SAT Score Under Review

You spent hours studying and taking SAT prep courses to prepare for the SAT, you’ve waited patiently for your SAT score to be released, and you’ve raced to a computer in hopes of seeing that you’ve reached your target score, only to find that your score is neither higher or lower than you had hoped…it’s under review.

While it’s incredibly rare for this to happen, the College Board does flag test scores for review from time to time.

If you see that your SAT score is under review, it can be both confusing and worrisome. Are your scores going to be canceled? Will the colleges on your list receive your scores in time? Were you suspected of cheating?

The good news is that you don’t have to panic if your score is flagged for review. While it is natural to feel concerned, you can take a deep breath and relax for a few reasons:

  • Very few scores that are reviewed are actually canceled. In the words of the College Board, scores aren’t flagged for the purpose of being canceled, they are flagged because the College Board “need[s] more information to determine whether we can validate it.”
  • There are steps you can take to validate your score. Going through the SAT Score Validity Process can clear up any confusion and ensure your score is good to go.

As long as you did not cheat or otherwise give yourself an unfair advantage on the SAT, you won’t have anything to worry about if your SAT score is under review.

Here’s everything you need to know about the SAT score review and validation process:

Why scores are flagged for review

Each year, over 2 million students take the SAT, and their scores are processed and sent to colleges across the nation without any issues. 

However, in order to keep the testing process fair, each year the College Board flags scores when the validity of these scores is in question.

Here are the main reasons why scores are flagged for review:

  • Answer sheet similarities: For example, if two or more students from the same testing center produce similar answer sheets where such commonalities are unlikely.
  • College requests: A college or university may request for an applicant’s scores to be reviewed because the score is inconsistent with other application materials. For example, if a student with a 4.5 GPA and multiple 5’s on AP exams scores below 900 on the SAT, or if a student with a 1.5 GPA and no passing AP exams scores a perfect 1600 on the SAT.
  • Reports: If a proctor or a student reports cheating, students may have their scores flagged for review.

For the most part, when the College Board reviews a student’s scores, it is for one of these three main reasons.

The SAT score review process

Once the College Board determines that a score should be reviewed, they start the initial review process.

Throughout the entire SAT score review process, students’ identities and backgrounds are protected, so the review is thorough and fair.

Here are a few steps that the College Board will take during the review process:

  • Comparing a student’s score with previous scores to note drastic changes
  • Comparing student’s answer sheets with those of other students
  • Comparing the handwriting of the student’s answer sheet with other students’ handwriting
  • Comparing the scratch work and the steps written out on a student’s test booklet with their final answers

If the College Board finds sufficient evidence to suggest that a student’s work was not their own or that they otherwise cheated on the test, they will either request further review or cancel the scores.

If there is no substantial evidence to indicate cheating, the test score will be released.

Validating scores

There are steps you can take to speed this process along and help validate your score if the College Board flags it for review:

  • Retaking the SAT. If you retake the SAT and score within 90 points on each section as you did on the test where your score is in question, it can validate your scores
  • Request further review. You may have your score sent to the College Board Board of Review along with a handwriting sample, any previous SAT scores, your transcript, and a personal statement.
  • Request a third-party hearing. You can request that The American Arbitration Association assign an independent arbitrator to help determine the validity of your score.

If you do not want to attempt to validate your score, you may also cancel your scores and receive a full refund. 

While this might all appear to be very complicated, remember that you don’t have to worry about your score validity if you did not cheat on the SAT. If there is not any evidence to suggest that you cheated, the initial review will conclude with your scores being released as usual.

Learn more about the SAT scoring process when you visit Prep Expert.