High School Students Will Only Have to Report Top SAT Scores

Thanks to a new rule by the College Board, high school students will soon be able to send only their highest round of SAT scores to colleges. This new new rule goes into effect for the high school graduating class of 2010. As of now, students can take the SATs as many times as they like, but they have to report all of the scores to colleges. Now, they can choose which scores to send to colleges and which scores to forget about forever.
An important note: students won’t be able to choose the highest scores on each section. That is, if your highest critical reading score was on one test, and your highest math score was on another, you can’t combine the two high scores. Instead, you’ll choose the round of scores that overall are the best.
There are advantages and disadvantages to this idea. The advantage to a unreported do-over is that students get a clean slate. If you have a bad day the first time you take the SAT, you can erase that and try again. Hey, if only everything in our lives came with a clean slate!
One problem with this is economics. The SAT costs $45, and for some students, that’s a burden. Some students may not be able to take the test again, which means this is yet another systematic disadvantage that poorer kids face when applying to college.
To some degree, it does seem like this new policy won’t have a major effort. According to the College Board, most students only go up 40 points the second time they take the test–and their scores often go down if they take the test more than twice. If your score only goes up 40 points, there’s no real advantage of schools not seeing your first score.
In addition, it’s questionable as to how much it really matters if schools see weaker SAT scores. That is, if you scored 250 points higher the second time, will the school really hold the lower score against you? If anything, they might see the jump in points as a sign that you’re willing to work hard to improve–something all colleges want to see in a prospective student.