In the past, if you took the SAT more than once, every single SAT score you had ever received was included in your college application. It’s the way things were, all the good, bad, and ugly just jumbled together for any old college admission officer to see. No wonder students would freak out about the SAT; every score went onto a permanent record.
Today, students can utilize a score reporting policy known as Score Choice. Developed by College Board to “reduce student stress and improve the test-day experience,” Score Choice allows students to pick which SAT Score Reports get sent to which universities.
What does this mean exactly? Say you take the SAT and wisely decide not to automatically send your score out, and say that when you get your score back (oh no!) you didn’t do nearly as well as you wanted. In this case you would probably do what anybody else would,
give up on your dreams of college and go work for McDonald’s take the SAT again.
To continue this hypothetical, let’s say the next time you take the SAT you prepare for it with a company like Test Masters. After going through their program and achieving a 300 point Score Increase, you finally have the score you need to get into the school you want.
But what happens when you apply and that school sees your first terrible score?! Nothing, because they don’t have to see it. When you do finally contact College Board to have your SAT score(s) sent to your university of choice, you can specify that you only want a specific score(s) sent to that school. Score Choice is completely confidential, so the school will have no idea that you have decided to share only one or some of your SAT scores…
… which brings us to a slight ethical dilemma. Some schools (*ahem-Ivy League-ahem*) consider it a violation of their academic honesty policy to use Score Choice. If you think about it, this makes sense. The students applying to these schools are among the most well-qualified and competitive in the country (and world) and a single bad test score can drastically decrease your chances of being accepted. Additionally, these schools make it a point of pride to conduct a thorough and holistic review of every single applicant before making an admission decision. If you don’t share all of your SAT scores with them, you are essentially cheating and circumventing their review process.
So what happens if you use Score Choice when you apply to an Ivy League school or similarly ranked university that doesn’t approve of expurgated Score Reports? Well, nothing actually; again, Score Choice is completely confidential. (To be clear: we would never recommend that students lie on or otherwise manipulate their college admission applications in a way that violates that school’s Academic Honesty policy)
The real question here, underlying and precipitating the introduction of Score Choice, is how many times should I take the SAT? While Score Choice functionally gives you the option to take the SAT as many times as you want with no real repercussions, the answer is ‘it depends.’
There are many reasons to limit the number of times you take the SAT. First, it is expensive ($50+ per test). Second, without preparation students rarely increase their scores to any significant degree from their first test to their second. Lastly, today’s college admission process is complicated enough without having to constantly revisit your SAT score. While being able to take the exam multiple times gives students flexibility (and reduces the very real stress of test day), being dependent on taking the exam multiple times can turn this opportunity into a disadvantage.
Score Choice could potentially lead students to obsess over their SAT score. Remember, the SAT is only one part of the college admissions process; albeit it is one of the most important parts, but it is still only one part of that process. There are dozens of other things you have to consider and accomplish (Essays, Resumes, Campus Visits, Interviews, Paying For College, etc.) before you are well and truly finished with applying for college.
Everything considered, it is much better to thoroughly prepare for the SAT and accomplish whatever goal you have set for yourself the first or second time you take the exam, than to study for it intermittently and rely on doing better the next time around.
Test Masters offers the most complete and comprehensive SAT preparatory course available, anywhere. Every Test Masters course comes with a 300 point Score Improvement Guarantee! Find out more about their SAT course here.