When the College Board announced the SAT Score Choice option (which allows students to send to schools only the test scores they select) four years ago, it said the move was one that would reduce test anxiety by allowing students to “hide” scores they weren’t happy with. The consensus was that that made sense (and, less benevolently, that it would also increase revenue for the College Board).
When you register for the SAT, you can select up to four schools to receive your score report. Since the registration period for each test extends to nine days after the test date, you can select those schools either before or quickly after the test. Either way, you won’t know your scores when you choose the free reports. Score Choice allows you to send select scores months or even years later, at a cost of $11. per score report.
But using Score Choice isn’t simply an anxiety reducer vs. cost equation. In fact, there are four compelling reasons you should consider not using it, no matter your anxiety or income level:
• Using Score Choice means schools get your scores later than those from students who didn’t use the option, and early scores can be interpreted as demonstrating strong interest (read here about why that important factor could translate into acceptance or rejection).
• Your high school transcript may list all scores, including those you didn’t want to send, anyway. They receive them all, and won’t know which one(s) you want to hide. Check with your guidance counselor to see if you can remove a score you don’t want to report.
• Many schools reject Score Choice, and require that you send a complete report including all test dates (check here for the most recent information about school reporting policies).
• Many schools create a composite of your best scores from multiple test dates; if your highest math score was from October and your critical reading and writing scores were highest in March and May respectively, they’ll use those three. If you send only October and March, you’ve erased that best writing score.
The exceptionally good UVa Admissions blog Notes from Peabody bemoaned last fall the 300+ phone calls received from students “freaking out” over how to send scores. “I fear Score Choice has really complicated the process of sending scores,” noted Dean J. The bottom line is that it’s important to check the reporting policies of schools you’re interested in. When you register for the SAT, sign up for free score reports for the schools that require scores from every test date. And carefully consider whether the added expense, and the none-too-subtle message that you’ve either got something to hide or you aren’t serious about a school, that come with Score Choice. It probably isn’t worth it.
New to college admissions? Want to keep up with news, trends, and deadlines? Click on subscribe to receive notification of every new National College Admissions Examiner column.