Most of the Common App is pretty straightforward to complete, but the question I hear quite often from my students is “How should I complete the Testing page?” Unfortunately, the answer isn’t straightforward…
The Common Application Testing Page - Tips
- First, you are asked if you want to self-report scores. Regardless of your response, you must send official score reports from College Board and/or ACT to all your colleges – and take care to officially report the number of scores each college requests (e.g., some colleges want all your scores, some want your single best score, while others superscore from all the scores you send – and a few even ask for ALL your SAT AND ACT scores if you have taken both). In addition, if you do self-report scores on the Common App, be sure that what you self-report matches your official score report(s). That means you need to research NOW what the score reporting requirements are for each college to which you plan to apply.
- If you respond NO, then you’re done with this section – and it’s really fine NOT to self-report scores. It does give the college a little more work, but it is an OK option.
- If you respond YES, then you’re next asked which tests you’d like to report. Here’s where it gets tricky because each college has its own requirements for the number of SAT, ACT, and SAT Subject Test Scores to be reported. If you’re applying to, say, Stanford, then you must send ALL your SAT, ACT, and SAT Subject Test Scores. On the other hand, if you’re applying to Emory, for example, you’ll need to send your single best ACT score or your top SAT score sets for superscoring.
- If you respond that you want to self-report SAT or ACT scores, the Common App then asks the number of scores you wish to report and number of future sittings you expect. So if you’re applying to a college with testing requirements like Emory’s, you can self-report your best SAT scores for superscoring or your single best ACT score – and include how many additional times you plan to take either or both tests. Once you submit the Common App to Emory, you can make changes to reflect the next college’s testing requirements. If that college happens to be one with requirements like Stanford’s, then you’ll be entering all the scores you didn’t self-report to Emory.
- If you respond that you want to self-report SAT Subject Test, AP, or IB scores, the Common App then asks number of tests you wish to report (including those you will take). For SAT Subject Tests, you’ll need to follow each college’s requirements. For AP and IB scores, I would urge you to report all your scores, even if you’re not happy with all your scores. This way, a college won’t jump to the wrong conclusion that you either failed or failed to take a test.
- Reminder: Since you submit one application at a time, you can choose different self-reporting options for different colleges! For example, if you are applying to some test-optional colleges as well as to others that do require scores, you can do the following:
- For colleges that require scores, enter the scores to be self-reported, finish the application and submit it to those colleges. If some of your colleges require SAT Subject Tests but others don’t, you can choose to share your Subject Test scores only with those colleges that require them.
- For test-optional colleges, if you select “No, I do not wish to self-report,” then any scores you had previously entered will be hidden, but NOT erased. That way, when you submit the finished application to the test-optional schools, they will not see your scores.
- If you later change the self-reporting option back to “Yes,” the scores you entered into a previously submitted application will reappear on the screen!