Alistair Anagnostou ’05 took the SAT II Math IIC test three times, improving his score by more than 100 points. But because Anagnostou had used the score choice option to decide which scores he wanted to release to colleges, as far as the Yale admissions office knew, Anagnostou got only one — very high — score.
Under a new policy, though, students like Anagnostou will no longer be allowed to choose which scores to submit and which to hide.
The College Board, which administers the SAT I and SAT II tests, has decided to eliminate the score choice option for SAT II subject tests.
This option allowed students to withhold scores and decide which scores they wanted to release after they saw them. Under the new policy, students will not be able to withhold scores for tests — whose subjects include languages, math, history and writing — on which they do not receive high marks.
The College Board will release information this spring about when and how the elimination of score choice will take place.
Dean of Undergraduate Admissions and Financial Aid Richard Shaw said he has always disliked the score choice option and is “100 percent in favor of this change.”
“I have always believed that all information about candidates should be released to the colleges,” Shaw said. “We are simply moving back to an original policy which we should have sustained to have a process that allows for full disclosure of students’ secondary experience.”
In May 2001, the College Board Guidance and Admission Assembly Council charged a subcommittee to re-evaluate the score choice policy and make recommendations for its refinement. But the committee ended up advocating its complete elimination instead.
One of the reasons given for this recommendation was that the committee believed score choice favored students who were from affluent, well-connected schools with counselors who knew how to maneuver through the system.
“Score choice entitles those who have access and encourages a sense of gamesmanship,” the College Board said in a statement.
This argument is similar to criticisms of early-decision policies made by Yale President Richard Levin and college and high school administrators earlier this year.
In December 2001, the Guidance and Admission Assembly Council voted to follow the recommendation of its subcommittee and eliminate the score choice option. But the council did not do so without misgivings.
Council members expressed concerns that the change would discourage students from taking the subject tests. In a statement, the College Board said it still “clearly and emphatically” encourages colleges to consider only the highest score.
“More students may opt not to take SAT II, if they can’t hold scores,” the College Board said. “To prevent volume loss, students need to be assured that colleges will only look at the highest score.”
But Shaw said it is precisely the ability to view a student’s entire record that he welcomes in the change. Shaw said it can be to the student’s advantage to have all scores released.
“Often seeing the full array of tests helps rather than hinders a student,” Shaw said.
But Kyra Chadbourne ’04 said she believes the score choice option minimized stress and gave students the leeway to take tests in areas that may not be their strongest subjects.
“It’s a contrast from the SAT I, where it’s supposed to be standardized,” Chadbourne said. “Especially if you’re applying to an Ivy League school, [SAT II tests are] a chance to show your strengths.”
Anagnostou, on the other hand, said he does not object to the decision to eliminate score choice, even though he used the option to its full advantage.
“I don’t think it’s unreasonable to take that away,” Anagnostou said. “If I didn’t do as well as I wanted the first time, I would have still taken it again. You can still show your improvement.”