What ACT/SAT score do I need to be admitted?

This is the most common question we receive in the Admissions Office at this time of year.  The answer is easy…there isn’t a minimum.  Here at the University of Illinois we take a more holistic approach to application review.  We look at a number of factors before making a final decision. 

First we look to see what courses you have taken and will take by the end of your senior year.  We look for students who challenge themselves with AP and Honors course if those are available and if they are not, we hope the student has taken the highest coursework that is available.  We also look at courses as they relate to your major.  If you are applying to Business, math courses are important; to Engineering, science and math will be reviewd; to Art, we’ll look at art courses, etc. 

Next we look at your class rank.  If your school provides both a weighted and unweighted rank we use whichever benefits the student.  If your school does not rank students, we then will look at your GPA and high school profile to determine where in your class you would have ranked.  It is important to realize we are not comparing students from different schools here.  We simply look at your school and how well you did while there. 

The ACT of course is used as well.  We take the highest composite from one sitting (the same applies to SAT).  If you are submitting an ACT score we will need at least one Writing Score on file as well. 

Now is when we get to the fun part.  Essays play an important role not only in getting information on what you have accomplished but also who you are as a person.  We know this is the hardest part of the application, but take your time because we really read these, not only for admission purposes but also for merit based scholarships and honors programs.  Last but certainly not least are the activities, community service, and work experience.  This is not a case of whomever has the longest list, wins.  We simply want to see what you have done while in high school.  What contributions have you made, what leadership roles have you had, where was your time spent. 

I know that is a lot of information in one blog so thank you for making it through to the end.  To sum things up…it is a good thing that we don’t have a minimum ACT/SAT score.  We want to reward students who have worked hard while in high school but may not be the best test taker.  We also don’t want students who are great test takers to be able to slide by without working hard at all.  By looking at the entire student we are able to make the best and most educated admission decision.

***You may have noticed that letters of recommendation are not a factor listed above.  We do not use letters of recommendation as part of the application review.  We haven’t seen a bad one so it will have no impact on your application. 


Please note that comments close after 90 days.


February 11, 2008, 8:01 pm

Does U of I have early decision?



February 27, 2008, 7:17 am

I am a high school junior and have been in band all three years. Next year, however, scheduling conflicts may keep me from taking the class again. If this happens I will undoubtedly replace the class with another AP class. I have always heard that changing senior year classes can be a problem. How would UIUC look at this sudden difference in my transcript?




March 3, 2008, 10:44 pm

Is ACT a big part of the admission process?



March 4, 2008, 12:15 pm

Hi Michael,
Sorry it took me so long to respond. Since we look at all areas of the application before making a decision I cannot give you your chances without looking at test scores, transcripts, essays, etc. We also don’t use GPA as your school ranks. All students have a chance of being admitted so apply!



March 4, 2008, 12:17 pm


If a student is admitted they have until May 1 to accept their offer. We do not have binding decisions so it doesn’t matter when you apply. Students who apply by priority will receive their decision in the first round. Student who apply after priority will receive their decision in the second round. You can read more about deadlines in my other blog.



March 4, 2008, 12:19 pm

Hi Kevin,
Changing senior classes is only a problem if it is done after you have been admitted. If the change occurs before a decision is made just let us know and we can update your file. The key is taking upper lever courses (AP or honors), which it sounds like your doing.



March 4, 2008, 12:21 pm

We look at all areas of the application before making a decision. I would say your grades and strength of schedule are the most important factor.



March 4, 2008, 6:24 pm

Hi Jamie!!

My name is Smit Mehta, I am a junior at Huntley High School and I will be applying in the 2009 school year. I have wanted to go to the University of Illinois ever since I started thinking about college. I visited the campus over the summer of the 2007 school year and I absolutely loved. I have been to many other schools around the country but no campus had matched up to yours. I have a question about your admission process. Do you have some sort of a early decision program? If you do can you provide my with some details on that, such as deadlines, etc. Thank you very much I really appreciate it.


Chelsea Vanhorn

March 6, 2008, 1:06 pm

If I dont have much volunteer experience, will this effect my chances of being accepted at the University of Illinois?



March 6, 2008, 2:41 pm

We do have the priority filing period which this year was from Septmeber 1-November 10 (you can look at my blog titled “Priority Deadline is almost here”). It is important to realize that this decision is not binding. Even if you apply by priority all students have until May 1 to accept thier offer if they are admitted. You will likely just hear your admission decision early (Early Action). Check back this summer for our updated deadlines. Let me know if you have any other questions



March 7, 2008, 6:55 am

Hi Jamie,
Thanks for all of the responses!
By the time I apply to UIUC, I will have a few community college classes under my belt. Now, I know that these classes will transfer, but when do you need to know about them? Do I put them on the freshmen application somewhere? Thanks!



March 10, 2008, 11:39 am

You do list community college coursework on the application in the appropriate section. If you are admitted and decide to enroll we will need these official transcripts. I hope that helps.


Smit Mehta

March 12, 2008, 9:32 pm


Thanks for taking time out of your busy schedule to answer my questions. I really appreciate your help.




March 13, 2008, 12:48 pm

It is my pleasure, that’s what I’m here for. Let me know if you have any other questions.


Gaurav Singh

April 1, 2008, 9:37 am

I am working as a manager in a software comapny,my edicational background is like MBA.MSC(IT),PGD(IT),BCA..from UK.
I wanna enroll myself in the doctoral program of your university from school of business.
Kindly let me know the criteria for this.
Thanks & Regards
Manager,Business Development(US Operations)



April 3, 2008, 9:53 am

You have contacted the Office of Undergraduate Admissions. We only work with prospective undergraduate students. If you are looking for information about the doctoral program in our College of Business then you will need to contact them directly. Here is a link to their web page where you can find information on the doctoral programs offered:


Ryan King

April 12, 2008, 7:40 pm

Can you tell me whether you look at the weighted GPA or the unweighted gpa?




April 13, 2008, 1:31 pm

If I send my application before the priority deadline, can I find out about decision before actual date?
(I’m not sure if this would change anything, but I will apply as undergraduate.)



April 14, 2008, 11:33 am

If your school provides two GPAs, then we use whichever benefits the student. Typically that is the weighted GPA. Keep in mind we want to see competitive coursework so even if you have a great GPA, if we don’t see those AP and honors courses and they are offered, that can be viewed negatively during your application review.



April 14, 2008, 11:34 am

We post decisions on two dates. If you apply before the priority deadline and your file is complete then you will hear your decision on the December date.




May 4, 2008, 7:34 pm

How important are the actual Scores for AP tests when considering admissions? Or do they only count when determining college credit?



May 6, 2008, 6:16 pm

Hi Jamie,

I understand that there is no actual GPA requirement or ACT requirement to get into U of I and that many factors are looked at, but I know that there are few that actually get into U of I with a really, really low ACT score. That is what I am afraid of; is there a composite score (for ACT)that makes it completely impossible for someone to be admitted into U of I?
I am looking at the schools of Communications.

Thank you.



May 9, 2008, 10:09 am

Hi Natham,
We actually do not look at the AP test results for admissions. We look to see if your taking AP classes but the scores only come into play when determining college credit.



May 9, 2008, 10:13 am

Hi Nancy,
There is no minimum ACT requirement for any of our programs. Again we look at all factors before making an admission decision. Some students aren’t great test takers but they have worked really hard in high school earning good grades, taking challenging courses, and being very involved. Those things can help counteract a lower test score.



May 19, 2008, 11:41 am

You had stated that there is no max. per high school. I am in an area (Naperville) that many students are denied and they seem very qualified. I know for a fact that the qualifications in our area are so high to get accepted. This does not seem fair, given we all pay the same taxes throughout the state! Is there a max. per area? Per zip code?



May 21, 2008, 12:59 pm

Despite the myths we do not have a quota per school, area, etc. Students are considered based on their qualifications in relation to the major they are applying into. If a student is coming from a school that offers Ap/Honors courses then we expect that they have taken advantage of those challenging courses. Each student is looked at individually before an admission decision is made. I can reassure you that there are not quota’s or different qualifications for applicants based on where they live. I hope that helps.



May 29, 2008, 7:12 pm

So you do not take what I have heard are called “super-scores” from the ACT where you combine the best scores from each subject to form your highest composite score? From what I am reading you take the highest composite from one sitting.



June 1, 2008, 6:30 pm

hi, i recieved a total score of 24 on my act and a 10 on my writing. What are my chances of getting admitted into the general department at the university?



June 9, 2008, 2:43 pm

We take the highest composite score. We do not combine subject scores to make a new composite.



June 9, 2008, 2:47 pm

Hi Nick,
As mentioned above we look at a variety of areas before making an admission decision. Without reviewing your transcripts, essays, activities, etc. I could not in fairness tell you what your chances are. We simply would never base a decision solely on a test score. If you have strong grades, took advantage of competitive courses, write two strong essays, have good leadership and activites then you will have a good chance of being admitted into any of our programs.



June 11, 2008, 11:30 pm

Hello Jamie!
I’m planning on majoring in pharmacy..
and I hope I can do my pre-pharamacy studies at UIUC..
Even though I’m going to apply for chemistry or biochemistry, if I get accpeted as a undecided, what are the restrictions going to be if I want to take chemistry or biology classes that I need to take for pharmacy school?
I have another question..
Is it always better to apply before the priority deadline if I want to increase my chance at getting accepted to UIUC?

Thank You



June 13, 2008, 9:36 am

I would be happy to answer your questions. First of all if you apply into general studies (undecided) you will have to declare a major within your first two years. During that time you can take entry level chemistry/Biochem courses to help you determine which major is the best fit. I would strongly encourage you to apply by priority. There is no negative aspect to applying priority since it is not binding and you may have an advantage over students who wait to apply during regular filing. I hope that helps!



June 13, 2008, 7:53 pm

I am kind of worried about my ACT score. I got a 25 composite score. I am taking it again to see if I can do better. I was wondering what my chances are of getting in if I keep that 25. I am in the top 10% of my class and I have a few extracurricular activities.



June 18, 2008, 2:19 pm

Hi Kaitlin,
I wish I could tell you one way or the other but really your chances of admission will depend on so much more then a test score. If you have AP/Honors courses throughout your academics, two strong essays, good leadership within your extracurriculars, and strong coursework as it relates to the major you’re applying to, that will strengthen your application considerably. I think it is a great idea to take the ACT again, but if your score doesn’t go up I would still encourage you to apply. A 25 ACT is a solid score and if you excel in other areas please make sure to let us know that within your application essays. Good luck!



July 10, 2008, 8:23 am

Hi Jamie, I have some questions regarding the SAT
1. I’m going to take one in October. Do you think I can take another one after that?

2. I was going to take the SAT2 in place of my math and physics since these the grades were bad. However I heard that I shouldn’t even send the scores because you don’t look at it. So should I not send it?

3. I also saw in the application requirement that international students should have at least 560 on the C.reading. I have a US citizen for I’m going to an international school (lived in the states for 5 years) does this mean that I have to take the TOEFL and get at least 560 on the C.reading?



July 10, 2008, 8:31 am

ps – i have about 550reading 720reading is this a good score?? (i think my reading is a bit low)



July 10, 2008, 11:46 am

Hi Chris,
I would be happy to answer your questions.If you are planning to apply by the priority deadline then we cannot guarentee we will have SAT results in time for the December decisions for exams taken after October. If you do decide to take a November or December exam just make sure to have the scores sent to us directly from the testing service. If you were to be deffered or applied after priority we could get them in time to be used for the February decisions.

Do not send SAT II test results. We do not use them.

You would not need to take the TOEFL as long as you have studied in a country where English is the official language and medium of instruction for at least two years of full time study prior to the term of entry. You also would not be applying as an International student if you are a US citizen. I am not clear on whether you have a 550 or a 720 on the reading portion based on your blog above. You will need to clarify.



August 11, 2008, 4:01 pm

Hi my name is Chris,
My gpa is like a 3.2 and I finished high school at a Center for Indepdent Study which i will get my diploma from. Obviously they dont rank and only have like 46 students…how will my rank be figured?



August 15, 2008, 2:09 pm

We will ask for a high school profile from your school which will show us how they calculate your GPA, the mean GPA of your class and the courses that are offered. From there we can determine if you are at the top, middle or bottom of your class. More importantly we will determine if you took advantage of the courses that were offered and did you do well in upper level courses. Again remember we look at each application individually so your test scores, essays, actvities will aos be a factor in the final decision.



August 18, 2008, 5:48 pm


I would like to know if the SAT writing score will be used for may 2009 admissions.





August 19, 2008, 10:46 am

Hi Abhishek,
The writing score for the SAT will be factored in as well as the writing score for ACT.



August 20, 2008, 11:01 am

Hi Jamie,

I am an international prospective fall 2009 applicant and i will be filling out my form in the priority filing period.I had a few question regarding the ECE department.

1. Are the academic requirements for the ECE department the most rigorous of all the programs? I have a SAT score of 2080/2400 1400/1600 and a G.P.A of 4.0.and TOEFL 112 iBT.Are these academic requiremnts competetive for the ECE deaprtment?

2. If i apply in the priority filling period, will i be given prefernce and will it be advantageous for my admission to the ECE department?

3. I will be retaking the SAT on 4th October 2008 and i will get the score by 23rd October 2008.Will these scores be considered for my admission if apply in the priority filling period?

Thanks in advance!!!



August 20, 2008, 11:22 am

oh, thanks for the response; i asked since i believe it wasn’t considered for 2008 admissions.
I have 530 writing, 650 math, 640 CR.

Even thought i can be waived for TOEFL, do you think i should send it, since i have: 30 writing, 29 reading, 29 listening, and 26 speaking?
Would this help my application,