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Your ACT® scores could be your ticket to admission into a college, a factor in colleges choosing which classes you need to take, and could help determine financial aid that you may receive. In short they are very important. It is up to the student to direct which colleges receive scores, which scores colleges receive, and when the scores are sent. Understanding the rules behind sending ACT scores to colleges can help you put your best work forward and help you get into the school of your choice.

Retake the Test if You Need to

The first thing to remember is that, if you are not satisfied with your ACT test results, you can take it again and attempt to improve your score. So there could be several tests from which you could send ACT scores. However, the scores you receive for each testing session stand alone, and cannot be mixed and matched with other tests. For example, you cannot take your English score from one test and combine it with your Science score from another test. Each time you test, it creates a whole new set of scores and a composite score, which can be sent as a whole to colleges.

Choosing Colleges before the Test

When you register to take the ACT, you can choose up to four colleges to send the ACT report to. A copy is automatically sent to you at your listed address and to your high school. If you select schools at the time you register, then these four schools receive your ACT Scores and College Report at no additional cost to you. These reports are sent out within two months of taking the test. The upside to selecting colleges to receive scores at the time of registration is that they are sent quickly, and at no additional charge. If you chose to send your ACT scores to schools after you have taken the test, there is a fee assessed for each report sent out. The downside to selecting colleges at the time you register for the test is that you don't know what your scores will be, and if you are unsatisfied with the scores, you will be unable to prevent them being sent out.

Sending Scores after the Test

You can choose to send your scores to colleges after you have taken the test and after you know your scores. Currently it costs $12 per college if you request your scores sent after you have taken the test. Expedited delivery of the scores increases this cost to $16.50 per college. If you took the test a while ago (prior to September of 2012), then there is an additional $22 assessed for each report mailed because the scores have been archived.

While sending scores to colleges after testing incurs an additional cost, it could be beneficial if you decide you are unsatisfied with your scores. You have the ability to take the test several times, and then send your best scores to the colleges you've applied for or are interested in. The form for requesting your scores to be sent to colleges is available on the ACT website www.actstudent.org.