Montclair State Adopts SAT/ACT Optional Undergraduate Admission Policy

First public university in New Jersey to make the change for all applicants

Photo: Mike Peters

Montclair State University announced on July 29 that it will become the first New Jersey public university to adopt an SAT/ACT test-optional policy for all applicants seeking undergraduate admission. Effective this fall, the University will revise its freshman admissions protocol, placing primary 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 should a student choose to submit them. The policy will take effect for the fall 2015 entering freshman class.

“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.

Montclair State has grown into a large university, admitting approximately 3,000 freshmen each year from a pool of well over 11,000 applicants. Over the past decade, the University has 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. Cole, the University 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 the courses taken. The University has found that a student’s high school GPA is three times as powerful as the SAT for demonstrating a student’s likely performance at Montclair State.

“In addition to being a better predictor of academic success, we are certain that the new admissions protocol will better support our mission of serving a talented and striving student population that reflects the full socio-economic and ethnic diversity of New Jersey,” said Dr. Cole. “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.”

The President 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 preparation courses.

In becoming the first New Jersey public university to make this change, giving students the option of not submitting SAT and Act scores, Montclair State joins more than 800 of the nation’s leading colleges and universities, a group that constitutes about 30 percent of the nation’s schools that grant baccalaureate degrees and that includes Temple University, Wake Forest University, Wesleyan University, University of Arizona and George Mason University.

“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,” Dr. Cole said.

Read media coverage of the announcement in The Star-Ledger and The Record.