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Rachel Kapelke-Dale

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

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So you want to be a Brunonian? (I know you were probably hoping for “Brownie”—so was I. Sorry.) With alumni ranging from John F. Kennedy Jr. to Emma Watson, you’re in good company. First, though, you’ll need to figure out how to get into Brown. It’s not easy: Brown SAT scores are high, and so are Brown ACT scores. Take a look at Brown’s admissions statistics.

Brown at a Glance


Brown SAT Scores (composite, middle 50%)1405-1570
Brown ACT Scores (composite, middle 50%)31-35
Brown admissions rate (2017)8.3%
Brown GPA average (2017)94% of students in the top 10% of their class

Those numbers are high, but it’s important to remember that if you’re willing to put in the work, you’ll give yourself the best shot at getting into this Ivy League school.

So…want to learn more about how to get into Brown?

Brown SAT Scores

As you might imagine for a school with an admissions rate of 8.3% (more than 32,000 students applied for admission in the 2017-2018 admissions cycle!), Brown’s SAT scores are stratospheric. These are the middle 50% Brown SAT scores:

Evidence-Based Reading and Writing705-780

Let’s look a little more closely at those scores. These numbers represent the scores of accepted students in the 25th-75th percentiles. That does mean that, yes, 25% of students admitted to Brown scored a perfect 800 on the Math section of the SAT. But it also means that 25% of students admitted scored below 700 in this section.

For the best chance at getting into Brown, it’s a good idea to get your SAT scores as high as possible: in the 50th percentile is great. When admissions are this competitive, great SAT scores–or even a perfect SAT score–do not guarantee you a spot in Brown’s incoming class—but less-than-outstanding SAT scores do assure you that catching the eye of the admissions officers will be all the more difficult.

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Brown ACT Scores

At this point, it’s probably not much of a surprise that Brown ACT scores are extremely high as well. Wait no longer: here are the middle 50% of Brown ACT scores.


(There are two additional sections to the ACT, Science and Reading, but Brown hasn’t provided information about those scores.)

As with Brown SAT scores, remember that Brown ACT scores show the middle 50% of admitted students’ scores. Can you get into Brown with a composite ACT score of less than 31? Definitely—25% of Brown’s class of 2021 did. But is scoring a perfect ACT score going to help you? Well, 25% of Brown’s class of 2021 did.

It’s also important to remember that you don’t know the exact circumstances of students who scored under 31 on the ACT (or 1405 on the SAT). These students may be the fifth generation in their family to attend Brown. They may have written acclaimed novels, competed in the Olympics, or overcome amazing odds to succeed. The truth is that Brown’s admissions rate makes it so competitive that it is likely these types of students comprise the lowest 25% of standardized test-takers admitted.

Should this put you off applying if you’ve scored lower than 31 or 1450? Absolutely not! Should it make you consider taking the test again or seeing if you’d score better on the other test? Definitely.

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

Brown Acceptance Rate

Brown’s admissions rate was 8.3% in 2017. This was an all-time low, down from 13.9% in 2008 and 9.3% in 2016. The general trend in Ivy League admissions holds true for Brown admissions, too: the school has become increasingly selective in the past decade (and over the past 50 years). The number of applicants has also risen, from around 20,000 in 2008 to more than 32,000 in 2016. Should this deter you from applying? No! Somebody has to be in that 8.3%—why not you?

Brown GPA Average

Brown’s doesn’t provide a GPA average for prospective students, although other sites may estimate GPAs. However, the weighting of various classes’ grades at different high schools means that GPAs become relatively meaningless without context: what does an average GPA of 4.05 mean for prospective students? Not very much.

However, although we don’t have a Brown GPA average, we do have something more telling: top tens. No, it’s not a listicle. Instead, Brown provides statistics about the percentage of its admitted students whose GPAs were in the top tenth of their high school class. In the past ten years, this has always been upwards of 90% of Brown’s admitted students. In 2017, 94% of Brown’s admitted students were in the top ten percent of their high school class in terms of GPA. If you’re not sure where you stand in terms of your school, check with your guidance counselor. Again, keep in mind that being in the top 10% of your class doesn’t guarantee you admission—but not being in it can have a detrimental effect on your chances of getting in.

Not sure about your GPA? Calculate it here!

Brown Freshman Profile

So just who does end up going to Brown? Brown’s freshman profile for the class of 2021 breaks down the geographic regions of its admitted students: the most students come from mid-Atlantic states, followed by Mountain & Pacific States, New England, International students, Southern states, Midwest states, Plains States, and finally U.S. territories. States with the most admitted students were California, New York, and Massachusetts, while foreign countries with the most admitted students were China, India, and Canada.

Brown Other Admissions Requirements and Info

When you look at just the numbers, Ivy League admissions can be a little intimidating, and Brown is no exception. However, Brown admissions officers do let in thousands of students every year. When so many students apply, the question becomes: how are they selected?

Increasingly, distinguishing yourself in a particular area has become important to the most selective schools. This doesn’t mean that you have to be a novelist or Olympic athlete, but it does mean that schools like Brown are looking for passion, dedication, and talent in whatever field does inspire you. Emphasizing this in the areas of the application you have the most control over, including the essays and letters of recommendation (though don’t be too prescriptive with those!), is key to getting in.

“I had a fairly developed art portfolio up on Tumblr, and I was able to write coherently about my art “practice” – I think that made my application slightly different than most. Plus I had a very strong letter of recommendation!” — William, Brown Class of 2021

Brown Admissions FAQ

What are my chances of getting accepted to Brown as a transfer student?
Brown’s transfer admissions have historically been (relatively) strong. In 2017, Brown admitted 95 transfer students. However, more than 1800 students applied. If your high school grades weren’t stellar, applying to Brown as a transfer student is definitely an option, but keep in mind that Brown admissions rates for transfer students are lower than for general undergraduate admission.

I’m the first person in my family to attend college. Will this hurt my chances of getting in?
On the contrary—Brown admissions rates are higher for first-generation college attendees than others. 13% of Brown’s 2021 class are the first in their family to attend college.

I live in an area of the country without a lot of students accepted to Brown. Should I bother applying?
Absolutely. A lot of the time, fewer students from areas like the Plains States apply than students from, say, New England. Part of this may simply be the cost of travel and the distance away from home, and some of it can also be attributed to the higher populations in states like California and New York. In other words, students aren’t getting rejected from Brown because of where they live.

How to Get Into Brown

“My biggest piece of advice for students applying to Brown is to communicate what interests you about Brown specifically in your response to the essay question: “Why Brown?”…When I applied I referenced specific structures and programs that Brown offers – even if I was just quoting from information I found on their website!” — William, Brown Class of 2021

How to get into Brown? Show that you are passionate about your areas of interest; demonstrate that you have a stellar academic record (or one that’s increasingly improved); and submit scores within the middle 50% (or higher) of Brown SAT scores or Brown ACT scores. Brown admissions are tough, but you can maximize your chances of getting in by standing out using those three keys. (Hint: If you’re worried about your test scores, consider Magoosh’s SAT or ACT test prep—we have a score guarantee for both tests and have helped thousands of students get into their dream schools!)

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 Rachel Kapelke-Dale

Rachel is a High School and Graduate Exams blogger at Magoosh. She has a Bachelor of Arts from Brown University, an MA from the Université de Paris VII, and a PhD from University College London. She has taught test preparation and consulted on admissions practices for over eight years. Currently, Rachel divides her time between the US and London. Follow Rachel on Twitter, or learn more about her writing here!

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