How Hard Is It to Get into the University of Virginia?
The University of Virginia, affectionately known as “Mr. Jefferson’s University,” was founded in 1819 by former president Thomas Jefferson. Since then, it’s earned a reputation as one of the leading learning institutions in the country.
In fact, it’s considered by many to be one of the “Public Ivies,” and holds the distinction of being one of only a few colleges in the U.S. that are also UNESCO world heritage sites.
The school was recently named the #3 Best Value Public University by Money Magazine in 2022 and the #3 Best Public National University by U.S. News & World Report in 2023.
Because of the impressive reputation of the school and its consistently high rankings, competition for admission to the university is tight. The UVA acceptance rate is low and currently stands at just under 19%.
If you hope to join the next freshman class at UVA, you must become familiar with the profile of students accepted to the school, what the admissions committee wants to see in applicants, and what you need to do to have the best chance of acceptance.
Since the University of Virginia’s acceptance rate is so low, it’s difficult to get invited to join the student body.
During the 2022 admission cycle, the school saw an astonishing 50,962 applications for admission roll through its admissions committee, and fewer than 9,500 were offered admission. Of those accepted, 4,031 matriculated (enrolled and attended).
How to Get into UVA: Should You Apply for the Early Decision or Early Action Rounds?
UVA operates under three application rounds: early decision, early action, and regular decision. Early decision rounds are binding, so you should only apply if you are 100% certain you’d attend UVA if offered the chance.
Early action and regular rounds are non-binding, but the acceptance rates are also much lower than they are for the early decision round.
For example, for the class of 2025, the university had just under 3,000 applicants applying for the early decision round. It only accepted 968 of them, which means the early decision acceptance rate was just shy of 33%.
Furthermore, 28,897 students applied for the early action admission cycle, from which UVA invited 6,186 applicants to join the student body. This gives the university an early action acceptance rate of 21.41%.
The rest of the applications rolled in for the regular decision round, for which the acceptance rate was a mere 16.4%, which is about half the acceptance rate of the early decision round.
Even though it’s difficult to get accepted to the University of Virginia, these admission rates tell us that students who are prepared may have a better chance of acceptance if they apply for the early decision round, where the admit rate is 33% as opposed to the overall admit rate of 19% or the regular admit rate of 16.4%.
If you’re hoping to get into UVA, try to apply early!
What Is the Average Academic Profile of Accepted Students Like?
One of the best things you can do to improve your chances of getting into UVA is to learn what their ideal student looks like — that is, the average academic profiles of students who have already been accepted to the university.
This can give you monumental information about the type of students UVA seeks for each class. Student profiles contain quantifiable information like average class ranks, SAT and ACT scores, and UVA average GPA scores.
The University of Virginia considers class rank a very important factor for admission. For the most recent class of students admitted to the university, class rank was as follows:
- 99% of admitted students graduated in the upper 50% of their high school class
- 98% of them graduated in the top 25% of the class
- 90% of them graduated in the top 10% of their high school class
Class rank is not the only criteria used to determine who is invited to join the university as a student; UVA uses a holistic approach to admissions, which means they consider several qualitative and quantitative factors in admissions decisions. It also means that there is no single criteria or factor that ever guarantees admission.
SAT and ACT Scores
It’s vital to point out that no minimum test score is required to gain entry to UVA. That said, you should be familiar with the average scores of students accepted for admission to the school so you can compare them with your scores.
For the class of 2026, the mid-50% SAT score range for the reading and writing section was 690-750. For math, the range was 700-780. The average score range for the ACT for students was 30-34.
Currently, UVA considers standardized test score reporting optional and states that any student who does not report their scores will not be penalized. Forty-two percent of the class of 2026 did not report scores; however, only 26% of them were invited to attend UVA.
It’s wise to take either or both the SAT and ACT and report your scores if they fall within the average ranges noted above. The University of Virginia will superscore your results, which means your highest scores out of all your sitting dates will be used.
The unweighted UVA average GPA is 3.9, although there is no official cut-off GPA to gain entry to the school.
The mid-50% range for UVA average GPA scores of accepted high school students is 3.75-3.96, which means that 50% of admitted students had GPAs below this range and 50% had above.
The University of Virginia does not reject applications of students with GPAs below any certain range, and GPA is not based on a standardized scale with the university. It’s also important to note that just over 91% of the incoming class of 2026 had a GPA of 4.0.
How Does the University of Virginia Rank Students and Evaluate Applications?
One of the first things to note about the UVA acceptance rate is that it’s much higher for residents of Virginia than for those who reside outside of the state. As it is a state public school, most of its students (67%) live within the state.
The competition for entry is highest for applicants who live in states on the west coast and in the northeast. Students who live in less populated states may have slightly better chances of gaining entry to UVA.
That said, the University of Virginia’s acceptance rates depend on several factors of varying importance. The admissions committee looks at six as being “very important” in its decisions about admissions:
- Class rank
- The rigor of high school courses
- State residency
- Letters of recommendation
- Personal qualities and character
Other factors considered “important” in the decision-making process for admissions include students’ answers to application essays, talents and abilities, test scores, and extracurricular activities.
Factors that are merely “considered” for UVA admissions include the following:
- Racial/ethnic status
- Volunteer work record
- Work experience
- Whether you’re a legacy student
- Whether you’re a first-generation college student
Two factors bear no weight on admissions decisions at all, and those are demonstrated interest and religious affiliation.
How to Get into the University of Virginia
There are six big things you can do to improve your chances of being accepted to UVA and being a part of that elite University of Virginia acceptance rate.
- Aim for 1490 SAT and 34 ACT Scores
These scores represent the upper limits of each standardized test type, so aim high! Remember that your scores are superscored, so if you take a test ten times, UVA will take your best section scores out of all those times.
If you take the ACT, report the sub-scores and composite scores on your score report. Make sure not to do any recalculations. If you take the SAT, you can update your test score information on your applicant portal for the university.
- Achieve at Least a 4.0 GPA and Take Challenging Courses
Getting high grades isn’t enough for admission to UVA; you must take challenging high school courses, including IB and AP courses, if available.
Remember that 90% of admitted students had GPAs of at least 4.0, so to stay competitive, you’ll need at least the same. If your GPA doesn’t quite hit the mark, you’ll need to ensure you excel in other areas of your application to make up for it.
- Apply for the Early Rounds
Keep in mind that the acceptance rate for the early decision round is almost twice the overall UVA acceptance rate, and the early action rate is also much higher.
An early application will give you the best chance of admissions success, but remember that if you apply for the early decision round, your decision is binding. In other words, if you apply for early decision and are accepted, you are legally bound to enroll at UVA. Furthermore, it’s inadvisable to rush into submitting a subpar application simply for the sake of applying in an earlier round. Only those who are prepared should consider it a viable option.
- Really Get Active in One or Two Extracurriculars
Here’s the deal with extracurricular activities and colleges — quality, not quantity, matters most. If you have a highly developed interest or talent in one or two activities and show leadership in them or make significant contributions, it will shine on your application.
UVA wants to see a couple of extracurriculars you are passionate about, not a list of dozens of activities that you added merely to expand the list out of obligation.
- Get Your Letters of Recommendation in Order
Since UVA considers these letters very important, you’ll need two of them — one from a counselor at your school and one from a teacher in a core academic subject. These letters should speak to your character while offering insight into who you are beyond just a student.
Plan ahead when it comes to who you will ask for these letters. Ask what kind of letter the person will write, be professional, follow up, and thank them for writing the letter.
- Start Early on Your Essays
The essays are crucial parts of your application, so you need to review the upcoming questions that will be on the application and get started on your answers early.
Your essays must be compelling; you’ll need to answer one of five prompts that will be given and one that corresponds to the undergrad program you’re interested in applying to. Use your answers to talk about yourself on a personal level! Most of all, try to avoid repeating basic information that appears elsewhere on the application.
Applying to UVA: Improve Your Chances of Admission
The application deadline for the early decision binding round and the early action round is November 1. The application deadline for the regular decision round is January 5. You’ll need to fill out the common application, which is used by most colleges in the U.S. Make sure you begin preparing early in your high school career for UVA!
Reach out to us for help more tailored to your needs – we’ve got you every step of the way towards your educational destiny!