What is SAT Score Choice?
Applying to college is a rigorous process that can require you to complete seemingly endless steps in a limited amount of time. To create a standout college application, you’ll need to utilize every possible resource at your disposal. The College Board’s SAT Score Choice policy is one such resource. Score Choice allows you to choose which test scores you report to colleges, potentially reducing some of the pressure and anxiety many students feel about the SAT. While this opportunity can give you more freedom in how you plan for the SAT, there are some key points to consider before you sign up for every test administration.
What exactly is Score Choice?
SAT Score Choice is a policy implemented by the College Board that allows you some flexibility in reporting your official test scores to colleges. Through your College Board account, you have the choice to decide which score reports you want to send to the schools on your college list. This option relieves some of the pressure around performing at your highest during your first try, allowing you to withhold lower scores if you so choose. Since test-taking is such an individual process, score choice can help you strategize as you work to put your best foot forward.
How does it work?
You have to take (or plan to take) the SAT more than once, or you have to take multiple SAT Subject Tests. If you take the SAT only once and are satisfied with your score or you don’t take any Subject Tests, Score Choice will not apply to you. However, most students take the SAT more than once, and their performance can vary widely. If you are such a student, Score Choice will allow you to choose which test dates you would like to send to colleges. You may also decide which individual SAT Subject Test scores to send if you have taken multiple subject tests. It’s important to note that you cannot choose to send individual section scores (i.e. just Math or just Reading) from the SAT; you can only choose to send your total score report from an individual test date.
Score Choice grants students flexibility in how they want to approach test preparation. It is designed to reduce the pressures of standardized testing and the anxiety that comes along with it. Those of you who aren’t strong test takers don’t have to worry as much about nailing a perfect score the first time you take the test. Even strong test takers have “off” days, and you never know when an illness can strike. If you end up retaking the SAT many times, sharing only your highest scores with colleges could give your application an edge.
Unfortunately, not every college and university follows the College Board’s Score Choice policy. Each school has its own set of rules when it comes to reporting test scores, so you must follow the stated policies of the schools on your college list. Some schools require students to send all scores from every test administration. Other schools will superscore your SAT and look only at the highest section score from each test you have taken. Still others will consider only your highest total score from a single test date. A school’s individual policy will pop up once you add that school to your score reporting list, but it is important to double check school policies via official college websites.
Another disadvantage to Score Choice is that it limits your ability to send free score reports. When you sign up for the SAT, you have the option to send your scores to four schools for free (additional reports cost a fee, unless you qualify for a fee waiver). After registration, you only have nine days to edit your four free schools, and your score will be sent to those schools as soon as it’s available, effectively eliminating the Score Choice option. Only you will know how confident you are in your test preparation to determine whether or not to take advantage of the free score reports.
SAT Score Choice is designed for student benefit, but depending on your specific situation, it may or may not play a role in your college application process. Your SAT readiness and your college list will both factor into your use of Score Choice. Recognize the flexibility available to you via Score Choice and review school-specific policies to ensure you properly report your scores. It is vital to familiarize yourself with the terms and guidelines of the college application process. In doing so, you will gain more control and confidence to put together a strong application that portrays you in the best light.
Jon G. is originally from Houston, Texas. He holds a Bachelor's degree from Harvard University and is currently one of the resident English gurus at Elite Prep Los Angeles. Nothing makes him more proud and pumped up than watching his students succeed. When it comes to hitting the books, Jon recommends starting early and studying in increments to avoid burnout. He's a huge basketball fan, loves green tea, and his favorite vocabulary word is "seditious."