Friday, October 16, 2009

SAT Score Choice & Common App Solutions

It seems some media outlets jumped the gun in their report on the Common Application's solution to the dilemma of SAT Score Choice. Just a few weeks ago, publications indicated that the Common App's recommendation for students who are faced with creating just one application when some colleges ask for all SAT scores and others will allow applicants to pick and choose which to send was to "leave the scores section blank." In an update on their site today, the Common App now states that this isn't actually their recommendation...well, sort of.

Common App clearly recognizes the confusion that SAT Score Choice has created for applicants. Score Choice is supposed to offer students the "perk" of taking the SAT as many times as they like but only letting colleges see their best scores. Trouble is, some colleges don't honor score choice and ask to see scores from every test sitting a student undertakes. And since the Common App is meant to be "common" to its member schools (some of which honor Score Choice, some of which don't), it's not possible to create different score-sending-selections for different schools.

So what should applicants do? There are three choices:

1) Leave the score reporting section of the Common App blank and order SAT scores to be sent to schools according to their individual requirements. The drawback here is that many schools use the Common App score reporting to evaluate eligibility in advance of the receipt of hard-copy test scores. 

2) Create alternate applications for schools depending on their SAT reporting requests. Common App doesn't advertise this option, because, again, the Common App is philosophically intended to be "common" to member schools, but it is possible to create more than one version of an application. 

3) Report all scores to all schools. This option frightens a lot of applicants, who might have taken the test several times and had widely varying scores. They wonder if seeing their lower scores as well as their higher ones will influence colleges' view of their applications. Most colleges that require all scores indicate that they only "officially" consider the highest scores, but feel they get important information about an applicant by seeing the results of all sittings. 

Our recommendation: Report SAT scores either by creating alternate versions or reporting all scores to all schools. The CollegeBoard and Common App will no doubt create a solution for this dilemma in the future, but for current seniors, to send or not to send is just one more choice they'll have to make on the long road to college. 

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