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Duke University
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Unweighted GPA: 3.7
SAT: 720 math
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How SAT Score Choice Affects Your Teen’s College Applications

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If you submitted SAT scores for college applications, odds are that you didn’t get to choose which scores were submitted. Until relatively recently, all of your SAT scores would have been submitted when you requested that a college received your scores. With the introduction of SAT Score Choice, though, the game has changed for your teen.


SAT Score Choice allows your teen to specifically select which SAT scores are submitted to which colleges, and some students believe that this can have a big impact on SAT test-taking strategies. To learn more about the SAT Score Choice program impacts your teen’s approach to SATs and college applications, don’t miss this post.


What Is SAT Score Choice?

SAT Score Choice allows students to manually select which colleges receive which SAT scores. For the regular SAT, this means that your teen can select which test date results are sent to which colleges. It does not allow your teen to select specific section scores, but it does allow your teen to withhold certain test date scores entirely. For SAT Subject Tests, your teen can select specifically which tests are sent, regardless of whether they were taken on the same test date of not.


Simply put, with Score Choice your teen can select his or her highest scores and submit only those to the colleges of his or her choice, ensuring that these schools never see his or her lower test scores.


Do All Colleges Allow Score Choice?

Different colleges have different regulations regarding the use of Score Choice. Some colleges specifically request that applicants submit all available test scores. Other colleges request that students submit the test scores that represent their highest scores on each section. Still other colleges want to see only the highest combined score submitted.


Within the Score Choice interface, your teen will see the score policies at each college and Score Choice will usually automatically suggest which scores should be submitted based on this policy. Even so, it’s a good idea for your teen to independently research the policy at each school that he or she intends to apply to and double check that the auto selections from Score Choice are accurate.


For a glimpse at the Score Choice platform and how it suggests certain scores by school, check out the informational Score Choice video.  

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What Are the Advantages of Score Choice?

Score Choice provides a strong advantage for students who have test anxiety or who otherwise underperform on the SAT. For these students, knowing that poor SAT scores do not have to be reported can be a big relief. In fact, some students might even view their first SAT as a trial run with the knowledge that SAT Score Choice will allow for these scores to be withheld indefinitely.


Students should realize, though, that not all colleges allow Score Choice, as mentioned above. In fact, some colleges require that all SAT scores are submitted, thereby negating the advantages of Score Choice. Still, it might be reassuring for some students to know that many schools will allow him or her to submit only the highest scores achieved.


What Are the Disadvantages of Score Choice?

Like most other score reports from the College Board, Score Choice isn’t free. Each score report you select will cost $12, though fee waivers are available.


The only score reports that are free are those requested when you register for the SAT or up to nine days after having taken the test. It’s important to realize that in order to qualify for these free reports, your teen will have to request them without knowing his or her scores already. This can be a risky move, but if a college requires all scores to be submitted or if your teen comes out of the test feeling confident about his or her performance, this money saving strategy can pay off.


What’s the Bottom Line?

It’s tempting for some students to think of Score Choice as a justification for taking the SAT many times. After all, many colleges will only ever see their top scores, so any lower scoring test dates will not ever be viewed. This ultimately isn’t a good strategy, though.


Studies have shown that the most significant score improvements usually come between the first and second test administrations. Subsequent improvements tend to be smaller and smaller the more tests a student takes. We at CollegeVine recommend that a student takes the SAT around three times. Preparing for the first test administration appropriately, learning from mistakes, and improving on areas of weakness are the best strategies, rather than simply thinking of the first test as a practice run.


Score Choice is a good alternative for students who stumble initially or underperform on a specific test date. If this is your teen, he or she might want to look into the specific SAT score policies at various colleges, and choose to apply to schools that will allow him or her to maximize the use of Score Choice.


In addition, many resources are available to help your teen prepare for the SAT and boost his or her scores, if he or she has already taken the test. To get started, check out this series of comprehensive SAT guides:


Ultimate Guide to the New SAT Math Test

Ultimate Guide to the New SAT Writing and Language Test

Ultimate Guide to the New SAT Essay

Ultimate Guide to the New SAT Reading Test


To learn more about how your teen can prepare for the SAT, see these posts:


Tips to Prepare Yourself for Your SAT Test Day

How to Pace Yourself on Every Section of the SAT

Five SAT Strategies You Should Know

10 Tips to Prepare for the SAT

What Parents Need to Know about ACT and SAT Studying Prep


Preparing for the SAT? Download our free guide with our top 8 tips for mastering the SAT.


Does your teen want access to expert college guidance — for free? When they create their free CollegeVine account, they will find out their real admissions chances, build a best-fit school list, learn how to improve their profile, and get their questions answered by experts and peers—all for free. Encourage them to sign up for their CollegeVine account today to get a boost on their college journey.

Kate Sundquist
Senior Blogger

Short Bio
Kate Koch-Sundquist is a graduate of Pomona College where she studied sociology, psychology, and writing before going on to receive an M.Ed. from Lesley University. After a few forays into living abroad and afloat (sometimes at the same time), she now makes her home north of Boston where she works as a content writer and, with her husband, raises two young sons who both inspire her and challenge her on a daily basis.