The Academic Index

I have since updated this post. The information below is outdated. Please visit this post instead.

How does UT make admissions decisions?

There are two factors: the Academic and Personal Index.

In this post, I discuss the Academic Index.

The Academic Index has two factors – rank and test scores. If a student attends a non-ranking school, UT examines their GPA in approximate relation to their others in their school to assign them an internal ranking. I will also discuss this “derived ranking” at a later time.

How do you achieve the highest possible score on the academic index? Be number one in your class with a perfect score on the SAT or ACT. Given that very few students in the country achieve this, your academic index falls somewhere between perfect and zero. It is a sliding scale based on quantitative measures.

UT uses a complicated model to determine your academic index. You can see for yourself beginning at page 35 of this document on best practices. 

This fascinating and difficult to find document evaluates other flagship admissions systems like Michigan and California and puts UT within a broader national context. It is worth the read in itself even though it is a bit outdated and not everything in it is a currently used practice.

What UT is trying to do with the academic index is predict what your college GPA would be depending on the major that you choose. The higher this predicted GPA (pGPA), the higher your academic index. UT wants students who are most likely to graduate in four years, and performance in the classroom and on standardized exams is the best way to do this.

When I worked in admissions, I could pull up a student’s file to see what their pGPA would be. The upper limit was something like a 4.3 and the lower limit in the upper 1s. How this model predicts your GPA isn’t necessarily important, but it is useful to know that UT graphs your application on a grid. That grid can be found on page 34 of the previously linked document.

The x-axis composes your Academic Index and the y-axis Personal Achievement. The goal is to be as high as possible in the upper left-hand corner. As you can see, if your grades and scores aren’t as high as you want them to be, you can compensate and strengthen your application by dedicating time to your Personal Achievement score.

I discuss personal achievement in my next post.

Kevin MartinProcess