by Ashley Cullins |May 1, 2022
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The University of Texas at Austin (UT Austin) is a public research university in Austin, Texas. It’s ranked the No. 9 public university in the United States by U.S. News and World Report and a Top 40 university overall. Over 40,000 undergraduate students attend UT Austin.
With UT Austin’s prestigious reputation, excellent student experience, and great location, it’s not surprising that over 66,000 students apply each year. The competition is tough, but we’re here to help! This guide is filled with data, information, and tips to help you stand out from the competition and earn a spot at UT Austin.
About UT Austin
UT Austin is considered the best university in Texas and is among the top public universities in the nation. The university is recognized for its academic programs, affordability, and student satisfaction. It offers more than 170 majors, and the most popular are Engineering, Business, and Social Sciences. UT Austin is also known for stellar contributions to research, business, the arts, and beyond.
The campus is home to dozens of libraries and museums, over 1,300 student organizations, the award-winning Student Activity Center, and many rich traditions. Students receive both an impressive education and a classic college experience.
Many students participate in fraternities or sororities, compete in club sports, study abroad, and join UT Austin’s outdoor adventure groups. Another popular pastime is cheering on the Texas Longhorns, including the 47-time National Championship football team.
Students also love living in Austin, a city bursting with creativity and an entrepreneurial spirit. Austin and its thriving economy offer abundant opportunities in healthcare, engineering, technology, business, art, music, and more. UT Austin is just two miles from downtown Austin, providing easy access to restaurants, museums, theatres, and lots of live music.
Is It Hard to Get Into UT Austin?
UT Austin has an acceptance rate of 31.8%. For every 100 applicants, about 32 are accepted. The other 68 applicants receive a rejection.
UT Austin’s acceptance rate is selective, but it’s much less competitive than top-ranked schools like Ivy League universities. It’s also less competitive than other Top 10 public universities. Being a big university means that UT Austin can accept more students, but it’s still essential to put your best foot forward.
GPA and Test Scores for UT Austin
Students admitted to UT Austin have an average GPA of 3.83. This means you’ll need to earn mostly A’s, preferably with several AP or IB classes.
If you’re a freshman or sophomore with a lower GPA, you still have time to work hard and improve. If you’re already a junior, focus on earning a high score on the ACT or SAT and shining in other areas of your application.
UT Austin is currently test-optional, meaning you aren’t required to submit ACT or SAT scores for admission. If you do send your scores, the admissions committee will review and consider them with the rest of your application. We highly recommend submitting test scores unless you feel they reflect poorly on your academic ability.
The average ACT score for students admitted to UT Austin is 30. The 25th percentile score is 27, and the 75th percentile score is 33. You’re most competitive if you earn a score in the 75th percentile (33).
Now, we’ll look at an SAT score breakdown for students admitted to UT Austin.
|Section||Average||25th Percentile||75th Percentile|
Because your chances increase with a score in the 75th percentile, aim for a 1470 on the SAT, with a 760 in Math and a 720 in Reading.
Based on this data, you should strive for a:
- GPA of at least 3.83
- ACT score of 33, OR
- SAT score of 1470
Of course, this data also shows that students with lower numbers get into UT Austin too. Your GPA and test scores are important, but the admissions committee knows that you’re more than the numbers. When they review your application, they want to learn who you are as a person and how you’ll benefit from and contribute to the university.
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What Other Qualities Does UT Austin Look For?
UT Austin’s website says that in addition to academic ability, they look for students who are committed to the university’s core values. These core values are:
- Individual opportunity
The admissions committee also considers:
- Record of achievement, honors, and awards
- Special accomplishments, work, and service both in and out of school
- Special circumstances that put the applicant’s academic achievements into context (e.g., socioeconomic status, family responsibilities, overcoming adversity, language spoken in the home, etc.)
- Competitiveness of the major to which the student applies
Your application will be reviewed holistically and individually. The admissions committee sees you as a unique individual, not a couple of numbers or a list of activities. So, your GPA and test scores matter, but so does the rest of your application!
What Should You Do in High School?
Now, get ready to strategize. Based on the information and data we’ve shared so far, what should you do in high school to increase your chances of acceptance to UT Austin?
Excel in Challenging Classes
We know that the average student admitted to UT Austin has a GPA of 3.83. You need to earn nearly all A’s to have a competitive GPA for admission. It’s also important to excel in challenging classes like AP and IB courses to show that you’re prepared for the rigor of college classes.
If your school doesn’t offer AP or IB classes, UT Austin won’t hold it against you. But if those classes are available, take advantage of the opportunity to develop your study skills and prepare for college coursework.
UT Austin will also look at your class rank. This makes it even more important to take AP or IB classes if they’re offered. Top students will take these classes and earn good grades, which will boost their GPAs. To achieve a solid class rank, you’ll need to do the same.
So, take notes in your classes and review them weekly. Turn in your assignments on time, study for tests, and manage your time wisely. If you start to fall behind or struggle with the material, be proactive. Ask for help from your teacher, a tutor, or a student who’s doing well in the class.
Earn High Test Scores
Standardized tests are another opportunity to showcase your intellect and academic ability. UT Austin accepts both the ACT and SAT, with no preference for either test.
Although UT Austin is test-optional, we recommend taking test prep seriously and aiming for the highest score possible. High test scores can help you make up for a GPA that’s slightly lower than UT Austin’s average. And if your GPA is already competitive, high test scores can help you stand out from similarly qualified applicants.
Start preparing for the SAT or ACT several months in advance, using the following test prep process:
- Take timed practice tests for both the ACT and the SAT to determine which test allows you to shine the most.
- After you decide which test to take, use information from the practice test to create a personalized study plan. What are your strengths and weaknesses? What skills and question types did you struggle with?
- Block some time each week to work on practice questions, read high-level texts, and work on the skills that challenge you.
- When your test date is a month away, focus exclusively on your areas of weakness.
- Continue taking timed practice tests to work on your pacing and adjust your study plan as needed.
- If you aren’t happy with your first test score, use your score report to determine how you can improve. Repeat the test prep process with an updated study plan and take the test again.
And remember: if you never get a score you’re happy with, you aren’t required to include it in your application to UT Austin. Still, high test scores will give your application a competitive boost, so do your best to earn a score worth including in your application.
Pursue Your Passions
Learning and discovery are two of UT Austin’s core values. Pursuing your passions is one of the best ways to demonstrate these qualities, along with your curiosity, creativity, and talent.
UT Austin doesn’t want you to simply collect extracurricular activities that you believe will impress the admissions committee. Instead, commit to a few activities that align with your passions. Pursue experiences and opportunities that interest and inspire you.
Try to take on leadership roles and make significant contributions. Aim for awards, recognition, and other honors along the way. Keep a record of your participation so you can accurately and thoroughly report your activities when you apply to UT Austin.
Serve Your Community
UT Austin’s mission is to “contribute to the advancement of society,” and the university’s core purpose is “to transform lives for the benefit of society.” Naturally, the admissions committee looks for students who will contribute to their mission and purpose.
Find meaningful ways to serve your school, community, or the world. Like your extracurricular activities, your community service should be something that you enjoy and find meaningful. What problems do you see in your school or community that you can help solve? What social justice issues are close to your heart, and how can you help?
Join an existing organization or initiative committed to helping others—or start one of your own! Whatever you do, keep a record of your involvement and its impact. What did you do, why did you do it, and how did it make a difference? Your willingness and ability to make a difference now show UT Austin that you’re likely to make a difference on campus and in the wider world later.
UT Austin Application Process and Checklist
UT Austin accepts either the ApplyTexas application or the Coalition Application. The university does not accept the Common Application.
Whichever form you choose, your application will include:
- High school transcripts and class rank
- Test scores (optional)
- Activities list
- Selection of major (first and second choice)
- Essay (Topic A in ApplyTexas or UT Austin Required Essay in Coalition App)
- Short answer questions
- Expanded resume (optional)
- Up to two letters of recommendation (optional)
UT Austin does not require or offer interviews for admission. Some majors require additional materials, such as departmental applications or major-specific questions. Before choosing a major, you can view the full list of options here.
Once you’ve submitted your application, monitor MyStatus until your application is listed as complete. Complete any outstanding to-do list items before your application deadline.
UT Austin Essay and Short Answer Questions
When you apply to UT Austin, you’ll write one required essay and answer four short-answer questions. Depending on the majors you select, you may have to answer additional major-specific questions.
The essay is 500-700 words, and the question is:
Tell us your story. What unique opportunities or challenges have you experienced throughout your high school career that have shaped who you are today?
This topic is extremely open-ended. You can write about any opportunity or challenge that has had a significant impact on you and your personal growth. Be creative and brainstorm a list of several ideas before you choose your topic.
Think about experiences that stand out to you and have made you who you are today. Try to avoid cliché topics like travel, an eye-opening community service experience, a sports injury, or divorce, unless you think you have something new or different to say.
The Short Answer Questions
The short-answer questions are 250-350 words each, and the questions are:
- Why are you interested in the major you indicated as your first-choice major?
- Describe how your experiences, perspectives, talents, and/or your involvement in leadership activities (at your school, job, community, or within your family) will help you to make an impact both in and out of the classroom while enrolled at UT.
- The core purpose of The University of Texas at Austin is, “To Transform Lives for the Benefit of Society.” Please share how you believe your experience at UT-Austin will prepare you to “Change the World” after you graduate.
- Please share background on events or special circumstances that you feel may have impacted your high school academic performance, including the possible effects of COVID-19.
The first three questions are more specific to UT Austin. Why did you choose your major, how will you make an impact at UT Austin, and how will UT Austin prepare you to change the world? To answer these questions effectively, it’s essential to do your research.
Take a deep dive into UT Austin’s website and learn about your preferred major, classes, student organizations, and opportunities so you can write about them knowledgeably. As you write, let your excitement and enthusiasm for UT Austin shine through.
The fourth short answer question gives you a chance to explain any circumstances or issues that may have impacted you during high school. Whatever you write about, briefly state the basic facts, then focus on discussing its impact and what you learned from the situation. The essay shouldn’t sound like a rant or a complaint; it should be a reflection on the lessons you’ve learned and the growth you’ve experienced.
For both the essay and the short-answer questions, additional tips include:
- Avoid repeating information that’s mentioned elsewhere in your application. Your essays are supposed to add new details and insight to your application. Don’t rehash information the admissions committee already knows, unless you’re expanding on something that was mentioned only briefly.
- Stay on topic. These topics were specifically chosen by the admissions committee to learn important information about you. So, answer the questions completely and stick to the topic. You have a limited word count, so there’s no room for lengthy introductions or unnecessary tangents.
- Write in your genuine voice. Your essays should “sound like you.” This is a chance to show the admissions committee your personality and help them understand who you are as a person. Write like you’re talking to a favorite teacher or a friend’s parent—not overly stiff, but not as casual as talking to a friend.
- Include specific details. Vivid, concrete details allow you to write an essay that only you could write. Instead of writing a generic essay that sounds like everyone else, use specific, memorable language that brings your experiences and personality to life.
- Proofread carefully. Double or triple-check your essay for spelling, grammar, punctuation, capitalization, word usage, concision, and clarity. Ask a teacher, parent, or trusted friend to review your essay too. You should also ask them if the essay sounds like you!
Should You Apply Early to UT Austin?
UT Austin does not offer Early Action or Early Decision. However, the university does have a priority deadline that allows applicants to receive a decision up to one month sooner.
The priority deadline is November 1, and applicants receive a decision by February 1. The decision may be an acceptance or a decision deferral. The regular deadline is December 1, and applicants receive a decision by March 1. Deferred priority applicants will also receive a final decision by March 1.
So, does applying by the priority deadline give you an advantage? UT Austin doesn’t share an acceptance rate for students who meet the priority deadline. However, it’s always a good idea to get your application in early.
Think about it like this: If a lot of applicants who meet the priority deadline are admitted, there are fewer spots left for students who apply later. So, we recommend submitting your application by the priority deadline. It may give you a slight edge, and the suspenseful wait for a decision will be one month shorter.
Final Thoughts: How to Get Into UT Austin
UT Austin is a selective school, so you’ll need to demonstrate strong academic ability to be competitive for admission. The admissions committee is also interested in your achievements, interests, leadership ability, and willingness to serve your community.
So, here’s how to increase your chances of acceptance:
- Take and excel in the most challenging classes available at your school.
- Aim for a GPA of at least 3.83 and an ACT score of 33 or an SAT score of 1470. (If you don’t get a score you’re happy with, you don’t have to include it in your application to test-optional UT Austin.)
- Commit to a few extracurricular activities you enjoy and try to make significant contributions, take on leadership roles, and earn recognition and awards.
- Find meaningful ways to serve your school, community, or the world.
- When you answer UT Austin’s essay and short-answer questions, do your research, include specific details, and write in your genuine voice. Be creative and proofread carefully.
- Apply by the priority deadline (November 1).
With these tips and strategies, you’ll increase your chances of becoming a future Texas Longhorn!
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