The College Board has introduced a new policy that will allow students to choose which SAT Reasoning test scores they submit to colleges. The policy, Score Choice, will take effect in March, and so will be operational when current high school juniors apply to college next year.
Dean of Admissions William R. Fitzsimmons ’67 said that Harvard admissions will embrace the Score Choice policy and he believes that it will reduce stress among applicants.
“I think there are people who might end up doing better on the test if they realize this won’t part of their permanent record,” Fitzsimmons said in an interview on Monday. “I think the whole idea is this policy lets students step back a little...and own their own scores. They took the test and went through the process...and ultimately they should make the decision about whether or not to send the scores to the colleges.”
Fitzsimmons added that since Harvard counts each of a student’s highest subscores—in Critical Reading, Mathematics, and Writing—it might still be advantageous to report more than one score.
But acceptance of Score Choice has not been uniform among the nation’s top universities, leaving it unclear what effect, if any, the policy will have on the admissions scene.
“I think one of the difficult parts of this policy is that it is shining more light on testing and that doesn’t reduce stress,” said University of Pennsylvania Dean of Admissions Eric J. Furda. “This is an unfortunate consequence of Score Choice by putting testing on front page of the newspaper.”
Furda said that he is not convinced that allowing students to choose one score to submit from multiple sittings will reduce stress associated with the test.
“Am I going to be less stressed taking this test five times and only sending it once? I don’t know,” Furda said. “We are going to ask students to submit their entire testing history. We feel this is in students’ best interests. Having more information in this highly selective process is much better than having less data.”
Not all students will be able to take advantage of College Board’s new policy. For students from less-affluent backgrounds who rely on the College Board’s fee waiver, College Board will still only waive the fee a maximum of two times.
“The College Board doesn’t support excessive test taking,” said College Board spokeswoman Alana Klein. “Research has shown that students see very insignificant score improvements upon retaking the test more than twice.”
Both Fitzsimmons and Furda stressed that, Score Choice policy aside, the admissions process is about far more than standardized test scores.
“We have always had the policy that we will take the highest score whenever it occurs,” Fitzsimmons said. “Whether students use score choice or send every single test they’ve ever taken it’s actually not going to change the way we look at their test.”
Furda agreed, saying, that even though UPenn will have “a different policy than Harvard, at the end of the day we are still motivated by the same things and make informed decisions in our applicant pool.”
—Staff writer Jillian K. Kushner can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.