Score Choice is a term coined by the College Board program that indicates whether students may choose which SAT / SAT Subject Test scores they send to universities as part of their college application. Colleges that do not participate in Score Choice require that ALL tests a student has taken be submitted.
First, it is important to note that Score Choice is a term that is technically associated with SAT exams only. However, while there is no comparable formal program for the ACT, students who elect to take the ACT may encounter similar restrictions. Some schools require that all ACT scores be submitted; typically, these are the same schools that do not participate in Score Choice for the SAT.
For example, Harvard University participates in the College Board’s Score Choice program and the similar option for the ACT, which means students applying to Harvard can choose which score they submit with their application. In contrast, Georgetown requires that students submit results from every test they’ve ever taken.
Then, some schools throw a wrench in things by participating in Score Choice sometimes. For example, Yale University does not participate in Score Choice for the SAT, and likewise requires that students submit all ACT test dates — but does participate in Score Choice for SAT subject tests!
Finally, it is also important to note that all of this is based on an honor system. The College Board and the ACT do not have mechanisms that force students to send all scores to certain schools. This means that the burden is on the student to know a college’s policies and follow protocol accordingly.
Schools that Require All Scores
The following is a list of schools that require students to submit “All Scores” as part of their application if students are applying using the SAT, or to submit all test dates for students who have chosen the ACT. Please note that testing requirements can change every year. Always check directly with a college before submitting any scores.
Carnegie Mellon University
University of California system
*Participates in Score Choice for SAT Subject Tests
Many colleges practice superscoring, which impacts students who have taken the SAT or ACT more than once. When colleges superscore, students will be evaluated based on their highest scores across each of the test dates completed, rather than their highest total or composite score from a particular test date.
For the SAT, this is easy: you just have to add two different numbers to make the new high score.
A student takes the March SAT and gets the following scores:
Evidence-Based Reading and Writing: 640 | Math: 660
And then that same student takes the May SAT and gets the following scores:
Evidence-Based Reading and Writing: 680 | Math: 650
That student’s superscore would be a 1340 (660 + 680).
For this reason, superscoring the SAT is common practice in the college admissions landscape.
With the ACT, it’s a little more complicated — and by more complicated, we really mean just one more step of math (adding four numbers, then dividing by 4).
A student takes the April ACT and gets the following scores:
English: 31 | Math: 29 | Reading: 28 | Science: 28
This score breakdown yields a composite score of 29 for that individual test.
Two months later, the student takes the June ACT and gets the following scores:
English: 33 | Math: 28 | Reading: 30 | Science 26
This score breakdown also yields a composite score of 29 for that individual test.
If a college chooses to superscore the ACT test, the highest scores for each section will be evaluated and combined to form a new composite; in this case, this would create a new composite score of 30. Note that, when calculating a composite score, the ACT rounds up from a .5 to the next whole number, and from a 0.25 rounds down. More and more colleges are starting to do this full re-calculation, and we expect to see that continue to rise in prevalence.
However, there are other colleges that do NOT take this extra step and calculate a new composite; rather, they simply look at the highest subsection scores, and use the highest single composite score (for example, this is the current practice at UVA, Brown, and Yale). While this doesn’t yield a higher composite number, it still benefits the student who has achieved higher subsection scores across different test dates. And, finally, there are colleges that will only consider a student’s single best ACT sitting.
Similar to Score Choice, superscoring differs from school to school and even within a particular school – for example, Cornell superscores for the SAT, but not for the ACT (see the previous point re: having to do more math). In general, true superscoring of the ACT remains a less common practice than superscoring the SAT, but admissions requirements are changing more and more each year. We always recommend checking policies directly with your colleges of interest before submitting scores.
For more information or guidance in navigating scoring choice options, families can schedule a strategy meeting with a College Admissions Coach.