Penn State GPA, SAT and ACT Data

Penn State University
George Chriss/Wikimedia Commons/CC-BY-2.5

Admission to Penn State is competitive, and you're likely to need above average grades and test scores to receive an acceptance letter. To see if you are likely to be admitted, you can use this free tool from Cappex to calculate your chances of getting in.

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Penn State GPA, SAT and ACT Graph

Penn State GPA, SAT and ACT Data for Admission
Penn State GPA, SAT Scores and ACT Scores for Admission. Data courtesy of Cappex.

Discussion of Penn State's Admissions Standards:

Roughly half of students who apply to Penn State get accepted. In the graph above, the blue and green dots represent accepted students. As you can see, the majority of accepted students have at least "B" averages, and they have combined SAT scores (RW+M) of about 1050 or higher, and ACT composite scores of 20 or higher. The higher the numbers, the more likely you are to get accepted. Hidden beneath the blue and green is a bit of red, so it's important to keep in mind that some students with high GPAs and test scores still get rejected by Penn State.

However, Penn State does have holistic admissions, so students who shine in other areas can get accepted even if their grades or test scores are a little less than ideal. Students who reveal some kind of remarkable talent or have a compelling story to tell will often get a close look even if grades and test scores are a slightly below the norm. The most successful applicants have a winning essay, strong letters of recommendation, and interesting extracurricular activities.

To learn more about Penn State including the graduation and retention rates, costs, financial aid, and popular academic programs, be sure to check out the Penn admissions profile.

If You Like Penn State, You May Also Like These Schools:

Applicants to Penn State are often interested in large public universities with strong academic programs and a vibrant NCAA Division I athletics (Penn State competes in the Big Ten Conference). The University of Michigan, Purdue University, Ohio State University, and the University of Virginia are all popular among PSU applicants. For applicants who are also considering private universities, Syracuse University and Villanova University are popular. 

Articles Featuring Penn State

Penn State's many strengths earned it a place in our lists of top public universitiestop Middle Atlantic colleges, and top Pennsylvania colleges. Also, for its strong programs in the liberal arts and sciences, Penn State was awarded a chapter of the prestigious Phi Beta Kappa academic honor society. Only 15% of four-year institutions have this distinction. 

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Penn State Rejection and Wait List Data

Rejection and Wait List Data for Penn State University
Rejection and Wait List Data for Penn State University. Data courtesy of Cappex

The graph at the top of this article can be a bit misleading, for much of the data for rejected and wait listed students is hidden. It would be easy to conclude that an "A" average and solid SAT scores would make an acceptance letter probable.

When we strip away the blue and green acceptance data, we can see that quite a few students with "A" averages and strong SAT/ACT scores do not get into Penn State. The reasons the university might reject seemingly qualified students are many: a failure to take adequate college preparatory courses (for example, insufficient language or science classes), no demonstration of meaningful activities outside of the classroom, or a weak application essay.

Also, some academic programs such as the joint BS/MBA Science program and accelerated premedical program have a higher admissions bar than the university as a whole. Finally, applicants to visual and performing arts programs will typically need to audition or submit a portfolio.