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Cal Poly Slo Admissions Essay

If you want to get in, the first thing to look at is the acceptance rate. This tells you how competitive the school is and how serious their requirements are.

The acceptance rate at Cal Poly is 31%. For every 100 applicants, 31 are admitted.

This means the school is very selective. If you meet Cal Poly's requirements for GPA, SAT/ACT scores, and other components of the application, you have a great shot at getting in. But if you fall short on GPA or your SAT/ACT scores, you'll have a very low chance of being admitted, even if you meet the other admissions requirements.

Many schools specify a minimum GPA requirement, but this is often just the bare minimum to submit an application without immediately getting rejected.

The GPA requirement that really matters is the GPA you need for a real chance of getting in. For this, we look at the school's average GPA for its current students.

The average GPA at Cal Poly is 3.92.

(Most schools use a weighted GPA out of 4.0, though some report an unweighted GPA.

With a GPA of 3.92, Cal Poly requires you to be at the top of your class. You'll need nearly straight A's in all your classes to compete with other applicants. Furthermore, you should be taking hard classes - AP or IB courses - to show that college-level academics is a breeze.

If you're currently a junior or senior, your GPA is hard to change in time for college applications. If your GPA is at or below the school average of 3.92, you'll need a higher SAT or ACT score to compensate. This will help you compete effectively against other applicants who have higher GPAs than you.

Each school has different requirements for standardized testing. Most schools require the SAT or ACT, and many also require SAT subject tests.

You must take either the SAT or ACT to submit an application to Cal Poly. More importantly, you need to do well to have a strong application.

Cal Poly SAT Requirements

Many schools say they have no SAT score cutoff, but the truth is that there is a hidden SAT requirement. This is based on the school's average score.

Average SAT: 1300 (Old: 1239)

The average SAT score composite at Cal Poly is a 1300 on the 1600 SAT scale.

On the old 2400 SAT, this corresponds to an average SAT score of 1239. (According to our records, this school requires only Reading and Math, so this score is out of 1600.)

This score makes Cal Poly Competitive for SAT test scores.


Cal Poly SAT Score Analysis (New 1600 SAT)

The 25th percentile New SAT score is 1200, and the 75th percentile New SAT score is 1420. In other words, a 1200 on the New SAT places you below average, while a 1420 will move you up to above average.

Here's the breakdown of new SAT scores by section:

SectionAverage25th Percentile75th Percentile
Math650600720
Reading323035
Composite130012001420

Cal Poly SAT Score Analysis (Old 2400 SAT)

The 25th percentile Old SAT score is 1130, and the 75th percentile SAT score is 1340. In other words, a 1130 on the Old SAT places you below average, while a 1340 puts you well above average.

Here's the breakdown of old SAT scores by section:

SectionAverage25th Percentile75th Percentile
Math635580690
Reading604550650
Composite123911301340

SAT Score Choice Policy

The Score Choice policy at your school is an important part of your testing strategy.

Cal Poly has the Score Choice policy of "Highest Section."

This is also known as "superscoring." This means that you can choose which SAT tests you want to send to the school. Of all the scores they receive, your application readers will consider your highest section scores across all SAT test dates you submit.

Click below to learn more about how superscoring critically affects your test strategy.

How does superscoring change your test strategy? (Click to Learn)

For example, say you submit the following 3 test scores:

SectionR+WMathComposite
Test 17003001000
Test 23007001000
Test 3300300600
Superscore7007001400

Even though the highest total you scored on any one test date was 1000, Cal Poly will take your highest section score from all your test dates, then combine them to form your Superscore. You can raise your composite score from 1000 to 1400 in this example.

This is important for your testing strategy. Because you can choose which tests to send in, and Cal Poly forms your Superscore, you can take the SAT as many times as you want, then submit only the tests that give you the highest Superscore. Your application readers will only see that one score.

Therefore, if your SAT superscore is currently below a 1420, we strongly recommend that you consider prepping for the SAT and retaking it. You have a very good chance of raising your score, which will significantly boost your chances of getting in.

Even better, because of the Superscore, you can focus all your energy on a single section at a time. If your Reading score is lower than your other sections, prep only for the Reading section, then take the SAT. Then focus on Math for the next test, and so on. This will surely give you the highest Superscore possible.


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Cal Poly ACT Requirements

Just like for the SAT, Cal Poly likely doesn't have a hard ACT cutoff, but if you score too low, your application will get tossed in the trash.

Average ACT: 28

The average ACT score at Cal Poly is 28. This score makes Cal Poly Moderately Competitive for ACT scores.

The 25th percentile ACT score is 26, and the 75th percentile ACT score is 31.

Even though Cal Poly likely says they have no minimum ACT requirement, if you apply with a 26 or below, you'll have a very hard time getting in, unless you have something else very impressive in your application. There are so many applicants scoring 28 and above that a 26 will look academically weak.

ACT Score Sending Policy

If you're taking the ACT as opposed to the SAT, you have a huge advantage in how you send scores, and this dramatically affects your testing strategy.

Here it is: when you send ACT scores to colleges, you have absolute control over which tests you send. You could take 10 tests, and only send your highest one. This is unlike the SAT, where many schools require you to send all your tests ever taken.

This means that you have more chances than you think to improve your ACT score. To try to aim for the school's ACT requirement of 31 and above, you should try to take the ACT as many times as you can. When you have the final score that you're happy with, you can then send only that score to all your schools.

ACT Superscore Policy

By and large, most colleges do not superscore the ACT. (Superscore means that the school takes your best section scores from all the test dates you submit, and then combines them into the best possible composite score). Thus, most schools will just take your highest ACT score from a single sitting.

We weren't able to find the school's exact ACT policy, which most likely means that it does not Superscore. Regardless, you can choose your single best ACT score to send in to Cal Poly, so you should prep until you reach our recommended target ACT score of 31.


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SAT/ACT Writing Section Requirements

Both the SAT and ACT have a Writing section that includes an essay.

Cal Poly considers the SAT/ACT Writing section optional and may not include it as part of their admissions consideration. You don't need to worry too much about Writing for this school, but other schools you're applying to may require it.


SAT Subject Test Requirements

Schools vary in their SAT subject test requirements. Typically, selective schools tend to require them, while most schools in the country do not.

We did not find information that Cal Poly requires SAT subject tests, and so most likely it does not. At least 6 months before applying, you should still doublecheck just to make sure, so you have enough time to take the test.



Applicant Process

Here is the application process for undergraduates when applying to Cal Poly:

  1. Fully explore and decide on the major or program to which you want to apply. Cal Poly applicants must declare a major upon application and 'undeclared' is not an option. Once selections are made, major changes are not allowed until the first quarter of attendance. Selection to all Cal Poly majors is competitive and we have more qualified applicants than available new student spaces. Therefore, Cal Poly rarely considers alternate or 'second choice' majors. Choosing the major that best fits your educational goals is one of the most important decisions you can make as an applicant.
  2. Review the selection criteria for your level to ensure you are maximizing your opportunity for selection. Admission to Cal Poly is competitive in all majors and applicants are advised to read the selection criteria prior to applying.
  3. Submit your application online at www.calstate.edu/apply by the deadline for the quarter to which you are applying. Download helpful application resources here. Late applications are not accepted. Do not send any supporting documents such as essays, resumes, portfolios, recommendation letters, or transcripts upon application. Applicants will be contacted if additional documents are required. Note: Unsolicited documents and transcripts will not be processed.
  4. After submitting an online application, you will be emailed by Cal Poly the following business day, acknowledging receipt of your application. 
  5. Later in the application period, after your application has been uploaded to Cal Poly's database, you will receive another email from the Cal Poly Admissions Office with instructions to access our University portal, MyCalPoly.
  6. In addition to the Cal State Apply application, transfer applicants to Cal Poly will be asked to complete a supplemental application. The supplemental application will be available on your MyCalPoly portal between January 4, 2018 and January 31, 2018. Applicants to Art, Music, and Architecture majors will need to submit the supplemental application by January 15th, 2018. Instructions for completing the supplemental application will be emailed to you by January 3, 2018.
  7. The Cal Poly Admissions Office will then continue to communicate with you throughout the application process with any updates and/or further instructions.

Graduate and International applicants, and Returning Cal Poly Students should review those sections under the ‘Applicant’ tab for additional requirements beyond submitting the application.

EMAIL ALERT: When you apply to Cal Poly, you are advised to add the email address: ecoms@calpoly.edu to your contact list. This will ensure you receive emails sent from the Admissions Office in a timely fashion. You should also check your spam folder for any emails from ecoms@calpoly.edu. Email is our primary form of communication and emails are sent from ecoms@calpoly.edu.

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