Removing Unwanted ACT Scores

Jed Applerouth, PhD
September 7, 2016
min read
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Many students are surprised to learn that they have the right to remove permanently unwanted ACT scores from their transcripts. From the ACT’s perspective, students own their scores, and may send the scores or delete them as they please, as long as those tests were not used to document participation in State and District Testing. Weeks or months or years after receiving an ACT score that falls below a student’s expectations, that student has the right to delete that testing record from their portfolio of ACT tests.

The process is straightforward, outlined in the ACT’s help section. Under the question “How do I delete a test date record?” the text is as clear as a bell:

To delete your scores for a particular test date, you must submit a written request. Provide us with your name and home address, and we will mail you a form to complete and return to us. We will then permanently remove your record for that test date from our files. All scores from that test date will be deleted.

Write to:

ACT Institutional Services

P.O. Box 168

Iowa City, IA 52243-0168


The only tricky piece comes when a student has taken advantage of the four free college reportings and then wishes to cancel the scores for that particular test. If a student decided on test day to report his or her scores to various colleges and then wanted to cancel them without sending, that student would need to submit a request on the Thursday after the Saturday test. This option would preclude the opportunity to see the scores before deciding whether or not to send them to colleges. In other words, the option to delete your test scores after receiving them needs to happen before you put in the order to send colleges your scores.
This approach of deleting scores even after seeing the results is very helpful to students taking the ACT. The College Board, on the other hand, is not nearly as generous with students’ score choices. If you want to cancel a test score, the clock is ticking from the moment you finish your test. Unlike the ACT, you must cancel your test before you can see the scores. The College Board policy is spelled out in the “Canceling Scores” section:

Students can cancel their score at the test center by completing and signing the “Request to Cancel Test Scores” form. Or they have until 11:59 p.m. ET on the Wednesday after the test date to submit a cancellation request. Students with disabilities who participate in school-based testing have until the Monday one week after the published test date in which to cancel their scores.

These days the overwhelming majority of colleges and universities honor score choice, allowing students to submit only those scores which will strengthen their application. The few holdouts are growing scarcer as colleges such as the University of Pennsylvania, finally allow score choice after years of refusing this policy.

So for those students concerned about a particularly low ACT score, worry no more. Reach out to the ACT, submit your written request asking for the offending test date be permanently removed from your record. If it gives you a little more peace of mind, it’s worth a few stamps and a few minutes of your time.

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