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Molly Kiefer

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

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In 1917, when students from Texas A&M kidnapped the Rice University owl mascot, the Rice student body pooled their resources and hired a private detective to find the missing mascot–who was safely returned home to it’s Owl family.

If this sounds like a family you’re interested in joining, look no further! In this post, we’ll take a look at Rice University admissions, the Rice Freshman Profile (including Rice University SAT and ACT scores), and more.

Then once we get through the facts and figures, we can focus on how to get into Rice University, and what your best path to admission will look like.

Applying to Rice?

Whether you’re from a Rice legacy family, or just got rerouted while googling Biryani recipes, there are a lot of solid reasons to be interested in attending Rice University.

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Here are some of the basics:

  • Rice University is located on a 300-acre campus in Houston, Texas, and is generally considered to be the most selective school in the state.
  • Undergraduates at Rice can select from over 50 majors and 25 minors, and the university offers its students the flexibility to pursue several multiple degree programs.
  • If sports are your thing, Rice has teams competing in 14 NCAA Division I varsity sports, and offers intramural and club sports including jiu jitsu, water polo, and crew.
  • According to the most recent Princeton Review rankings, Rice ranked as the number one university in the United States for “quality of life” and “race/class interaction,” and the second in terms of “happiest students”. If that’s not a glowing review, I don’t know what is!

How to Get Into Rice University

This year Rice received over 18,000 applications (for the incoming Class of 2022)–so with a total student body of 3,893 undergrads, and a matriculating freshman class of around 1,000, they have to be pretty darn selective.

The Rice University admissions committee carefully sifts through those 18,000 undergrad applications each year to find the cream of the crop. And you’re chances of being considered Cream will go up relative to the number of these bullet points you check off:

  • You’re at or near the top of your high school class.
  • You have extracurricular activities that demonstrate your leadership skills and social-mindedness.
  • You have a unique background or point of view.
  • You’re SAT/ACT scores are exceptional.
  • You have a very high GPA.

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Obviously, not all of these factors are under your control…but don’t get discouraged! Several of them can be–starting with your test scores.

Rice University SAT Scores

Each year, Rice releases the demographic information of its incoming freshman class. While the Rice University admissions details of the Class of 2022 have not yet been made publicly available, the 2021 freshman profile still has a lot of relevant information about who’s currently attending Rice and where they have been scoring.

Here are the Rice University SAT scores of the Class of 2021:

 25th Percentile75th Percentile
Evidenced Based Reading & Writing710770

Obviously these are all high scores, but hopefully you can see that it’s not a one-size-fits-all situation when it comes to what SAT score the Rice admissions committee is looking for. Undergraduates have been admitted with a range of SAT scores, and your score alone is probably not going to make or break your application.

However, it’s generally a good idea to aim for the 75th percentile of whatever school you’re applying to–in this case, you’d want to set your goal score of 770 for Evidence-Based Reading & Writing and 790 for Math.. Those are pretty high scores. Read up on stories of how to get the perfect SAT score and better get studying!

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Rice University ACT Scores

If the ACT is more your cup of tea, we’ve got those statistics as well!

 25th Percentile75th Percentile
Composite Score3335

For students who submitted ACT scores and were admitted to Rice in 2017, the 75th percentile of the incoming freshman class scored a 35 on the ACT. Again, your best bet is to set your goal score around the 75th percentile, so try to aim for a 35, and definitely make sure not to go below a 33. Our post on the perfect ACT score can help you get started!

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

Rice University Average GPA

Rice University is one of many that doesn’t officially report the GPAs of its admitted students–but based on data reported from more than 1,000 schools, the average GPA of a freshman at Rice is 4.11.

Rice doesn’t set a minimum GPA for admission, nor do they re-weight GPA’s to any standard other than what a school provides. But don’t worry, the Rice University admissions committee knows that grading practices vary dramatically from high school to high school, and they’ll do their best to evaluate your scores fairly–no matter where you’re from! If you’re not sure what your GPA is, use this handy dandy GPA calculator to find out.

Rice University Acceptance Rate

The Rice University admissions rate for the Class of 2021 was 16%. This number was calculated by combining the Regular Decision applicants (15% admit rate) and Early Decision application (21% admit rate). But there’s obviously more to it than that–so who are these people??

Well, let’s find out…

Rice University Freshmen Profile (2017-2018)

Here is a demographic breakdown of the students who were admitted to Rice’s current freshman class.

Let’s take a look:

Rice 2021 Freshman Profile


Total Applicants 18,063
Total Accepted2,864
Total Enrolled1,048
Admissions Rate16%
Early Decision Admissions Rate21%
Regular Decision Admissions Rate15%
International Students11%
African American7%
Native American<1%
From Texas42%
From Out-Of-State58%

Rice FAQ: How else can you stand out?

We’ve looked at SAT and ACT scores, GPA, and the demographics of Rice University’s current freshman class–so you have some idea of how you stack up against the types of people who are attending Rice.

Any grades you’ve already received may as well be set in stone, but there are also other things you have a bit more control over: letters of recommendation and admissions essays.

When asking for letters of recommendation, pick a teacher that knows you well and write them a note explaining why you think you’d be a good fit for Rice. Most letters of rec are submitted online these days, but make sure to do your research first–trust me, you don’t want to make Mrs. Jones shell out 49 cents for postage when she holds your academic fate in her hands like a tiny bird.

“Definitely become close to your teachers during your upperclassmen years, because generally those are the ones you’ll go to for recommendation letters. However, it doesn’t hurt to form relationships with your teachers when you’re a freshman, either. Regardless, show teachers that you’re hard-working and willing to get help as needed.” — welcometohel (Class of 2018), AdmitSee

As for admissions essays, this is your only real chance to convey your personality, so use it wisely. I was very protective (insecure) about my admissions essays, and I didn’t let anyone read them. Don’t do that. Definitely have a friend/parent/teacher give it a once-over before you send it in!

Final Note

Rice University may be competitive, but that shouldn’t keep you from applying if you really want to go there. Transizion’s Ashley C. can give you some more info:

“Some students with an interest in Rice don’t apply because they’re intimidated by the numbers. Don’t let that stop you: The admissions team considers many other factors, including your enthusiasm for the opportunities and experiences Rice has to offer.

When you apply to Rice, you’ll apply to one of the university’s six academic schools. This decision isn’t binding, but you will be asked to explain your selection. As you conduct your research, try to focus on a school of interest.

Make sure you find specific information that you can discuss in your application. For instance, instead of lauding the “world-class professors,” talk about a particular professor whose class you would love to take or whose research inspires you. Instead of praising the large variety of extracurriculars, mention that you can’t wait to join the “Csters” club for women in computer science. Dig deep and find specifics that excite you. Think about what your journey at Rice would look like and how you would succeed there. Then write about it!”

Basically just do your best – it sounds corny, but if you’ve done everything you can, there’s nothing to regret, and that’s really all you can hope for when you start getting those fat (or-not-so-fat) envelops back from colleges.

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With any luck, the Owl family will welcome you to Houston with open arms–and with a hefty financial aid package! But, if not, remember that there are other amazing universities out there that would be lucky to have you!

Best of luck on your college search journey! 🙂

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About Molly Kiefer

Molly completed her undergraduate degree in Philosophy at Lewis & Clark College in Portland, Oregon. She has been tutoring the SAT, GRE, and LSAT since 2014, and loves supporting her students as they work towards their academic goals. When she’s not tutoring or blogging, Molly takes long walks, makes art, and studies ethics. Molly currently lives in Northern California with her cat, who is more popular on Instagram than she is.

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