Lifestyle

SAT Score Choice ignored

I have the same gut-wrenching feeling that I remember experiencing 10 years ago when my daughter started kindergarten, as I realize that I have hit another milestone in her life. Today, she takes her first SAT that actually counts. I had counseled her to take the January test as a junior because I understood at the time that she would have the benefit of Score Choice. Score Choice is a practice readopted by the College Board that would allow students to take the SAT I reasoning and subjects tests multiple times with the option to submit only the scores from the test date (or sitting) that represent the highest scores. While this practice existed in previous years, it was not available as an option for current high school students until this past June. I rejoiced in learning about Score Choice being revisited, as I remember the benefit that my eldest daughter had when she could hide all evidence of her poor scores in history and chemistry, and submit only those scores that portrayed her in a favorable light.

I signed up for the January test date with the understanding that she, too, could ignore these scores and retake them again in March. Just as I was beginning to feel smug, the rules changed, leaving students, parents and college consultants reeling and confused. Many top schools have chosen to ignore Score Choice in its entirety and ask that applicants send all their scores from the SAT for review. Just last week, Yale was the latest to join the list of other selective schools jumping on this bandwagon. In fact, colleges offer five options for admission officers to choose from when reviewing scores. They can ask to see (1) the highest test scores across multiple test dates, (2) scores from the test date with the highest scores, (3) same as one with the assurance that only the highest scores will be considered, (4) same as two with similar assurance, or (5) all scores will be sent and considered.

If you were to visit the College Board’s Web site, you could read that Score Choice was reinstituted as a way to reduce student stress over testing. Critics, on the other hand, complained that allowing and encouraging multiple test sittings favored the wealthy, who could afford not only the registration fees but also the proliferating Test Prep business. While there are fee waivers for eligible students, they are granted only for two test sittings. Some felt that the intentions of the College Board were geared less toward students’ best interest and more toward their own pocketbooks, as students pony up $60 each time that they register for testing. Others felt that Score Choice was offered as a way to stay competitive with the increasingly popular ACT, which has always allowed students to submit only scores from the test date with their highest scores. Just to confuse the issue, some schools choose to supersize a student’s scores on the ACT, allowing students to submit their highest scores on the three subsets from multiple test dates.

Joan Franklin is the owner of The College Source, an independent college consulting practice (www.thecollegesource.org). She is also a certified school counselor in the Issaquah School District. She lives and practices on Mercer Island and can be reached at (206) 232-5626 or joanfranklin@thecollegesource.org.

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