Help with the Middle 50% Range for Penn State Admissions

tour-guides.jpgYou have worked hard for the last three years, studying to keep your grades up and taking the tough classes. And, your hard work has paid off! But, what happens if your tests scores are not as high as you would like them to be? Here’s some insight into another one of our common questions:

When reviewing the chart of the middle 50% (the grades and test scores of the previous year’s accepted class), my grades are on the higher end of the spectrum, but my test scores are on the lower end. How will this affect my chances of getting into my first choice campus and/or major? Should I take the SAT or ACT again?

This is a difficult question to answer, and unfortunately, we cannot be very specific. Students should be aware that their academic record for years 9-11 accounts for 2/3 of the admission decision, meaning your performance during those years is the most important factor in your application evaluation. Standardized test scores fall into the final 1/3 of the review with the other application components. So, if your high school academic record is better than your test scores, you typically are in a better position than if the situation is reversed.

Taking a standardized test over may not make much of a difference in your admission decision. Since these scores are a smaller part of the application review, a change in score typically does not have as great an impact on the decision, unless the test score improves significantly. While you cannot change your high school performance for your first three years of high school – unless you haven’t finished those three years yet – you do have the opportunity to improve your test scores. It is ultimately up to you to decide if you want to take the SAT or ACT again in an attempt to improve your chances of admission, especially if you think you can make a significant improvement over your previous best score.

In the end, those students at the higher end of both ranges will have the best chance of getting their first choice campus and/or major, while students falling in the lower end may have to be more flexible with their choices. Additionally, students should have their complete application to Penn State by November 30th, our recommended filing deadline, for their best chance of admission to their campus and/or major of choice.

But remember – the numbers in the middle 50% chart are only guidelines and not a guarantee of admission, and they are representative of the students offered admission in the prior year. So, these numbers can and usually do change as a result of the caliber of applicants each year.

Hope this post helped clarify any questions you had regarding grades and test scores. Contact us if you have more questions, otherwise, we will answer yet another question next week!

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