updated 8/23/2006 7:31:31 PM ET 2006-08-23T23:31:31

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.

Among public schools, however, George Mason's stance is somewhat unique.

A number of public universities, including the University of Texas, guarantee admission to students who achieve a certain grade-point average or class rank in high school, negating the need to submit an SAT or ACT.

At George Mason, applicants who do not submit an SAT or ACT score will still be evaluated by the admissions committee and must submit two additional letters of recommendation.

The SAT has come under fire in recent years from critics who feel it is overemphasized and is biased against minorities. However, George Mason, with one of the most diverse student bodies in the nation, found that the SAT was a weak predictor for all races when applied to students with high GPAs. Flagel said racial and minority issues had nothing to do with the school's decision.

Caren Scoropanos, a spokeswoman for the College Board, which administers the SAT test, said that both grade-point averages and SAT scores can be good predictors of collegiate success, but that evaluating both is the best way to gauge an applicant's prospects.

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