George Mason Drops SAT for High GPA Applicants

George Mason University will no longer require standardized test scores from applicants with top high school grades.

George Mason University is becoming one of the nation’s first four-year public universities to drop the SAT and other standardized tests from its admissions requirements for certain students. High school seniors with at least a 3.5 grade-point average and who are in the top 20 percent of their class won’t have to submit an SAT or ACT score with their application beginning this year, said dean of admissions Andrew Flagel.

The school, after a three-year review, concluded that SAT scores are a poor indicator of collegiate success for high-achieving high school students. Applicants who don’t have a 3.5 GPA will still be required to submit a test score. Students who want to play intercollegiate sports also must submit test scores because the
NCAA uses them to help determine eligibility.

Dozens of private schools have stopped requiring applicants to take the SAT or ACT amid concerns the tests are not accurate gauges of an applicant’s potential for success.

While this would seem to advantage students who are in weak high schools, the evidence seems clear that top performers tend to succeed at the next level. It is not clear, though, how GMU will compare students with similar grades from different schools, especially those from outside the state. The main purpose of the SAT was always to provide a standardized score alllowing for such comparisons.

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James Joyner
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James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Acknowledging the problems with any testing system (and high school grades is just another testing system), this doesn’t make sense to me. There is a huge difference between schools. If they linked this to the quality of the school (e.g. exceptional rating), then it could make sense. Good school, good grades, likely will be a good student even if they don’t do well on standardized tests.

  2. Triumph says:

    While this would seem to advantage students who are in weak high schools

    The only thing this advantages is the weak university: George Mason.

    That place is a third tier institution–maybe a step up from Towson St., but nothing when compared to Georgetown, George Washington, and Johns Hopkins. Hell, even Uof MD is better than that place!

    They need all of the students they can get!

  3. vnjagvet says:

    Students who do well in school should be rewarded. This is as good a way to do it as any. Those who are smart but don’t apply themselves can compete by way of SAT and ACT with other thus-far non-achievers.

    I don’t see much downside to this policy for GMU.

  4. Avonna says:

    What is GMU’s attitude toward IB students?