You are on page 1of 2

ACT & SAT: Score Choice v.

by Roger Ochoa, director of Chyten Tutors & Test Preparation of Montclair, NJ ( and education blogger at Huffington Post.

It is a truth universally accepted among high school students that they would prefer to have only their best scores on the SAT Reasoning Test submitted to college admissions committees. Hence, the College Boards decision in Spring 2009 to implement a Score Choice has become an attractive option for students. This option should not be confused with Superscoring, which is a method many schools use to compute a students SAT or ACT. In the latter instance, a school will take the highest section score from each test sitting and combine them to compute the superscore. With Score Choice, the College Board has resurrected a practice it previously had allowed on the SAT Math II subject test until 2002. According to their website, College Board consulted with 3,600 students to arrive at the Score Choice policy. They reported students in all income and ethnic segments indicated their strong interest in having more control over their scores. The College Board states that the policy will reduce student stress and improve the test-day experience. Most higher education institutions have embraced Score Choice, including elite universities such as Harvard, Boston College and MIT. Most schools have definitive statements detailing their policy regarding Score Choice. For instance, Harvards admissions web site states: Students applying to Harvard are free to use the College Board's new Score Choice option and/or a similar option already offered by ACT. Score Choice rests on the same principle that has supported our admissions process for decades that applicants should be free to present their own best case. We have always counted an applicant's highest test scores and have allowed students to decide whether they wanted to send all their test scores. Equally significant is the decision by a number of high-profile schools to reject the Score Choice option. Most prominent among these include Yale, University of Pennsylvania, Stanford and Cornell. Their policy appears to be rooted on the premise that Score Choice creates an uneven playing field for lowincome students who cannot afford repeated testing or the expensive test preparation that often accompanies it. This rationale is most notably championed by Yale, which also seeks to discourage excessive testing and help to simplify testing issues for all applicants. So why Score Choice? Well, simply put, a students scores are not released unless the student has received and approved them. And it remains unclear, however, whether the reports sent will indicate a students decision to use Score Choice. In other words a non-Score Choice school like Yale may never find out if an applicants SAT scores were submitted as part of Score Choice. All this, of course, dovetails back to academic honesty. And after all, honesty is the best policy. In the case of superscoring, a student reports all SAT or ACT test scores and trusts that the target schools will consider the highest scores in any section on any test date. It is critical that applicants do their diligence before deciding whether to take their chances on superscoring. The University of California system, for example, does not accept superscoring. On the otherhand, the University of Southern
(cc) Roger Ochoa - Twitter, @ChytenMontclair

California will superscore applicants SATs. Notably, USC only superscores the SAT. The school does apply this practice for the ACT. Publicly, some high-profile college admissions officials claim that Score Choice wont impact their decisions on applications. differences that students might realize from taking the test over is pretty much noise to us, an MIT official has claimed So we do not ask students to submit all scores. In 2009, the National Association for College Admission Counseling released a report citing academic research which suggests average gains as a result of commercial test preparation are about 30 points on the SAT and less than one point on the ACT. At the same time the report notes that even marginal improvements can sometimes mean the difference between admissions and denial. It also admits that its findings on different types of test preparation require more research. Your local Chyten center is available with further resources to help you decide whether to opt for Score Choice or rely on a superscoring policy.

(cc) Roger Ochoa - Twitter, @ChytenMontclair