SAT Scores for Admission to Public Universities

A Side-by-Side Comparison of SAT Scores for Highly Ranked Public Universities

Graduate Life Center at Virginia Tech
Graduate Life Center at Virginia Tech. Photo Credit: Allen Grove

Do you have the SAT scores you need to get into a competitive public university? This article compares the SAT scores of accepted students for 22 highly ranked public universities. If your scores fall within or above the range in the chart below, you're on target for admission. Also check out the SAT comparison table for the top 10 public universities.

Top Public University SAT Score Comparison (mid 50%)
(Learn what these numbers mean)
 SAT Scores
James Madison560640540620
Ohio State610700650750
Penn State580660580680
Texas A&M570670570690
UC Davis560660570700
UC Irvine580650590700
Virginia Tech590670590690
See the ACT version of this table

To be competitive when applying to these public universities, you'll want SAT scores that are above the lower number. If you're a little below that number, don't lose hope. 25 percent of students scored at or below the lower number.

Note that if you are an out-of-state applicant, you may need to have SAT scores significantly higher than those shown here. Most state-funded universities give preference to in-state applicants.

A Strong Academic Record

Even more important than SAT scores is your academic record, and a strong academic record can help make up for standardized test scores that are a little less than ideal. The universities will be looking not just at your grades, but the types of courses you have taken. The admissions folks will want to see success in challenging courses. Success in Advanced Placement, IB, Honors, and dual enrollment courses will strengthen your application measurably, for these courses demonstrate your college readiness.

Holistic Admissions

To varying degrees, all of the universities in the table have holistic admissions. In other words, admissions decisions are based on more than numerical data such as GPA and SAT scores. Many of the schools will require an application essay, so make sure you submit a polished, engaging, and thoughtful piece of writing.

The universities will also want to see meaningful extracurricular activities. Depth in your activities will be more important than breadth, and best yet will be if you had a leadership role. Finally, some of the universities will ask for letters of recommendation. Make sure you ask a teacher who knows you well and can speak about your potential for success in college.

To see a full profile of each public university including acceptance rates and financial aid information, click on the names in the table above. You'll also find a graph of GPA, SAT score, and ACT score data for accepted, rejected, and waitlisted students. 

Data from the National Center for Education Statistics