cut-offs. The stats we put out are describing the class that enrolled. They aren't telling you admission requirements.
3. SAT IIs are totally optional. If you don't send them, you aren't penalized.
4. The last recommended test dates are the ones in October (Early Action) and December (Regular Decision).

Now, let me explain four things that come up a lot in comments and on phone calls with applicants.

1. How UVA Receives Your Scores

Like most colleges, UVA receive scores from the SAT and ACT agencies electronically. We do not "accept" the scores, our system files them automatically. At slow times, the reports come once each day, usually 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. I took this screen shot of the score notification emails a few years ago. You can see that we mostly get one or two drops per day at this time of year.

2. How UVA Reviews Scores

When we built our online reading system here at UVA, we taught the system to only show us the best section scores for each applicant. I don't see all the scores a student sent us when I open a file. The system picks the best score from each section of the SAT or ACT. We use sections in our review, so the system doesn't calculate a total score, it simply shows us the best section scores.

For the time being, we'll be suppressing the essay (SAT) and writing (ACT) scores when we review applications. This could change in the future. There are plenty of schools requiring these sections, so you will probably still want to take these optional sections.

3. The Timing of Score Reporting

Send your scores to the schools on your list at least two weeks before the application deadline. In general, it takes the testing agencies 1-2 weeks to send a score report to a college. It could take the college a few days to match your score to your file. It's totally fine to send score reports before you submit your application. Anything that arrives before your application is held in a miscellaneous file. All of the application components will meet up in the end. I usually post on the blog and twitter when we have finished matching up documents so applicants know their to-do lists in our records system is up to date.

Both the SAT and ACT will give you four free score reports to use when you take their exams. Use your free reports to send scores to UVA and any other school on your list that automatically pulls the best section scores. If you wait to see your scores before sending them to us, you'll lose your free reports.

SAT Score Report Fees ($43 for a rushed report!)

ACT Score Report Fees

4. Taking (or Sending) Scores After Deadlines

Back at the beginning of the post, I wrote that the last recommended test dates are the month before each deadline. That doesn't mean you aren't allowed to sit for an exam after the deadline, but there is a chance that we will have already started the review your file before those late scores arrive.

You should still send those scores. After all, our review takes several months. There's a chance that the scores will be seen at some point in the process.

As always, I'm happy to answer questions in the comments!

Don't forget to order your scores well in advance of deadlines!