How will a 3.5 unweighted GPA & 35 ACT score be viewed on my college application?

By Maxine Seya

I have a 3.5 unweighted gpa. I got a 35 on my ACT. How will this be viewed on my college application?

– Katie, a student in Los Altos, CA

Based on our conversations with admissions officers, your 3.5 UW GPA and 35 ACT can be viewed in several ways. Here are three ways three different admissions officers would view it:

1. Your test scores are high, but your GPA could be seen as unimpressive and may not earn merit awards.

Linda Hernandez, admissions officer at Concordia University in Chicago told SocratesPost in an exclusive interview: “Students with low test scores and awesome GPAs also always amaze me… The unweighted GPA is used to determined merit scholarship amount.”

You have the opposite: high test scores and a comparatively lower GPA. An admissions officer like Linda might have wanted to see a higher GPA from you so you’d be more competitive for a merit scholarship.

2. Your 3.5 UW GPA may be seen as impressive if your better grades are concentrated amongst rigorous (AP or Honors) courses in your intended major.

“I would say perhaps more important to us than seeing ten AP’s on the schedule is you taking four or five that are particularly in your areas of interest,” said Henry, admissions officer at Whitman College. An admissions officer like Henry likely wouldn’t think much of your 3.5 UW GPA.

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Maxine Seya
Maxine Seya is a former investigative journalist, college consultant, and admissions interviewer. She studied at Peking University (Beijing, China) and Université Paul-Valéry (Montpellier, France) and investigated for CNN and Huffington Post before graduating from Northwestern University. She founded SocratesPost to share the human stories behind the admission gates and offer parents clarity as they help their teens with college.