Colleges Doing Right- Will Testing Agencies Follow?

It is really a great service to kids for colleges to allow them to self-report scores.  Kudo’s for a simple solution to solve a number of issues.  For one, there is all this angst with score choice and the idiotic policy of only being allowed to send one sitting.  What, it’s too complicated for an organization making hundreds of millions of dollars to write a simple algorithm to report the highest subtests from any of the tests, ie, to superscore?  Also, I can see the fee being in place from the days they had to mail out scores.  There were actual physical costs:  paper envelopes, stamps, even possibly some human labor.  But as everything became electronic and their costs went down, did they reduce the fee?  No, they actually have increased it!

And here’s the thing:  does it actually cost them anything to send scores?  Isn’t it all electronic?  The kids do the labor by entering everything they want and then everything from there is just electronic transmission, isn’t it?
It seems like the testing agencies are like banks with these niggling fees that are totally unrelated to any cost to the organizations.  How about, instead of us having to do work arounds, the testing agencies have a policy of:
1)  With the cost of the test comes 10 free score reports which can be sent anytime.  Students get a total of 10 free reports total, no matter how many times they take the test.
2)  That both test agencies superscore what they send.
This would really be simple and painless for the testing agencies to do and would actually give us some indication that the testing agencies actually cared about the students they have as consumers.
ACT has shamed the College Board before into doing the right thing (ah, remember the days when College Board had a penalty for guessing and clung like a dying man to his life boat with the pleas that changing this would make the test less valid?).
This has become a very painful process for kids.  First of all, for many students, it has preventing any kind of relaxation and joy.  Everything they do they wonder how it will affect them in college admissions.  They are self-conscious and fearful about every step they make.  That’s not just sad, its pitiful.   And we ALL contribute to it.
Then there is the paralyzing decision making.  Will this essay really appeal to them?  Can I really get into that college?  Should I go ED?  If so, do I choose a reach school for ED
And here, the testing agencies make it so much worse, particularly for kids where money is tight.  I’m taking a November test, but all my colleges are rolling and I don’t want to delay them reading my applications.  So do I send my previous scores to all of them and my November scores?  Will that extra $100+ mean there will be something my family has to do without?  Do I use score choice?  Which test do I send?
Really, do we need for kids to have more unnecessary anxiety because that’s how it’s always been done?  How about a summit or commission, paid for and organized by the testing agencies, about student psychological health and how we counselors on both sides of the desk, the media and the testing agencies can act in a way that is best for students?  Because, frankly, I don’t think it is a very high priority right now.


Author: Scott White

I am a nationally recognized expert on college admissions, having worked in schools and colleges for 35 years. I have been regularly quoted in major publications including the NY Times, the LA Times, The Boston Globe, the Washington Post, Atlantic Monthly, Time Magazine and others. I am widely published on various aspects of the college admissions process and present at state and national conferences on a variety of college admissions related topics. I have worked in college admissions as well as independent day and boarding schools. The last 25 years I have worked in public schools, 14 as a school counselor and then as a Director of Guidance at elite, suburban public schools including Montclair High School, Westfield High School and Morristown High School. I am now an independent college counselor for SW College Consulting in Montclair. I can be contacted as or 973-919-6798.

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