As the university's president, Conant was instrumental in transforming Harvard, until then widely perceived as a 'finishing school' for members of the New England upper class, into a world-class research university. He introduced aptitude tests into the undergraduate admissions system so that students would be chosen for their intellectual promise and merit, rather than their social connections. Many American colleges followed Conant's lead, and this campaign led eventually to the creation of the SAT. Conant also did much to move general undergraduate curriculum away from its traditional emphasis on the classics, and towards a more scientific and modern subject matter. He was active throughout his career on issues of education and scientific policy.
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