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

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Today, we’re going to dig into everything you need to know about how to get into University of Pennsylvania!

This post will answer all your questions about things like University of Pennsylvania SAT scores, University of Pennsylvania ACT scores, and all the other University of Pennsylvania admissions criteria…plus some generally important college stuff, like getting financial aid and asking your teachers letters of recommendation!

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Let’s get started shall we?

University of Pennsylvania: An Introduction

The University of Pennsylvania is a private research university, and member of the Ivy League, located in West Philadelphia.

According to U.S. News & World Report’s 2019 rankings, Penn is currently ranked 8th among universities in the United States. This puts it at the highest end of the top 1% of all schools in the nation!

In fact, UPenn ranks very strongly across the board, with many departments rated among America’s top ten. Not only that, but in 2011, the university was ranked 2nd nationally (behind Harvard) and 11th worldwide based on its number of alumni that are now CEOs at the 500 largest global companies.

So it’s safe to say that the University of Pennsylvania has the stats to back up its prestigious Ivy League name!

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So how do join the ranks of UPenn students? Let’s check out the basic stats:

  • University of Pennsylvania freshman acceptance rate: 8.4%
  • University of Pennsylvania GPA: 3.9 (average)
  • University of Pennsylvania SAT scores: 1420-1550 (middle 50%)
  • University of Pennsylvania ACT scores: 33-35 (middle 50%)
  • These are just the basics–keep reading for a closer look at how to get into University of Pennsylvania.

    We’re going to take a look at exactly what goes into University of Pennsylvania SAT scores, University of Pennsylvania ACT scores, and other aspects of how to get into University of Pennsylvania.

    How to Get Into University of Pennsylvania: University of Pennsylvania SAT Scores

    Okay, so we know the average University of Pennsylvania SAT score for admitted students this year falls between 1420-1550 on the new SAT. However, UPenn does goe it to a bit more detail than just that–check out the table below:

    University of Pennsylvania SAT Scores (middle 50% of accepted students)

    Type of SAT ScoreNew SAT (whole test)New SAT (Writing/Evidence-Based Reading)New SAT (Math)
    Score Range (middle 50%)1420-1550690-760730-790

    The above table shows the middle 50% SAT score range of UPenn accepted students. While at first glance it might seem like a good idea to aim for the SAT score of the average Penn student, we strongly recommend setting your goal score at the 75th percentile of the score range of the college you’re applying to–this way, your SAT scores will bolster the rest of your application and provide a nice cushion just in case some of the other elements in your app aren’t quite as strong.

    With this in mind, think about setting the second number in each of these ranges as your University of Pennsylvania SAT goal score (though chances are you won’t be taking the old SAT, huh).

    So, to give yourself the best shot at being accepted to UPenn, you should structure your SAT prep around a goal score of 760 in EBWR and 790 in Math!

    Just a side note–we know these scores are pretty high…don’t let that stress you out!

    Setting a goal score can help you stay organized when preparing for the test, but don’t forget that you can have scores anywhere in this range–even below it–and still get accepted.

    The University of Pennsylvania says nothing about a minimum SAT score. You won’t be disqualified for a low score, and you can always retake the test. Just aim for the 75th percentile, and try not to go under the 25th! For some inspiration, check out our post on perfect SAT score stories.

    How to Get Into University of Pennsylvania: University of Pennsylvania ACT Scores

    As we covered at the beginning of this post, the middle 50% of students accepted into UPenn scored between 33 and 35 on the ACT.

    This means that the vast majority of UPenn’s admitted students scored a 33 or above on the ACT.

    The formula that we used for the SAT also works here: set your goal score at 35 (the 75th percentile) and make sure not go under a 33 (the 25th percentile).

    But remember not to stress! With the right preparation, you can be at or near perfect ACT score territory to maximize your chances of getting into Penn.

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

    How to Get Into University of Pennsylvania: What You Should Know about the University of Pennsylvania Acceptance Rate

    The University of Pennsylvania’s acceptance rate is an (ominously low?) 8.4% for freshman applicants. In order for the University of Pennsylvania admissions committee to narrow down its applicant pool more than 90%, they’re certainly going to be choosing the cream of the crop!

    So let’s take a look at who these people are…keep reading for UPenn’s most recent freshman profile.

    University of Pennsylvania Freshman Profile

    What on earth does that magical 8.4% of potential UPenn freshman look like? What are the students like as people–and where do you fit in? Well, here are more of those stats:

    Total applicants44,491
    Total admitted students3,740
    Total enrolling freshman2,518
    Early Decision Applicants7,073
    Early Decision Admitted1,312
    Regular Decision Applicants37,418
    Regular Decision Admitted2,428
    Admissions Rate8.4%
    Self-identify as students of color (US Citizen/Permanent Resident)43%
    International students (by home address)16%
    First-generation college students14%

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    How to Get Into University of Pennsylvania: A Closer Look at University of Pennsylvania GPA

    Like almost all schools, the University of Pennsylvania doesn’t officially report the GPAs of its admitted students. However, by using data reported from more than 1,000 high schools, we have been able to determine that the average high school GPA of an incoming freshman at University of Pennsylvania is 3.9.

    High school GPAs are notoriously more confusing than college GPAs. This is because, while both high schools and colleges use a weighted GPA out of 4.0, high schools that offer AP and IB classes will add an extra grade point in those courses.

    So theoretically if you were taking all AP/IB classes and getting straight A’s, you would have a 5.0!

    To average the 3.9 of the standard UPenn admitted student, you’ll obviously need almost entirely straight A’s. Maybe there’s room for an A- or two in there–you can also use high scores in your advanced placement classes to counteract any lower scores you might have gotten elsewhere.

    Not sure what your GPA is? Use Magoosh’s “How to Calculate Your GPA” guide to find out whether you’re on track for that 3.9!

    How to Get Into University of Pennsylvania: Budgeting

    Okay, this has been a whirlwind of facts and figures…but we know attending college can raise a lot of big financial questions, and we want to help you through that. Here’s a quick look at the expenses that are incurred by UPenn students.

    University of Pennsylvania 2019-2020 Estimated Costs

    Budget ItemsLiving On CampusLiving Off Campus
    Housing $10,600$9,632
    Books and Supplies$1,358$1,358
    Personal Expenses $1,946$1,946
    Total Budget $78,186$76,444

    Looking for help covering these costs? (Who could say no?!)

    Lucky for you, Penn offers a variety of grant and loan packages.

    They also practice need-blind admissions. That means students will be denied admission based on ability to pay. Regardless of your financial circumstances, Penn offers programs designed to make attending the university within your reach!

    How to Get Into University of Pennsylvania: Advice from the Admissions Commitee

    university of pennsylvania admissions -magoosh

    “First, if Penn is where you want to be, apply early decision. Their admit rate in early decision is more than twice as high as it is in regular decision.

    Second, don’t follow the crowd when it comes to extracurricular involvement, academic interests, and essay topics. Being different is often what makes a student stand out. Elite colleges, like Penn, want what they don’t have in their applicant pool and on their campus. When a student has the confidence to pursue their own path or think differently about themselves, it can have a transformational effect on their application. So much of high school is about keeping up with everyone else. When you apply to college, this mindset doesn’t work for a student interested in elite colleges. And, frankly, it doesn’t work for anyone who wants to do something extraordinary with their life. Penn wants extraordinary students who have already done extraordinary things with their life.

    Third, view the Penn supplemental essay like it’s a pivotal piece of the application—because it is! Students who get specific about their academic interest and back it up with evidence from their own experiences write stronger Penn essays. Avoid using the common themes often mentioned on the tour, information session, website, and marketing materials. Drill down and find opportunities or an approach that is much less obvious. Listing classes or professors in your Penn essay is fine, but I prefer when a student connects what they are interested in pursuing to real life research going on at Penn or even a specialization within a department which matches up with exactly the student’s interest.” — Sara Harberson, UPenn Admissions Officer

    How to Get Into University of Pennsylvania: The Takeaway

    The University of Pennsylvania is a great school with some seriously positive outcomes for its alumni. And while the expectations for University of Pennsylvania SAT and ACT scores may be high, your standardized test scores and admissions essays are parts of your application that you can have the most control over. That’s good news!

    You can’t change your go back in time and change your GPA from the first half of high school. And you can’t control what’s written in your letters of recommendation (though you can make smart choices about how to ask for them!) But you can hit your goal score on whatever standardized test you choose–you just need some good resources and a bit of discipline!

    Figure out whether the SAT or ACT is the right test for you, and find a study schedule that fits your busy lifestyle (consider checking out the Free 1-Week SAT Trial or the Free 1-Week ACT Trial from Magoosh).

    And make sure to nail the admissions essays. Here’s some advice from a current UPenn student:

    “With competitive schools such as the University of Pennsylvania, the ‘Why Us’ question can be fairly daunting. It easy to look at the website’s main page and pick a few key features to write about. What I found, however, is that a successful ‘Why Us’ answer often looks at the specifics. Although there are many things that make the University of Pennsylvania incredible, it’s important to discover and write about which resources you imagine you would take advantage of and to be as specific as possible. If there is a class, program, or even professor that you are particularly drawn to, be sure to include that in your ‘Why Us’ statement and elaborate on it as much as possible.” – tvolkre, AdmitSee

    With any luck, you’ll be a CEO (or whatever you want to be!) in no time.

    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.


    By the way, Magoosh can help you study for both the SAT and ACT exams. Click here to learn more!

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