The most stressful part of getting into college is, for many students, taking standardized tests. The ACT and the SAT are sources of worry for even the most dedicated overachievers. With this in mind, the College Board recently introduced a policy change to the SAT so that students will have the option of sending in only their highest test score. But the real effect of Score Choice will be to further disadvantage every student who can’t afford the tutors, prep classes and extra chances that wealthier students receive. The University should mandate that all SAT scores are still sent as part of its applications.

For the past six years, each student’s test scores were automatically sent to colleges. However, beginning this March, high school juniors will have the ability to choose which single SAT composite score they would like to send to colleges. The policy, called Score Choice, was actually in effect between 1993 and 2002 but was abandoned by the College Board because it was deemed biased against low-income and minority students who could not afford competitive coaching and multiple re-tests.

Now, apparently, the College Board has rethought its decision. This time around, Score Choice is being promoted as an option that will alleviate stress for high school students. In reality, all it will do is make it easier for rich students to buy their way into college by obtaining that single perfect grade and sending it in as if it was their only stab at the test.

With this policy in place, the average SAT score going out to colleges will naturally rise. Colleges will then expect even higher scores. Instead of decreasing stress, the inflation of the average score will make getting into college even more competitive. And the scores being sent to colleges will be even less reflective of students’ abilities, because colleges will only be seeing the best possible score.

What Score Choice will accomplish is an increase in the entire industry behind standardized tests. The SAT isn’t about the aptitude of the student — it’s about how many prep books and tutors they can buy. Policies like Score Choice just play into the hands of the industry, making all of its test prep materials a necessary investment for getting into college. Such a situation is naturally unfair to less wealthy students.

Because the SAT carries so much weight in the admissions process, students, justifiably, feel compelled to devote as many resources as possible toward improving their grade and remaining competitive candidates. Score Choice will certainly increase the demand for cash cows like SAT tutoring, prep courses and, of course, retesting. In the end, it is the College Board’s bankbook that profits, not students or colleges.

The disturbing effort to pump more money into the test-taking industry, coupled with Score Choice’s likelihood to render the SATs even more inflated, calls for a stand. It’s important to set aside the College Board’s weak rationalizations and call this policy what it really is: a business growth tactic. Colleges should take a stand against this policy and reject it outright by still requiring that all scores be sent.

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