The FAQs of SATs and ACTs

Standardized test scores are only a small part of your application for admission. Let me say that again, standardized test scores are only a small part of your application for admission. SAT or ACT scores represent one Saturday in your high school career (ok, maybe two or three or four…), however, questions about standardized tests are flooding our admission email account. Here are the answers to the most frequently asked questions about standardized tests:

Will scores from a November test arrive in time to be considered with my early decision application? Or, will January scores arrive in time to be considered with my regular decision application?

November scores will usually be received in time, but there is no guarantee that they will arrive before your application is considered. Same goes for January scores, they will usually be received in time for regular decision, but there is no guarantee they will arrive before your application is considered. Your best bet is to take standardized tests, and submit scores, before the application deadline.

Does Cornell participate in Score Choice?

No, Cornell does not participate in Score Choice. When you send your SAT scores we ask that you send us all of your scores, including all Subject Test scores. When sending your ACT scores, send us all test dates. This allows our selection committee to review the scores that are most supportive to your application. It is to your advantage to send all scores!

Does Cornell prefer the SAT or the ACT?

Cornell does not have a preference. Either the SAT or the ACT with writing are fine.

Do I need to take SAT Subject Tests?

Maybe, it depends on which college or school you apply to. The Cornell Freshman Admission Requirements Chart lists what standardized tests are required for each college and school.

Remember, standardized test scores are only a small part of your application for admission. Instead of spending hours worrying about a test you already completed, think about all of the information that you will share with the selection committee. You may find you have a few extra minutes to work on The All Important Cornell Supplement!

160 thoughts on “The FAQs of SATs and ACTs

  1. Jf77, this is possible. However, please remember that Cornell does not participate in score choice and if you send your SAT reasoning test scores, we ask that you send them all.

  2. Scarlet, if Cornell is listed as a recipient when you take the October exam, the scores will be received in time to be considered with your early decision application. It is impossible for me to predict how a possible score may be reviewed in the context of your entire application!

  3. Manuela, you are able to send updated scores after the application deadline. However, there is a chance that your early decision application will be reviewed before the new scores are received. Additional scores will not lower your chance of being admitted.

  4. Hi

    If I use my ACT with writing and SAT Subject test scores for application, do I need to send in regular SAT scores?

    Thank you.

  5. I know that the Early Decision deadline is November 1st. But the last ACT is 27th October, so will Cornell consider that ACT score, even though that scores comes out after the Early Decision deadline?

  6. I took both the SAT I and ACT. My ACT is significantly better than my SAT score, but since I would still need to submit SAT II scores, would I be required to send the SAT I score? Would it be a disadvantage to me to send it, since its clearly lower than my ACT.

  7. Hi, I am applying Early decidison to CALS and CAS as my alternate option. I know CALS does not require SAT subject tests but CAS does. I was planning on using ym ACT score instead of my SAT reasoning test scores but i realize i need to submit my subject tests for CAS. is it possible for me to submit my ACT and 2 subject tests without showing my SAT reasoning scores?

  8. Hi there,
    I think this question was asked a bunch of times in the past, but I just want to be sure with my time frame. I am registered for the Math II Subject Test waiting list for October 6th.

    -In the event that I do get in and take the test, will that score reach you in time for your ED deadline?

    -In the event that I do not get in and take the test will my low score of 670 affect my application greatly? (I scored 770 on my Biology Subject test and plan to apply to the College of Arts and Sciences)

    I realize that you probably will not be able to answer my second question, but thank you in advance!

  9. Hello, I was planning on applying early decision, but I am taking my third SAT November 3rd. Is there any way to update your scores after you have submitted your application, and if so, does it lower your chances of getting accepted?

  10. Hello,
    I just received my ACT scores and my calculated average was 31.25, but the ACT rounded me down to 31. If I super-score my test dates (I took the test a total of 2 times) I will have a 32.25, rounded down to 32. Will Cornell superscore my test dates? I’ve been getting mixed responses from fellow applicants; some claim to have contacted Cornell officials and report that Cornell DOES NOT superscore, but some claim otherwise. Please clarify Cornell’s policy on superscoring for the SAT and ACT standardized tests. I would appreciate it very much. THANK YOU!!

  11. Oh I see. But let’s say I want to major in Biology/Animal science? Will they ten look at the writing section?

  12. Madeline, Cornell requires the writing section of the SAT. How it is viewed in the application process will vary depending on the program a student has applied to.

  13. Does Cornell count the Writing Section of the SAT during the Undergraduate admission overview? I’ve checked CollegeBoard for Cornell’s entrance requirements, and they state that Cornell doesn’t look at the writing section.

  14. Hi, thanks for answering my question but I meant SAT profile for ONLY the College of Arts and Sciences. The profile you provided, I believe, includes all the colleges. It’ll help me greatly if you have that information. Thanks again!

  15. Hi, I’m doing a school research project on Cornell. I’m going into 9th grade. One of the questions that I had to answer was “What happens if you don’t meet the SAT/ACT requirements? Can you still be accepted? If so, how?” I found what the actual SAT/ACT requirements to be accepted at Cornell are, but I can’t find the answer to this question. Any help would be very much appreciated.

  16. Hi, what is Cornell’s SAT/GPA scores profile (25%/75%) for admitted students just for the college of Arts and Sciences not including other colleges? Thanks

  17. Kat, Cornell doesn’t admit based on a formula, so there isn’t a minimum GPA or SAT score required for admission.

  18. Hi, I’m going into the freshman class of high school, and part of my summer homework was to research a college I would want to go to. I chose Cornell. Can you help me answer a few? Thanks in advance. :

    What high school GPA will I need to be accepted into Cornell?

    What are the SAT and ACT requirements for Cornell?

    What happens if you don’t meet the SAT/ACT requirements? Can you still be accepted? If so, how?

    Thanks again.

  19. Ankita, the selection committee considers all of the required application materials when making a decision – more than just your scores. If you have questions about how the College of Engineering will view your application, please feel free to contact them at

  20. Hi, this a random question about standardized tests scores in general: suppose a student has good extracurriculars, a decent academic record and an impressive essay/personal statement, but his/her test scores aren’t good (SAT:2100 – 2200 ACT:30-33 SAT subject tests: 660-720), does the student have a good chance of getting into the school of engineering? Would the tests scores weaken the application?

  21. Thanks for the reply. We actually sent you all the score reports already. (SAT1, SAT2 and ACT).

  22. Srini, Cornell University asks that your son submit all of his scores and the best will be reviewed with his application materials (I can’t predict which scores will be used without having the official score report).

  23. My son got 2100 SAT super score and 35 ACT Composite score. And he also got 800 each Math, Physics and Chemistry Subject tests. Which score will you consider? ACT or SAT

  24. Lorena, the College of Engineering requires two SAT Subject Tests, one in math and one in science. Any additional Subject Test scores will not influence your admissions decision.

  25. Shruti, all required application materials (including SAT scores) will be taken into account by the admissions selection committee when they make a decision. Cornell only provides need-based financial aid which means your SAT scores have no impact on your aid package.

  26. Hello,

    I had a question regarding subject tests for the college of engineering. I got an 800 on my spanish subject test and a 690 for American History, but I did not do so well on the math part. Will my other two scores influence my admission even if they are not related to my major?

  27. Hi
    I wanted to know if the SAT critical reading score is very important for an undergraduate engineering course. I have been able to score very well in the math as well as the Writing section however, have faltered with the reading section. Since I plan to major in math and computer science, will a low critical reading score affect my admissions to Cornell as well as the chance to be considered for the available scholarships?
    Thank you

  28. Ss123, the situation you describe would have no impact on an admission decision, the selection committee will base their decision on the information received.

  29. This is really late..but I wrote on the Common App that I would be taking the January SAT, and I ended up never taking it. Is this a violation of Cornell’s rules? Is the admissions committee going to think I took it but never reported the score? I’ve always been someone, I think, of integrity, and I don’t want this possible misunderstanding to reflect negatively on myself or my application..even though there’s nothing to do at this point.

  30. Connor, any standardized test scores from your high school career would be reviewed with your application should you choose to apply during your rotary exchange year abroad.

  31. Hi!
    I do not have great SAT Scores, however, I hve applied to Cornell since I have a very good academic track record and have also pursued activities other than academics. I am really worried about the outcome of my application. When do we get to know the result?

  32. If I went to a different country for Rotary during my Senior year (I am currently a Junior), how long would my ACT/SAT scores be valid for? I see “5 years” a lot, however does this vary between colleges and if so, what is Cornells? Thanks!

  33. Pablo, the scores would need to be rushed and there is a chance that they will not arrive in time to be reviewed by the selection committee.

  34. Maddie, Cornell does require the SAT with Writing. How the scores are viewed will vary depending on the program at Cornell you apply to.

  35. Lauren, your application will be reviewed without the required Subject Tests, however, the selection committee will have to rely more heavily on the other components of your application.

  36. Hello!
    In some college profile books there is no data for the middle 50% range of SAT writing scores, so I was wondering if Cornell looks at the SAT writing score at all, or if they simply do not report that information?


  37. I have the same problem as Sara, I had not taken one of my required SAT subject tests, (but I have 3 other scores) so will I still be considered for admission although the lack of the one SAT subject test will obviously place me at a disadvantage. I just want to make sure my application WILL BE reviewed and I WILL have a chance anyway.

  38. Thank you!
    So I will not automatically be declined if I did not take one of the required subject tests? I was worried that because I had not provided this, then they would no longer consider me. I understand that others will have an advantage over me because they provided the subject test, but I will still have a chance, correct?

  39. Sara, in the absence of required subject test scores, selection committees will base their admission decision on a review of your personal application, high school transcripts, guidance counselor recommendation, letters of reference, and SAT Reasoning Test and/or ACT scores. You should understand that without the required SAT Subject Test results, your application provides us with less information than applications that include the required scores.

  40. I applied rd and just realized that I did not take one of the required subject tests and I its too late to take it now. What should I do?

  41. Hi! Well, I am writing my SAT once more in January. So should I rush report the January scores to Cornell, or utilize the free score report and send it the usual way? Thanks!

  42. Basil, there is no guarantee that November scores will be received in time to be considered with an early decision application.

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