Taking the SAT seems like a long-forgotten nightmare, doesn’t it? For high school juniors graduating in 2010, however, the College Board has recently made everyone’s favorite standardized test more complicated.

We’re talking about a new policy called Score Choice. Starting this spring, a student who takes the SAT multiple times can pick which scores to send to colleges. Students may choose to report the highest total score they achieve on one test over the course of multiple sittings. For SAT subject tests, students may opt to send their highest score from each subject. The ostensible purpose of the policy is to allow applicants the opportunity to present the most positive academic picture possible to the colleges of their choice.

The College Board claims it wants to give students “more flexibility and control over their scores.” But critics who pointed out that the ACT, an SAT competitor, has offered a similar score choice policy for years claim the College Board instituted the policy out of fear of losing its market share.

In response, Georgetown, along with other universities including the University of Pennsylvania, Stanford University, the University of Southern California and Yale University, has opted not to accept Score Choice, and we commend them for their decision. The College Board’s policy is unfair and counterproductive.

Score Choice does not benefit the student population evenly: It gives an advantage to students who have the money to take the SAT over and over again – these students will simply have more scores to choose from. Students who do not have the cash to take multiple tests will find themselves at a disadvantage, even though they may be as able as students who go more than one round with the SAT.

The College Board bases the policy on a set of poor assumptions about how admissions offices use SAT scores. The Georgetown Office of Undergraduate Admissions, for instance, uses only the highest math and verbal scores when considering applicants. Georgetown asks for all scores, but it does this so a student cannot present a 700 math score while hiding three previous scores of 500 – the kind of duplicity that Score Choice allows.

The College Board argues that the policy will eliminate some of the stress of the admissions process, and it seems some agree. Harvard College and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have accepted the College Board’s decision and will recognize the policy.

But we are satisfied with Georgetown’s decision. The point of the SAT is to provide a fair, standardized evaluation of students from a wide variety of academic and socioeconomic backgrounds. At its best, the SAT allows students from inner-city magnet schools to demonstrate that they can hold their own next to their prep school peers. The standardization the SAT brings to the admissions process is perhaps the test’s only redeeming aspect – Score Choice compromises what makes the SAT worthwhile in the first place.

The College Board should recognize that it does not just have a commitment to making life easier for students or to maintaining its corner on the standardized test market. Its primary obligation is to run a fair and transparent testing service. Score Choice does not meet these standards, and it has no place in the testing process.

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