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Thomas Broderick

Northwestern ACT Scores

Hello aspiring Wildcats! I see you’re interested in Northwestern University’s cold winters and rigorous academic offerings. In this article I hope to give you a brief introduction to Northwestern, the ACT scores you need to succeed, and other tips for admissions victory.


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Photo by AlexaSuter

Northwestern University is in Evanston, Illinois, just a few miles from downtown Chicago. Located right on Lake Michigan, Northwestern’s 9,000 undergraduates takes courses in 124 academic programs. The majority of students are part of Northwestern’s College of Arts and Sciences.


Just the Facts

Here are the need-to-know numbers about Northwestern.

  • Northwestern acceptance rate is 13.2%.
  • The middle 50% of ACT scores for admitted students is 31-34.

Oh crud, another ultra-competitive university with a soul-crushingly low acceptance rate and sky-high median ACT scores. This begs the question:


Why Can’t This Be Easy!?

It would be nice to say that Northwestern takes everyone who really wants to go there, but that’s not the way of the world. Maybe in one of these college ACT articles I’ll get to write, “Yeah, don’t worry about ACT scores. Their doors are wide open. Come as you are!” I won’t hold my breath for that day, though, and neither should you. You should thank the heavens that you’re not studying for the imperial examinations in Qing dynasty China!

Okay, ranting time is over. Let’s figure out how to overcome the odds and make your journey to Northwestern a reality!


Northwestern, Standardized Tests, and You

In this article I’ve decided not to rehash my common advice regarding upping your ACT scores. What I will do is provide you some Northwestern specific information about how they use the ACT in admissions decisions.

  • Northwestern does not accept superscores, only the highest composite score. That might come as a bummer to some of you out there, but alas, c’est la vie.
  • If you’re submitting ACT scores, Northwestern wants a writing score, too.
    • Helpful hint: the writing score does not need to be from the same test as your highest composite score.
  • Northwestern has no preference between ACT and SAT. If you’re earning higher scores on the SAT, don’t even submit ACT scores to Northwestern.
  • If you’re ACT game is still lacking, Northwestern does accept (but doesn’t require) SAT subject test scores. If you’re strong in a certain subject, a high subject subject test score will give your application an extra bump.


Other Tips and Tricks

If at the end of the day your ACT scores still make you worry, pay close attention to how Northwestern chooses its applicants. I’ve summarized some of their best advice below.

  • If you’re 100% sure that Northwestern is the school for you, apply Early Decision.
  • Make sure to take advantage of the “Additional Information” section of the Common Application if life events have prevented you from doing your best in school.

That’s all for today, ACT scholars.


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About Thomas Broderick

Thomas spent four years teaching high school English, social studies, and ACT preparation in Middle Tennessee. Now living in Northern California, he is excited to share his knowledge and experience with Magoosh's readers. In his spare time Thomas enjoys writing short fiction and hiking in the Sonoma foothills.

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