Understanding the Common App Preview PDF: What’s Missing and Why

The Common Application (Common App) has revolutionized the college application process by allowing students to apply to multiple colleges with just one application. However, when previewing the PDF version of their application, some students may notice that certain crucial information is missing.

In this article, we will explore why something may be missing from the Common App Preview PDF, with a specific focus on the exclusion of SAT/ACT scores and other important details.

Why Are Certain Answers Omitted?

It is essential to understand that the decision to exclude specific information from the Common App Preview PDF lies with individual colleges. While most colleges display a comprehensive overview of the application in the PDF, some choose to hide certain details. When encountering a message such as the one provided below, it is important not to panic:

“This college has chosen not to include certain Common App answers in the PDF they receive for your application. As a result, the following answers will not be displayed on your PDF: SSN, ACT/SAT Tests, AP/IB/Cambridge/SAT Subject Tests.”

Colleges have valid reasons for excluding such information. Here are a few possible explanations:

1. Confidentiality and Privacy

To prioritize the privacy and confidentiality of applicants, certain colleges have opted not to display sensitive information such as Social Security Numbers (SSN) in the Common App Preview PDF. This ensures that personal details remain secure and protected from unauthorized access.

2. Test Score Considerations

Many colleges emphasize a holistic approach to the admissions process, meaning they take into account a wide range of factors beyond just test scores. When colleges do not display SAT/ACT scores on the Common App Preview PDF, it is often because they focus more on an applicant’s overall academic profile, extracurricular activities, essays, and letters of recommendation. This transparency allows colleges to focus on evaluating applicants beyond their test performance.

3. Space and Formatting Constraints

In some cases, the exclusion of certain answers from the Common App Preview PDF may simply be due to space and formatting constraints. The PDF format limits the amount of information that can be displayed neatly, and colleges may choose to prioritize the most relevant and significant aspects of an application in order to present a clear and concise overview.


While it can be disconcerting to discover that important information, such as SAT/ACT scores, is missing from the Common App Preview PDF, it is essential to remember that each college has its own unique approach to reviewing applications.

Trust that colleges are still able to access the complete details of your application through the Common App platform. Focus on presenting the best version of yourself through your essays, extracurricular activities, and other application components, and let the admissions committees evaluate your candidacy holistically.

Share the knowledge