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Penn State Admission Essay 2013

Incoming Class Profile

Statistics for the Class of 2021

 

APPLICANT POOL  

Total Applicants 

40,413

Total Admitted

3,757

Total Enrolled

2,457

Early Decision Applicants

6,147

Early Decision Admitted

1,354

 

Regular Decision Applicants

34,266

Regular Decision Admitted

2,403

 

 

Demographic Information of the Class of 2021

Listed by home address.

INCOMING CLASS OF 2021 
Self-identify as students of color (US Citizen/Permanent Resident)47.9%
International (by home address)15.9%
First-generation12.4%

 

gender* 
Female53%
Male47%

*Percentage of Class of 2021

High School Achievement

Performance in high school is the single most important factor in the student selection process at Penn.  However, because grading and ranking policies are different around the country and the globe, it is difficult to pinpoint one metric for a student's success in the classroom.  The most competitive applicants have pursued a rigorous program of study and achieved top grades in the context of their school.  

 

testing*range
SAT Reading710-790
SAT Math740-800
SAT Reading (New)680-750
SAT Math (New)690-770
ACT Composite32-35

*Testing means for the middle 50 percent of admitted students

This information is accurate as of September 18, 2017 as generated by Penn Undergraduate Admissions.


If you want to get in, the first thing to look at is the acceptance rate. This tells you how competitive the school is and how serious their requirements are.

The acceptance rate at Penn State is 51%. For every 100 applicants, 51 are admitted.

This means the school is moderately selective. The school expects you to meet their requirements for GPA and SAT/ACT scores, but they're more flexible than other schools. If you exceed their requirements, you have an excellent chance of getting in. But if you don't, you might be one of the unlucky minority that gets a rejection letter.

Many schools specify a minimum GPA requirement, but this is often just the bare minimum to submit an application without immediately getting rejected.

The GPA requirement that really matters is the GPA you need for a real chance of getting in. For this, we look at the school's average GPA for its current students.

The average GPA at Penn State is 3.6.

(Most schools use a weighted GPA out of 4.0, though some report an unweighted GPA.

With a GPA of 3.6, Penn State requires you to be above average in your high school class. You'll need at least a mix of A's and B's, with more A's than B's. You can compensate for a lower GPA with harder classes, like AP or IB classes. This will show that you're able to handle more difficult academics than the average high school student.

If you're currently a junior or senior, your GPA is hard to change in time for college applications. If your GPA is at or below the school average of 3.6, you'll need a higher SAT or ACT score to compensate. This will help you compete effectively against other applicants who have higher GPAs than you.

Each school has different requirements for standardized testing. Most schools require the SAT or ACT, and many also require SAT subject tests.

You must take either the SAT or ACT to submit an application to Penn State. More importantly, you need to do well to have a strong application.

Penn State SAT Requirements

Many schools say they have no SAT score cutoff, but the truth is that there is a hidden SAT requirement. This is based on the school's average score.

Average SAT: 1270 (Old: 1786)

The average SAT score composite at Penn State is a 1270 on the 1600 SAT scale.

On the old 2400 SAT, this corresponds to an average SAT score of 1786.

This score makes Penn State Competitive for SAT test scores.


Penn State SAT Score Analysis (New 1600 SAT)

The 25th percentile New SAT score is 1180, and the 75th percentile New SAT score is 1370. In other words, a 1180 on the New SAT places you below average, while a 1370 will move you up to above average.

Here's the breakdown of new SAT scores by section:

SectionAverage25th Percentile75th Percentile
Math630580700
Reading312934
Writing333035
Composite127011801370

Penn State SAT Score Analysis (Old 2400 SAT)

The 25th percentile Old SAT score is 1630, and the 75th percentile SAT score is 1940. In other words, a 1630 on the Old SAT places you below average, while a 1940 puts you well above average.

Here's the breakdown of old SAT scores by section:

SectionAverage25th Percentile75th Percentile
Math614560670
Reading582530630
Writing590540640
Composite178616301940

SAT Score Choice Policy

The Score Choice policy at your school is an important part of your testing strategy.

Penn State has the Score Choice policy of "Highest Sitting."

This means that you can choose which SAT tests you want to send to the school. Of all the scores they receive, your application readers will consider the SAT score from your single highest test date (the sum of math, reading, and writing).

This is important for your testing strategy. Because you can choose which tests to send in, and Penn State only considers your highest score on a single test date, you can take the SAT as many times as you want, then submit your strongest score. Your application readers will only see that one score.

Therefore, if your SAT score is currently below a 1786, we strongly recommend that you consider prepping for the SAT and retaking it. You don't have much to lose, and you can potentially raise your score and significantly boost your chances of getting in.


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Penn State ACT Requirements

Just like for the SAT, Penn State likely doesn't have a hard ACT cutoff, but if you score too low, your application will get tossed in the trash.

Average ACT: 27

The average ACT score at Penn State is 27. This score makes Penn State Moderately Competitive for ACT scores.

The 25th percentile ACT score is 25, and the 75th percentile ACT score is 29.

Even though Penn State likely says they have no minimum ACT requirement, if you apply with a 25 or below, you'll have a harder time getting in, unless you have something else impressive in your application.

ACT Score Sending Policy

If you're taking the ACT as opposed to the SAT, you have a huge advantage in how you send scores, and this dramatically affects your testing strategy.

Here it is: when you send ACT scores to colleges, you have absolute control over which tests you send. You could take 10 tests, and only send your highest one. This is unlike the SAT, where many schools require you to send all your tests ever taken.

This means that you have more chances than you think to improve your ACT score. To try to aim for the school's ACT requirement of 27 and above, you should try to take the ACT as many times as you can. When you have the final score that you're happy with, you can then send only that score to all your schools.

ACT Superscore Policy

By and large, most colleges do not superscore the ACT. (Superscore means that the school takes your best section scores from all the test dates you submit, and then combines them into the best possible composite score). Thus, most schools will just take your highest ACT score from a single sitting.

We weren't able to find the school's exact ACT policy, which most likely means that it does not Superscore. Regardless, you can choose your single best ACT score to send in to Penn State, so you should prep until you reach our recommended target ACT score of 27.


Studying for the ACT instead? Want to learn how to improve your ACT score by 4 points?

Download our free guide on the top 5 strategies you must be using to improve your score. This guide was written by Harvard graduates and ACT perfect scorers. If you apply the strategies in this guide, you'll study smarter and make huge score improvements.


SAT/ACT Writing Section Requirements

Both the SAT and ACT have a Writing section that includes an essay.

Penn State requires you to take the SAT/ACT Writing section. They'll use this as another factor in their admissions consideration.


SAT Subject Test Requirements

Schools vary in their SAT subject test requirements. Typically, selective schools tend to require them, while most schools in the country do not.

We did not find information that Penn State requires SAT subject tests, and so most likely it does not. At least 6 months before applying, you should still doublecheck just to make sure, so you have enough time to take the test.



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