MONTCLAIR — Montclair State University in September welcomed its latest round of students who were evaluated based on their four years spent in high school — not four hours spent taking a standardized test.

In 2014, MSU became the first public four-year institution in New Jersey to make SAT/ACT scores optional in the application process.

According to Jeff Indiveri-Gant, the university's director of undergraduate admissions, the institution has validated that students on campus are performing at the same levels as they had before the test-optional policy took effect.

"The difference that we see in the student body is that a lot more students who wouldn’t have had access to a Montclair State education, because they didn’t have access to expensive standardized test preparation programs, are applying and being admitted," Gant told New Jersey 101.5.

SAT/ACT scores are welcomed with applications, but those scores would never be used to negatively impact an admissions decision, Gant said. Instead, the school focuses on one's academic performance in high school, including GPA and the types of courses taken.

The average GPA of an incoming MSU student is currently 3.24, which is slightly higher than years prior, Gant said.

According to Gant, about a third of applicants still submit test scores with their application.

"Ultimately, the admissions process is trying to find students who are going to be a good fit for this institution, and who are going to be prepared for the rigors of a Montclair State education," he said. "We've determined that the SAT or the ACT is not the best way to figure that out."

Gant said he expects more schools in New Jersey and elsewhere to eventually land on a test-optional policy.

At Rowan University in Glassboro, students who have a high school GPA of 3.5 or higher may choose not to submit a standardized test score. There are some exceptions, including prospective engineering majors and those applying for merit scholarships.

Drew University, a private institution in Madison, does not require SAT/ACT scores on an application in order for a student to be considered.

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Contact reporter Dino Flammia at dino.flammia@townsquaremedia.com.