There’s nothing quite like the white-knuckle feeling you get when you realize your ACT scores might be missing. You studied, you stressed, you planned, so it makes perfect sense to be feeling a little crazed with frustration.
But before you lose yourself in missing-score panic, let me reassure you that in the vast majority of cases the problem is small and easily solved. In this article, I'll explain what to do whether you are having trouble finding your scores yourself, or whether it's your target college that seems to have lost the score report from your application.
I'll go through some probable – and improbable – reasons for your missing score, and describe how to fix each one.
How to Check Your ACT Scores
Before diving into what to do about missing scores, let's start with a quick refresher about where your scores can normally be found.
Score reports are posted to your online ACT student account – usually within 2 to 8 weeks after your test date. For a super detailed, step-by-step guide for how to navigate this online tool, check out our guide to getting your ACT scores.
Now, if you've tried that to no avail, let's explore some reasons why you might be having trouble.
What to Do If You Can't Find Your Scores
Scores don't show up on the ACT website for a variety of reasons, so let's go through them one by one.
Are Your Scores Not Ready Yet?
If you're checking 2 weeks after your test date and still don't see your scores, you should know that ACT is working as hard as it can to get your scores to you. The scoring process can take up to 8 weeks, but you should check your ACT student account every Wednesday and Friday to see whether your score has been posted.
An ACT score is like a boiling egg - open it too early and it's just a runny mess.
If it's been 8 weeks since you took the test, your scores might be taking longer because of a very solvable answer sheet issue. Sometimes, your answer sheet might have arrived late from your test center. Most often the problem is that the "Matching Information" you provided on the answer document isn't exactly the same as the Matching Information on your admission ticket, or maybe some of that information is missing. Don't feel bad if you made this mistake – it happens to 8-10% of students.
The last possibility is that you still owe registration fees to ACT. If this is the case, try to get the money to them as soon as you can. Once the delaying situation is resolved, scores start coming out twice weekly, on Wednesday and Friday.
Did You Take the ACT With Writing?
The writing section of the ACT takes longer to score than the multiple choice section. Even if your multiple choice scores have been posted but your writing score hasn't, it doesn’t mean that your writing score is missing. It will be posted as soon as it is available – usually about 2 weeks after your multiple choice scores are.
Did You Take the ACT at an Alternative Testing Site?
The process of posting scores online is different if you took the ACT through State and District, School or DANTES Testing. Your scores won't be online until after you've gotten a score report in the mail. Wait until you get a letter from ACT, and then log in to your ACT account to see your scores posted.
If you took the ACT outside the US or Canada, it'll take an extra 1 to 2 weeks to process and post your scores online.
Did Something Unusual Happen at Your Test Center?
Do you remember there being any distractions or odd goings-on at your test center? Scores can be delayed because of these kinds of irregularities.
For example, if your test was rescheduled or the testing center was closed because of bad weather, scores from the rescheduled test will come out later than scores for the original test date.
Also, if you or someone else complained about something that happened during testing or at the test site, ACT has to look into this. No scores will come out until their investigation is resolved.
Well, there was that one kid sitting in a corner of the ceiling... did someone complain about him? (Image: Rob Sheridan/Flickr)
Are Your Scores From a Long Time Ago?
If you are out of high school and your scores are from more than a year ago, they are now in the ACT archives. There are several ways to get them, each with its own associated fees.
If you think you tested sometime after September 2013, fill out the online score report inquiry form.
If you took the test between 1966 and 2013, you can get your scores in a number of ways:
- Request your scores online by creating an ACT Web account
- Send a letter of request to ACT Student Services — Score Reports, PO Box 451, Iowa City, IA 52243-0451
- Call (319) 337-1270
Don't worry if you can't remember your exact test date: if you can remember your approximate test year, ACT can check a range of years in their records for you.
If you took the ACT in the original hieroglyphics format, you might have to contact ancient Egypt for your scores.
What to Do If Your College Is Missing Your Scores
Sure, it's stressful when you can't seem to get your hands on your ACT scores. But it's a whole different level of alarm when your target college is telling you that they can't find your scores. If you've been notified that your score report hasn't been received, here are the options you should investigate.
Did You Use the Correct ACT College Code?
A college only receives your score report when you list its correct ACT College Code on your score request. If you chose to use the 4 free reports you got with ACT registration, check the college codes you listed by looking at your copy of the score report. If you ordered scores from the ACT website, go online and check the college codes you entered there.
If you made a college code mistake, you can call or email the admissions office at your target college and provide them with your name and ACT ID.
Are Your Scores Missing From Your College Application?
During application season, a college's admissions office is a whirlwind of files, documents, and electronic records. Because of this sort of chaos, sometimes when the college says that your score report is missing, this "missing" document simply hasn't been processed and logged yet. Sorting your scores into your application file can take as long as a week!
To see whether this is the case, feel free to call the admissions office to calmly and respectfully ask them to double check whether your scores are actually already there. I recommend waiting 3 weeks after sending your scores before you call.
Your college might also be receiving ACT scores on a slightly different schedule. Each college chooses how often to download score reports. Some do it as infrequently as once every 2 weeks!
All that being said, it's true that sometimes things do go missing or get misfiled. If the college can’t find your scores, don't freak out. Instead, as quickly as you can, resend your scores so you can still get them in as close to the application deadline as possible.
Pro tip: Don’t simply send a copy of your score report to the college! Colleges will only accept score reports sent directly to them from ACT, so your copy won't count as a score submission.
Your copied ACT reports are like this Olaf: adorable, but not real.
Sometimes Disaster Strikes, But Don't Panic!
Sometimes the world just spins a little bit off its axis.
Every now and again ACT answer sheets just up and disappear seemingly into the vacuum of space. This is a good time to seek guidance from your school counselor, and to be aware that in these cases, a reasonable and equitable solution (sometimes helped along by some press coverage) is sure to follow.
For example, ACTs were lost in at least two places on the June 13 test date. In Kings Park, NY, 61 tests vanished from Kings Park High School despite the test being administered by the ACT itself. Similarly, at Winter Park High School in Orlando, Florida, 50 ACT exams got lost in the mail and remain missing. ACT has given all the students an offer to retake the test for free.
Black holes consume light, energy, and, of course, random ACT answer sheets.
Wondering how your ACT scores measure up? We break down good scores, bad scores, and how to figure out your own target score.
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Anna scored in the 99th percentile on her SATs in high school, and went on to major in English at Princeton and to get her doctorate in English Literature at Columbia. She is passionate about improving student access to higher education.