Everyone remembers taking the SAT or the ACT, mostly because up until now, every single student at Montclair State has been required to take the standardized tests in order to be considered for admission. However, this is all changing.
For the first time, incoming freshmen were able to apply to Montclair State University without ever taking the SAT or ACT.
On July 29, 2014, Montclair State became the first public university in New Jersey to announce that SAT and ACT test scores would no longer be an application requirement, but an option for students. Montclair State is obviously not the first college to change its admission policies; in fact, many colleges around the nation have moved closer to an application process without standardized test scores.
This practice, which is becoming more and more popular, has proven to be beneficial to students who come from families with low income. According to the National Center for Fair and Open Testing, students who have a household income of less than $20,000 have an average SAT test score of 1314 out of 2400. On the other hand, those who have a household income of $200,000 or more have a SAT test score average of 1720. With a 406 point difference, it is obvious that coming from a family with a low income leaves one at a large disadvantage when it comes to college applications.
The disadvantages that face low income students stem from the fact that they do not have the available funds to pay for preparation classes. One of the most highly rated SAT and ACT courses, the Princeton Review, costs an upward of $1,000, which is definitely out of the price range for a family making less than $20,000 a year. On the other hand, ‘The Official SAT Study Guide’ Book is $21.99, which may still be too expensive for some struggling families. Since many families are unable to aid their children by funding study courses, many students are left to study on their own, if they even have the financial capabilities to do so.
Besides the cost of achieving reasonable standardized test scores, some individuals are just not good at test taking. There are some students that are perfectly capable of achievement, but are unable to do so just because of the anxiety test taking often brings. When the pressure is high, much like that applied to the students all throughout high school as they prepare for the SAT or ACT, some students become extremely nervous. This can later be reflected in their scores.
Conversely, other students may have problems with the way the questions are worded and have trouble understanding how to answer. This can be crippling and can become extremely stressful when they must sit through another four or five hours of testing.
By moving away from a system based on standardized tests, many potential students have to ask where emphasis should be placed as the admission offices look through their applications. Montclair State University’s President Dr. Susan Cole said in a press release in 2014, admissions will now focus “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.”
She believes focusing on high school achievements instead of test grades “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.”
This comes as a great deal of relief to those who wish to become a Montclair State Red Hawk. Now, knowing that they will be judged on their whole body of work and not just their test scores, all future students will feel confident while submitting their applications. This change can only help those who wish to become Red Hawks, one day.