College & Workforce Readiness

Another University Allows ‘Score Choice’ on the SAT

By Catherine Gewertz — August 08, 2016 2 min read
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The University of Pennsylvania has changed its testing policy, and will no longer require that applicants submit the scores from every SAT they take.

The change, first reported over the weekend by Nancy Griesemer, who runs College Explorations, a college-advising company in Oakton, Va., puts Penn in an expanding majority of schools that allow students to submit the SAT scores from the date they performed the best.

The College Board used to require that all scores be submitted with college applications, a policy designed to address the advantage of wealthier students who could afford to pay for test prep and take the admissions exam multiple times. The idea was to allow admissions officers to see the pattern of retaking the exam.

But in 2009 the College Board changed its policy, instituting a practice called “Score Choice,” which allows students to send only specific test dates to colleges. It says on its website that Score Choice would “reduce student stress and improve the test-day experience” and would help students “put your best foot forward.” (The ACT has always allowed students to choose which test scores to submit.)

Penn didn’t post the announcement about its policy change on its website, but its admissions website says that students can submit the SAT scores they choose. Inside Higher Ed reported that an archived version of the page from earlier this year said “Penn requires applicants to submit their entire testing history; we do not participate in Score Choice.”

The College Board’s own list, from 2015, shows the variety of institutional policies governing test-score submission. Some institutions require and consider all scores; some allow students to choose which scores to submit and consider whatever is submitted, while others consider only the highest scores that are submitted.

The list also makes it clear that it’s a small minority of institutions that still require students to submit scores from all the dates on which they take the SAT. The list includes Cornell University, the City University of New York campuses, Georgetown University, the University of California campuses, and some University of Texas campuses.

Stanford University, which also still requires the scores from all of a student’s SAT sittings, makes its viewpoint clear in a statement on its website:

“Official scores from all test dates must be sent to Stanford directly from the ACT or the College Board (the reporting agency for the SAT) or both if the applicant has taken the ACT and the SAT. Applicants may not use the College Board’s Score Choice feature or ‘hide’ any scores with either testing agency.”

In her blog post, Griesemer noted that Penn’s move to allow Score Choice came during a period when it also stopped requiring the SAT or ACT with the essay portion, and made SAT subject tests optional. She predicted that Penn will get more applicants as a result of the changes, since students who might have been concerned about the way their multiple test sittings might look might now feel freer to apply.

The College Board tried “score choice” with the subject tests, too, but dropped that nine-year experiment in 2002 because it concluded that the practice gave wealthy students an edge. Its guide to Score Choice, however, shows that it now allows the practice with the subject tests as well.

For more on college-admissions tests, see:

A version of this news article first appeared in the High School & Beyond blog.