Among the many new things you will encounter as you prep for the SAT is a score reporting option called Score Choice. Score Choice can be confusing, but never fear–we’ve got the explanation right here!
What is Score Choice?
Score Choice is a free program instituted by the College Board to help reduce the stress surrounding both the SAT Reasoning Test and the SAT Subject Tests. If you have taken the SAT multiple times, Score Choice allows you to submit only your single best test score to prospective colleges. For example, if you take the SAT in January, June, and November, achieving your best score in November, you can choose to send all three score reports or just the score report from the November test. If you have a bad test result or two, that sounds great doesn’t it? But, there are downsides, and you must think through your decision about whether to use Score Choice very carefully. Let’s take a closer look and see why.
How does Score Choice work?
Score Choice is run through your online account at CollegeBoard.com. When you sign up to take the SAT, you are able to choose four colleges to receive your official score report. The College Board will release your results to these four schools for free; you can request your score report be sent to additional colleges for a fee. In your online account, each of these schools will be listed on your “Score Recipient List” page. Next to each school are two buttons under the heading “Scores to Send”—you can select “All Scores” or “Choose Scores.” If you do not make a choice, all of your scores are automatically sent to a university’s admissions office.
Despite the program’s title, you really do not have much choice on which scores to send. When you click “Choose Scores” for a specific college, the school’s score reporting policy is displayed on the next page. It is imperative that you follow the college’s requirements even if it means submitting some less than desirable test results.
That said, let’s consider an example of how the program works. Jennifer, a student from one of our October SAT classes, took the SAT in May, June, and October, scoring a 1510, 1430, and 1860, respectively. She is applying to City University and would like to submit only her October score since it is 350 points higher than any other attempt. But when Jennifer clicks on “Choose Scores,” she finds that City University requires all SAT scores. At this point she needs to return to the previous page and select “All Scores.” Hopefully, City University will be like most colleges and consider her best Math, Reading, and Writing section scores from all three of the test administrations.
The majority of colleges and universities still require all SAT scores be submitted, so while the program is beneficial in theory, Score Choice does little to help most students. To learn your prospective college’s score reporting policy, visit the College Board’s website.
When should I use Score Choice?
There are a few schools that only consider the results of a single test administration, and if your previous test scores were disappointing in all three sections, then Score Choice is an ideal solution for you.
But, if your highest score in each section was not on the same test on the same day, then it is usually best to submit all scores. Let’s return to the test results of Jennifer for a moment and review them by date and section:
As you can see, Jennifer achieved her highest score in Math in May (600) and her highest scores in Reading and Writing in October (630 and 650, respectively). If we combine these three scores, her total SAT score is 1880, which is 20 points higher than her combined score on the October test. The good news for Jennifer is that most colleges and universities use this system—creating an SAT score that uses the highest score by section across multiple administrations—in their admissions process. If she were to select Score Choice and submit just her October score, she would be losing 20 valuable points.
If you have read your prospective college’s score reporting policy on CollegeBoard.com and are still unsure about whether they consider scores by section or by date, call the admissions department. Consider the phone call an opportunity to “sell yourself” in an impromptu interview, as the admissions officer with whom you speak is likely to make a note about your call and put it into your admissions folder. Appearing polite, inquisitive, and interested in the university can go a long way in helping you achieve acceptance to the school.
Score Choice may also prove beneficial for students taking the SAT Subject Tests. If you take the World History test in December and March and produce disappointing results, but take it again in June and score well, there is no reason to submit those December and March score reports to a prospective college. It’s not like the SAT Reasoning Test, where an admissions officer can pick and choose your best section scores. They simply need to see your best results from a single administration.
We generally recommend that you submit all of your SAT Reasoning Test scores to prospective colleges unless you are applying to a school that only requests a single test administration score report.