Most students learn their SAT scores by logging on to their college board account 2 weeks after taking the test, but some log on to see the dreaded “scores pending” message. If that happened to you, it’s understandable that you’re frustrated! The reason your scores are delayed most likely have nothing to do with you. It could be that the College Board is just running behind or that there was some sort of irregularity with your testing center. Either way, the problem will be cleared up without you doing anything at all. It is also possible that you made an error in your registration that is delaying the scores, but the College Board will likely correct the error on their own and get your scores to you soon. In very rare cases scores are delayed because your test has been flagged for potential cheating, but as long as your Aunt’s name isn’t Becky, you should be fine!
So what should you do now about all this? In a word, nothing.
1.) Don’t assume the worst.
Keep in mind that the SAT is graded differently than your standard high school midterm or final. On the SAT, the average student gets about 50% of the questions correct. In other words, what would be an F from your classroom teacher will be a C from the SAT. What I’m trying to say here is that this is not a time to panic.
2.) Don’t try to predict what you’ll get.
Every version of the SAT is graded on a curve based on that test’s difficulty level. You might think that you would be lucky to get an “easy” version of the SAT, but actually the reverse is true. The easier the test, the more points you lose for each wrong answer. For instance, the version given in the summer of 2019 was so easy, that if you got one question wrong on the math section, you received a 770 math score, and if you got a second question wrong your score dropped to 750. That’s 50 points for just two questions! If your goal is to turn a 750 into a 790, you’d better pray for a difficult test. Given that you get the same number of questions correct, your score goes up for harder tests and down for easier ones. My point here, once again, is that it’s nearly impossible to predict your score based on how you felt after taking the test. I know it’s hard, but be patient!
3.) Don’t make any big decisions
Now is not the time to scratch Harvard off your list of favorite colleges or drop out of all your AP classes. You will get some good data soon, so save your decisions until you have that data available to inform them.
4.) Do register for the next test, especially if the registration deadline is looming.
If this is the first time you’ve taken an SAT, there is a major benefit to taking it again, no matter what score you get. I’m referring to super scores, where colleges look at your highest math and highest reading scores, even if they are from two different days. So, all you need to do to improve your score is improve one of the two sections. Combine this benefit with the fact that there is no risk to taking it a second time, and there’s no reason not to sign up for Round Two right away.
5.) Do start studying for the ACT if that’s your next move.
All of the colleges in the United States that take the SAT will also take the ACT in addition or instead. It’s true that some students do exactly the same on both tests, but there are also students who have a clear affinity for one or the other. Since you’ve just finished the SAT and you’re trying to keep your mind off of it until the scores show up, one way to distract yourself is to try a practice ACT.
6.) Do contact the College Board in a few days
If a few days have passed and your scores are still pending, it would be very reasonable of you to contact the College Board and ask about the issue. You can send them an email via their website, but I recommend calling them at 866-756-7346.
7.) Do talk to your guidance counselor if the problem persists
It never hurts to check in with your school guidance counselor, so go ahead and let him or her know you have a pending score. If a week has passed and you haven’t gotten any satisfaction from the College Board, it’s ok to ask your counselor to contact them on your behalf. Just remember to use your best manners, because many colleges ask guidance counselors to write letters of recommendation as a part of your application.