The SAT is kind of a big deal. But you, whether you’re a student or a parent, probably already know this. The College Board, creator of the SAT, knows this as well, and, believe it or not, they actually have some policies specifically designed to help you.
“OK, so how does the College Board help me/my child perform their best on the SAT?”
Glad you asked.
If you don’t know what score choice is, you should definitely do yourself a favor and read on. As we’ve already established, the SAT is a big deal. Not surprisingly, the pressure to perform well on test day can be overwhelming, and students often become extremely nervous, freaking out over how colleges will see their scores. Nobody wants a college to see a bad score.
Well good news from the world of standardized testing — if you don’t want a college to see a score, you don’t have to send it! Score Choice is a score-reporting feature instituted by the College Board that allows students to pick and choose which SAT (and SAT Subject Test) scores they send to colleges. One of the primary purposes of this feature is to help abate the intense pressure that students experience on test day, allowing them to perform at a higher level.
So Interesting — Tell Me More!
Suppose young Sarah is trying to get into Some University. Further suppose that Sarah has taken the SAT four times (not uncommon these days), and her first two test scores were, well, abysmal. After the second test, Sarah and her mom decided to prep for the exam with Testmasters, and as a result, her last two test scores much more accurately reflected her true abilities. Some University is a fairly competitive school, and Sarah and her mom worry that sending in low test scores might hurt Sarah’s chances of getting in. But have no fear, Sarah and mom — Score Choice to the rescue! By opting to use Score Choice, Sarah can put her best foot forward by including only her last two test scores on her official score report.
Of course, Score Choice is a completely optional (opt-in) feature. If you choose not to use Score Choice, the College Board will automatically send all your scores. There is also no limit on the number of times you can use Score Choice. Regardless of whether it’s your first score report or fifth, Score Choice will always be available to you when you send your score reports.
Another great consequence of Score Choice is that students can begin preparation for the SAT early without penalty and take it several times without worrying about underperforming. Going into a test thinking that your entire future might ride on your performance on this one test is hardly conducive to clear thinking; with Score Choice, you don’t have to worry about how one bad test might ruin your chances of getting into the school of your dreams. Start preparing early (as a junior, for instance), and take the SAT several times between your junior and senior years.
Some of you may be wondering whether or not you can superscore yourself with Score Choice. The answer is no. Some of you now may be wondering “What is a superscore? Is that like when I unlock that weird flying machine on Super Mario Bros?” The answer is: The term “superscore” refers to the combination of your best scores on each section from all your tests. For instance, if you got a 620 Verbal, 690 Math, and 600 Writing (1910 total) on your first test, and then you got a 690 Verbal, 590 Math, and 630 Writing (1910 total) on your second test, your superscore would be 690 Verbal, 690 Math, and 630 Writing (2010 total). Score Choice only lets you choose scores from complete tests. But don’t worry — many, many colleges will use your superscore rather than individual test scores.
There Must Be A Catch
Not really. Some colleges strongly urge (or even require) students to send complete score reports with all scores from all tests, but they cannot force the College Board to reveal all your scores. It is, of course, always better to adhere to your college’s policies, but nobody can make you send a score you don’t want to send. It’s just a matter of integrity.
Let’s say, for instance, that young Eric has decided to apply to Prestigious College. Prestigious College, on its admissions website, explicitly requests that applicants send all test scores with their applications. In this case, Eric has an ethical obligation to send in all of his test scores, regardless of the fact that he can use Score Choice. Should Eric and his parents decide to use Score Choice anyway (bad), the College Board will oblige the request, and Prestigious College will receive the cherry-picked score report. Prestigious College has no way of knowing whether or not Eric’s score report is complete — they will simply take it on good faith that it is. Of course, should Prestigious College ever find out that Eric misrepresented himself in his application, they may reject his application or take steps to remove him from their school…so don’t do this.
Different schools have different policies regarding the use of Score Choice. You absolutely need to do some research into the matter before sending your scores — for a quick reference guide to schools and their Score Choice policies, click here.
Score Choice neither costs extra nor affects the speed at which score report requests are processed, and it also does not affect the delivery time of score reports to colleges.
So In Other Words…
Score Choice is pretty great. It’s really great, actually. It may not be ‘jump-for-joy’ great like it is for this girl, but you should still be pretty happy about it. College admissions these days are so competitive — can you afford not to take advantage of every opportunity?
If you want to take advantage of Score Choice, you have two options to learn more: go to the College Board website or call toll-free customer service.