How Hard Is It to Get Into UW Madison?

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The University of Wisconsin-Madison is located in Madison, Wisconsin, and is a public land-grant research university. If you want to start your college journey at an excellent Midwest school focused on student and faculty research, consider applying to UW Madison. Keep reading as we delve into how hard it is to get into UW Madison and what you can do to improve your chances of securing admission.

What is UW Madison Known For?What is UW Madison Known For?

Several unique aspects of UW Madison make it stand out as a well-reputed university:


It’s no surprise that UW Madison is well known for its research; the university has, after all, spent millions on it. The school provides 17 research and service centers, ranking in the nation’s top 10 colleges for research volume. For example, the Center for Genomic Science Innovation implements genomic strategies to tackle practical problems in agriculture, medicine, and other fields.

Additionally, UW Madison has an excellent study abroad program, allowing students to explore opportunities beyond campus grounds during their freshman year through the UW Global and Summer Launch or before they start their first year. But wait; it gets better. There are also various fully-funded fellowships and programs you can avail of using the UW Global Gateway Initiative, so money is not an issue if you work hard.


As Wisconsin’s capital, Madison is a medium-sized city boasting several lakeshores, bicycle paths, and green parks. Although it is a medium-sized city, it provides the feeling of a tight-knit community with several events year-round, such as park concerts and a seasonal farmers market. One popular attraction is State Street, a pedestrian mall with art galleries, restaurants, and stores.


There is a statue of Abraham Lincoln in a chair on Bascom Hill’s top where the campus quad is situated. It’s a popular tradition for students to rub the statue’s foot on the first day of their final exams every semester, which is considered to bring good luck.

Interestingly, the tradition continues differently in your later college years. Once you graduate, you’re welcome to visit Abe and tell him all your goals so that he can grant you the best of luck for your future endeavors. We also recommend using this vantage point to enjoy the campus and city’s spectacular views.


If you plan on attending UW Madison, don’t miss out on its Geology Museum, which displays fossil collections, glowing minerals, and corals. Not only are there guided tours, but the staff also loves to share their passion for artifacts with individuals or small groups. You should also check out the Chazen Museum of Art, housing original artwork with over 23,000 pieces.

How Selective is Wisconsin-Madison?

How Selective is Wisconsin-Madison?

UW Madison integrates eight undergraduate schools within a larger university, with each one having specific academic programs, faculty, and resources. There are 125 undergraduate programs, and every major has its own requirements regarding auditions, GPA, prerequisites, and portfolios. Some popular majors include Biology, Computer and Information Sciences, Economics, Finance, and Psychology.

Luckily, UW is a moderately selective school because more than half of all applicants secure admissions. While the university expects you to meet their ACT/SAT and GPA requirements, it is more flexible than other schools. However, it is considered one of Wisconsin’s most selective schools  and a considerable percentage of students from out of state also apply and attend.

What is the Acceptance Rate at UW Madison?

What is the Acceptance Rate at UW Madison?

The UW Madison acceptance rate for Wisconsin applicants is 60%, with the university ranking 38th nationally. This means that out of every 100 applicants, 60 are admitted. In contrast, the UW Madison out-of-state acceptance rate is much lower and continues to drop steadily. For example, only 6800 spots were filled from 42,627 applications in the 2018 fall class.

UW Madison is committed to ensuring that at least two-thirds of Wisconsin residents who’ve applied obtain admission so Wisconsin businesses can recruit them for jobs later on.

What are the Admission Requirements for UW Madison?

What are the Admission Requirements for UW Madison?

In this section, we’ll  cover some UW Madison requirements you must meet to be considered for admission:

What GPA do you need to get into UW Madison?

Let’s be honest; the specified minimum UW Madison GPA requirement just scratches the surface, meaning that it is the bare minimum you must do to apply without immediate rejection. The UW Madison average GPA for acceptance is 3.86, and you should aim to be well above average in your class (preferably near the top). Your transcript should contain mostly As in several IB or AP classes to showcase your ability to handle college-level academics.

If you’re a high school senior or junior with a GPA below the average, it’s in your best interest to score higher on your ACT or SAT to compensate. This is because improving your GPA this close to college applications is challenging.

What SAT and ACT scores does UW Madison require?

While UW Madison used to require its students to submit their ACT or SAT scores as part of the admissions process, the school has made their submission optional until the spring 2025 term due to the effects and consequences of Covid-19.

You will not be disadvantaged in the evaluation process if you don’t take the SAT or ACT and send in your scores. However, if you do plan on taking the ACT or SAT then aim for the 75th percentile score to improve your chances of getting in. Aim for a 1480 SAT score or a 32 ACT score.

Are admission essays required?

UW Madison requires applicants to write two essays for its holistic review because the admissions team wants to understand you better. These essays are a way for you to highlight your personality, explain why you wish to be a future badger, and what you’ll contribute to the UW Madison community.

They want to know more than just your test scores and GPA, so don’t hesitate to detail your unique story and what makes you a good fit. If you’re applying through the Common Application, you will also have to answer one of the first-year Common Application essays.

Are recommendation letters important?

The short answer is yes. You must submit one recommendation letter written by somebody who can attest to your academic achievements, like a faculty member, school counselor, or teacher. Additionally, you can add another letter from a community leader, coach, clergy, employer, or research mentor, but this is not mandatory.

Students applying to an engineering program are encouraged to secure a recommendation letter from a science or math teacher. Discussing with your recommender beforehand whether they can and are willing to provide a letter is in your best interest.

If you haven’t experienced formal classroom teaching in a long time, UW Madison encourages you to obtain a letter of recommendation from an individual who can verify your academic potential. This can be a program or departmental trainer, an employer, or someone else in an official instructional capacity.

What extracurriculars do they look for?

UW Madison reviews extracurriculars and the positive impact they’ve had on applicants. Their extracurricular motto is quite literally, ‘If they matter to you, they matter to us’. You should list your employment, interests, activities and involvement, service, talents, and leadership.

5 Application Tips to Get Into UW Madison

5 Application Tips to Get Into UW Madison

Now that we’ve probably answered most of your questions like, is UW Madison hard to get into and what they require from applicants, let’s take a look at some strategies to improve your chances of securing admission into UW Madison:

Write Engaging UW Madison Supplemental Essays

When writing your UW Madison supplemental essays, make sure your responses are thoughtful and genuine. Keep in mind that these essay prompts depend on which application you submit. Don’t hesitate to express who you really are in your essays and share additional information about your background, interests, and passions.

Your application essay is crucial to your UW Madison application because it helps the admissions team determine how you’ll fit into their college community. It’s also helpful to talk with current students about the UW Madison culture and traditions or visit the campus before you start framing your essay.

Build Your Profile

If you wish to stand out on your UW Madison application, you’ll need to craft your approach for getting into the university. UW Madison is interested in passionate, engaged, and bright students. For this reason, you should seek out experiences that strengthen your candidate profile, such as helping out in the community or playing a sport throughout high school. Additionally, you should pursue your academic interests and aim to take rigorous classes like AP.

Apply Early

Sure, UW Madison might not be as competitive as the Ivies, but that doesn’t mean you should take the application process lightly. The school’s acceptance rate is still competitive, so consider applying early. Research when the UW Madison Early Decision deadline is to maximize your admission chances. Give yourself enough time to construct the strongest application possible.

Aim for a High ACT or SAT Score

While UW Madison considers any score within the 75th-25th percentile during the admissions process, you should aim to score in the 75th percentile. Remember that UW-Madison doesn’t allow superscore, so work hard to get a high score once to have a good chance of getting accepted.

Obtain Strong Recommendations

Your recommendation letters have more influence on admission decisions than you’d think! That’s why you should spend some time deciding who to ask for a letter of recommendation for UW Madison. It would be helpful if you opt for someone who knows you well and can sufficiently describe your accomplishments, personality, and skills positively and enthusiastically.

When you’re making the recommendation request, be polite and ask at least a month before your deadlines so your chosen recommenders have enough time to write a solid letter on your behalf.

Wrapping Things Up: How Hard Is It to Get Into UW Madison?

If you want to experience college in a modern, community-focused environment, then look no further than UW Madison. You’ll enjoy hands-on training, various unique resources, a contemporary curriculum, and so much more. That being said, don’t let the UW Madison admission requirements intimidate you.

Go through our guide if you’re unsure how you should navigate the UW Madison admission process, and use the tips mentioned above to emerge as a well-rounded, capable student by the end of high school so that it’ll be hard for the university to reject you.

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Professor Conquer

Professor Conquer started Conquer Your Exam in 2018 to help students feel more confident and better prepared for their tough tests. Prof excelled in high school, graduating top of his class and receiving admissions into several Ivy League and top 15 schools. He has helped many students through the years tutoring and mentoring K-12, consulting seniors through the college admissions process, and writing extensive how-to guides for school.

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