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What is Score Choice and Score Witholding?

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20-05-13 09:10

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There is a lot of misunderstanding about Score Choice from College Board, which in short is a decision students are offered to hold or hide their scores when sending their SAT scores to universities during their application process. AP, ACT, and TOEFL too effectively have similar holding or hiding capabilities too.

1) Score Choice can only be used to hold or hide any one SAT I test date score (not individual sections within the SAT I test). Many students get this confused with "Super Score," which is a term colleges give to student scores that combine their best verbal score, best math score, and best essay score from multiple SAT I test dates. This is something universities can do for students, but students cannot require universities to consider such "super scores" for students' applications.

2) Score Choice can be used to hold or hide any one SAT II test score, even if multiple SAT II subject tests were taken on the same one test date, since SAT II subject tests act as independent scores. So, holding or hiding one SAT II score from one test date, while showing another SAT II subject test score from the same test date is possible.

3) Students are most confused and don't know about Score Choice because they only are shown this choice when they send scores to universities. Since students don't send their scores to universities until the very end of the high school years, they don't know what it is except at the very end.

4) AP scores can be cancelled before students get their scores (usually in early July after their May test date), but AP scores can also be "withheld" after July too. However, students must not have indicated the four "free" scores that students can send to universities when they sign up for the AP test (but before they have taken the test). This effectively has the same effect as Score Choice. Students can hold one AP subject test score while sending off another AP subject test score. However, these score withholding requests are done by fax (and not online, like the SAT scores), so students can feel very nervous about this. Students won't get any receipt of their score withholding, nor will they know if their score is withheld in time before they send their scores to universities. Because of this last point, it is very important to use Score Withholding early right after the July score update but before the end of the year university applications (for rising seniors, 12th graders). https://apstudents.collegeboard.org/score-reporting-services/withhold-scores

5) ACT scores and TOEFL scores effectively don't need something like "Score Choice" since those tests don't send ALL ACT scores or TOEFL scores taken from the 9th grade and onwards, like the SAT tests. The ACT and TOEFL score sending online accounts send just the test dates that students choose on their score send online accounts.

6) Many students and parents are suspicious, however, that College Board will still disclose to universities that students have used Score Choice to "erase" their scores, but College Board clearly states that they won't: "Colleges cannot opt out of or reject Score Choice. Score Choice is a feature available to students. However, some colleges require students to submit all SAT scores. Be sure to check college websites to learn more about their score send policies." (https://collegereadiness.collegeboard.org/sat/scores/sending-scores/score-choice#apricot_7K7XExNP7v)

7) It is unnerving however to use Score Choice, since the window for choosing to use or not to use Score Choice has in LARGE letters at the top that "XYZ University requires you to send all scores to this university" and all the SAT I scores have a dark line around them to indicate that this particular university wants you to send all scores. You can still choose not to send some of your weaker scores, but you still have to get past the psychological barrier of unchecking the box to send scores when it is so darkly and importantly highlighted like that.