The 3rd, 4th, or maybe 5th Time’s the Charm? SAT Allows Students To Choose Best Scores
Taking the SAT multiple times has widely been regarded as risky business. Since every score is recorded on the student’s College Board transcript, then surely it is best practice for students to be conservative, keep blemishes off their records, and avoid testing too much. Therefore, it’s no surprise that only 15% of students who take the SAT will presently sit for it three or more times.
That number, however, is about to get a big boost since the College Board’s recent (June 2008) announcement of its new score-choice policy for the class of 2010. This fall’s junior class and all successive classes will now be able to take the SAT and SAT Subject tests multiple times, record all of their scores on a College Board transcript, but then choose to send to colleges only their best scores from one administration while effectively suppressing scores from all others.
This score-choice option, long practiced by the ACT (the SAT’s one and only rival), now allows students to test consequence-free. Admissions officers will never know how many times a student tested; they’ll only know that the scores they receive are what the students chose to send, whether those scores result from one test administration or ten test administrations.
In other words, if that proverbial 3rd time isn’t quite yet the charm, then maybe that elusive, charming score awaits the student after the 4th, 5th, or 10th time? There’s little to stop students from try-try-trying, if at first they don’t succeed. Well, there’s little to stop them save three things—money, a commitment to academic balance, or the will to try—and herein lies some controversy.
Many high school counselors and college admissions officers argue that score choice benefits only the most affluent students whose parents can pay for SAT’s hefty fee of $45 a sitting. "This creates a penalty-free way for applicants who can afford the price of the test numerous times to shop for their best scores. For those students for whom cost is not a barrier, this is a tremendously good thing," said Barmak Nassirian, associate executive director of the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers.
Although the College Board waives and adjusts fees for some students on scholarship, access to everything from information about how to use score choice to a student’s advantage to expensive test preparation methods that could benefit the student’s repeated performances is not universally available to all. So, one major criticism is that this score-choice option further un-levels an already un-level playing field.
Reprinted with the permission of Academic Approach. © 2008 Academic Approach.
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