October marks the beginning of test taking season for students applying to college. This year’s graduating class will be the last one affected by the College Board’s policy of sending all test scores to colleges and universities. The Board announced this week that its policy of sending score reports will change next year. The change takes effect in March 2009, so current seniors applying to college are not affected. Currently, test takers do not have the option of holding test scores that they do not want colleges to see. All SAT I Reasoning test scores, as well as SAT Achievement Test scores go directly to colleges and universities to which a student applies. The “new” policy actually returns to a previous practice that existed prior to the March 2005 debut of this expanded test. That policy allowed students to choose which scores they wanted colleges to receive. Thus, only students who took the test over the last three years had no choice regarding their SAT scores.
The College Board maintains that this “score choice” option will benefit applicants who take the test more than once. They can decide if they wish to defer sending test scores or not send them at all. However, once they decide to send scores, they must choose complete test. They cannot “mix and match” test scores. In other words, if a student performs quite well on the Critical Reading section of one test but scores much better on the Math section of a different test, she has to decide which scores to send (or whether to send both sets), as the entire test results will show. This “new” policy aligns with the ACT practice that allows students to choose which test results to release. One can only speculate as to why the College Board changed the policy at all.
Of course, this change will also benefit the test makers, as students may be more inclined to take the test multiple times, if they have the option of choosing which scores to send. In fact, more students have been opting to take both the SAT and ACT and sending them to colleges. Expect more changes to come.