Monday, October 5, 2009

Common App Makes Accommodations to Deal with Score Choice™ issues

Common App Makes Accommodations to Deal with Score Choice™ issues 

In response to a few glitches in the system, the members of the Board of Directors of the Common Application have agreed to adopt a “temporary” policy to deal with problems arising from implementation of SAT Score Choice™. The New York Times and Inside Higher Ed are reporting that students will now be allowed to skip—without penalty—questions requesting test dates and scores. While colleges generally evaluate students based on official scores received from standardized test organizations, the Common App asks students to self-report SAT's and/or ACT's so admissions officers can have the information to begin processing applications. Evidently, students are delaying submitting materials—official test score reports and applications—in order to evaluate their options under the new reporting program. Many are waiting to complete all testing before deciding which scores to send. For students applying Early Decision or Early Action with November 1st submission deadlines, this is highly problematic, but can easily be addressed if colleges provide clear guidance to students on their websites or send e-mails to prospective applicants. Colleges should address their recommended Score Choice™ policies on their College Facebook pages as well. The more consistent information through multiple channels is provided, the more likely students are to abide by the school's policies. 

Unfortunately, the guidance provided by the Common App on its website is not nearly as clear as what is being suggested by either news source. In fact, nowhere on the website is there any indication that students will be given a complete pass on the test section of the form. The only reference to the issue appears deep within the Common App Support Center and simply addresses the mechanics of submission:

“We recognize that you may find yourself in a position where some of your colleges require you to report your full testing history while others permit you to report your scores selectively or withhold them entirely. While the Tests section does not offer you the ability to differentiate your score reporting to reflect conflicting requirements, leaving this section blank or incomplete will not prevent you from submitting your application. Please understand, however, that colleges and universities may use the information provided in the Tests section to assist in the processing of an application before official results arrive…”

The Common App Board of Directors, representing all member institutions, seems aware of a need to communicate reassurance to students that they may skip these questions without being penalized in the application process—to hurry things along. In fact, they have been working directly with the College Board to find some resolution, according to Brian O’Reilly, President of the SAT. How this is being communicated to colleges and universities and what it means exactly remain to be seen. Common App officials suggest that the wording of the Board’s guidance was much more “nuanced” than what was announced, and it appears that further clarification may be in order.

 It should be noted that both the Common App and the Universal College App permit students to create alternate application forms and send specially-tailored test information to specific colleges or universities for SAT and ACT. Please note, however that any uploads students create to the common application, such as a personal essay or additional information, they will not be automatically transferred to the alternative word form.  The student will need to upload these into any alternate version of the application they are creating.  For those students understanding the requirements of the schools to which they are applying, this is a reasonable way to address the problem of differing score report policies. Although this was not the original intention of the function, it works for this purpose.

If you are a student that is confused about which test scores to submit to colleges that you are applying, I highly recommend that you e-mail the school's admissions officer or contact their general admissions office to clarify their test reporting requirements, including what to include on the test score section of the Common App. Ultimately, it is the responsibility of the student to conform to all score reporting policies. 

The information provided was written by Nancy Griesemer, College Explorations, and edited by Lauren Kahn, CEO of Lone Star Ed Consulting. If you would like more information about Lone Star Ed Consulting's college planning services, please e-mail Lauren Kahn or call her at 512-294-6608.

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1 comment:

  1. Thank you for a very clear update on what has become a confusing process of reporting test scores! I am glad the Common App Board of Directors made this decision.


Thank you for your comment. Your input is greatly appreciated. - College News from Texas - Lauren Kahn, M.A.

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