If you want to get in, the first thing to look at is the acceptance rate. This tells you how competitive the school is and how serious their requirements are.
After crossing this hurdle, you'll need to impress Northwestern application readers through their other application requirements, including extracurriculars, essays, and letters of recommendation. We'll cover more below.
Many schools specify a minimum GPA requirement, but this is often just the bare minimum to submit an application without immediately getting rejected.
The GPA requirement that really matters is the GPA you need for a real chance of getting in. For this, we look at the school's average GPA for its current students.
(Most schools use a weighted GPA out of 4.0, though some report an unweighted GPA.
This school did not officially report its average GPA, but we've estimated it here using data from over 1,000 schools.)
If you're currently a junior or senior, your GPA is hard to change in time for college applications. If your GPA is at or below the school average of 4.13, you'll need a higher SAT or ACT score to compensate. This will help you compete effectively against other applicants who have higher GPAs than you.
Each school has different requirements for standardized testing. Most schools require the SAT or ACT, and many also require SAT subject tests.
You must take either the SAT or ACT to submit an application to Northwestern. More importantly, you need to do well to have a strong application.
Northwestern SAT Requirements
Many schools say they have no SAT score cutoff, but the truth is that there is a hidden SAT requirement. This is based on the school's average score.
Average SAT: 1510 (Old: 1480)
The average SAT score composite at Northwestern is a 1510 on the 1600 SAT scale.
On the old 2400 SAT, this corresponds to an average SAT score of 1480. (According to our records, this school requires only Reading and Math, so this score is out of 1600.)
This score makes Northwestern Competitive for SAT test scores.
Northwestern SAT Score Analysis (New 1600 SAT)
The 25th percentile New SAT score is 1480, and the 75th percentile New SAT score is 1580. In other words, a 1480 on the New SAT places you below average, while a 1580 will move you up to above average.
Here's the breakdown of new SAT scores by section:
|Section||Average||25th Percentile||75th Percentile|
Northwestern SAT Score Analysis (Old 2400 SAT)
The 25th percentile Old SAT score is 1400, and the 75th percentile SAT score is 1560. In other words, a 1400 on the Old SAT places you below average, while a 1560 puts you well above average.
Here's the breakdown of old SAT scores by section:
|Section||Average||25th Percentile||75th Percentile|
SAT Score Choice Policy
The Score Choice policy at your school is an important part of your testing strategy.
Northwestern has the Score Choice policy of "Highest Section."
This is also known as "superscoring." This means that you can choose which SAT tests you want to send to the school. Of all the scores they receive, your application readers will consider your highest section scores across all SAT test dates you submit.
Click below to learn more about how superscoring critically affects your test strategy.
How does superscoring change your test strategy? (Click to Learn)
For example, say you submit the following 3 test scores:
Even though the highest total you scored on any one test date was 1000, Northwestern will take your highest section score from all your test dates, then combine them to form your Superscore. You can raise your composite score from 1000 to 1400 in this example.
This is important for your testing strategy. Because you can choose which tests to send in, and Northwestern forms your Superscore, you can take the SAT as many times as you want, then submit only the tests that give you the highest Superscore. Your application readers will only see that one score.
Therefore, if your SAT superscore is currently below a 1580, we strongly recommend that you consider prepping for the SAT and retaking it. You have a very good chance of raising your score, which will significantly boost your chances of getting in.
Even better, because of the Superscore, you can focus all your energy on a single section at a time. If your Reading score is lower than your other sections, prep only for the Reading section, then take the SAT. Then focus on Math for the next test, and so on. This will surely give you the highest Superscore possible.
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Northwestern ACT Requirements
Just like for the SAT, Northwestern likely doesn't have a hard ACT cutoff, but if you score too low, your application will get tossed in the trash.
The average ACT score at Northwestern is 33. This score makes Northwestern Strongly Competitive for ACT scores.
The 25th percentile ACT score is 31, and the 75th percentile ACT score is 34.
Even though Northwestern likely says they have no minimum ACT requirement, if you apply with a 31 or below, you'll have a very hard time getting in, unless you have something else very impressive in your application. There are so many applicants scoring 33 and above that a 31 will look academically weak.
ACT Score Sending Policy
If you're taking the ACT as opposed to the SAT, you have a huge advantage in how you send scores, and this dramatically affects your testing strategy.
Here it is: when you send ACT scores to colleges, you have absolute control over which tests you send. You could take 10 tests, and only send your highest one. This is unlike the SAT, where many schools require you to send all your tests ever taken.
This means that you have more chances than you think to improve your ACT score. To try to aim for the school's ACT requirement of 34 and above, you should try to take the ACT as many times as you can. When you have the final score that you're happy with, you can then send only that score to all your schools.
ACT Superscore Policy
By and large, most colleges do not superscore the ACT. (Superscore means that the school takes your best section scores from all the test dates you submit, and then combines them into the best possible composite score). Thus, most schools will just take your highest ACT score from a single sitting.
We weren't able to find the school's exact ACT policy, which most likely means that it does not Superscore. Regardless, you can choose your single best ACT score to send in to Northwestern, so you should prep until you reach our recommended target ACT score of 34.
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Download our free guide on the top 5 strategies you must be using to improve your score. This guide was written by Harvard graduates and ACT perfect scorers. If you apply the strategies in this guide, you'll study smarter and make huge score improvements.
SAT/ACT Writing Section Requirements
Both the SAT and ACT have a Writing section that includes an essay.
Northwestern requires you to take the SAT/ACT Writing section. They'll use this as another factor in their admissions consideration.
SAT Subject Test Requirements
Schools vary in their SAT subject test requirements. Typically, selective schools tend to require them, while most schools in the country do not.
Northwestern has indicated that SAT subject tests are required for SOME applicants. Typically this means that applying to certain majors or colleges within the school requires SAT subject tests, and others don't. Read further to see if you'll need to submit SAT subject scores.
Typically, your SAT/ACT and GPA are far more heavily weighed than your SAT Subject Tests. If you have the choice between improving your SAT/ACT score or your SAT Subject Test scores, definitely choose to improve your SAT/ACT score.
We did more detailed research into this school and found the following information.
SAT IIs are recommended but not required, except for applicants to the Honors Program in Medical Education (HPME) which requires chemistry and math II, the Integrated Science Program (ISP) which requires Chemistry, Physics, and Math II, and applicants who have been home-schooled (at least 1 SAT Math and 2 additional tests from different subject areas).