Think you did horribly on the ACT? Need to cancel your scores? Or are you just wondering what you would do if you ran into an emergency on test day?
We are going to cover three actions in this article to help you deal with a bad score: canceling scores, stopping college score reports, and deleting existing scores. Likely you would only need to use one or two of these methods if you run into trouble, but we will cover all three to make sure you know all of your options.
Option 1: Canceling ACT Scores
What Does Canceling Your Scores Do?
If you cancel your scores, that means your test will not be graded and you will not get a score report. Students usually do this if something unexpected happens on test day – for example they get suddenly sick or an emergency pops up.
Canceling your scores does not come with a refund, so we only recommend doing this in an extreme situation, for example if you get sick during the test and can’t continue. You should only cancel your scores if you can't finish the test.
Don’t cancel your scores just because you feel bad about your performance. Why not? Since you already paid for the test, if you were able to finish it, you might as well wait and see your test scores. You might be pleasantly surprised. Plus you can learn about your performance from the score report, which is helpful if you decide to retake the ACT. And if your scores really are terrible, you can delete them (a process we'll explain later in this post).
Finally, know that most schools do not require you to send all your ACT scores. In fact, you will need to send individual score reports to each school. You can take the ACT 6 times, and the school will only know you took it once.
Our advice if you think you did poorly would be to wait for your score report but delete your college score recipients, which we will explain below.
How Do You Cancel Scores?
Once you’ve broken the seal on your test booklet, that test is yours and you either need to complete it or cancel the score. If an emergency comes up right before the test, just don’t break the seal and you will be able to move your registration to a different date. You can also do this if you can't make it to the test center the day of the ACT. (You can switch your test date online using your ACT student account. You will have to pay the test date change fee, but that's cheaper than a whole new registration.)
If something happens during the test after you’ve broken the seal and you need to cancel your scores, tell the proctor to void your scores before you leave the test center.
This will stop your test from being graded, and you won’t get a score. Again, only do this in extreme or unusual circumstances. If you don't tell the proctor to void your score before you leave, there is nothing you can do to stop your test from being graded.
Option 2: Get Rid of Your College Score Recipients
Once the reports are in the mail, it's too late.
One thing you absolutely should do if you feel shaky about your ACT performance is to get rid of your college score recipients. This is different from canceling your score reports. While your test will still be graded, you can make sure no colleges see your scores. You can always send the score reports later if it turns out you did well.
The ACT will send up to four score reports out to colleges of your choice for free as part of your test registration. You can cancel these reports up to the Thursday after your test.
If you’re worried that your performance was bad, simply log onto your ACT Student account and delete those college score recipients. This guarantees no scores will be sent to anyone.
You have until the Thursday after the ACT to edit or delete colleges from that list. After that, the score reports will be sent no matter what. So if you complete the ACT but think you did poorly, simply delete the colleges off your score sending list so they won’t see your score.
Option 3: Deleting Test Records
If you end up with an ACT score you’re not happy with, aside from making sure it’s not sent to colleges, you can also delete the scores from the ACT’s records.
You can do this by submitting a written request to ACT. Send a letter with your name and address, and state that you want to delete a test date record. Mail the letter here:
P.O. Box 168
Iowa City, IA 52243-0168
The ACT will then send you back a form that you can use to delete the test record.
This can permanently remove a bad test score from your record. However, if you took the ACT as part of state or district testing, it can’t be deleted. This only applies for testing you signed up for and paid for yourself.
If you’re feeling really sick or an emergency pops up the morning of the ACT, the smartest thing to do is to no-show and use your test registration for a later test date.
If you start your test but are unable to finish, void your scores before you leave the test center to make sure a score report isn’t created.
If you don’t void your scores, make sure to delete your college score recepients by the Thursday after the ACT to make sure your score isn’t sent to colleges.
And finally, if you get your score and decide you don’t like it, it can be deleted from ACT’s records. As long as you're aware of these options, you can make sure colleges only see the scores you want them to.
Need to prep for the ACT, ASAP? Read our guide to making massive point improvements in just 10 days.
So there's no guessing penalty on the ACT, but that doesn't mean you should guess wildly and without strategy. Read our guide to guessing wisely on the ACT to maximize your score.
Disappointed with your ACT scores? Want to improve your ACT score by 4+ points? Download our free guide to the top 5 strategies you need in your prep to improve your ACT score dramatically.
Have friends who also need help with test prep? Share this article!
Halle Edwards graduated from Stanford University with honors. In high school, she earned 99th percentile ACT scores as well as 99th percentile scores on SAT subject tests. She also took nine AP classes, earning a perfect score of 5 on seven AP tests. As a graduate of a large public high school who tackled the college admission process largely on her own, she is passionate about helping high school students from different backgrounds get the knowledge they need to be successful in the college admissions process.