SAT Scores for Admission to Top North Carolina Colleges

A Side-by-Side Comparison of College Admissions Data for 15 Top Colleges

Duke University Chapel at sunrise
Duke University. Uschools University Images / Getty Images

Learn if you have the SAT scores you need to get into one of the top North Carolina colleges and universities. This side-by-side comparison shows scores for the middle 50% of enrolled students. If your scores fall within or above these ranges, you're on target for admission.

North Carolina Colleges SAT Score Comparison (mid 50%)
(Learn what these numbers mean)

Reading 25% Reading 75% Math 25% Math 75%
Appalachian State 560 640 540 630
Davidson College 660 740 650 730
Duke University 670 750 710 790
Elon University 580 670 560 660
High Point University 530 620 520 620
Meredith College 510 610 490 585
NC State 610 680 620 710
Salem College 510 660 510 640
UNC Asheville 550 650 530 610
UNC Chapel Hill 640 720 630 740
UNC School of the Arts 560 660 520 630
UNC Wilmington 600 660 585 650

View the ACT version of this table

*Note: Guilford College, Wake Forest, and Warren Wilson are not included in the table above due to their practice of test-op

The lower number—the 25th percentile—tells us that 25 percent of applicants scored at this level or lower. The higher number—the 75th percentile—indicates that 25 percent of applicants scored at this level or higher. To be a competitive applicant, you're going to want an SAT score that is above the lower number. Admission is clearly possible with scores below the middle 50 percent range, but your chance of success will be significantly lessened. Similarly, scores above the higher number will make you an extremely strong applicant for this piece of the admissions equation.

Admissions Standards for North Carolina Colleges

Admissions standards vary by college, like UNC-Charlotte does not have same average as Duke. An average SAT score is a little over 500 for each section, so you can see that all of the top North Carolina colleges in the table tend to enroll students who score above average. That said, the typical scores still vary widely from school to school.

The most selective schools in the state—Davidson College, Duke University, and UNC Chapel Hill—reject far more students than they accept, so you would be wise to consider them reach schools even if your SAT scores fall within the ranges in the table. Many straight "A" students with strong SAT scores get rejected by these schools.

Three of the schools in the table—Guilford College, Wake Forest University, and Warren Wilson College—have test-optional admissions. If you're SAT scores aren't likely to strengthen your application, you are free to omit them. For Guilford, a combined SAT score above 1150 is probably worth reporting. For Warren Wilson, typical scores are a bit higher, so 1250 would be a reasonable cutoff. Wake Forest is one of the most selective test-optional schools in the country, so you may want to report your scores only if you earned a 1350 or higher.

For most schools, a strong academic record is going to be the most important part of your application. Colleges want to see that you have succeeded in the most challenging classes available to you. Strong grades in Advanced Placement, IB, Honors, and dual enrollment classes are one of the best predictors of future college success.

Holistic Admissions

To varying degrees, all of the colleges and universities in the table have holistic admissions. In other words, they make admissions decisions based on who you are and what you can do, not just on numerical measures such as grades and standardized test scores.

This means that SAT scores are just one part of a much more complex admissions equation, and strengths in other areas can help make up for SAT scores that are less than ideal. A winning essay, meaningful extracurricular activities and good letters of recommendation can all play an important role in the admissions process. Not all schools will require all of these application components, and at NC State an essay and extracurricular resume are optional.

UNC School of the Arts, like most art schools and art programs, requires auditions and/or portfolios so that applicants can showcase their artistic talents. Good grades and test scores matter, but artistic accomplishments are an extremely important part of the application.

Warren Wilson is also unique among the schools in the table. The college's focus on work and service requires the right type of student, and the admissions folks will be looking for signs of social maturity, community service, and significant school and community involvement outside of the classroom.

A Diverse Group of Colleges and Universities

The colleges in the table represent a diverse assortment of colleges, and there should be good options for nearly any type of student.

If you want to expand your search further, be sure to check out all 16 public universities in the North Carolina system. If you're interested in schools beyond North Carolina, check out these 30 top colleges and universities in the Southeast.

Data from the National Center for Educational Statistics.

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Your Citation
Grove, Allen. "SAT Scores for Admission to Top North Carolina Colleges." ThoughtCo, Aug. 27, 2020, Grove, Allen. (2020, August 27). SAT Scores for Admission to Top North Carolina Colleges. Retrieved from Grove, Allen. "SAT Scores for Admission to Top North Carolina Colleges." ThoughtCo. (accessed June 1, 2023).