The long and torturous process of applying to college can sometimes feel like a death of a thousand cuts, especially from a financial standpoint. All of those test fees alone–from sitting for exams to sending out score reports to school after school–begin to add up to real money much faster than you’d expect. Fortunately, an increasing number of colleges have been adopting saner score submission policies to help stop the bleeding of fruitless test fees.
The Common App and Coalition application both allow applicants to self-report scores or future test dates for a variety of standardized tests, including the ACT, SAT, and SAT Subject Tests along with AP and IB scores. Self-reporting makes sense for many students, but most colleges don’t consider the scores in an application or on a transcript sufficient evidence. That’s why applicants pay so much in fees to the College Board and ACT to send their best (or sometimes all) scores to every school they apply to.
How much do score reports cost? At the time of this writing, ACT charges $13.00 per test date per report, while the College Board seems to charge only $12 per report. Both the College Board and ACT include four free score reports with every test, but students should try to avoid the potentially perilous error of sending scores sight unseen.
Clearly, score reporting fees can add up, especially when you realize that most of those fees are spent reporting to schools you won’t be applying to. This makes the more liberal score reporting policies many colleges are adopting so welcome.
For example, Harvey Mudd College in California just announced that they will be accepting self-reported test scores from applicants, effective immediately:
“…first-year and transfer applicants may self-report their test scores when applying for admission. We hope that this change in our policy will alleviate some of the stress and the cost of applying to Harvey Mudd for our applicants. Only admitted students who choose to enroll at Harvey Mudd College will be required to submit official score reports.”
This policy appears so reasonable that school after school is incorporating self-reporting into its admissions process. Even ultra-competitive colleges like Princeton, Stanford, and the aforementioned Harvey Mudd see the sanity of removing one admissions expense from an already daunting list. With hope, self-reporting will soon become the standard, much as superscoring has.
Just note that self-reporting does not give license to misrepresent or falsify test scores. Once you’ve been accepted to a school you plan to attend, you’ll have to send official score reports to substantiate your claims. As you might imagine, college admissions officers don’t look favorably on fabulists or fabricators. We’ll give Harvey Mudd the last word on this topic:
“Of course, any discrepancies between self-reported and official test scores may affect a student’s offer of admission and place in the class.”