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I am in the process for applying to Ivy League Universities, also Amherst College, Boston University, Stanford and MIT. I believe that I am a very strong candidate when it comes to essays, references and extracurriculars. However my unweighted GPA is 3, I am an international student and for this year I am not able to take SAT or ACT as well, if you have any comments for my acceptance and how I can increase it please feel free to advise me. I appreciate it, thank you


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Accepted answer

I appreciate your enthusiasm for sure. I will answer this the same way whether you are an American or International Student.

During this admission cycle, about 50% of Americans who signed up for tests had them cancelled multiple times with no ability to take them. I'm sure the Int'l figure is similar. Therefore 400+ colleges made Standardized Tests Optional.

The result is mixed. It's a good thing if your academic transcript shows that you a.) have near-perfect grades say 3.9-4.0 unweighted. and b.) you have challenged yourself with the most difficult classes offered in your school, and c.) you have examples of intellectual vitality (curiosity) which has led you to go outside of the traditional classroom to take say online college courses or work on independent research, etc. For these students, a high test score will not make or break their admissions.

On the other hand, students that have lower grades/course rigor will be at a disadvantage without a test score. Last year for example, if you had a 3.7 or less GPA unweighted, you could prop up your transcript by taking SAT Subject Tests or scoring 4s and 5s on your AP exams to show that you are serious about academics. Currently, if you have a low GPA and no supplemental standardized test scores, it's very difficult fo the admissions officer to guess how good of a student you will be on their college campus in a classroom.

Applying with a 3.0 GPA places you on the lowest scale of applicants. Even if you had a 33+ ACT, and 1500+ SAT you would be at a great disadvantage unless you are a.) recruited athlete, b.) a development candidate whose parents actively donated millions of dollars or the school c.) a legacy candidate who had 1 parent previously attend the same college.

BU is the least competitive college you listed. I pulled up their Common Data Set for Class of 2023 (so 2019/2020 numbers) and their average GPA was 3.71. They accepted 18.9% and enrolled 3165 out of 62224 applications. Only 4% of their admits had under 3.25 GPA which is 126/62224= 2/10th of 1%.

Within the next 100 days, before Regular decisions are due, there is not much you can do to change your academic record besides getting perfect grades and if I did the math correctly you'd end up with a 3.14 for your efforts.

Consider the benefits of a gap year to focus on improving your academic record and stats or if you are insistent on applying this cycle, set your sights a couple of bars lower. Good luck with your admissions process.

Thank you for the comment, it means a lot to me. I will consider everything you said. Have a good day