Is the University of Wisconsin – Madison Hard to Get Into?

The University of Wisconsin – Madison is the flagship school of both the Badger State and the UW System, which consists of a total of 13 universities. Because it’s a Public Ivy renowned for world-class education, research and public service, graduating high schoolers can’t help but wonder if it’s hard to get into UW Madison.

In the state of Wisconsin, the University of Wisconsin – Madison is one of the most selective schools. This is true even if it has a 54% acceptance rate. Unlike many colleges and universities, UW Madison has a published minimum high school GPA requirements first-year applicants must meet: 3.5.

Higher education institutions in Wisconsin have acceptance rates higher than 50%. To have an idea of UW Madison’s selectivity level compared with other schools in the state, check out the following table:

Silver Lake College of the Holy FamilyManitowoc51%
University of Wisconsin – MadisonMadison54%
Herzing University – KenoshaKenosha57%
Mount Mary CollegeMilwaukee58%
Beloit CollegeBeloit62%
Lawrence UniversityAppleton62%
Milwaukee School of EngineeringMilwaukee62%
Concordia University WisconsinMequon64%
Marian UniversityFond du Lac65%
University of Wisconsin – ParksideKenosha66%
Carroll UniversityWaukesha67%
Northland CollegeAshland67%
Carthage CollegeKenosha68%
Milwaukee Institute of Art and DesignMilwaukee68%
Alverno CollegeMilwaukee69%
Ripon CollegeRipon70%
Edgewood CollegeMadison72%
University of Wisconsin – La CrosseLa Crosse73%
University of Wisconsin OshkoshOshkosh76%
Maranatha Baptist Bible CollegeWatertown77%
Viterbo UniversityLa Crosse77%
University of Wisconsin – MilwaukeeMilwaukee77%
Lakeland CollegePlymouth78%
DeVry University – WisconsinMilwaukee79%
University of Wisconsin – River FallsRiver Falls79%
Saint Norbert CollegeDe Pere80%

What GPA Do You Need to Get Into the University of Wisconsin – Madison?

For applications to be considered by the University of Wisconsin – Madison’s admissions officers, students must have a minimum GPA requirement of 3.50. Besides the high school GPA, other factors are taken into account, too. Some of them are academic rigor, test scores and personal characteristics.

Many selective US colleges and universities do not require applicants to have at least a certain high school GPA.

Well, UW Madison is not one of them. Outright, it tells graduating high school students interested in earning a degree from the public land-grant research university to have a GPA of not less than 3.5.

But keep in mind that the school has a holistic admissions policy, which is why there are exceptions to the rule. For instance, if your GPA is below 3.5 but your admissions essay and extracurriculars are both extraordinary, you might get an acceptance letter. In a few, you will learn that some UW Madison admits have GPAs lower than the minimum.

University of Wisconsin, Madison

Among the first-time, first-year students accepted into the University of Wisconsin – Madison, only 91% submitted their GPAs during the applications process — some admits must have had GED certificates or been homeschooled.

Here’s a table of the percentage of UW Madison freshmen students and the range of their GPAs:

3.75 to 3.9937%
3.50 to 3.7415%
3.25 to 3.494%
3.00 to 3.241%
2.50 to 2.990%
2.0 to 2.490%
1.0 to 1.990%
Below 1.00%

Other than the GPA, the institution’s admissions officers also consider class rank. However, they only do so if evaluating applicants from high schools that use a ranking system.

The following is a table of the percentage of UW Madison admits and their class rank ranges:

Top 10% of high school graduating class51%
Top 25% of high school graduating class88%
Top 50% of high school graduating class99%
Bottom 50% of high school graduating class1%
Bottom 25% of high school graduating class0%

Note: top 50% of high school graduating class + bottom 50% of high school graduating class = 100%.

By the way, among the applicants who ended up attending the University of Wisconsin – Madison, only 33% submitted their high school class rank.

What Test Score Do You Need to Get Into the University of Wisconsin – Madison?

Like the high school GPA, there’s also a minimum SAT or ACT score applicants to the University of Wisconsin – Madison must meet. For their applications to be considered, students should have SAT scores of at least 1240. Those who choose to submit their ACT scores should have a score of at least 27.

As of this writing, the average composite SAT score of all test-takers in the US is 1051. The average composite ACT score of all test-takers in the country, on the other hand, is 20.3.

This means that your chances of getting into UW Madison are higher if your test score is above-average.

However, you should not cross the school’s name off your college list just because your SAT or ACT score is lower than the published minimum requirement. That’s because a few of the first-time, first-year students at UW Madison have lower test scores. Here’s a table of the percentage of admits and the range of their composite SAT scores:

1400 to 160043%
1200 to 139949%
1000 to 11998%
800 to 9990%
600 to 7990%
400 to 5990%

Meanwhile, the following shows the percentage of admitted students and their composite ACT score ranges:

30 to 3647%
24 to 2946%
18 to 237%
12 to 170%
6 to 110%
1 to 60%

In order to increase your chances of getting an offer to enroll at the UW Madison, check that your test score (the school does not prefer SAT over ACT and vice versa) is within the middle 50% range.

At UW Madison, the SAT middle 50% range for most applicants who receive an acceptance letter is 1300 (25th percentile) to 1440 (75th percentile). And when it comes to the ACT middle 50% range, most students who are now attending the public institution have scores between 27 (25th percentile) and 32 (75th percentile).

Based on the figures given above, we can derive these conclusions:

  • 25% of admits have SAT composite scores lower than 1300.
  • 25% of admitted students have SAT composite scores higher than 1440.
  • 25% of accepted applicants have ACT composite scores lower than 27.
  • 25% of admits have ACT composite scores higher than 32.

The University of Wisconsin – Madison does not superscore test scores.

Despite this, the school’s admissions officers recommend those who took the SAT or ACT more than once to submit all their test scores anyway. While they will consider only the highest test score, they would love to see an applicant’s complete testing history as part of the school’s holistic admissions policy.

Which Admissions Factors are Considered at the University of Wisconsin – Madison?

The most important academic admissions factors at the University of Wisconsin – Madison are academic rigor and admissions essay. On the other hand, state residency is the most critical non-academic admissions factor there is, which is why the acceptance rate for UW Madison in-state applicants is 73%.

Anyone who applies to the University of Wisconsin – Madison has 50/50 chances of getting accepted, thanks to the school’s 54% acceptance rate.

But since nothing is certain in life, it’s a good idea to ensure that you have a strong application.

Doing so entails having an idea of the various admissions factors at UW Madison, which can be divided into academic and non-academic. Many of the factors with the most impact on the admissions outcome are academic ones. Meanwhile, certain non-academic factors are not considered at all by the school’s admissions officers.

To be able to guesstimate well your chances of gaining admission into UW Madison, check out the following academic admissions factors and the relative importance of each:

  • Academic rigor – very important
  • Admissions essay – very important
  • High school GPA – important
  • Recommendation letter – important
  • Class rank – considered
  • Standardized test score – considered

And now, here are the different non-academic admissions factors and their relative importance:

  • State residency – important
  • Extracurricular activities – considered
  • Talent or ability – considered
  • Personal qualities – considered
  • First-generation – considered
  • Race or ethnicity – considered
  • Volunteer work – considered
  • Work experience – considered

Interview, alumni member relations, geographical residence, religious affiliation, demonstrated interest — UW Madison’s admissions officers do not care at all about these things.

Just Before You Apply to the University of Wisconsin – Madison

Many college-bound teenagers assume that it’s difficult to get into the University of Wisconsin – Madison. No one can blame them as the school is a flagship and considered a Public Ivy, too. What’s more, it’s highly ranked. For instance, it’s #12 in Top Public Universities in America by Niche and #14 in Top Public Schools by US News.

But the good news is that it has an acceptance rate of 54%. It’s one of the lowest acceptance rates in the state of Wisconsin, but relatively high in the country.

Above, we talked about some of the most important admissions-related matters about UW Madison. How hard or easy it is to get into the public land-grant research university will depend on the overall strength of your application.

Read Also: Is the University of Wisconsin – Madison a Good School?

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent those of the College Reality Check.

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