By Emily He, 14, Whitney HS (Cerritos)
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Emily says to relax when taking the SAT because you can always take it again.

Did you know that the SAT is changing things up? There’s a new rule that lets students decide how many and which scores a school can see. This is a big change because previously, colleges were able to see every SAT score students received. I read on the College Board website that the College Board, which runs the SAT, made the change so students can have less stress when taking the SAT. The change starts with the March test. (The rule is retroactive so the scores from tests you already took don’t have to be sent.)

When I first heard about the new score-reporting rule, I felt relieved, even though I’m only a ninth grader. I attend Whitney High School in Cerritos, a school that is very competitive.

Because Whitney has grades 7-12, the school counselors start preparing us to think about our college and career opportunities in middle school. I remember my seventh grade English teacher told my class to start thinking about our dream college because, she claimed, it is never too early to start exploring our college choices. Hearing her say this, I was surprised because 12th grade seemed so far away. But now I have begun to think about the SATs and college.

Before I was scared about the test. At Whitney during SAT season everyone’s always carrying Barron’s SAT books or practice books. Sometimes I’d hear my older sisters’ friends talking about the SAT when they studied. They’d say, “I’m so scared.” I was worried that if you get a bad score it would ruin you. Thankfully, I do not have to go through the stress my sister went through because I can take the test as many times as I need if I don’t like my score. The new rule gives me more chances to improve my score.

I think this new policy is better. Teens will have one less thing to worry about among all the stress that comes with high school. Students at my school will not feel as stressed about getting a high score within a few tries. My sister, who attended Whitney, took several practice tests at home before taking the SAT since school advisors told the seniors to take the actual test no more than three times. The advisors told them that colleges get a bad impression if you take the test more than that. My sister always wanted to get a higher score than her previous one because some of her classmates were getting the perfect score, 2400. She may not have gotten 2400, but she did well.

An issue that worried me at first was the cost of the test. A test is $45, so if I take the test five times, it would cost $225. It is expensive to take the SAT multiple times, but I believe the extra cost is worth it because even though according to an article in the Los Angeles Times, taking the test repeatedly is unlikely to improve my score a lot, I see it as a safety net if I don’t like my scores or do well on my first three tests. I can take it a fourth time without it looking bad. There are fee waivers available to low-income students to take the test twice for free. This is a downside of the new rule because it puts wealthier students at an advantage. The dean of admissions at Pomona College, Bruce Poch, told the Los Angeles Times that the new rule benefited those who could afford to take the test several times. I think the College Board should increase the fee wavier to four tests so low-income students have the same opportunity.

This new feature is optional. You can still send all of your scores to colleges. Even if students choose the option to submit only one or some of their scores, they have to follow university requirements. The director of undergraduate admission at the University of Southern California, Timothy Brunold, told the Los Angeles Times that USC still may require applicants to submit every SAT score. Also, most UCs already use only the best score sent to them so this would affect students more who are applying to schools out of state.

If you do not choose this option, all of your scores will be sent to colleges automatically. So make sure you select “Choose Scores” if you want colleges to see only your best scores.