If you decide to take the SAT more than once, you’re in good company. The majority of high school students take the test two or three times with the intent to improve their score each time. After taking the test twice (or more!), students often ask if they should submit all scores to colleges or take advantage of the SAT score choice and send their best single score.
The SAT score choice feature, an optional reporting tool that sends only one SAT score to colleges, was introduced in 2005 by College Board. This option empowers you with the choice of which SAT scores colleges can view, and it was designed to decrease stress during the college admissions process. Collegeboard offers recommendations on which score to choose based on a specific school’s SAT scoring policy, but it’s ultimately your choice. However, if you register for score choice, you forfeit the four free score reports and College Board will not automatically send all your test scores to your selected schools.
Score choice can be advantageous when applying to schools that evaluate your highest score from one single test date. If you scored poorly on one test, you can confidently submit the higher score that represents your academic abilities. You can also avoid potential judgement or penalty for a low score by only sending your top score. Just knowing you can choose which score college reps will see might decrease anxiety on test day, another benefit of score choice. Additionally, you have the opportunity to view all your test scores before anyone else, as opposed to score reports that are automatically sent out to colleges around the same time you can view your score for the first time.
It can be disadvantageous to use score choice when the schools you are applying to require the submission of all testing scores (Georgetown University, University of Pennsylvania, and Yale to name a few) or if they superscore. A college that superscores combines the highest math section score with the highest reading/writing section score, even if they are taken from different test dates. Schools can only superscore when they can view all your test scores, not just one. These schools will often advise against using score choice. Most college admission reps don’t look for trends over test dates, and they won’t over analyze your scores. They understand that some days are better than others when it comes to test taking and that’s why they consider your best scores.
Just as score choice is preferred by some students and not others, it is also recommended by some colleges and not by others. Reference this pdf from College Board for a quick overview, but always double check with each college for the most up to date policy.