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Everything you need to know about Score Choice

Everything you need to know about Score Choice

Score Choice is a free score-reporting program created by College Board that gives students the option to choose the SAT scores by test date and SAT Subject Test scores by individual tests that they send to colleges, in accordance with each institution’s stated score-use practice. 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 reports or just the score report from the November test. According to the College Board’s website, Score Choice was designed to reduce student stress and improve the test-day experience. In this article, we will take an in-depth look at Score Choice, discuss the pros and cons of using Score Choice, and provide a list of top schools’ score reporting policies.

students studying in a room

Overview

Different universities and colleges have different Score Choice practices. Some schools require only the single highest test date score, while others require you to send all of your scores. Some schools even allow you to send a superscore, which refers to the combination of your best scores on each section from all your tests. For instance, if you got a 620 EBRW and 690 Math (1310 total) on your first test, and then you got a 690 EBRW and a 620 Math (1310 total) on your second test, your superscore would be 690 EBRW and 690 Math (1380 total). While this option is not available with Score Choice, many colleges use the superscoring method rather than individual test scores when considering applicants. Colleges ultimately have the final say over what scores applicants should submit and how those scores will be used. It is the responsibility of the student to carefully review the score-reporting policy of each college to which they plan to apply.

  1. Highest Section Scores Across Test Dates: Colleges that choose this option consider the highest score of each section of the test across all test dates. For this option, it is in a student’s best interest to submit all sets of scores. This will ensure that the school receives and selects the highest section scores across all test dates.
  2. Single Highest Test Date: Colleges that choose this option consider the highest total score for one test date. It is up to the student to decide if they want to submit their highest set of scores or all sets of scores.
  3. All SAT Scores Required: All scores are considered in the decision-making process; therefore, students are required to submit their scores from each testing date.

Advantages of using Score Choice

Test Day is a nerve-wracking experience for many students. Even those who prepared with tutoring and practice tests may have trouble once they are physically in the room, with the test in front of them. In this regard, Score Choice may prove beneficial to a student since it will act as a trial run for getting the full test day experience. Additionally, since students get to choose which sets of scores they want to submit to colleges, they are thus given a bit more control in the college application process.

pencil and test paper

Since Score Choice is optional, once all is said and done, students can still choose to send all sets of scores to all schools. With the basic registration package, students can select up to four colleges to send SAT scores at the time of registration. However, if they utilize this option, they will not be able to view their scores from that test date before the score reports are sent to those four colleges. One benefit of utilizing the four free score reports is that it’s, well, free. If a student waits to send score reports until after viewing their score, there is an additional fee of $11.25 per score report. Another benefit to sending scores early is that it indicates interest in a college, which may lead to a student being invited to info sessions, campus tours, and other events.

How does Score Choice work?

Score Choice is run through your College Board account. When you sign up for the SAT, you are able to select four colleges to receive your official score report. Each of these schools will be listed on your “Score Recipient List” page. You can select to send “All Scores” or “Choose Scores” to each college listed. If you make no choice, all of your scores will be automatically sent to the university admissions office. One notable feature of this site is that it lists each school’s specific score reporting policy.

test paper and pencil in a table

 Who should use Score Choice?

There are a few schools that only consider the results of a single test administration. If your previous test scores were lackluster 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 date, then it is best to submit all scores. 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 scores reports to a prospective college. After all, 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.

students taking a test in a table

If your college of choice superscores, there might not be much of a reason to use Score Choice. Other schools may be interested in your “highest sitting,” which means they won’t take a math score from one date and a reading score from another. In this case, it might be wise to use Score Choice and send the score report from your best test date. Keep in mind that some schools simply do not accept Score Choice, instead of requiring students to send all available scores. Let’s take a look at which of the top schools in the United States accept Score Choice.

UniversityScore Choice AllowedRecommends Submitting All ScoresRequires all Scores
Princeton University        X
Harvard University        X
Columbia University        X
MIT        X
Yale University         X
Stanford University        X
University of Chicago        X
Upenn        X
Northwestern University        X
Duke University        X
John Hopkins University        X
California Institute of Technology        X
Dartmouth College        X
Brown University        X
University or Notre Dame        X
Vanderbilt University        X
Cornell University        X
Rice University        X
WashU in St. Louis        X
UCLA        X
Emory University        X
UC Berkeley        X
USC        X
Georgetown Univeristy         X
Carnegie Mellon University         X
University of Michigan        X
Wake Forest University        X
University of Virginia            X
Georgia Institute of Technology        X
NYU        X
Tufts University        X
University of North Carolina        X

So, should my child participate?

As you now know, Score Choice is completely optional, students are still allowed to send all sets of scores to all of the schools that they want to apply to. Students are allowed to select up to four colleges and send SAT scores to at the time of their registration.

These four score reports are already included in the fee that you pay for registration. With that being said, if students take advantage of this option, they will not be able to view their scores from that test date before the score reports are sent to those four colleges. Surely, there are advantages to taking advantage of those four free score reports. For one, they are free. Applying to colleges can get absolutely expensive, with each application sometimes costing upwards of $75. On top of that, if a student waits to send score reports until after viewing his or her individual scores, they will have to pay an additional fee of $11.25.

a student answering an exam

On top of that, if a student does send their scores early, it can act as a signal to that school that they are especially interested in that school. It might make a student more likely to receive something like a campus visit, information session, and other application events.

Thanks to the fact that Score Choice enables students which score set or sets of SAT scores that will be seen by the colleges that they apply to, we at IvyCollegeAdmit recommend that students wait to be the process of sending scores until after they have seen every single one of their SAT scores. While it is certainly easier to select the four colleges or universities that you want your score sent to when your student registers for the SAT, it is also a pretty sizable risk.

Obviously, if a student does not perform as well as he or she wanted to on the test, there is nothing that he or she can do to prevent those scores from going to the colleges that he or she selected at the time of registration. While the additional cost will have to be paid if your student waits to send score until after they are able to view them, the extra fee is certainly worth it when you consider the fact that the SAT is offered a total of seven times per year and that a high schooler can take it as many times as they want.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the scores of students who take the SAT often improve with every test taken. While each test is of course unique, the format is something that can trip students up as well. The more experience within that format, the more likely students are to enter the test feeling ready and confident in their ability to succeed.

Remember, it is optional for schools as well

As you probably were able to put together thanks to the table above, Score Choice is not only optional for the students who are taking the SAT, but also for the schools who will be receiving your scores. Many schools have actually decided to require high school applicants to send all their sets of schools. If the school or schools that you are looking to apply to were not covered in the table above, you can find out the Score Choice policy of every school at the College Board’s website.

When it comes to what policies the schools that your student is interested in applying to, here is a quick breakdown of the possible policies regarding Score Choice and the SAT.

  • High Section Scores Across Test Scores: Colleges that choose this option will consider the highest score of each section of the SAT across all of the tests that they take. Many schools actually encourage students to send as many sets of scores as possible, as the student’s record in that school will be updated every time a student submits a new score. When it comes to schools that use this scoring policy, it is considered to be in the best interest of the school to submit all sets of scores. The reason for this is is because it allows the school to combine all of their highest scores. For example, if a student scores high in math but low in critical reading and writing in one exam, but then do the opposite in the next test, the school will combine both the high math score and the high critical reading and writing scores. If the student chooses not to submit both sets of scores, the student will not have his or her best score in each section considered by the school.
  • Single Highest Test Score: There are some colleges that choose this option and consider the highest total score of one test. With that being said, many colleges still encourage students to send as many sets of scores as possible.
  • All SAT Scores Required: In this option, all scores are considered in the decision-making process, for that reason, students who are looking to apply are required to submit the scores from each testing date they participate in.

Final things to remember

Finally, there is quite a lot that you should remember about Score Choice as a student who is dreaming of going to one of the top colleges or universities in the country.

  • Score Choice is OPTIONAL for students. Those who do not want to use it do not have to and schools will not look at your score any different whether you use Score Choice or not.
  • Students can choose to send scores from a specific testing day but are not allowed to choose scores of individual sections from different testing days. If you are unsure about what score you can send, contact us at IvyCollegeAdmit and we will break this down in detail for you.
  • Students and their high school will receive all SAT scores regardless of whether or not they are using Score Choice.
  • Students should make sure to keep an eye on important application deadlines and requirements. Depending on a college’s chosen method of receiving scores, it could take as much as several weeks for a school to process a specific SAT score. On top of that, students should make sure to pay close attention to the score use policy of each school that they are planning on applying to in order to make sure that they are sending the correct sets of scores.
  • Any student who is taking both the ACT and the SAT should make sure to remember that these tests are both administered by two separate entities. In fact, the ACT has its own program that behaves similarly to how Score Choice behaves for the SAT.
  • Finally, it is important to remember that while Score Choice gives you an option to present your best possible combination of scores on the SAT, there is no need to get over obsessed with this aspect of the college application process. That is especially true when you are possibly sacrificing your focus on other important aspects of the application. While test scores are certainly an important part of a student’s college application, college admissions officers consider many other factors.

Conclusion

You can see, most of the top schools accept Score Choice. And while having the option of Score Choice is a good reason to take the SAT more than once, since students always improve when they retake the SAT, we discourage students from taking the SAT more than two consecutive times. In addition to the very real burnout this could cause, we believe you should be able to achieve your target score within two tests if you are truly putting in the effort. Otherwise, the money spent on retaking the SAT could be better spent on test prep.

 

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