Muhlenberg Drops SAT Requirement

University Testing

Muhlenberg College is the latest selective liberal arts college to drop its SAT requirement in order to attract a high quality, diverse student body.


The Allentown, Pennsylvania school announced its decision to join the growing trend toward test score-optional admissions this spring, after two years of research led admissions staff and the college president to strongly recommend the change. Dean of Admissions Christopher Hooker-Haring explained, "[A]ll of the psychometric data we have seen, including studies done by the College Board, indicate that the high school record is the single best predictor of academic success on a college campus. In addition, the negative or exclusionary impact of the SAT falls most heavily on minority and low-income groups of students because they tend to score lower on the test. We want to encourage greater diversity in our student body, not erect permanent impediments to diversity."


Beginning this fall, Muhlenberg applicants may present a graded writing sample and participate in a personal interview in lieu of submitting an SAT score. Hooker-Haring continued, "...we are reinforcing the kind of thoughtful, active, engaged participation in their own college selection process that we expect of our students once they are here ... [W]e will continue to look for students who love learning without impeding the diversity of our student body." Similar test-optional policies have brought high performing students from a wide range of backgrounds to colleges such as Bates, Bowdoin, Franklin & Marshall, Dickinson, and Lafayette.


Though standardized test proponents (such as test makers ETS and ACT) claim that schools which drop test requirements are lowering standards, Muhlenberg President Arthur R. Taylor stressed that the school received the highest number -- and highest quality -- of applications in its history this year. "[W]e feel we are making this decision from a position of strength," he said. The decision to go optional is meant to reflect and bolster Muhlenberg's growing popularity and status.


Test-optional admissions policies are now in place at nearly 250 4-year schools, including some of the country's most competitive small colleges, several large public universities, and a number of open enrollment institutions. For a free, updated list of the schools, send an SASE to "Test Optional" at FairTest.