College Board revokes ‘Score Choice’ for SAT II

Students applying to college in the fall will no longer be able to withhold some of their test scores from admissions officers.

The College Board, which sponsors the SAT, rescinded its nine-year-old “Score Choice” policy after admissions officials complained that they weren’t getting a complete picture of applicants.

“They’d like to have as much information as possible about students,” said Gretchen Rigol, a vice president of the College Board.

Score Choice applied only to the SAT II, a collection of 22 subject-area tests that include chemistry, U.S. history, and writing. Students who took the same test more than once are allowed to send only the highest score to colleges. If they took several tests in different areas, they could choose which scores to reveal.

The College Board doesn’t allow such flexibility with the more widely taken SAT I, which measures verbal and math skills. If a student takes the SAT I more than once, colleges see all the scores.

The move could lead to fewer students taking the SAT II, or at least students taking fewer of them, since all results will count.

Russell Lane, a senior at Northern Highlands Regional High School in New Jersey, said the Score Choice option made him willing to take the biology test twice _ in his freshman and junior years.

“You’re not going to take the test as a trial run with the new system, and I think taking it as a trial run is beneficial, because you get more experience with the test,” said Lane, who has been accepted to Dartmouth College in New Hampshire.

Richard Morey, the director of college guidance at the private Dwight-Englewood School in New Jersey, said he and other guidance counselors were disappointed by the College Board’s decision.

“I think most of us feel that students own the scores that they earn, and ought to be allowed to determine to whom, if at all, the scores should be made available to colleges,” he said. “This takes a step back from the ability of students to maintain some control.”

Rigol, the College Board official, said the organization began Score Choice because it wanted to “make people a little more relaxed about the test.” Instead, Rigol said, the option led to a whole new level of strategizing.

“Certain groups of students have become very obsessive about it … and they spend time almost trying to manipulate the information,” she said.

Some colleges require students to take as many as three SAT II tests, and others recommend at least one. Deciding which ones to release can be agonizing for some students.

Consider the student who got a mediocre score on the physics test, and who is applying to a school that emphasizes the humanities. Should the student release the score in an effort to show he is well-rounded, or hide those areas where he doesn’t excel?

Morey acknowledged that the College Board’s decision will make the admission process a bit less complicated.

“There’s a lot of thinking about the strategy of allowing colleges to see certain scores in certain subject areas _ probably more than ought to be the case,” he said.

Some members of the College Board, which includes representatives of colleges and secondary schools, also believed that Score Choice exacerbated the gap between students who get extensive help in the admissions process from guidance counselors or private consultants, and those who do not.

Students applying on their own, Rigol said, might not know which scores would be the most helpful to their application. They might not even realize they have the option of shielding their scores, or might forget that it’s their responsibility to release the scores to colleges.

“They have no one to help remind them what they are supposed to do, and they got lost in the shuffle,” Rigol said