Jul 30, 2012

Columbia Opens the Door to Score Choice

Columbia University
With a subtle change in language on standardized test requirements, Columbia University has officially opened the door to Score Choice for 2012-13.  This leaves Penn, Cornell, and Yale as the only Ivies not allowing students the freedom to select standardized test scores they feel represent them in the best possible way.

Until this year, Columbia required submission of all SAT and all ACT scores, although permitted students to officially submit scores from their highest ACT composite while self-reporting (honor system at work) results from other sittings. 

It was a complicated policy designed to save the applicant the expense of paying for multiple ACT score reports and paralleled Yale’s policy.

This year, students may submit ACT or SAT scores, and they may use the Score Choice option to select SAT scores.

Columbia is careful to say that if more than one set of SAT scores is reported, students will be evaluated on the highest score received in any individual section.  If SAT scores are submitted, however, two SAT Subject Tests must also be provided—your choice for Columbia College or math and science for Columbia Engineering.

But in another change in policy, Columbia will now allow students to submit the ACT with Writing in place of the SAT and two subject tests.  Though no longer required, SAT Subject Test scores are “welcome” and recommended “if you have a specific area of academic interest.”

Note that Columbia will not be superscoring ACT scores.  Students will be evaluated on the highest “composite” score received.

All this is a lesson in how quickly rules change without notice or fanfare.  While Score Choice continues to cause headaches, it’s clear that colleges are reevaluating reporting policies and it’s up to you to figure out what they are.

For the moment, the only document “officially” listing score use policies is one produced by the College Board.  Sadly, it contains errors and is in need of updating.  For example, the College Board continues to report that George Washington University requires “all scores,” when in fact students may send whichever scores they prefer, according to the GW admissions office.

And the College Board does not concern itself with ACT reporting policies.  If a college requires students to report all SAT’s and all ACT’s (Georgetown and Penn), you won’t know unless you carefully review the college website.  Even then, it’s not always so clear.

The moral of the story is never rely on what you think is true or what was true in the past.  Go directly to the source—the college.

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