Should You Send All of Your SAT Scores to Colleges?

A new SAT score-reporting policy lets students decide which scores are sent to colleges.

Good news for all of you who struggle with standardized tests. Students can now choose which, and how many, of their SAT scores to send to colleges. Starting this year, College Board, the association that administers the SAT, has introduced a new score-reporting policy that lets students choose which SAT results they want college admissions offices to use for determining acceptance. Before the introduction of this policy, called Score Choice, students were required to send scores from all the SAT tests they took.

Here’s how it works: If you decide to use Score Choice, you select the SAT scores you want to send by SAT test date, and you choose the SAT Subject Tests you want to send by the individual test. If you choose to send scores from a test, you must send all scores from that test (critical reading, math, writing); you can’t choose to send only your math scores, for example. There is no additional cost for using Score Choice, and sending one score costs the same as sending multiple scores.

What does this mean for students? If you aren’t a strong test taker and choose to retake the SAT test multiple times to improve your score, schools won’t see all your less-than-stellar attempts, which could make your application look stronger. It may also reduce your stress levels on the day of the SAT test, since you know you’ll get to decide whether schools see those particular scores or not.

But wait, before you sign up for every upcoming SAT test date, there’s a catch: Some colleges and universities have their own policies regarding the reporting of standardized test scores and may request that you send all scores when you apply. As you’re performing your college search, find out each school’s policies regarding SAT test scores. If you find a college that requires students to submit all of their scores, then be sure you comply with that policy.

Quick Tips

  • Use the Campus Explorer School Comparison Tool to compare average SAT scores for the schools you’re considering to see whether your scores meet their posted averages or if you should consider retaking the test.
  • Go to College Board to find out the score-use practices of the college and universities you’re applying to.
  • Take the PSAT/NMSQT & the PLAN (Pre-ACT) test and practice exams for the SAT and SAT Subject Tests. The better prepared you are for the SAT test, the better you’re likely to do – which means you may not need to retake the test.
  • Consider taking the ACT test instead of, or in addition to, the SAT test. Although both are standardized tests, the ACT focuses on what you’ve learned in your classes, while the SAT tests how well you’re able to apply what you’ve learned, so you’ll want to determine which test is right for you.
  • When should you take the SAT test? Generally, the end of your junior year is a good time, since you’ll have several test dates during your senior year if you need to retake the test.
  • Need SAT prep help? These programs can help:
    • Princeton Review
    • Kaplan Test Prep
    • Sylvan Learning
  • The importance of standardized tests varies greatly by school. While some colleges and universities are making the tests optional for admissions; other schools are requiring that students submit scores from all their tests. Keeping a list of where the schools you’re applying to fall on this spectrum will help you determine how much time and effort to devote to preparing for standardized tests.

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