Yale became the latest school Thursday to dismiss the College Board’s plan to allow students to submit only their top SAT scores from individual exams to colleges.
In its rejection of the College Board’s new Score Choice option, Yale will require applicants to send all their scores for the SAT Reasoning Test and SAT Subject Tests, Dean of Undergraduate Admissions Jeff Brenzel said in a statement Thursday morning. Yale will also require applicants taking the ACT to submit all their score results, Brenzel said.
“We believe that our policy maintains a more level playing field for low-income students who cannot afford repeated testing or the expensive test preparation that often accompanies it,” Brenzel wrote in the statement. “We also hope that this policy will help to discourage excessive testing and help to simplify testing issues for all of our applicants.”
Yale’s policy relies on applicants’ integrity. Students applying to Yale will be on their own honor when submitting all their test scores, and there is no system to police students when submitting test scores, spokespeople for both the ACT and the College Board — which administers the SAT — said.
The admissions office was cognizant of this fact when forming its policy, Brenzel said in a phone interview Thursday evening, adding that students are expected to be truthful in all facets of their application.
“We trust students to be honest when they report their testing as we do with other parts of the application, and of course there may always be consequences of varying kinds if we later discover that the student has misrepresented anything on his or her application,” Brenzel said.
Score Choice, which will first become available for the March SAT, has been a point of contention among Yale’s peer institutions. While Harvard University and the University of Chicago have said they will allow applicants to use Score Choice, Stanford and Cornell universities and the University of Pennsylvania have all said they will require students to send all their scores.
MIT Dean of Admissions Stuart Schmill told the News on Thursday evening that MIT will allow applicants to use the Score Choice policy, thereby joining Harvard and the University of Chicago.
“Score Choice is not likely to have any effect on our process, as the differences that students might realize from taking the test over is pretty much noise to us,” he wrote in an e-mail to the News. “And so we are not planning on asking students to submit all scores.”
Princeton Dean of Admissions Janet Rapelye said Princeton plans to reach a decision regarding Score Choice this month.
Brenzel said the Yale admissions office benefits from seeing all scores in order to make a fair assessment about an applicant, adding that standardized testing is part of a holistic process.
When asked whether Yale looks only at a student’s best standardized testing scores, Brenzel said in an e-mail: “We do give primary consideration to the top scores attained. It can be helpful, though, to know how many times it took to achieve those scores.”
He added that a large number of testing sittings will not necessarily have a positive or negative impact on a student’s application. Rather, each piece of information in an applicant’s file is considered in the context of all other information about him or her, Brenzel said.
A half-dozen college counselors interviewed Thursday offered mixed reactions to Yale’s decision to require all standardized test scores. The only point upon which the counselors could agree is that Score Choice — and the decision of some colleges to reject it — creates a new complication for students in the already elaborate application process.
“It’s another layer students need to be aware of,” said Nancy Beane, a college counselor at the Westminster Schools in Atlanta. “Students need to be proactive to make sure they understand what their schools require.”
But varying policies about Score Choice can create difficulties for low-income applicants, who have limited resources when navigating the admissions process, said Sari Rauscher, director of college counseling at the Waterford School in Salt Lake City.
“You’re favoring the students that have college counselors that can individually sit down with them,” she said. “By default you’re helping those who have test prep and access to good college counseling.”
Low-income students also are eligible for fee waivers on standardized tests, noted one college counselor.
One sitting for the SAT Reasoning Test costs $45, and each SAT Subject Test costs either $29 or $40. One sitting for the ACT with the written section costs $46.
Still, the confusion surrounding Score Choice demonstrates the need for colleges to switch to a testing-optional admissions process, said Robert Schaeffer, public education director for the organization FairTest, which calls for standardized testing reform.
“It’s not Yale that’s doing anything wrong here,” he said. “But we believe that the best route is to drop the test score requirement completely.”
Brenzel said Yale will re-examine its score reporting policies after the end of next year’s admissions cycle.