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Kristin Fracchia

Should I Send My Free ACT Score Reports to Colleges?

Who loves free things? Me! me! me!

boy raising hand enthusiastically -magoosh


Unfortunately, I am also a bit on the cynical side and know that free things often come with a catch.

Kelly Clarkson raising hand slowly


ACT Free Score Reports

And in the case of the ACT’s four free score reports, the catch is they are whisked off in the mail before you ever get to see your scores. Free score reports are only sent to the four colleges you designate on your registration form, and if you don’t designate score recipients here, you won’t be eligible for any free score reports (but you can always request paid-for reports later at any time). But if you elect to send the free score reports, you won’t see your scores before they are sent and you won’t be able to cancel your request before they are sent.

Now this may not be a problem. Maybe you only plan to take the test once, and those are the scores you are going to have. Maybe the schools you are applying to require all of your test scores. Or maybe you lucked out and did better than you expected. And, of course, most colleges consider only your best ACT scores, so maybe it won’t matter all that much. But this is something to be considered carefully.

Here’s some advice on when to take advantage of these free score reports and when not to.

Send the four free ACT score reports if it is economically necessary.

If you do not have the means to pay the $12 per score report that the ACT charges, then take advantage of the free reports. It’s better for you to not face any additional hurdles in your quest for college.

Unfortunately, the ACT does not make any allowances for free score reports after your test date. (The SAT does, however. If you have a fee waiver to take the SAT, you also qualify for some free score reports.)

I don’t want to scare you into thinking that sending free score reports will irrevocably hurt your chances at admissions. If something happens and you don’t feel that these scores represent you well (maybe you accidentally bubbled answers in wrong and didn’t realize until you got your scores), you can always write a short explanation on your applications about this.

However, if you do have the means to wait…

DO NOT send the four free ACT score reports if it is NOT economically necessary.

Better safe than sorry. Even if you are applying to schools that require all of your test scores and you think there is no harm in saving a little money, it’s better to be in control of the situation. If you know what your scores look like first, you can consider your admissions strategy more carefully. And although it’s very rare, there could be a mistake with your scores that you want to sort out first. It’s best for you to know what the situation is before admissions offices.

But since we all love free things: here are some actually free ACT prep materials (other than this blog!) that can help you achieve your ACT goals!

About Kristin Fracchia

Kristin makes sure Magoosh's blogs are chock-full of awesome, free resources for students preparing for standardized tests. With a PhD from UC Irvine and degrees in Education and English, she’s been working in education since 2004 and has helped students prepare for standardized tests, as well as college and graduate school admissions, since 2007. She enjoys the agonizing bliss of marathon running, backpacking, hot yoga, and esoteric knowledge.

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