Northwestern University GPA, SAT and ACT Data

Northwestern University has an acceptance rate in the teens making it one of the country's most selective universities. Indeed, its selectivity has been increasing measurably in recent years.

Northwestern University GPA, SAT and ACT Graph

Northwestern University GPA, SAT and ACT Data for Admission
Northwestern University GPA, SAT Scores and ACT Scores for Admission. Data courtesy of Cappex.

In this graph, the blue and green dots representing accepted students are concentrated in the upper right corner. Most students who got into Northwestern had "A" averages, SAT scores (RW+M) above 1250, and ACT composite scores of 26 or higher. The reality is that about 75% of successful applicants have SAT scores around 1400 or higher and ACT composite scores above 30. Also realize that a lot of red dots are hidden beneath the blue and green— many students with impressive transcripts and high standardized test scores get rejected from Northwestern (see below). So even if your grades and scores are on target for admission to Northwestern, make sure you have some back-up plans.

At the same time, keep in mind that Northwestern has holistic admissions—Northwestern's admissions folks are looking for students who will bring more than good grades and standardized test scores to their campus.If you have some kind of remarkable talent or have an interesting background, your application will certainly get a close look even if your grades and test scores aren't quite up to the ideal. A winning essay, strong letters of recommendation, and interesting extracurricular activities all contribute to a successful application. But be realistic—students with a "B" average and middling ACT scores aren't likely to get into Northwestern.

You'll also want to put plenty of care and thought into your supplemental "Why Northwestern?" essay. If you write an essay that is generic and could be sent to any top university, you haven't done the assignment well. This is your big chance to demonstrate your interest and show that specific features of Northwestern University align with your interests and aspirations. 


Northwestern University Rejection and Waitlist Data

Northwestern University GPA, SAT and ACT Admissions Data for Rejected and Waitlisted Students
Northwestern University GPA, SAT Scores and ACT Scores for Rejected and Waitlisted Students. Data courtesy of Cappex.

This graph of rejection and waitlist data shows the painful reality of Northwestern University admissions. Once we strip away the blue and green accepted student data from the Cappex graph, we can see that the rejection data points extend all the way to the upper right corner of the graph. Students with 4.0 unweighted averages and stellar ACT/SAT scores still get rejected from Northwestern.

Typically strong students don't get in because their applications didn't convince the admissions folks that their passions, interests, and personality make them a perfect match for Northwestern. If your application doesn't reveal the meaningful ways you might contribute to the campus community, then you might find yourself with a rejection letter even if your numerical measures were all in the top 1%.

To learn more about the university, be sure to check out the Northwestern University profile.