The main purpose of your ACT score is to persuade colleges to admit you and grant you financial aid and scholarships. But how (and when) should you send ACT scores to colleges? 

How to Send ACT Scores to Colleges 

You can choose to send your scores automatically when you register for the test or wait until after you take the test and receive your score. Each option has pros and cons, so you’ll want to consider the following; and then make the best choice for you.

Send your scores automatically once you take the ACT

You may select up to four colleges to send your scores for free when you register for the ACT. Additional colleges can also be selected for $16/each. Find and select their college codes on the ACT website. Also, you can use this option to send scores to Congressional Members to apply for the military academies, as well as national scholarship programs.

When you set your college choices at registration, you don’t have to remember to send them after you take the test. You can also make changes to these college choices up until the Thursday right after your Saturday test date. 

With this option, you won’t see your scores before submitting them to the college.

Score reports are typically sent within 2 to 8 weeks after the test date, or a little longer for ACT scores with the writing component.

Send score reports to colleges after you take the ACT

If you wait to send your ACT score reports to colleges after you’ve taken the test and received your scores, it will cost you $18.50 per college. These score reports are typically sent a week after you submit your request if your score is already available.

Once you submit a request for score reports, it cannot be changed or canceled. 

The benefit of this option is that you see your score before you choose to send it to colleges. But you have to pay for each report, missing out on the four free reports included in your registration. Of course, you can do both: order four free score reports to four colleges and then $16 score reports to additional colleges.)

Score report fee waivers

If you are enrolled in the federal free and reduced lunch program, when you register for the ACT, you can choose up to six colleges to submit your scores at no cost. After taking the test and receiving scores, you can request unlimited regular score reports for free. If you are eligible, take advantage of these benefits to share your scores with colleges.

How do colleges use ACT scores?

Colleges typically use these scores in several ways: 

1. To determine which students are admitted

Scores can be used to determine if students are admitted to the college. Though test-optional schools do not require a score for admission, many students submit scores anyway, particularly if their score is high. For example, test-optional University of Chicago shares that about 80% of applicants still submit their test scores.

2. To determine which students receive merit-based scholarships

Beyond admissions, many colleges use ACT scores to determine which students receive merit-based scholarships. Many college websites have scholarship grids that combine test scores with high school cumulative GPAs to determine automatic merit scholarship awards. Some colleges even have scholarships awarded solely for specific ACT scores. Increasing your score can be the best-paying job a high school student can have.

3. To place students in classes

Test scores are one way to waive out of remedial classes. Plus, many engineering departments require students to have minimum math and/or science section test scores.


Don’t stop taking the ACT (or submitting your test scores) after your first try. Instead, take the ACT three or four times to get your best score. With OTC ACT Prep, you can improve your scores and earn more scholarships and financial aid from your best-fit colleges.