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college | opinions & advice | positioning yourself for admission to college
SAT Score Choice
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Here's what you need to know about the "score choice" feature on the SAT.
What is score choice?
Score choice allows the test-taker (you) to decide which SAT scores to release to prospective colleges. In the past, colleges would automatically receive all of your scores.
Score choice is a free option that you choose when you register for the test. If you do not choose it, your prospective colleges will continue to receive all of your scores.
Does that mean colleges will see only my best scores on each section?
No. Score choice allows you to release your entire SAT Reasoning Test (formerly known as the SAT I) results from one or more SAT test dates. If you take the test in October, for example, you can release all of your section scores (Math, Critical Reading, and Writing) from that date or none of your section scores from that date. You're not allowed to pick and choose by section.
The rules for the SAT Subject Tests (formerly known as the SAT IIs) are a little different. You can release any SAT Subject Test score from any date. For example, if you took both US History and Math Level 2 in June, you could release the History while holding back the Math.
Will colleges care if I use score choice?
It depends. Some don't mind if you use score choice. But most still want to see all of your scores.
The College Board (the company that runs the SAT) says that it does not notify schools if a student is using score choice. That said, if a school expects to receive all of your scores, you should send in all of your scores. It is not a good idea to be dishonest or sneaky at any point in the college admissions process.
So…should I use score choice?
We recommend that you release all of your scores from the SAT Reasoning Test.
Here's why: most colleges want to see all of your scores. And most colleges already consider only your highest scores (by section or by test date) when making admissions decisions.
Let's say you take the SAT Reasoning Test in June and earn a 610 Math, 520 Critical Reading and 580 Writing, for a cumulative score of 1710. Then you take it again in October and earn a 590 Math, 640 Critical Reading and 620 Writing, for a much better cumulative score of 1850.
You might be tempted to use score choice and withhold your June scores. But that would be a mistake. Sending scores from both test dates will help you with schools that consider your highest score from each section (since you earned a higher Math score in June), and it won't hurt you with schools that consider only your highest set of scores. So the mix–and–match schools would give you credit for a cumulative score of 1870, and the highest test date schools would put you down for an 1850.
If you bomb one of the SAT Subject Tests, it may make sense to withhold the score. Just make sure that this does not violate the policy of any of your prospective schools.
If you're planning to use score choice to sit for the SAT six or seven times, you might want to think again. Your score is unlikely to rise significantly after the third time. Your time, effort and resources would be better invested in good preparation.