If You Think Your SAT or ACT Score is Wrong, It Just Might Be

This time of year, Campus Bound counselors are working with juniors around the college exploration process. Putting together a solid college list and visiting schools is at the top of the priority list.  But while that’s going on, juniors are also studying hard to earn good grades in their classes, and taking standardized exams like the SAT and ACT.  And the scores are coming in.  But, what happens when you get your score back and it doesn’t seem right?


Recently, a student working with Campus Bound got his scores from the ACT back and noticed that all the sub-scores were relatively high, while one sub-score seemed very low.  The student and his family asked the ACT to rescore his test and lo and behold, his score on that section went up 7 points (that’s a lot on the ACT).  Many families aren’t aware that they have the option to request a rescore, so allow us to outline the nuts and bolts and pros and cons.


The SAT and ACT both offer a Score Verification Service.


The College Board (SAT) and the ACT both use computerized scoring processes, which is why there is so much emphasis on filling in those ovals completely with a dark pencil. But, occasionally the machines make a mistake, or a student loses track on the answer sheet and fills in a row of answers in the wrong spots.   In the event that a student feels their score might not be accurate, both companies offer students the ability to have their answers hand-scored.


What is the Cost and What Does it Cover?

The ACT Hand Scoring process can involve only the multiple choice section (for $50), or only the essay section (for $40), or both (for $90).  If a student has requested a manual rescore of the essay section, the essay will always be re-read and rescored.  When requesting a re-score of the ACT, your score will only stay the same or go up, but the ACT will refund your money if there are mistakes found in the scoring process that weren’t your fault.


The SAT Score Verification process can also involve only the multiple choice section ($55) and/or essay section ($55).  The essay will only be re-read if an error is detected in the scanning or processing of the essay.  Be cautious when requesting manual score-verification from the SAT because your score could go down.  However, if it is confirmed that was an error in the scanning or scoring process, the SAT will refund your money.


When Should You Request Score Verification?

If your score is very different than you expected, or than what you scored on practice tests, it might be a good idea to request a verification.  Another scenario in which to request hand-scoring is when you look at your score report and you can tell that your scores are out of place; you missed many questions in a row.  Additionally, if you go to look at your essay in the online score report and it is blank or illegible, that would be a good reason to request a second scoring.


When Should You Not Request Score Verification?

The manual scoring process is expensive and can lead to a lower score (for the SAT), so think very carefully about whether to request it or not.  If you are just trying to get a higher score, it could backfire.  If you incorrectly marked your answer sheet with slashes rather than filling in the circles, for example, that is considered not following the directions and your score will not change.


For more information about manual score verifications, it is best to contact the College Board or ACT directly.  You can also find detailed information on their respective websites.  As always, Campus Bound counselors are here to help. Good luck!

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