What is the SAT Score Choice?

And is Score Choice helping or hurting your application to colleges?

Beginning back in 2009, students that take the SAT are presented with a new wrinkle. Rather than submit every test taken on the SAT, applicants could choose to only present their best day. Bad scores could be hidden with no penalty.

The change hasn’t come without its share of controversy, though. Some colleges and universities aren’t on board with Score Choice, and refuse to accept it. Other schools simply choose to allow it. Let’s take a look at some of the implications of Score Choice.

How Score Choice Affects You, the College-bound Student

  • You can take as many tests as you like. Some students are even starting to take the SAT their freshmen and sophomore years – not with high hopes of getting their best scores, but to gain experience taking the test. A bad test score won’t hurt you at colleges that accept score choice.
  • Low-income students might be hurt. The SAT isn’t expensive – only $45 per test. However, for families barely scraping by, they might not be able to afford multiple tests.
  • Stress is reduced. Taking the SAT is one of the more stressful things for high school students seeking college admission. Knowing that you can throw out a bad day helps take some of the edge off.
  • There’s a chance you could hurt your overall score. Many schools take the best score from each individual section – but, with Score Choice, you can only send a single day’s test. You might send your highest overall score, but find that you did better in certain sections in other tests. With Score Choice, you won’t get credit for those better performances.
  • The application becomes more complex. At the moment, a number of colleges have refused to accept Score Choice – many more are on the fence, while some have declared themselves entirely open to Score Choice.
  • If you submit to numerous colleges with the common application, you might need to create three versions of your application. One for Score Choice schools, one for test-optional schools, and another for schools that want to see every test. It’s doable, but adding moving parts only increases the chance of making an error.

Many colleges claim that they throw out low scores when looking at applications.  The bottom line is you should never take the test lightly – you might end up applying to a school that wants to see all test scores. What’s more – Until you know where you’re applying, assume all your scores will be visible.

Finally, it’s worth looking at each school’s policy before deciding what to submit. If they take the highest score for each section to create a composite total, you can easily do yourself harm by limiting yourself to a single day’s scores.

To your successful college search,

Scott Weingold
Publisher, CollegeMadeSimple.com


Related Articles:

5 Proven Ways to Increase the SAT Score

The Best Way to Improve SAT Scores

9 Ways to Increase the SAT Score by 203 Points or More

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Editor's Note: Scott Weingold has been ranked the #1 “College Financial Aid Expert Worth Knowing About” in the entire country by CollegeStats.org.  He has co-authored the book, “The Real Secret To Paying For College. The Insider’s Guide To Sending Your Child To College – Without Spending Your Life’s Savings.” Scott also publishes a popular free online newsletter, “College Funding Made Simple" which reveals insider’s tips, methods, and strategies for beating the high cost of college.

Scott is the co-founder and a principal of the widely renown College Planning Network, LLC – the nation’s largest and most reputable college admissions and financial aid planning firm. CPN is a proud member of the Better Business Bureau, the National Association of College Funding Advisors, the National Association for College Admission Counseling, the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators and the Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education.

Scott, along with his college funding advisory team, helps thousands of families throughout the country with their college planning needs and offers a series of free educational webinars and workshops on “How To Pay For College Without Going Broke In The Process!” He's been featured or mentioned in The Philadelphia Inquirer, Yahoo News, TheStreet.com, Voice America with Ron Adams, Crains Cleveland Business, and on Cleveland Connection with James McIntyre.  Scott has published numerous articles and is a professional speaker who has addressed thousands of audiences online and offline throughout the United States.  His actionable insights and candid, open approach have earned him & his team numerous media interviews, citations, and speaking opportunities, and his free online video workshop is one of the Internet’s most widely viewed pieces in the college funding space.