Test Optional Policy

Montclair State is now SAT/ACT Optional

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Montclair State University considers a number of factors in reviewing an admissions application. The most important of these factors is the student’s academic performance in high school, particularly the student’s high school GPA and the rigor of the courses taken (minimum course requirements plus additional, more comprehensive coursework as described below.)

Other factors considered in our holistic review process include: strong letters of recommendation from teachers and/or counselors; a well-written, thoughtful admissions essay; a commitment to extra-curricular engagement (for example, community service, leadership in student organizations and athletics, performance and artistic activities, and part-time employment); and standardized test scores.

Each application for admission to Montclair State University is reviewed individually, and the admissions process is a competitive one. Each decision is made within the context of the whole applicant pool and the number of places available in our incoming class.

Applicants for admission are expected to complete a minimum of 16 units of a college-preparatory coursework as follows:

• 4 units of English
• 3 units of Mathematics (including Algebra, Geometry, and Algebra II)
• 2 units of the same foreign language
• 2 units of a laboratory science
• 2 units of social sciences
• 3 additional units in any of the subject areas above

Students are recognized in the admissions process for pursuing a challenging curriculum beyond the minimum required, including, for example:

• Mathematics beyond Algebra II
• Laboratory science beyond Chemistry
• A third or fourth year of a foreign language
• Advanced Placement courses
• Honors courses

Our strongest candidates for admission possess a 3.2 or higher cumulative high school GPA on an un-weighted, 4.0 scale, a challenging course sequence (particularly in the junior and senior years), and a well-rounded extra-curricular resume. Submission of SAT or ACT scores is not required, but, if a student chooses to submit those scores, the scores will be considered in the admissions process.

Frequently Asked Questions:

How do students qualify for admissions merit scholarships? Scholarship criteria for fall 2015 admission will be announced in September of 2014. Scholarship criteria are reviewed every year based on the University’s strategic enrollment goals and policies.

Should students still submit SAT/ACT scores? If a score is “good”, will this increase an applicant’s chance of a positive admissions decision? Or if a score is not to our standards, can this hurt an applicant’s chance of a positive admissions decision? Students may send SAT or ACT scores if they wish those scores to be part of our holistic review of the application. A holistic review includes high school transcripts listing cumulative coursework and GPA, strong letters of recommendation from teachers and/or counselors, a well-written essay, extracurricular engagement, and standardized test scores if provided. Applicants are not hindered or advantaged by standardized test scores alone.

Why are we no longer requiring SAT/ACT scores? 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. Over the past decade, the University reviewed its admissions criteria to determine how the various factors considered in the admissions process track with student retention, academic success and graduation rates. According to Dr. Susan Cole, the University’s President, Montclair State has verified that the most powerful predictor of college success is a student’s performance in high school and, in particular, the high school GPA and the rigor of courses taken. She said the new policy will also better support our mission of serving a talented and striving student population that reflects the full socio-economic and ethnic diversity of New Jersey. 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. Dr. Cole added that it is the University’s view that standardized tests can have the undesirable effect of disadvantaging capable, striving students from middle and lower socio-economic backgrounds, many of whom do not have the benefit of costly standardized test preparation courses.

What does “rigor of high school courses” mean? Our minimum requirements plus any combination of “challenging” curriculum beyond the minimum, including: Math beyond Alegbra II, lab science beyond chemistry, three or four years of a foreign language, AP courses, honors courses.
How will an admission decision be made if an applicant does not submit SAT or ACT scores? A holistic review of the application, including cumulative coursework and GPA, strong letters of recommendation from teachers and/or counselors, a well-written essay, and extracurricular engagement.