ACT Scores for Admission to Top Tennessee Colleges

A Side-by-Side Comparison of College Admissions Data for 11 Top Schools

Tolman Hall at Vanderbilt University
Tolman Hall at Vanderbilt University. Photo Credit: Amy Jacobson

Learn what ACT scores are likely to get you into the top Tennessee colleges or universities. The side-by-side comparison chart below shows ACT scores for the middle 50% of enrolled students. If your scores fall within or above these ranges, you're on target for admission to one of these 11 top colleges in Tennessee.

Top Tennessee Colleges ACT Scores (mid 50%)

(Learn what these numbers mean)

Belmont University 24 29 24 32 22 27
Fisk University 16 22 15 22 16 21
Lipscomb University 23 29 23 32 22 28
Maryville College 20 27 19 28 18 25
Milligan College 23 27 22 30 21 27
Rhodes College 27 32 27 34 25 30
Sewanee: The University of the South Test-Optional Test-Optional Test-Optional Test-Optional Test-Optional Test-Optional
Tennessee Tech 21 28 21 28 19 27
Union University 23 29 23 32 21 27
University of Tennessee 24 30 24 32 24 28
Vanderbilt University 32 35 33 35 30 35

View the SAT version of this table

The percentiles in the table tell us that 50 percent of matriculated students had scores within the indicated range. 25 percent of students scored at or above the higher number, and 25 percent scored at or below the lower number.

Holistic Admissions

If your scores are slightly below the lower numbers in the table, don't give up hope on receiving an acceptance letter. Keep in mind that 25% of enrolled students have scores below those listed. Also, remember that ACT scores are just one part of the application. Application requirements vary from school to school, but a winning essay, meaningful extracurricular activities and good letters of recommendation can all help make up for less-than-ideal ACT scores.

The most important part of your application will be your academic record. You'll need a strong record of success in challenging college preparatory classes. Advanced Placement, Honors, IB, and dual enrollment classes can all play an important role in demonstrating your college readiness. Colleges also like to see an upward trend in grades, not a downward trend.

The University of the South's Test-Optional Policy

If you're interested in Sewanee: The College of the South, you don't need to submit ACT or SAT scores as part of the application process, and the school does not discriminate against students who withhold scores.

Test-optional colleges are not required to report ACT scores to the Department of Education, so the score range does not appear in the table above. The Sewanee admissions website, however, states that the middle 50 percent range for composite ACT scores is 27 to 31. This would suggest that if you have a score of 29 or higher, you'd be in the top half of admitted students and it would be worth submitting scores with your application.

Vanderbilt Is a Reach School

With an 11 percent acceptance rate, Vanderbilt University is one of the most selective colleges in the country. Even if your ACT scores are within or above the range in the table above, you should consider Vanderbilt a reach school. This is true for all the Ivy League schools and other painfully selective institutions such as Caltech, Stanford, MIT, and Duke.

The reality is that students with 4.0 GPAs and ACT scores in the 30s get rejected from Vanderbilt. The GPA, SAT score, and ACT score data in these Vanderbilt admissions graphs makes this point clear. You're going to need more than just stellar grades and test scores. You're also going to need to convince the Vanderbilt admissions folks that you will contribute to the campus community in meaningful ways.

More ACT Score Data

If you want to expand your college search beyond Tennessee, or if you want to see how Tennessee's top colleges and universities measure up nationally, check out these ACT tables for top public universities, top private universities, and top liberal art colleges. For most of the nation's top-ranked schools (such as Vanderbilt), a score in the 30s is going to be an important part of a successful application.

Data from the National Center for Education Statistics

mla apa chicago
Your Citation
Grove, Allen. "ACT Scores for Admission to Top Tennessee Colleges." ThoughtCo, Aug. 25, 2020, Grove, Allen. (2020, August 25). ACT Scores for Admission to Top Tennessee Colleges. Retrieved from Grove, Allen. "ACT Scores for Admission to Top Tennessee Colleges." ThoughtCo. (accessed June 1, 2023).