Colleges debate benefits of new Score Choice policy

By Ben Chelmow
Published: October 2009

Members of the Class of 2010 will now have the option of utilizing the College Board’s decision last January to implement Score Choice, a program that gives students the freedom to choose which SAT scores they wish reported to colleges.

According to the College Board website, Score Choice is designed to “reduce student stress and improve the test-day experience.

Senior Alan Shkolnikov agrees that Score Choice not only helps alleviate a considerable amount of stress but also makes the overall standardized testing experience fairer.

“By being able to take the test numerous times, it relieves the stress of having to do well each and every time you take the test, he said.

Shkolnikov also notes that with the new policy, scores that are adversely affected by sickness and other uncontrollable factors will no longer be a problem.

Guidance Counselor Margaret Shih observed that Score Choice has evoked “mixed responses.
Shih believes that “educating students on the logistics of score reporting is paramount.

She also believes it is the responsibility of the colleges to make policies on score reporting clear.
Many colleges and universities have expressed support for Score Choice.

“The fact that test results will not automatically be part of the permanent record may help to alleviate some of the stress that pervades the college admissions process, the Harvard College Office of Admissions wrote in a statement released shortly after the announcement of the policy.

Furthermore, the Harvard College Office of Admissions believes that “applicants should be free to present their own best case.

To the school’s admissions officers, Score Choice is emblematic of a student’s right to exercise freedom and responsibility.

Yale, Stanford, the University of Pennsylvania, however, disagree with Harvard. Yale, one of Score Choice’s preeminent critics, announced that it would not accept scores sent via the Score Choice option.

According to the Yale Daily News, Score Choice raises, rather than mitigates, the stress that accompanies college admissions.

“A student with a disappointing score–whether 1700, 2000 or 2300–may jump at the opportunity to try again, the Yale Daily News said in an opinion piece published last January.

Without the fear of having to report poor scores, students are pressured into a test retaking frenzy, pouring months into test preparation and ultimately becoming more stressed, according to the newspaper.

The Yale Daily News also notes that the new mindset puts financially needy students at a competitive disadvantage, as they may not be able to afford the expenses of test retakes.

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