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SAT Score Choice: Understanding how Score Choice affects your child's college applications

Score Choice is a program set forth by The College Board that now gives students the option to put their best foot forward when applying to colleges. But before opting in, students and parents should do their homework on the ins and outs of the policy.

How does it work?
Previously, all of a student's SAT scores were sent to the colleges to which they applied. So if a student did poorly on his or her first try, the college had access to that set of scores. With Score Choice, students now have the option of withholding a lower set of scores, eliminating some of the pressure to get a high score the first (or even second) time around.

A student who utilizes Score Choice is not limited to sending only one set of scores, however. He or she may send one or many sets of scores to particular schools. Students will be reminded to send their scores via e-mail.

What are the advantages?
Testing day can be nerve-wracking for many students. Even those who prepare with tutoring and practice tests may have trouble once they're in the room, taking the test for real. By using Score Choice, a student can take a trial run while getting the full test experience.

Score Choice also enables a student to pick and choose, in accordance with a college's score use policy, which set or sets of scores to submit to a college. Having this option gives students more control in the college application process and reduces some of the stress associated with the standardized testing process.

Should my child participate?
Score Choice is completely optional; students are still allowed to send all sets of scores to all schools. Students can select up to four colleges to send SAT scores to at the time of registration. These four score reports are included in the basic registration fee. However, if students 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. That being said, there are some advantages to utilizing the four free score reports. For one thing, they are free. If a student waits to send score reports until after viewing his or her scores, there is an additional fee ($11.25 per score report). Additionally, sending scores early can indicate interest in a college; a student may be more likely to be invited to information sessions, campus tours, and other events.

Because Score Choice enables students to choose which set or sets of SAT scores to send to colleges, StudyPoint recommends that students wait to begin the score send process until after they've seen all their SAT scores. Though it's convenient to select up to four colleges when a student registers for the SAT, students will not be able to view those scores before they are sent to colleges. If a student does not perform as desired on the test, he or she cannot prevent those scores from going to the colleges he or she selected at the time of registration. Though an additional cost is incurred if a student waits to send scores until after viewing them, the extra fees are worth it when you consider that the SAT is offered seven times per year and that students often take it more than once. Many students find that their scores improve from one test date to the next. Waiting until all test scores have been received and reviewed gives students more options when submitting scores.
To access a downloadable Score Choice presentation, which provides step-by-step instructions for utilizing Score Choice and navigating the score send process, visit The College Board.

It's optional for colleges, too.
Score Choice is also optional for colleges, and many have decided to require applicants to send all sets of scores. A college will receive only the scores a student sends, so it is important to know the policies of each college to which your child applies. To determine the score use policies for your child's prospective colleges or universities, view the College Board's comprehensive list of colleges and their score use policies at collegeboard.com.

Possible policies include:

  • 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. Many encourage students to send as many sets of scores as possible, as the applicant's record is updated each time a student submits a score report. For schools that use this policy, it would be in a student's best interest to submit all sets of scores. Doing so will ensure that the school receives and selects the highest section scores across all test dates. Say a student receives a low math score but high critical reading and writing scores on one test date, but a high math score and lower critical reading and writing scores on another test date. If the student chooses not to submit both sets of scores, the student will not have his or her best scores in each section considered.
  • Single Highest Test Date: Colleges that choose this option consider the highest total score for one test date. Many of these colleges still encourage students to send as many sets of scores as possible, but will only consider the highest individual test date score. It is up to the student to decide whether he or she wants to submit just his or her highest set of scores or all sets of scores.
  • All SAT Scores Required: All scores are considered in the decision-making process; therefore, prospective students are required to submit their scores from each testing date.

The Bottom Line
When it comes down to it, the Score Choice option should not affect the number of times a student takes the test. Studies have shown that students who take the test twice often see moderate gains in their scores. Taking the test more than twice, however, is generally not beneficial, and it can get expensive and time-consuming. So while the pressure to get a high score the first time may not be as great, a student should not look at his or her first testing day as a throwaway.

Taking advantage of StudyPoint's one-on-one SAT tutoring is a great way to ensure your child does well on test day. Individualized attention will maximize your child's efforts and increase his or her confidence, enabling him or her to reach his or her potential without having to take the test multiple times.

Things to Remember

  • Score Choice is optional for students. Those who do not want to use it may continue to send all scores. If a student opts not to use Score Choice, he or she should utilize the four free score reports during the registration process.
  • Students may choose to send scores from a particular testing day but may not choose scores of individual sections from different testing days. If your child is unsure about which scores to send, please feel free to contact StudyPoint's Enrollment Team at 1-87STUDYPOINT (1-877-883-9764) for guidance.
  • Students and their high schools will continue to receive all scores, regardless of whether they use Score Choice.
  • Students should keep an eye on application deadlines and requirements. Depending on a college's method of receiving scores, it could take several weeks for a college to process a student's SAT scores. Additionally, students should pay close attention to the score use policy of each school they are applying to in order to ensure that the appropriate sets of scores are delivered to the appropriate schools. Once a student is ready to submit his or her scores, he or she should log in to his or her College Board student profile to begin the score send process.
  • A student who takes the ACT as well as the SAT should remember that the tests are administered by two different entities. The ACT has its own Score Choice-like program, and a student's decision to participate or not participate in one will not affect the score distribution of the other test.
  • Although Score Choice may make it tempting to take the SAT half a dozen times in the hopes of getting the highest score possible, StudyPoint advises students not to get carried away. While test scores are an important part of a student's college application, college admissions officers consider many other factors.

If you or your child have any questions about the College Board's Score Choice program, please reach out to a member of our Enrollment Team at 1-87STUDYPOINT (1-877-883-9764). We'll be happy to review your child's testing plan and prospective schools to help determine if the Score Choice option best suits your child's needs.

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