A number of years ago, my son took the SAT in a room directly adjacent to the room where the German with Listening SAT Subject Test was being given in a school with notoriously thin walls. As time when on, he found himself paying more attention to German phrases than to the SAT Reasoning Test he was taking.
Another student on another day was seated next to an open window while a riding mower noisily crisscrossed the lawn outside during one section of the SAT he was struggling through. While not as annoying as the sehr distracting German phrases, the test conditions were certainly less than optimal.
At the end of the day, both students had decisions to make about whether or not the distractions were serious enough to warrant cancellation of their tests.
And the College Board makes provisions for this to happen, if students believe they didn’t do as well as they could have on the SAT—for whatever reason.
Although the process is easy enough, it’s not a decision to be taken lightly. Students who choose to cancel their SAT’s will never have a way of knowing how well they actually did on the exam. The scores will never see the light of day—never. You can’t ask for a sneak peek or an off-the-record reading of how well you did.
For this reason, cancelling out of generalized frustration or a touch of paranoia probably isn’t a good idea. Students routinely underestimate their performance on standardized exams. In fact, it seems that those who are most confident sometimes are most disappointed.
So simply thinking things didn’t go too well shouldn’t be reason enough to go through the cancellation process.
Also with the College Board’s Score Choice program, most—not all—colleges give you the right to report scores from test dates you select.
Unfortunately, if Georgetown, Penn, Yale, Stanford, or Carnegie Mellon (among others) are at the top of your list, you know Score Choice will not be an option—all scores will have to be reported. And this could be a factor in your decision.
Otherwise, it’s probably pointless to waste all that preparation and the anxiety leading up to test day by cancelling your SAT.
But if you ultimately decide to cancel SAT scores, here is how it works:
At the Test Center
If you realize immediately after you’ve taken the test that your SAT is not going to be optimal because you missed a bubble and threw your answers out of alignment on one section, or you experienced an equipment malfunction affecting your ability to do well on math or you fell asleep, you can cancel your scores before leaving the test center.
- First, ask the test supervisor for a “Request to Cancel Test Scores” form
- Next, complete the form and sign it on the spot
- Finally, give the form to the test supervisor before leaving the Test Center
Note that if equipment fails during a Language Test with Listening or during a Math Level 1 or 2 test, a student can request to cancel just the scores on the affected test, and still have the other Subject Tests scored by checking off “Single Subject Test Equipment Failure” on the cancellation form.
After Leaving the Test Center
If the desire to cancel the test hits after you’ve left the Test Center, there’s still time to act, but you must act very quickly. The College Board must receive your score cancellation request in writing no later than 11:59 p.m. (Eastern Time) on the Wednesday after you took the test. You will need to download and print the “Request to Cancel SAT Scores” from the College Board website. Then, you’ll need to complete, sign, and either FAX or overnight it as follows:
- FAX: (610) 290-8978
- Overnight via U.S. Postal Service Express Mail (U.S. only) to SAT Score Cancellation, P.O. Box 6228, Princeton NJ 08541-6228
- Other overnight mail service or courier (U.S. or international) to SAT Score Cancellation, 1425 Lower Ferry Road, Ewing NJ 08618 USA
In absence of the form, students may write a separate request by providing test date, test center number, name of test(s) being cancelled—either SAT Subject Tests or SAT—as well as name, address, sex, birth date and registration number. All requests must be signed or the cancellation will not be processed.
Note that the ACT has a somewhat different process. If you chose to send your score report directly to colleges, but then have a totally terrible test-taking day, you have several days to cancel your score report. To do this call ACT at (319) 337-1270 before noon Central Time, on the Thursday immediately following your test date to cancel your report. If, later in the process, you would like the ACT to delete scores for a particular date from their records, you must make the request in writing. Provide name and home address, and the ACT will mail a form to complete and return as instructed.
For the record, neither my son nor the other student elected to cancel their scores. And both did just fine.