What are Penn State's admission requirements? While there are a lot of pieces that go into a college application, you should focus on only a few critical things:
- GPA requirements
- Testing requirements, including SAT and ACT requirements
- Application requirements
In this guide we'll cover what you need to get into Penn State and build a strong application.
School location: University Park, PA
This school is also known as: PSU, Penn State, Penn State University Park
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.
The acceptance rate at Penn State is 49.1%. For every 100 applicants, 49 are admitted.
This means the school is
moderately selective. The school expects you to meet their requirements for GPA and SAT/ACT scores, but they're more flexible than other schools. If you exceed their requirements, you have an excellent chance of getting in. But if you don't, you might be one of the unlucky minority that gets a rejection letter.
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Penn State GPA Requirements
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.
The average GPA at Penn State is 3.58.
(Most schools use a weighted GPA out of 4.0, though some report an unweighted GPA.
With a GPA of 3.58, Penn State
requires you to be around average in your high school class. You'll need a mix of A's and B's, and very few C's. If you have a lower GPA, you can compensate with harder courses like AP or IB classes. This will help boost your weighted GPA and show your ability to take college classes.
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 3.58, 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.
SAT and ACT Requirements
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 Penn State. More importantly, you need to do well to have a strong application.
Penn State 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.
The average SAT score composite at Penn State is a 1265 on the 1600 SAT scale.
This score makes Penn State Competitive for SAT test scores.
Penn State SAT Score Analysis (New 1600 SAT)
The 25th percentile SAT score is 1160, and the 75th percentile SAT score is 1370. In other words, a 1160 on the SAT places you below average, while a 1370 will move you up to above average.
Here's the breakdown of SAT scores by section:
|Section||Average||25th Percentile||75th Percentile|
|Reading + Writing||625||580||670|
SAT Score Choice Policy
The Score Choice policy at your school is an important part of your testing strategy.
Penn State has the Score Choice policy of "Highest Sitting."
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 the SAT score from your single highest test date (the sum of math, reading, and writing).
This is important for your testing strategy. Because you can choose which tests to send in, and Penn State only considers your highest score on a single test date, you can take the SAT as many times as you want, then submit your strongest score. Your application readers will only see that one score.
Therefore, if your SAT score is currently below a 1265, we strongly recommend that you consider prepping for the SAT and retaking it. You don't have much to lose, and you can potentially raise your score and significantly boost your chances of getting in.
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Penn State ACT Requirements
Just like for the SAT, Penn State 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 Penn State is 28. This score makes Penn State Moderately Competitive for ACT scores.
The 25th percentile ACT score is 25, and the 75th percentile ACT score is 30.
Even though Penn State likely says they have no minimum ACT requirement, if you apply with a 25 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 28 and above that a 25 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 28 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 Penn State, so you should prep until you reach our recommended target ACT score of 28.
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SAT/ACT Writing Section Requirements
Both the SAT and ACT have an optional essay section.
Penn State requires you to take the SAT Essay/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.
We did not find information that Penn State requires SAT subject tests, and so most likely it does not. At least 6 months before applying, you should still doublecheck just to make sure, so you have enough time to take the test.
What are your chances of admission at Penn State University Park?
Chances of admission with these scores:
Here's our custom admissions calculator. Plug in your numbers to see what your chances of getting in are.
Pick your test:
Note: Your admission decision relies not only on your GPA and SAT/ACT scores, but also on your coursework difficulty, extracurriculars, letters of recommendation, and personal statements. This tool provides only a simplistic estimate of your chances of admission. Instead of treating this tool as a crystal ball, we recommend you consider the big picture of what your chance means:
We recommend you apply to schools across a range of chances. Applying to some safety schools will guarantee you have a college to go to, while applying to some reach schools will give you a shot at getting into the school at the top of your range.
- 80-100%: Safety school: Strong chance of getting in
- 50-80%: More likely than not getting in
- 20-50%: Lower but still good chance of getting in
- 5-20%: Reach school: Unlikely to get in, but still have a shot
- 0-5%: Hard reach school: Very difficult to get in
How would your chances improve with a better score?
Take your current SAT score and add 160 points (or take your ACT score and add 4 points) to the calculator above. See how much your chances improve?
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Every school requires an application with the bare essentials - high school transcript and GPA, application form, and other core information. Many schools, as explained above, also require SAT and ACT scores, as well as letters of recommendation, application essays, and interviews. We'll cover the exact requirements of Penn State here.
Application Requirements Overview
Essay or Personal Statement
Recommended for all freshmen
Letters of Recommendation
Fee Waiver Available?
Honors College has additional requirements. Certain programs have special requirements such as auditions or portfolios recommended for some freshmen
SAT or ACT
SAT Essay or ACT Writing
SAT Subject Tests
Scores Due in Office
Deadlines and Early Admissions
Admissions Office Information
We did more detailed research into this school's admissions process and found the following information:
Extra Minimum Units Required for:
- Smeal College of Business
- All other Business programs
- College of Earth and Mineral Sciences
- College of Engineering
- Engineering/Engineering Technology at Erie and Harrisburg
- College of Information Sciences and Technology
- Eberly College of Science
- Science at Altoona, Abington, Berks, Erie, Harrisburg, and Lehigh Valley
Those units are:
English 4 units, including 1 unit each in composition and literature
Social Studies/Art/Humanities 3 units in any combination of social studies, arts, or humanities
Science 3 units
Math 3 units, in algebra, geometry, and trigonometry, including one-half unit of trigonometry or higher-level math
World Language 2 units
There are different admissions requirements for the accelerated pre-med and performing arts programs, more details here.
The admissions site explicitly states that GPA is 2/3 of admission weight, and the other 1/3 goes to test scores, your essay, and the rest. So to maximize your chances at Penn State, make sure your GPA is strong.
The Honors College has a separate application you can access from the main Penn State application. Read more about admission to the Honors College.
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