What GPA and SAT scores do you need to get into University of Pennsylvania?

By Eric Eng

By Eric Eng

UPenn signage

What GPA and SAT Scores Do You Need to Get into University of Pennsylvania?

For students who are interested in attending one of the most prestigious and historic schools in the United States, chances are good that the University of Pennsylvania has piqued your interest. So, if you are interested in applying to and one day attending UPenn, chances are good that you are asking the question, “What GPA and SAT scores do you need to get into the University of Pennsylvania?”

Just like the rest of the Ivy League schools, UPenn is absolutely one of the most prestigious and selective schools in the world.

While it may not be considered at the same level of prestige as the “Big Three” of the Ivy League, Harvard, Yale, and Princeton, there is absolutely no doubt that UPenn can offer students all of the opportunities, education, and community that they need to achieve everything that they want at the academic level and beyond.

Two people having a one-on-one talk

So, what GPA and SAT scores do you need to get into the University of Pennsylvania? Well, you have absolutely come to the right place to find out! At AdmissionSight, we make it our number one priority to help the high school students that we work with getting into the schools of their dreams.

For many students, that means getting into UPenn or schools like it. That is why we are so proud of our track record of getting 75 percent of the students that we work with into Ivy League undergraduate programs or top-10 programs elsewhere in the United States.

So, if you are wondering how to get into the University of Pennsylvania, what the University of Pennsylvania requirements are, and much more, then simply keep reading to find out the answers to all that and more!

Let’s get started.

What GPA and SAT scores do you need to get into University of Pennsylvania?

While we could of course dive deeply into the incredible history, the great undergraduate programs that it offers, and much more, we would much rather get started by simply offering the answers to the question that brought you to this page in the first place!

There is no arguing against the fact that the single most important factor that is going to lead to any student’s ability to get into any top school is their grade point average.

The level at which a high school student performs academically is going to offer admissions officers at top schools crucial information and evidence that a student will be able to thrive at the college level.

A student’s grade point average is not only taken into such serious consideration at Ivy League schools because the schools themselves are so competitive, but also because admissions officers at these schools need to feel confident that any student that is let in will be able to keep up with the high demands of curricula at Ivy League schools.

When it comes to the University of Pennsylvania average GPA, students who go on to get into the school earn an average of 3.9 GPA in high school. Considering the fact that a perfect, straight-A GPA is a 4.0, you should already be getting a pretty good idea of just how impressive students have to be to get into this school!

And it isn’t just about getting a high GPA, either. High school students who have the goal of getting into the University of Pennsylvania need to make sure that they are also enrolling in advanced courses such as AP and IB courses.

The reason why such courses are so important for high schoolers who want to get into top schools is two-fold.

First off, students need to enroll in advanced courses because AP and IB courses are modeled after introductory university courses both in terms of the difficulty of the subject matter as well as the ways in which the courses are structured.

If a student is able to take many advanced courses throughout their high school years and earn impressive scores, it will give admissions officers at schools like UPenn a lot of confidence when it comes to that student’s ability to succeed at the college level as well.

Secondly, students who are able to take advanced courses and earn great grades have the chance to drastically improve their overall grade point averages.

The reason for this is that these classes are graded on a 5.0 GPA instead of the typical 4.0 GPA scale of non-advanced courses. This means that if a student earns straight-A grades in all of their typical classes and earns all As or Bs in their advanced courses, then they will be able to have an overall grade point average that is actually above 4.0!

This is just as well, as many of the students who are applying to UPenn and similarly competitive schools will actually be boasting personal GPAs above a 4.0.

One final thing to mention when it comes to University of Pennsylvania requirements from an academic standpoint. The school has no list of required courses that any student must take in order to apply. However, admissions officers at UPenn absolutely look out to see if students have the following on their course list:

  • English: four years, with significant emphasis on writing and literature.
  • Mathematics: four years of any rigorous mathematics incorporating a solid grounding in fundamental skills (algebra, geometry, trigonometry). We also welcome preparation in skills related to statistics, data science and calculus.
  • History/Social Studies: three or more years, with courses that include the writing of essays.
  • Science: three or more years of laboratory science (including biology, chemistry, and physics).
  • Foreign Language: three or more years of the same foreign language.

University of Pennsylvania SAT scores

Now that you have a good idea of how impressive a high school student’s grades have to be in order to get into the University of Pennsylvania, chances are good that you probably already realize that your standardized test scores are going to have to be similar high.

In fact, the average score that students earn who go on to get into UPenn is an astounding 1500 out of the perfect score of 1600. The 25th percentile score for accepted students is 1440 and the 75th percentile score is 1560.

That means that a score of 1440 or below is going to place you below average while a score of 1560 or higher will move you into the above-average range.

There are no requirements when it comes to how students score on the SAT, but there are certain expectations that the admissions officers hold about students who apply. So, if you are looking to improve your chances of getting into UPenn, you are going to want to earn a score that is at or above that aforementioned average.

A woman holding a pen and notebook while looking at the laptop.

An important note on the state of standardized tests at UPenn

Before we move on past the portion of this breakdown that explains the average University of Pennsylvania SAT scores, AdmissionSight thinks that it is very important for all students to know that – currently – UPenn has adopted a standardized test-optional policy in light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Here is what the school itself has to say on its official admissions website:

“COVID-19 Update: In response to COVID-19, Penn will not require applicants to submit the SAT or ACT for the 2021-22 application cycle.

This applies to first-year and transfer applicants. Applicants who do not submit SAT or ACT scores will not be at a disadvantage in the admissions process. Students who are able to take the SAT or ACT and wish to report them may continue with that plan.”

It is currently assumed that this policy will continue on into the 2022-23 application cycle next year. However, many schools have signaled that once the COVID-19 pandemic is brought under better control, they will once again bring back the requirement for students to send in either SAT or ACT scores.

So, if you are still several years away from your application date, you will want to keep a close eye on the policy that the schools that you are interested in announce in the coming years!

University of Pennsylvania acceptance rate

Before we move onto the final portion of this breakdown, AdmissionSight believes that it is very important that any student interested in applying to UPenn knows what the current acceptance rate is at the school.

While acceptance rates do tend to change slightly from year to year, they also remain fairly consistent and follow fairly predictable trends.

Last year, the overall acceptance rate at UPenn was just 5.9 percent. The regular decision acceptance rate was even lower at just 4.4 percent. With that being said, the early admissions rate was a whole lot higher, at 14.9 percent!

Take a look below to see how the University of Pennsylvania university acceptance rate compares to the acceptance rates at the seven other Ivy League schools:

Table with information about different universities.As you can see, while UPenn is not one of the hardest schools in the Ivy League for students to get into, it is certainly not the easiest. An overall acceptance rate of 5.9 percent places UPenn firmly within the very upper echelon of schools in the world when it comes to selectiveness.

For that reason, any student who is interested in attending UPenn is going to have to do everything that they can in order to get in.

How to improve your chances of getting into the University of Pennsylvania

So now that you know the University of Pennsylvania average GPA, as well as the average University of Pennsylvania, SAT scores, you are probably wondering what you – or any student – can do in order to improve their chances of getting into a school like UPenn.

A man writing a letter on a desk.

Luckily, there are quite a lot of things that any student can do to improve their chances of getting into a top school.

In fact, while it is important to know that a student’s GPA – and to a lesser extent, their standardized test scores – plays a significant role in getting a student into any given school, it certainly takes more than that. Schools in the United States have adopted a holistic approach to the undergraduate admissions process.

That means that they consider everything they can when they are determining whether or not an applying student will be a good academic and cultural fit at the school.

In order to convince the admissions officers that you would be a great fit at UPenn, there are a lot of things that you can do!

Apply via early admissions

One of the best ways any student can improve their chances of getting into a top school is to apply via early admissions. UPenn offers a binding Early Decision application option. As you already know, the acceptance rate for students who applied to Penn in 2021 was nearly three times higher than the school’s overall acceptance rate!

However, it is really important to know that because UPenn’s Early Decision option is binding, students who only consider the school to be their very top option should utilize this option.

That is because if you do end up applying via Early Decision and getting in, you will have to withdraw your applications to all the other schools you have applied to and accept the offer from Penn.

If Penn is your first option, this will certainly not be a problem for you! But it is important not to just do this as a way to try to improve your chances of getting in.

Earn stellar letters of recommendation

For every student that wants to apply to Penn, they are required to send in a total of three letters of recommendation as part of their application. The three letters are made up of two separate letters from members of a student’s school faculty, and then one from the high school’s counselor.

While students cannot choose who their high school counselor is, they can absolutely choose which two teachers send in letters of recommendation.

It is crucial that students make the right decisions when they are choosing which teachers, because these letters will shed an important light on who the student is both inside and outside of the classroom for the admissions officers reading them.

If you are having trouble picking which teachers to ask, it is wise to ask the teachers who you believe know you best. This likely means asking teachers who have taught you in multiple classes across multiple years of your high school experience.

Ideally, you will be able to ask teachers who know you personally and who have seen you overcome major challenges. Ideally, they would have also seen you lead positively within the classroom. It would be even better if one of these teachers also helped lead or organize an extracurricular activity that you were a part of in your school!

Craft meaningful personal essays

Another crucial aspect of your application to UPenn is going to be your personal essays and it’s important aside from knowing What GPA and SAT scores do you need to get into University of Pennsylvania?.

In fact, now that standardized tests are not required at UPenn and many other schools, admissions officers are putting an even greater sense of importance on personal essays.

a group of public relations students gathered in one table

Essentially, the personal essay section of any college application gives the student applying the chance to let admissions officers in and show them who they are as a person outside of the classroom.

It gives students the chance to show what their interests and passions are, what they hope to achieve during their college education and why they believe – in this instance – the University of Pennsylvania is the ideal place for that student to achieve those things!

For that reason, it is important to make sure that you fully understand the questions being asked of you before you even start writing.

It is also important to give yourself the time and energy that you need to review, edit and improve your personal essays before you finally send them in along with your final application.

Will you get into the University of Pennsylvania?

There is no clear way to get into UPenn. Truthfully, the students that get into this school each and every year are amongst the most impressive students in the world. And while the UPenn acceptance rate is around 5.9 percent currently, the school’s admissions officers are picking from the best of the best.

So, if you are looking to get into UPenn and think you may need some guidance on how to make that dream a reality, contact AdmissionSight today for a free consultation.





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