How to Get Into University of Virginia: Admissions Stats + Tips

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What’s Covered:

 

Since its founding in 1812 by Thomas Jefferson, the University of Virginia (UVA) has earned a reputation as one of the most prestigious public universities in the nation. UVA prides itself on cultivating leaders and providing education at a reasonable cost on its beautiful and historic campus—it’s one of the few universities in the country that is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It’s no wonder UVA makes the list of CollegeVine’s top 15 public universities in the U.S.

 

How Hard Is It to Get Into the University of Virginia?

 

Getting into UVA is hard—only 20.62% of applicants were admitted to its class of 2025. UVA had a record-breaking 48,011 students apply in the 2020-2021 admission cycle and just 9,898 were offered admission. UVA had 2,937 applicants apply for early decision and accepted 968, for an early decision acceptance rate of 32.96%. A total of 28,897 applicants applied for early action, of which UVA offered admission to 6,186, an early action acceptance rate of 21.41%.

 

While the University of Virginia’s acceptance rate is incredibly low, your personal chances depend on the strength of your profile, and our free admissions calculator can help you understand your odds at UVA. Using a variety of factors including your grades, test scores, and extracurriculares we estimate your chance of acceptance and offer tips to improve your profile.  

 

Average Academic Profile of Accepted University of Virginia Students

 

GPA

 

The average high school GPA of UVA’s Class of 2025 is 4.31. Nearly 90% of students admitted to the class of 2025 had a GPA of 4.0, and over 95% had GPAs higher than 3.5. 

 

SAT/ACT

 

The middle 50% SAT and ACT scores for UVA’s class of 2025 are 1330-1490 and 30-34.

 

Class Rank

 

An impressive 89.6% of the University of Virginia’s class of 2025 graduated in the top 10% of their high school class and 98.3% graduated in the top 25% of their high school class. 

 

What is the University of Virginia Looking For?

 

The challenge of gaining admission to UVA depends on whether you’re an in-state or out-of-state student. For in-state students, UVA is a top 40-50 college in terms of profile competitiveness, but for out-of-state students, it’s about as competitive as a top 20 school (more than USC and UCLA and slightly less than UC Berkeley). 

 

Applicants who apply early decision (ED)/early action (EA) at UVA are accepted at a higher rate than those who apply for regular decision. However, applying ED/EA at UVA does not offer the same advantage that it does at other colleges (and carries minimal weight for in-state students). 

 

In general, UVA accepts more students off the waitlist than other schools. Waitlisted students should always follow through with the full process. 

 

Year

Students Admitted from the Waiting List

2020

915

2019

9

2018

13

2017

117

2016

360

2015

402

2014

42

2013

185

2012

284

2011

117

 

How the University of Virginia Evaluates Applications

 

According to their 2020-2021 Common Data Set, the University of Virginia considers the following factors “very important”:

 

  • Course rigor
  • Class rank
  • GPA
  • Recommendation letters
  • Character/personal qualities 
  • State residence

 

These factors are “important”:

 

  • Test scores
  • Essay
  • Extracurricular activities 
  • Talent/ability

 

These are “considered”:

 

  • First generation
  • Legacy 
  • Geographic residence 
  • Racial/ethnic status 
  • Work experience 
  • Volunteer work 

 

And these are “not considered”:

 

  • Religious affiliation
  • Applicant interest 

 

Discover your chances at hundreds of schools

Our free chancing engine takes into account your history, background, test scores, and extracurricular activities to show you your real chances of admission—and how to improve them.

How to Improve Your Chances of Getting into the University of Virginia 

 

1. Achieve at least a 4.31 average GPA while taking the most challenging classes available

 

A competitive applicant to UVA will have great grades in the most challenging coursework available—the university considers course rigor, class rank, and GPA all “very important” to admissions decisions. 

 

The average high school GPA of UVA’s class of 2025 was 4.31 and roughly nine out of ten students had a high school GPA of 4.0. Students admitted to top-tier schools like UVA will have completed between five and eight AP classes, and out-of-state applicants to UVA will want to err on the high side. 

 

Colleges that receive tens of thousands of applications annually, such as UVA, use a tool known as the Academic Index to expedite admissions decisions. Academic Index is a representation of an applicant’s entire academic performance as a single number. If your Academic Index doesn’t meet an institution’s standard, you risk being deemed academically unqualified and not having your entire application read. 

 

If your GPA is lower but you’re earlier on in your high school career, check out our tips for increasing your GPA. If you’re a junior or senior, it will be harder to increase your GPA, so the easiest way to increase your Academic Index is to get a higher test score.

 

2. Letters of Recommendation

 

UVA considers letters of recommendation “very important” when making admissions decisions and requires two letters: one from your high school counselor and one from a teacher in a core academic subject. The counselor recommendation provides a broad view of you, while teacher recommendations offer insight into how you’re likely to perform academically. Both counselor and teacher letter of recommendations should speak to your character/personal qualities, which is another factor UVA considers “very important.”

 

Because teacher recommendations play a considerable role in admissions at UVA, it’s important to receive the best recommendation possible. Students are advised to follow the nine rules for requesting letters of recommendation from teachers: 

 

  1. Plan ahead
  2. Ask nicely 
  3. Ask what kind of letter you might get 
  4. Be professional 
  5. Include relevant details 
  6. Follow up 
  7. Make it easy 
  8. Send a reminder 
  9. Say thank you

 

Remember, teachers aren’t compensated for writing letters of recommendation and many end up writing letters for multiple students—make it easy on them and make sure to show your appreciation for the time they spent on it. 

 

3. Aim for a 1490 SAT and 34 ACT 

 

The middle 50% SAT/ACT range of accepted students at UVA is 1330-1490/30-34. Any score in the middle 50% is good, but the higher into the range you score, the better your odds of admission are. 

 

UVA has a long-standing policy of accepting an applicant’s best test scores. They use the top score from each SAT section across all administrations of the same exam. If you submit an ACT score, you’re directed to report the composite and sub-scores as they appear on your official score report without any recalculation. Because of this, sitting for either the SAT or ACT two to three times can increase your score. 

 

To improve your SAT/ACT score, check out these free CollegeVine resources:

 

 

Challenges presented by COVID-19 led UVA to adopt a test-optional policy for the 2020-2021 admissions cycle and the university will continue this policy for both the 2021-2022 and 2022-2023 admissions cycles. 

 

Just because UVA is test-optional, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t submit test scores. UVA considers them “important” to admissions decisions and students who submit scores are accepted at higher rates than those who don’t. CollegeVine recommends you submit a score if it’s the 25th percentile or above for accepted students at that school (1330 at UVA). You can get recommendations on whether or not you should apply test-optional using our free chancing engine. 

 

4. Cultivate one or two Tier 1-2 extracurriculars (find your “spike”)

 

The University of Virginia considers both extracurricular activities and talent/ability “important” to admissions decisions. Your application is more competitive at top schools like UVA if you have a highly developed interest known as a “spike” and one or two impressive extracurricular activities that show substantial achievement or leadership supporting it. 

 

Just how impressive is an extracurricular? The four tiers of extracurriculars are a good guide to understand how influential an activity is:

 

  • Tier 1: home to the most impressive and influential extracurriculars. These activities are uncommon and demonstrate extraordinary achievement or leadership and include everything from being a nationally recognized athlete or winning a prestigious national competition to attending a distinguished merit-based summer program. 

 

  • Tier 2: extracurriculars that show a high level of achievement or leadership but are more common than those of Tier 1. For example, state-level athletic recognition, winning a regional competition, or serving as student body president all fall under Tier 2. 

 

  • Tier 3: where activities that highlight your interests but lack distinction are categorized. These include being captain of a varsity sport and holding a minor leadership position in a well-known club. 

 

  • Tier 4: the least impressive and activities most often seen by admissions officers, including playing a sport, participating in a club, and doing general volunteer work.

 

5. Write Compelling Essays

 

Essays are an excellent way for you to separate yourself from other candidates and the University of Virginia considers them “important” when they make admissions decisions. All applicants to UVA are required to answer one of five essay prompts along with an essay prompt corresponding to the program they’re applying to. 

 

In general, you’ll want to write your essay in your unique voice and use it to show who you are and why you’re a good fit at the school. For essay advice more specific to UVA, check out our article, “How to Write the University of Virginia Essays 2021-2022.”


6. Apply Early Action/Early Decision

 

Applying to UVA early decision/early action can give your odds of admission a boost, especially if you’re an out-of-state applicant. UVA has a three-phase admissions process that includes early decision, early action, and regular decision each with its own acceptance rates:

 

  • 2021 early decision acceptance rate: 32.96%

  • 2021 early action acceptance rate: 21.41%

  • 2021 overall acceptance rate: 20.62%

 

Early decision applications offer the best chances of admissions but are also the most restrictive. If you apply ED at UVA, you’re agreeing to attend if admitted. Early action doesn’t offer the same acceptance advantage as ED, but is far less restrictive; it’s non-binding, which means you’re not committed to attend UVA if accepted and have until May 1 to make a decision of whether or not to attend. 

 

Applying for early decision to UVA is a good strategy if UVA is your first choice and you’re positive it’s within your budget. Early action is a good option if you have a strong profile without your senior grades and want to wrap up your college search in advance and gain a slight edge in admissions. If neither of those applies to you, regular decision is a good path to follow. 

 

How to Apply to the University of Virginia 

 

Deadlines

 

Application Timeline

Deadline

Early Decision 

November 1 

Early Action

November 1

Regular Decision

January 3

 

Application Requirements

 

The University of Virginia accepts the Common Application. You’ll also need:

 

  • UVA supplemental essay
  • Teacher recommendation
  • Counselor recommendation 
  • School report 
  • High school transcript
  • Mid-year reports
  • Optional: SAT/ACT scores
  • Optional: art and architecture supplements

 

Learn more about the University of Virginia 

 

Interested in learning more about UVA? Check out these other informative articles: 

 

 

Want to know your chances at UVA? Calculate your chances for free right now.


Short Bio
A graduate of Northeastern University with a degree in English, Tim Peck currently lives in Concord, New Hampshire, where he balances a freelance writing career with the needs of his two Australian Shepherds to play outside.

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