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David Recine

Boston University Admissions: The SAT, ACT Scores and GPA You Need to Get In

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Today, we’ll look at all things Boston University admissions: Boston University SAT scores, Boston University ACT scores, Boston University GPA, and more!

First, let’s look at the basics. Below is a quick rundown of Boston University’s test scores, GPA expectations, acceptance rate, and national ranking. (All information below is taken either from US News and World Report or from the Boston University website.)

Boston University Admissions Statistics

  • Average Boston University GPA: 3.7
  • Boston University SAT Scores (average): 1468
  • Boston University ACT scores (average): 32
  • Boston University Acceptance Rate: 29%
  • Boston University Ranking:37 in national universities
  • Boston University SAT Scores: What They Mean for Boston University Admissions

    Note that Boston University posts average SAT scores for its most recently accepted students; it does not post SAT score requirements. While Boston University doesn’t have any minimum acceptable score for the SAT, it is still a highly competitive school. To maximize your chances of being accepted, it’s best to have an SAT score that is near BU’s average of 1468. Ideally, you’ll want a score that is at or above 1470, so there’s no harm in aiming for the coveted perfect SAT score 😉

    Boston University doesn’t post averages for the old SAT, the version of the exam that was last administered in 2016. But if you took the old version of the test and are wondering about your chances, you’ve come to the right place! I checked the College Board concordance tables for old SAT and new SAT, so you don’t have too! Boston University’s current new SAT average of 1468 corresponds roughly to an old SAT score of 2110.

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    Boston University ACT Scores

    As with the Boston University SAT scores, Boston University ACT scores have no minimum. Or at least, in theory, there’s no minimum. In reality, you’ll need a very competitive score. Note that the average ACT score of 32 for Boston University is in the 98th percentile. So your surest best at getting into Boston University is to be in the top 2% of ACT test takers. (Again, there’s a parallel to Boston University SAT averages, which are also 98th percentile.)

    If you’re not in the top 2%, don’t feel bad. By necessity, lots of people fall outside of the 98th percentile for ACT scores. With a lower ACT score, you still certainly have a chance of being admitted. An ACT score that’s below 32 but still in the high 20s or low thirties may still be acceptable. And even a lower ACT score is not absolutely forbidden. With that said, the lower your Boston University ACT scores are, the stronger the rest of your application should be.

    Liam got a 35 on the act. Get a higher act score.

    Boston University GPA

    What’s interesting about Boston University’s GPA is that it’s equivalent to an A- letter grade average. This is a surprisingly manageable standard, something any hard working student has a chance of pulling off. An A- is actually far easier to maintain than a near-perfect A or perfect A+, both of which are equivalent to a 4.0. (For more information, see Magoosh’s guide to calculating GPA).

    But again, if you fall short of one of Boston University’s average standards, you still have a shot at acceptance. The lower your GPA, the better the rest of your application will need to be, but a GPA of 3.5 or 3.6 is by no means a deal-breaker.

    Boston University Freshman Profile

    So what does a typical Boston University freshman look like, and what are your odds of fitting the profile and getting in?

    One thing immediately worth noting is Boston University admissions for freshman are especially competitive. Boston University freshman face a 22% acceptance rate, compared to the overall 29% rate of acceptance at BU. In keeping with that competitiveness, Boston University freshmen are high academic achievers who stand out among their high school classmates. Successful first-year applicants are, on average, in the top 7% of their high school cohorts.

    Boston University freshmen are, above all, diverse. Roughly 80% of students who enroll in Boston University are from outside of Massachusetts, and about 1/5 of the incoming student body are international students. Not only that, but nearly 80% of all starting BU students come from someplace other than the immediate New England region. So no matter where you’re from, you’re likely to find other people from your home state, town, or country when you attend Boston U.

    Boston University Admissions: Other Requirements and Info

    So, beyond Boston University SAT scores, Boston University ACT scores, and Boston University GPA, what else do you need, when it comes to how to get into Boston University?

    One thing you’ll need is two recommendations. One recommendation should come from your guidance counselor, and the other should come from a teacher. Both recommendations will be submitted through a form on the Common Application website. (This is a third-party website that processes applications for many different university admission offices, including Boston University admissions). If you’ve never had to get a letter of recommendation before, Magoosh has you covered! Check out our guide to getting a letter of recommendation for university admissions purposes.

    Since Boston University uses the Common Application site, you’ll also need to write a Common Application essay. Here, again, Magoosh can help. We have a tutorial on how to write a winning Common App essay.

    Here are some additional tips from jcante, from AdmitSee, for how to write your essay:

    “In my ‘why us’ college summary, I mentioned the cultural and diverse aspects of Boston University. I explained that by being in the center of the city, I would be in close proximities to many museums and concert halls. This would allow me to experience many forms of art that the world has to offer in just Boston. In addition to this, I emphasized being surrounded by a diverse community of faculty and students from all over the world and who have experienced different things than me.”

    For additional details on Boston University admissions requirements, you can go to the official Boston University admissions undergraduate checklist.

    How to Get Into Boston University: The Boston University Admissions FAQ

    What is the Early Decision acceptance rate at Boston University?
    Boston University’s Early Decision program allows students to apply earlier than the standard application timeline, so that they can receive a decision from BU well before other applicants do. The catch is that students accepted under Early Decision are contractually obligated to attend Boston University and not apply to other schools. The benefit is that these early applicants have a much greater chance of being accepted. Boston University’s Early Decision applicants have a 43% acceptance rate, much higher than the 29% average acceptance rate for the applicant pool as a whole!

    Does Boston University require SAT Subject Tests?
    For the most part, Boston University doesn’t require or even recommend subject tests. However, applicants to Boston University’s seven-year accelerated medical program (a combined pre-med and medical degree program) will need qualifying SAT Subject test scores for Chemistry and Math 2. Applicants to this program are also encouraged to submit an SAT Subject Test score for a foreign language.

    At Boston University, do art majors need to submit a portfolio or perform an audition?
    Yes! Applicants to Boston University’s College of Fine Arts will need to either submit a portfolio or undergo an audition, depending on their chosen major. In addition, CFA applicants actually do not need to submit SAT or ACT scores.

    Is Boston University an Ivy League school?
    In the colloquial sense of the term “Ivy League,” Boston university fits the definition. It is an elite, highly selective coastal school in the U.S. However, Boston University is not Ivy League officially. The eight schools formally listed as part of the Ivy League are: Brown, Columbia, Cornell, Dartmouth, Harvard, Princeton, University of Pennsylvania, and Yale.

    How to Get Into Boston University: The Takeaway

    Boston University is, to be sure, a highly competitive school. You’ll need to submit excellent ACT and SAT scores to Boston University, and have a topnotch GPA and class rank. And even if you’re an art major and don’t need to submit test scores, you’ll still need an impressive portfolio or audition performance.

    With those high hurdles, of course, comes great reward. Boston University degrees command a level of respect comparable to degrees form the official Ivy League schools. And you’re bound to have a very enriching and diverse social experience there as well, interacting with the best and brightest from across the nation and around the world.

    Improve your SAT or ACT score, guaranteed. Start your 1 Week Free Trial of Magoosh SAT Prep or your 1 Week Free Trial of Magoosh ACT Prep today!

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    About David Recine

    David is a test prep expert at Magoosh. He has a Bachelor of Social Work from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire and a Masters in Teaching English to Speakers of other Languages from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls. He has been teaching K-12, University, and adult education classes since 2007 and has worked with students from every continent. Currently, David lives in a small town in the American Upper Midwest. When he’s not teaching or writing, David studies Korean, plays with his son, and takes road trips to Minneapolis to get a taste of city life. Follow David on Google+ and Twitter!


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