Recommended UT-Austin Majors Rank and Test Score Minimums

Chopping up freshly gathered coconuts in Kurrimine Beach, Far North Queensland, Australia

Chopping up freshly gathered coconuts in Kurrimine Beach, Far North Queensland, Australia

Hoping to make the cut for UT-Austin? What rank and test scores do you need to be competitive? Worried you rank outside of the top 6%?

It’s no secret UT admissions is more competitive than ever. UT received approximately 53,000 applications admitting around 17,000 students for Fall 2019. Two-thirds of all applicants will not gain admission

The admissions rate for Texas residents outside of the top 6% was 14%. Less than 10% of out-of-state and international students gained admission.

We don’t know the exact numbers, but it’s possible the McCombs School of Business admitted less than 20% of their applicants. It wouldn’t surprise me if some Engineering programs and Computer Science admitted less than 15%.

Honors programs are more competitive than ever rejecting a record number of students with perfect or nearly-perfect ranks and test scores. Last year, Turing Scholars rejected 85% of valedictorian applicants.

Unless a student has truly exceptional circumstances or significant national/international level achievements, my recommendation for any honors program is a minimum top 2% with a 1480 or top 5% with a 1520. Any student outside of the top 10% should presume to not be competitive for Honors even with a perfect score or a substantial record of achievement.

In this post, I provide an overview of how UT uses rank and test scores. I discuss my process for producing these academic minimum rules of thumb and conclude with a conversation about how these can help build your college list and decide whether UT is a realistic match.

What roles do rank and test scores play in the admissions process?

No rank or test score guarantees admission to any UT-Austin program either for regular or Honors admissions. Students compete for all spaces even those in the top 6% guaranteed admission to UT.

UT only considers rank to evaluate the transcript. They do not look at weighted or unweighted GPA, the graduation plan, or the “competitiveness” of a high school. Students at non-ranking schools should comfortably be within the top quarter of their class. I address non-ranking schools here.

UT only looks at the official ACT or SAT without writing. They do not accept nor consider AP or IB Exams, Dual Credit, or SAT II Subject Tests.

The rank and test score account for half of the admissions criteria. There are obvious flaws with this rigid rank/score system, but it’s the least bad option available to UT staff.

It is the case that prospective applicants to Business and Engineering feel confident a top 2% rank and 1500 test score will get them in. Many students received disappointing news.

Nowadays, it is necessary to have academic credentials that “put you in the ballpark.” The world’s best essays and resume are highly unlikely to compensate for ranking in the second quarter and scoring an 1100. Poor essay submissions can sink an otherwise academically-stellar applicant.

I discuss at length how UT conducts their admissions review process in my book "Your Ticket to the Forty Acres.” I recommend picking up a copy if you want to go deeper into why some students gain admission while others do not.

Texas Residents rank and test score minimum recommendations by college and school

When students complete my questionnaire for a free consultation, I don’t hesitate to share the disappointing news if they are highly unlikely to get in. Every year, I also get a few wrong with students who receive pleasantly surprising news of their admission. There are always exceptions in both directions.

These are the rules of thumb, conservative estimates. I’ve built them based on general competition trends from previous years, the approximate number of spaces available, data from my clients, observations from online communities, and forecasting a more competitive environment in future years.

I use these to determine whether my professional services could help a student gain admission. I turn down many more prospective clients than I pitch because I only feel comfortable working with students who I feel have a reasonably good shot at getting in.

Drawing on three years at UT five years working with students independently, I provide below my best guesses for whether UT is worth applying and considering.

Note: I include only Texas residents recommendations here. International and out-of-state students should presumably have much higher academics than these to consider UT a “match” school

Academic Minimum Cutoffs for Prospective Fall 2020 Clients

I have excluded Fine Arts from these recommendations because the audition or portfolio plays a large role in their process. I have broken up Engineering into similarly competitive groups since, unlike most other UT programs, decisions are made on the major selection rather than the college/school.

STEM programs place more weight on the math/quantitative subscores, so there are exceptions to these rules of thumb which present only the SAT Composite. You can convert your ACT score using these tables.

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Cockrell School of Engineering Minimums

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What to make of these recommendations?

My message isn’t to deter anyone from applying to UT. My hope is that students and families begin managing their expectations will in advance of receiving their decisions. Putting all of your emotional eggs in the same college basket, especially one was selective as UT, is setting you up for potential heartbreak later.

Because UT makes admissions decisions based on a student’s first choice college or school, it is a good idea to at least have a family conversation about aiming for a different program if you’re anxious about your chances.

Having realistic expectations is important for building your college list with “match” programs where you have a reasonable chance of gaining admission. All students need at least one “assured” program where they will 100% gain admission based on their rank and test scores.

Again, these recommendations are conservative estimates whether UT is a realistic possibility. Last year, I had a few clients gain admission that I probably wouldn’t take on this year, and others who I felt confident would gain admission that don’t.

College admissions is extremely uncertain and unpredictable. Variables like rank and test score are two among many.

Interested in working together? Complete my questionnaire for a free consultation.


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