At this time, when you request that your scores be sent to a college, the ACT sends all of your scores. But don’t worry, colleges want to look great and have high ranking. So they overwhelmingly pick your best score to use for admissions. The really good news is most of this is automated. Scores are delivered electronically into a computer database. They are not handled individually by a person.
There is not someone in the admissions office opening up scores and comparing your best day to your worst. If they even look at them, all they see is your highest score. At many schools, this is an automated process. At the schools that “read” your application and essays, the admission staff is given a profile of the student that includes the highest score.
The SAT does allow you to send your best day. This is called “Score Choice.” Many colleges will “Super Score,” taking your best English from one day and your best math from another. Since the ACT composite is an average of the four sections, most colleges do not “Super Score” and mix and match individual sections, but this is becoming a trend as the ACT grows into the more dominant test.
2. Should I utilize the four free ACT submissions from the prior test date despite not knowing my score or where I am applying?
There are two schools of thought on whether or not you should send your scores. Many counselors who help with selective admissions will say that it is best for you to “control” your scores and only send exactly what you want the school to see. Since most schools will only look at your highest ACT, I do not think it is an issue if you utilize the free service and have your scores sent.
One thing to consider is to send your scores to your “safety” schools. These are schools that you are confident of being admitted. When I took the SAT, I sent my scores to Penn State, my safety school, and two local schools that would really be a fall back, call them ultra-safeties. I ended up going to Penn State and did not have to spend the extra money to send my scores.
Most students apply to 7 or more colleges. And so they have to pay to send some scores. My best advice is to pick a safety and utilize the free service, you never know, you just may be wearing their hoodie the rest of your life!