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

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Want to be a Blue Devil? Well you’ve come to the right place!

In this post, we’ll take a look at Duke admissions, the Duke Freshman Profile (including Duke SAT and ACT scores), and more!

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

Applying to Duke?

Thinking about making Duke University your home for the next four years?

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Makes sense…Duke is a great school!

Here are some of the basics: Duke is located in Durham, North Carolina. Its history goes back to 1838. Today, Duke currently offers fifty majors and fifty-two minors to its undergraduate class, which is divided between the Trinity College of Arts & Sciences, and the Pratt School of Engineering. And what a class it is! For the Class of 2022, only 8.6% of applicants were accepted.

How to Get Into Duke

Duke is an extremely selective school–this year Duke received 37,330 applications, which is an 8% increase in applications comparable to that of its ivy league peers like Harvard and Yale.

Admission into Duke isn’t for your average student. The Duke admissions committee carefully sifts through thousands of undergrad applications each year, so you’re going to be competing with the cream of the crop. Most students who get into Duke will check off most of these bullet points:

  • You’re basically at the top of your class.
  • Your extracurricular activities demonstrate your leadership and initiative.
  • Your background or point of view stands out in a pile of applications.
  • Your SAT/ACT scores and GPA are exceptional.

Obviously, not all of these factors are under your control…

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…but several of them can be! Starting with your test scores.

Duke SAT Scores

Every year, Duke releases demographic information and interesting facts about its incoming freshman class. While the Duke admissions details of the Class of 2023 have not yet been made publicly available, the 2022 freshman profile still has a lot of relevant information about who’s currently attending Duke and where they have been scoring.

Here are the Duke SAT scores of the Class of 2022:

Duke SAT Scores - 25th PercentileDuke SAT Scores - 50th PercentileDuke SAT Scores - 75th Percentile

As you can see, there isn’t one super-special, specific Duke SAT score that the Duke admissions committee is looking for. But, you can also see that the 75th percentile of incoming freshman scored 1560 or the new SAT.

It’s generally a good idea to aim for the 75th percentile of whatever school you’re applying to–so in this case you’d want to set your goal score around 780 for each section. That’s pretty high! So you better get studying!

Duke ACT Scores

Maybe you’ve taken our SAT or ACT quiz, and you think the ACT might be a better fit for you. Don’t worry, we’ve got those statistics too!

Duke ACT Scores 25th PercentileDuke ACT Scores 50th PercentileDuke ACT Scores 75th Percentile

For students who submitted ACT scores and were admitted to Duke in 2017, the 75th percentile of the incoming freshman class scored a 35 on the ACT. Again, that’s for both the Engineering School and the College of Arts & Sciences. So no matter which school you’re applying to, try to aim for a 35, and definitely make sure not to go below a 33.

Keep in mind that Duke also takes ACT superscores into consideration, so you may want to consider taking the test multiple times!

Duke GPA Average

Duke actually doesn’t officially report the GPAs of its admitted students–but based on data from more than 1,000 schools, the average GPA of a freshman at Duke is 4.17.

As you may already know, lots of high schools use a weighted GPA out of 4.0. So to be averaging a 4.17 you’d have to be taking plenty of AP or IB classes (and racking up those A’s across the board)!

Duke doesn’t set a minimum GPA, nor do they re-weight GPA’s to any standard other than what a school provides. Every school and every grading system is different, but don’t worry too much about that. The Duke admissions committee will do their best to evaluate your scores fairly, no matter where you went to high school!

Duke Acceptance Rate

As we mentioned at the beginning of this post, the Duke admissions rate for the Class of 2021 was 8.6%. But there’s obviously more too it than that…out of 37,330 applicants, 3,219 were admitted–who are these people?!

Well…this is probably a good time for the Freshman Profile!

Duke Freshmen Profile (2018-2019)

You want to know who’s getting into Duke. Luckily, Duke keeps track of that sort of thing.

Let’s take a look:

Duke 2022 Freshman Profile

Total Applicants 37,330
Total Accepted3,219
Total Enrolled1,740
Admissions Rate8.6%
Early Decision Admissions Rate21.6%
Regular Decision Admissions Rate7.0%
Asian, Asian-American, Pacific Islander28%
Black/African American10%
Native American, American Indian,
Native Alaskan, or Native Hawaiian
Went to Public High School65%
Went to Private High School31%
Went to Religious High School / Military High School / Homeschooled / Other4%
First-Generation College Student 9%
International Students11.5%

Shining in Other Areas

We’ve looked at test scores, GPA, and the demographics of Duke’s current freshman class–so you have some idea of how you stack up.

You may not be able to go back in time and change your grades from freshman year, but there are also other things you have a bit more control over: letters of recommendation and admissions essays.

For the former, pick a teacher that knows you well and write them a note explaining why you think you’d be great at Duke. Also, don’t forget a stamped envelopes if your teacher wants to send their letter the old-fashioned way (though fewer and fewer schools accept actual letters these days!). Trust me, you don’t want to make Mr. Davis cover your postage.

As for admissions essays, this is your only real chance to introduce yourself, so use it wisely. Definitely have friends, family, and others take a look before you send it in!

Wondering how to shine in a Duke Admissions essay? Mike M. from Transizion has got the scoop:

image of Mike M. from Transizion

“Duke is a large school with many different colleges and majors. Going there is a great way to become a little fish in a big pond regardless of your high school experience. While that may not seem like a good thing, it does offer you an opportunity to help yourself stand out amongst your peers. The best way to do that is to focus your application at specific educational goals.

Learn about the school that you will be attending, and hone in on what you drew you in, and why you think you would be a great fit. Avoid being overly general with your statements. Don’t say something like, I want to go to Duke because I love basketball, or I always dreamed of getting my education on the East Coast. These statements don’t really say much about your educational aspirations, or who you really are as a student.”

Final Thoughts

Whether or not you achieve that perfect test score, a well-manicured application package can still result in a ‘fat envelope’ from Duke University.

Good luck…hopefully soon you’ll have access to all the North Carolina barbecue your heart desires.

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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  • Molly Kiefer

    Molly is one of Magoosh’s Content Creators. She designs Magoosh’s graphic assets, manages our YouTube channels and podcasts, and contributes to the Magoosh High School Blog.

    Since 2014, Molly has tutored high school and college students preparing for the SAT, GRE, and LSAT. She began her tutoring journey while in undergrad, helping her fellow students master math, computer programming, Spanish, English, and Philosophy.

    Molly graduated from Lewis & Clark College with a B.A. in Philosophy, and she continues to study ethics to this day. An artist at heart, Molly loves blogging, making art, taking long walks and serving as personal agent to her cat, who is more popular on Instagram than she is.


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