A common question for students who have taken the SAT multiple times is probably whether or not colleges see all SAT scores. The good news is that College Board has an option called Score Choice, which allows students to only send scores that best reflect their ability. The bad news is that not all colleges participate in the Score Choice option. If you’re considering using Score Choice, here’s a four-step process for making sure you make the best decision about how to send SAT scores to your colleges.
Step 1: Fully understand what Score Choice is
Before you get too excited, Score Choice doesn’t allow students to pick and choose only their best sections and send them to the colleges that they’re applying to. Students are required to send scores based on test date. This means that if you take the SAT three times in October, November, and March, and you score the highest on Math in November and the highest on Reading in March, you would have to send your total November and March scores to allow the receiving school(s) to see your best performance on both sections. Also, some schools only consider the highest score on a given test (more on that below), so you might be in a situation where you’d have to pick the one highest scoring test even though it doesn’t fully represent your ability.
The upside with Score Choice is that if you are not proud of your October scores, you wouldn’t have to send them and the colleges that are okay with Score Choice never have to find out that you took the October SAT. You can check out the College Board website if you have any additional questions about how Score Choice works.
Step 2: Find out the Score Choice policies for your colleges
Because schools vary in their SAT policies, you should definitely check this comprehensive list compiled by College Board. Here’s what to know about this list because it’s pretty intense and confusing:
- The easiest way to find the schools that you’re applying to is to hit crtl+f (command+f for Mac users) and type in one of your schools. Then you will see the school and one of three SAT policy stances:
- Highest Section: they consider the highest score for each section across all test dates for admissions purposes. This is also known as superscoring.
- Highest Sitting: they only consider the highest total score you had on a single test for admissions purposes.
- All Scores: they see all SAT scores for admissions purposes.
- You might be wondering what’s all this Version 1/Version 2 business. Version 1 basically refers to schools that are completely fine with the Score Choice policy. Version 2 refers to schools that allow the Score Choice policy, but they prefer to see all SAT scores anyway.
Step 3: Decide if you want to use Score Choice for the applicable schools
Although the Score Choice option is meant to relieve stress for students, the reality could be that it causes more stress than it alleviates because then you have to figure out which scores to send to which schools. There are certainly arguments as to why Score Choice is not necessary and why you shouldn’t worry about colleges seeing all your scores. Again, if you consider the schools that accept Score Choice, they all consider the highest superscore or the highest sitting score in their admissions decision anyway. So, if Score Choice seems like more work than it’s worth, it is totally okay if you decide not to use it. But it is good to have as an option in case you’re worried about leaving a bad impression on a school due to lackluster SAT scores, even though the Score Choice colleges claim to only consider your highest score.
Step 4: Cross your fingers and send your scores!
At the end of the day, don’t stress out too much about which option you choose because it’s not the worst thing if colleges do see all SAT scores. Once you’re absolutely done with the SAT and have a solid idea of the schools you’re applying, send those pesky scores off and call it a day! And maybe let yourself celebrate as well because you’ve certainly earned it!