The College of William and Mary will accept Score Choice, the new score-reporting service offered by CollegeBoard, which will allow students to send colleges only their best cumulative SAT examination score.
While Score Choice, according to CollegeBoard’s website, is “designed to reduce student stress and improve the test-day experience,” some top universities have already said that they will reject the option. Admissions officials from universities such as Yale University, Cornell University and the University of Pennsylvania say that Score Choice may have negative effects including encouraging students to take the test more times than necessary.
“The fear, of course, is that once you take away the sense that how many times you’ve taken it is seen, you’re going to contribute to the unbridled frenzy of folks that think already that they should take the test three or more times, which I think is excessive,” Dean of Admission Henry Broaddus said.
Even though Score Choice itself is free, some officials fear it will grant an unfair advantage to wealthier students who can afford to take the test multiple times.
Other officials, including Broaddus, think Score Choice solves a nonexistent problem, since their universities already combine the top section scores for a student across different test-dates.
“We have always been looking at the highest possible composite score. We’re comfortable combining critical reading from one date and math from another date,” Broaddus said. “We were never averaging, we were never holding against a student the fact that he or she took the test on multiple occasions, or that one seemed significantly lower of a score than others. So creating asituation where we don’t see how many times a student takes the test has no substantive bearing on our process.”
Still, Broaddus explains, implementing Score Choice may withhold contextual information that could be helpful for certain students.
“The great example of that is at a high school where it’s not the norm for students to be bound to four year institutions — where it’s a first generation student — and maybe the student took the test once and seeing that in conjunction with some other demographic factors might lead an admissions officer to say, ‘maybe this test is a little less representative of the student’s ability to succeed,’” Broaddus said. “Now, what we won’t know is, was this a student who took it once or was this a student who took it several times and that this is the highest? So, I sort of regret not having that information, but not to any degree that we’re willing to require [students to send all of their scores].”
Of the six options that the College Board gave to the member universities to reflect their stance on Score Choice, Broaddus said the College chose number two, in which it will accept Score Choice but encourages students to send scores from every testdate.
“What we’re saying is, just for the ease of applicants, we would recommend that you go ahead and designate William and Mary as a recipient of your test scores when you sit for the test, and what we’ll be doing on our side is combining your highest possible [score],” Broaddus said. “If, on the other hand, you are comforted by the ability to take them and then wait and send us those, that certainly is your prerogative and that’s going to be fine, too.”
Score Choice will first be available to students taking the March 2009 SAT. Score Choice will also enable students to choose which SAT II tests, regardless of test-date, to send to colleges.