Change in SAT Policy

SAT Policy, SAT Change, SAT Score Choice

In response to a new policy from The College Board, we suspect more students will be taking the SAT more times.

The College Board, the maker of the SAT, has come out with a new policy coined Score Choice. And it’s an interesting one! In fact, there’s a piece this week in The Chicago Tribune entitled “More SAT test runs OKd” that shines a lantern on the new policy which will impact students across our nation and around the world. As the piece states, “Afraid of colleges seeing less-than-stellar SAT scores? The College Board is offering high school students a new way around that. Starting with the class of 2010, high school students will be able to choose which of their SAT scores to share with universities, test officials confirmed Friday.”

College Applicants Don’t Want to Show Several SAT Scores

We’ve never been supportive of students taking the SAT more than twice because admissions officers reviewing these students’ applications would question why these applicants had nothing better to do on their Saturday mornings than to sit and take a four-hour exam over and over again. We also wouldn’t want admissions officers to see multiple test results and attribute the improvement of these scores to expensive SAT tutoring. After all, that would reek of privilege and a big part of the game in highly selective college admissions is inspiring admissions officers to root for — not against — our students. At least with the ACT, a student could always submit the highest score and college admissions officers would never know if the student took the ACT once or even six times.

ACT, Inc. Has Been Closing the Gap on The College Board

While this change will be greatly appreciated by many students, you can be sure that The College Board has its own agenda with this initiative. You see, for decades, the SAT has dominated the college admissions testing market and now with the ACT closing the gap, The College Board is looking for a new way to increase its market share and revenue. As stated in a recent article by Michelle Slatalla in The New York Times entitled “SAT vs. the ACT,” “In the last five years, the number of ACT takers on the East Coast has risen 66 percent, and on the West Coast 46 percent, according to ACT Inc.” Yet, even more significant is that for the high school Class of 2007, nearly 1.5 million students took the SAT as compared to 1.3 million students who took the ACT. That gap, well, it’s closing! An additional pressure on The College Board’s earnings is an increasingly large group of selective colleges that have opted to make the submission of SAT and ACT scores optional. There are currently approximately 760 four-year colleges that are test-optional with the latest converts being Smith College, Wake Forest University, and the College of the Holy Cross.

The College Board’s New Score Choice Policy Serves The Company’s Bottom Line

With The College Board’s new policy, it now seems likely that a significant number of students will be taking the SAT multiple times. Historically, students typically take the SAT only once or twice. Only approximately 15% of test-takers sit for the exam on three or more occasions. At $45 for the basic fee, not including bells and whistles for questions and answers, language tests with listening, registration by phone, test center changes, date changes, test type changes, international registration, late fees, stand-by fees, scores by phone, rush reporting, additional score reports, multiple choice verification, essay score verification, retrieval fee for archived scores, and a refund processing fee of $7 (for overpayments and duplicate payments), this new policy affords The College Board an opportunity to greatly increase its revenue. Surprise, surprise!


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