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What Are the Score Choice Policies at Top 50 Universities?

By Eric Eng

By Eric Eng

a female student reading a letter

Score Choice lets you choose which SAT and ACT test dates’ scores to send to colleges. If you take the test multiple times, you can pick the dates when you performed best to boost your application.

For example, if you took the SAT in August, October, November, and December, and got your highest scores in August and November, you can send only those scores. This way, colleges won’t see your lower scores from October and December.

Be aware that not all colleges accept Score Choice. Some selective schools require you to submit scores from all test dates. This varies by institution, so check each college’s policy. For example, Princeton University allows Score Choice but encourages submitting all test scores, though it’s not mandatory.

Remember, you can’t mix and match scores from different sections across test dates with Score Choice. If a college allows superscoring—where they combine your highest section scores from different dates—you might benefit from submitting multiple test dates. However, Score Choice only lets you select entire test dates, not individual sections. When a college permits it, you can choose which SAT or ACT test dates’ scores to send.

For example, imagine you took the SAT four times and received different scores each time.

SAT Test Date Math Reading & Writing
August 600 530
September 680 550
November 640 610

The student’s best Math score (680) came from the September test, while the highest Evidence-Based Reading and Writing score (610) was achieved in the November test.

By using Score Choice, the student should send the scores from the September and November tests. Colleges will see all scores from both dates. However, many institutions employ superscoring. This means they’ll consider the highest scores from each section, regardless of the test date, combining your best Math and Reading/Writing scores to create a new composite score.

a female student thinking about how to withdraw a college application.

Understanding Score Choice and Superscoring

In college admissions testing, students face different strategies and pressures depending on whether they’re preparing for the SAT or the ACT. The SAT’s Score Choice option offers a significant advantage by letting you select which test scores to send to colleges. You can improve specific sections of the SAT over multiple test dates without worrying about other sections each time.

The ACT, however, doesn’t have widespread superscoring. While schools like MIT and the University of Chicago do superscore the ACT, most colleges look at the highest composite score from a single test sitting.

For the ACT, every section matters equally since the composite score averages all sections. So, you need to prepare well for all sections each time you take the test to avoid one weak area dragging down your score. This means you need different strategies for the SAT superscore and ACT. For the SAT, focus on improving specific sections over multiple test dates. For the ACT, aim for a strong performance across all sections in one sitting.

This can help you and your advisors can plan better, reducing the need for retakes and helping you achieve the best possible scores.

Score Choice Policies at Top 50 Universities

Test-optional policies in many colleges are subject to change by 2025. It’s better to check the score-reporting policies of each institution before applying.

  • Recommend all scores: Other institutions advise but do not require sending scores from all sessions, using them to create superscores.
  • Accept score choice: Several colleges allow applicants to submit only the scores they choose.

a bunge of SAT scores written on paper and the last one of the list was encircled in red pen

The table below outlines the score choice policies of the top 50 universities.

Top 50 Schools Score Choice
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Recommends All Scores
Harvard University Accepts Score Choice
Stanford University Accepts Score Choice
University of California, Berkeley (UCB) Accepts Score Choice
University of Chicago X
University of Pennsylvania Recommends All Scores
Cornell University Accepts Score Choice
California Institute of Technology (Caltech) Accepts Score Choice
Yale University Accepts Score Choice
Princeton University Accepts Score Choice
Columbia University Accepts Score Choice
Johns Hopkins University Accepts Score Choice
University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) X
University of Michigan-Ann Arbor Accepts Score Choice
New York University (NYU) Accepts Score Choice
Northwestern University Accepts Score Choice
Carnegie Mellon University Accepts Score Choice
Duke University Accepts Score Choice
University of Texas at Austin Accepts Score Choice
University of California, San Diego (UCSD) X
University of Washington Accepts Score Choice
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Accepts Score Choice
Brown University Accepts Score Choice
Pennsylvania State University Accepts Score Choice
Boston University Accepts Score Choice
Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech) Accepts Score Choice
Purdue University Accepts Score Choice
University of Wisconsin-Madison Accepts Score Choice
University of Southern California Accepts Score Choice
University of California, Davis (UCD) X
University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill Accepts Score Choice
Texas A&M University Accepts Score Choice
Michigan State University Accepts Score Choice
Rice University Recommends All Scores
Ohio State University Accepts Score Choice
Washington University in St. Louis Accepts Score Choice
University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB) X
University of Florida Accepts Score Choice
University of Maryland, College Park Accepts Score Choice
Arizona State University Accepts Score Choice
University of Minnesota, Twin Cities Accepts Score Choice
Emory University Accepts Score Choice
University of Pittsburgh Accepts Score Choice
University of Rochester Accepts Score Choice
Dartmouth College Accepts Score Choice
University of Massachusetts, Amherst Accepts Score Choice
Case Western Reserve University Accepts Score Choice
University of Virginia Accepts Score Choice
Vanderbilt University Recommends All Scores
University of Colorado at Boulder Accepts Score Choice

Group of students talking next to a table.

Top Universities that Honor Score Choice Policies

Universities that Allow Score Choice
Brown University
Columbia University
Cornell University
Dartmouth College
Duke University
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)
University of Pennsylvania

Some Ivy League schools still encourage submitting all scores to give a complete picture of the student’s testing history, which might be used to gauge improvement or consistency.

an unidentified student taking a test

Universities that Don’t Allow Score Choice

Universities that Don’t Allow Score Choice
Princeton University (recommended)
Stanford University
University of California System
University of Chicago (recommended)
Vanderbilt University (recommended)
Yale University

These policies give students more control over their applications and show a trend in higher education to evaluate applicants more holistically.

a female student in front of her laptop

Can Students Self-Report Test Scores?

Yes, many colleges now permit students to self-report their SAT and ACT scores during the application process! This method of self-reporting has become increasingly popular in college admissions practices to ease costs for applicants.

For example, Amherst College has implemented a flexible self-reporting system that allows students to:

1. Enter their scores directly in the testing section of the Common Application, the Coalition Application through Scoir, or the QuestBridge Application.

2. Upload screenshots or scanned copies of their score reports into the college’s applicant portal after they have submitted their application.

3. Email screenshots or scanned copies of their score reports directly to the admissions office.

This saves money for applicants and simplifies the initial stages of the admissions process. The official score reports are only required once the student decides to enroll to make sure that the scores submitted are verified.

Unidentified person using a laptop.

Final Thoughts

It’s great that many universities now offer flexible testing options like test-optional and test-flexible policies. However,  you still need to carefully research each school’s specific policies. Not all of the colleges with flexible testing policies will have the same requirements, so you shouldn’t assume you can skip standardized tests altogether.

Gaining a clear understanding of the standardized testing policies can empower you during the application process. With this knowledge, you can make more informed decisions that suit your personal circumstances and possibly save money on unnecessary test submissions.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Do I need to pay extra to use Score Choice?

No, there are no additional fees associated with using Score Choice. You can send any or all of your scores to colleges without incurring extra costs.

2. Does the College Board dictate how colleges use SAT scores for admissions?

No, the College Board does not set admission policies for colleges, which independently decide how to use SAT scores. When sending scores, you can see each college’s scoring practices on your College Board account.

3. Can top universities choose not to honor Score Choice policies?

Colleges or top universities cannot opt out of Score Choice; it is a feature offered to students. However, some colleges do require that all SAT scores be submitted. Always check the specific policies of each college by visiting their official websites.

4. Am I allowed to send only parts of my SAT scores to colleges?

No, you cannot send parts of SAT scores from different test dates. You must send scores from entire test dates, though some colleges may use superscoring to consider the highest scores from multiple test dates.

5. How do I know if a college requires all my test scores?

When sending scores via your College Board account, you will be able to view the score-send policies of each college or scholarship program. For the most accurate and up-to-date information, it’s important to review the policies directly on college websites. It is your responsibility to be informed about the current score-send policies of the colleges to which you are applying.

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