George Washington University (GW) is a private federally charted research university in Washington, D.C. Chartered in 1821 by the U.S. Congress, GW is located in downtown D.C., just blocks from the White House and a mile from the Washington Monument and National Mall. It’s the perfect location for students interested in city life and politics.
Students at GW learn from Pulitzer Prize winners and world leaders right on campus, all while gaining real-world experience in the nation’s capital. The university is home to over 11,000 undergraduates and more than 400 student organizations. About 25% of students are involved in Greek life.
GW has a student-faculty ratio of 13:1, and it’s ranked 63rd in the nation by U.S. News and World Report. With its stellar location, active campus life, esteemed faculty, and strong academic programs, it’s not surprising that George Washington University is a top choice for many students.
In this guide, we’ll use data and information straight from the source—George Washington University—to help you build a strategic plan for your high school career and your GW application. With the information and tips you find here, you’ll learn how to increase your chances of an acceptance letter from GW!
Is It Hard to Get Into George Washington University?
George Washington University has an acceptance rate of 49%. This means for every 100 students who apply, about 49 receive an acceptance letter. The other 51 applicants receive a rejection.
In comparison to other universities, GW is moderately selective. It’s not necessarily easy to get into, but it’s more flexible and less competitive than many schools.
GPA and Test Scores for George Washington University
On average, students admitted to George Washington have a GPA of 3.86. This means you will need mostly A’s to have a competitive GPA for GW.
Grades, however, are only one factor that colleges like GW consider. If your GPA is lower than 3.86 and it’s too late in your high school career to significantly improve it, focus on earning a highly competitive score on the ACT or SAT.
George Washington University has been test-optional since 2015. You are not required to submit test scores unless you are:
- Attending a school that supplies narrative evaluations rather than a grading scale
- A recruited NCAA Division I athlete (test-optional for 2022-2023)
- Applying for the accelerated Seven-Year B.A./M.D. program
However, you may choose to submit test scores, and GW will consider them as part of your application. We recommend taking the SAT and/or ACT and seeing how you perform. If you earn a great score, it can certainly help your chances of admission. And if you have a lower GPA, it’s essential to offset it with strong test scores.
GW students who do submit test scores have an average ACT score of 31. The 25th percentile score is 29, and the 75th percentile score is 32. It’s best to aim for a score in the 75th percentile to ensure that you’re an extremely competitive applicant.
Now, let’s look at an SAT score breakdown for students admitted to George Washington University.
|Section||Average||25th Percentile||75th Percentile|
Since you want to score in the 75th percentile, aim for a 1460 on the SAT, with a 720 in Reading and a 740 in Math. Overall, these numbers tell us you should strive for a:
- GPA of 3.86 or higher
- 32 on the ACT, OR
- 1460 on the SAT
Of course, you can score lower and still get accepted to GW. You can even get accepted without submitting test scores at all.
Ideally, you’ll get as close to the metrics listed above as possible. But George Washington University’s website explains that they want to “get to know [their] students” and “get the full story.” GW knows that students are more than numbers, and the admissions committee considers other factors important too.
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What Other Qualities Does George Washington University Look For?
George Washington University’s official website says, “We are looking for students who have the academic preparation, personal qualities, and motivation to thrive in GW’s dynamic environment.” The admissions committee considers applicants’ academic background, the rigor of high school coursework, GPA, essays, letters of recommendation, and extracurricular activities.
GW also look for students who:
- Think critically
- Challenge the status quo
- Are committed to serving their communities and the world
- Have an interest in creating change
- Are passionate about their beliefs, interests, and plans for the future
Located in the heart of our nation’s capital, George Washington University seeks students who want to lead, innovate, and create positive change. The ideal GW candidate is passionate, motivated, and capable of making a difference on campus and in society.
In short, George Washington University will review your application for the big picture. The admissions committee wants to know who you are, beyond the numbers. Strong academic performance is important, but so is community service, your leadership qualities, your passions, and beyond.
What Should You Do in High School?
So, based on the information we’ve discussed so far, what should you do in high school to ensure you’re a competitive candidate for admission to George Washington University?
Excel in Challenging Classes
Take the most challenging classes offered at your school, such as AP or IB courses. GW takes your academic background into account, so don’t panic if AP and IB aren’t an option at your school. The admissions committee won’t hold it against you. They simply expect you to complete the most challenging schedule possible at your high school.
In addition to taking challenging classes, it’s important to excel in them. Remember that you will need mostly A’s to have a competitive GPA for George Washington University. This means you’ll need to pay attention in class, take notes, review them weekly, turn all assignments in on time, and study for tests.
If you begin to fall behind, be proactive in seeking help from the teacher, a student with a strong grasp of the material, or a tutor.
Prepare for the ACT/SAT
Although George Washington University is test-optional for most students, we strongly recommend submitting test scores (if your scores are competitive for GW). GW will consider both ACT and SAT scores if you submit them, with no preference for either test.
Take practice tests for each exam to determine whether the ACT or SAT fits best with your academic strengths. Once you’ve decided which test to focus on, use the practice test to establish a baseline. What are your strengths and weaknesses on the exam? Create a study plan and begin studying several months in advance.
As the exam date approaches, focus on your areas of weakness. Continue taking practice tests to assess your progress and adjust your study plan as needed. It’s also helpful to purchase a test prep book, take a test prep course, or organize a study group with other highly motivated, academically talented students.
If you aren’t happy with your first test score, consider taking the test again. Use your initial score as helpful information. What didn’t work the first time? Make adjustments and create a more informed study plan to prepare you for your next exam date.
Pursue Your Passions
George Washington University is looking for a diverse group of passionate students who will make their own unique contributions on campus and in the wider world. Your extracurricular participation should reflect who you are as a person. What do you love to do? What are you curious about? How will you develop and strengthen these interests over time?
Instead of aiming to be “well-rounded” or collecting activities that you think will impress GW, choose a few activities you’re passionate about and commit to them. Strive to make valuable contributions in these areas and take on leadership roles if possible. If you have the opportunity to compete for recognition or awards related to your talents and passions, go for it!
Throughout your high school career, keep a record of your extracurricular participation. Record when you started an activity or joined an organization, the roles you held, and the important contributions you made. If applicable, you should also document awards and recognition, jobs, research, and summer programs or activities you participate in. This will make it easier to provide a thorough, accurate record of your participation when you apply to GW.
Serve the Community
George Washington University looks for students with both the desire and ability to make an impact—at school, in their communities, and in the world. Participating in community service leads to immense personal growth and is extremely rewarding, and it will also demonstrate to GW that you’re a student they want on campus. Find community service opportunities that are meaningful to you.
When you look around your school or community, what needs or problems do you see that you could help address? What social issues matter to you? Based on your interests and beliefs, find positive ways to contribute to the people and places around you.
It’s especially impressive if you organize your own community service project, start your own organization, or successfully lobby for change in your school or community. But whatever approach you take, demonstrate that you’re motivated to create positive change. By making an impact now, you’ll show GW that you’re likely to make an impact on campus (and after your college career) too.
George Washington University Application Process and Checklist
George Washington University requires applicants to submit the Common Application.
When you fill out the Common App, you must select one of the following undergraduate schools:
- Columbian College of Arts and Sciences
- Corcoran School of the Arts and Design
- School of Business
- School of Engineering and Applied Science
- Elliott School of International Affairs
- School of Media and Public Affairs
- School of Medicine and Health Sciences
- School of Nursing
- Milken Institute School of Public Health
You may also select an alternate school choice, but this is optional. Different schools have different application requirements, so check the application requirements for the schools you’re considering. If you include an alternate school choice, you must meet all application requirements for both schools.
Your application will include:
- Official transcripts
- Optional test scores
- Activities list
- Letter of recommendations from guidance counselor and at least one academic teacher
- Common Application essay
- GW supplemental essay(s) (optional)
If you apply to the Corcoran School of the Arts and Design, you’re also required to submit a portfolio. The Seven Year B.A./M.D. Program, University Honors Program, and School of Media and Public Affairs have additional essay(s) requirements.
George Washington University Supplemental Essays
George Washington University’s supplemental essays are optional, but you should absolutely write them. The essays give you an additional chance to show who you are, provide information the GW admissions committee is interested in, and further strengthen your application.
For the 2021-2022 admissions cycle, GW’s supplemental essay topics were:
- At The George Washington University, our students frequently interact with policymakers and world leaders. These experiences and those of our alumni can shape the future of global affairs. If you had the power to change the course of history in your community or the world, what would you do and why? (250 words)
- The George Washington University encourages students to think critically and to challenge the status quo. Thus, civil discourse is a key characteristic of our community. Describe a time when you engaged others in meaningful dialogue around an issue that was important to you. Did this exchange create change, new perspectives, or deeper relationships? (250 words)
When writing both the supplemental and Common App essays, be sure to:
- Fully respond to the prompt. Directly and thoroughly respond to the prompt. The topic is something the admissions committee wants to know about you, so answer it completely.
- Use specific details. Specific details make your essay engaging and unique. Paint a picture with your words. If you’re writing about your interest in GW, do your research so you can reference specific classes, professors, or opportunities that demonstrate how serious you are about attending GW.
- Write in your unique voice. Your essay should “sound like” you. Essays are the only opportunity you have to let your real voice and genuine personality shine through on the application. If you focus on impressing, your essay will sound just like hundreds of other submissions. If you focus on being you, the final product will be an essay that only you could write.
- Proofread carefully. Edit your essay for clarity, concision, grammar, spelling, and authenticity. Ask a parent, teacher, or trusted friend to review your essay too. They may catch errors you miss, and they’ll be able to tell you whether the essay is truly written in your voice.
Should You Apply Early to George Washington University?
George Washington University offers Early Decision I, Early Decision II, and Regular Decision. The deadlines are as follows:
- Early Decision I: November 1
- Early Decision II: January 5 (same as regular decision)
- Regular Decision: January 5
The notification dates are:
- Early Decision I: Late December
- Early Decision II: Late February (before regular decision)
- Regular Decision: Early April
If you are applying to the Seven Year B.A./M.D. Program, the deadline is November 15, interviews are scheduled for strong candidates by mid-January, and the notification date is early April.
Both Early Decision I and Early Decision II are binding. This means that if you apply early decision and receive an acceptance letter, you agree to attend GW and withdraw applications submitted to other colleges.
You should only apply early to GW if you are 100% certain that GW is your top choice. That said, applying early can increase your chances of acceptance. GW’s early decision acceptance rate is 65%, compared to the regular decision acceptance rate of 41.9%.
So, we recommend applying early to George Washington University if it’s your top choice. If you’re unsure, apply regular decision.
Final Thoughts: How to Get Into George Washington University
George Washington University is a moderately selective school, meaning it’s not one of the easiest nor one of the hardest schools to get into. Slightly less than half of GW applicants receive an acceptance letter, so it’s still important to have a competitive GPA, extracurricular participation, and (optional) test scores.
Take challenging classes and aim for a GPA of at least 3.86. Although the ACT and SAT are optional, competitive test scores can help your chances. Shoot for a 32 on the ACT or a 1460 on the SAT. Commit to a few extracurricular activities you’re passionate about and try to make significant contributions and/or take on leadership roles. Serve your school, community, or even the world in ways that are meaningful to you.
When you write your essay—and we strongly recommend writing the GW supplemental essays too—answer the prompt fully, use specific details, write in your genuine voice, and proofread carefully. Remember to submit letters of recommendation from your guidance counselor and an academic teacher who likes you, knows you well, and has seen your academic ability.
If you are absolutely certain that GW is your top choice, apply early to increase your chances of acceptance.
Follow the process and tips included in this guide, and you’ll have a great chance of heading to D.C. with George Washington University’s next freshman class!