Montclair State University to Make SAT & ACT Scores Optional

August 1, 2014 at 4:50 AM

MONTCLAIR, NJ - Montclair State University (MSU) announced Tuesday that it will join the ranks of more than 800 of the nation’s leading colleges and universities and make the SAT/ACT test an optional requirement for all applicants seeking undergraduate admission. This announcement makes MSU the first public university in New Jersey do so.

Effective in the fall of 2015, the university will revise its freshman admissions protocol, thus placing a crucial emphasis on an applicant’s high school GPA combined with close attention to the specific courses taken. Submission of SAT and ACT scores will no longer be required, although the university will consider these scores if a student chooses to submit them.

“As we choose each incoming class, our goal is to assure, to the greatest extent possible, that the students selected for admission are capable of succeeding in the university’s rigorous academic programs,” said Montclair State University President Susan A. Cole.

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Montclair State University has expanded considerably in the last few years and now admits approximately 3,000 freshmen annually from over 11,000 applicants. Over the past decade, in reviewing the university’s admissions criteria, school officials have determined how the various factors considered in the admissions process track with student retention, academic success and graduation rates.

According to Cole, the university has verified that the most powerful predictor of college success is a student’s performance in high school, the high school GPA and the academic rigor of the courses taken. The university’s findings have concluded that a student’s high school GPA is three times as powerful as the SAT for demonstrating a student’s likely performance.  

“As someone who scored rather low on the SAT I felt like I relied solely on my GPA to get me into college. The SAT is an overwhelming experience and while it does measure intelligence it does not give forth a good measure of what a student is willing to put into their education to get out of it. There are plenty of students like myself who worked hard in high school to maintain a GPA of 3.0 and higher only to score poorly on the SAT and that made trying to get into college a thousand times scarier than it already was,” said Kate Davenport, entering her junior year at MSU.

Cole said, “Focusing on an individual student’s actual accomplishments in high school, no matter which community the student grew up in or which high school he or she attended, will yield a highly diverse freshman class characterized by determination, ambition and the demonstrated willingness to strive for success in Montclair State’s academically rigorous environment.”

MSU officials have inferred that students from middle and lower socio-economic backgrounds may not be able to afford preparation courses and have determined that standardized tests can have an undesirable effect.  It is their anticipation that this will help to expand opportunities for the university to attract more students.

This decision could revolutionize the higher educational system in New Jersey.  For a university to make the change of giving students the option of not submitting SAT and ACT scores, Montclair State joins about 30 percent of the nation’s schools that grant baccalaureate degrees which includes Temple University, Wake Forest University, Wesleyan University, University of Arizona and George Mason University.

Evan Cumming, entering his junior year at MSU, said, "I don't think an SAT score should be the difference between a student getting into a college or not. Colleges should look at a four-year high school GPA as a better indicator of a student's academic ability, not a standardized test."

“We believe that our revised admissions criteria will ensure that the University continues to provide motivated young men and women, from throughout New Jersey and beyond, the outstanding education and opportunities they need to succeed and lead,” Cole said.  

“You sometimes hear stories about kids who do poorly in high school but score greatly on the SAT and end up in college but it is a more common tale to hear about a student who, despite hard work, was rejected from a dream school because of a simple SAT score. Hopefully sooner than later, more NJ colleges will follow Montclair State University in making a proper judgment on students based on their four years of hard work and achievement over their ability to take one test,” Davenport said.

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