Last Updated on November 14, 2022 by Fola Shade
Cal Poly SLO, the shortened name for California Polytechnic State University—San Luis Obispo, is the most selective of the 23 schools within the massive CSU system that serves nearly half a million students. With affordable and well-regarded bachelor’s degree programs in areas such as mechanical engineering, business administration, computer science, and architecture, it’s no wonder the number of applicants to Cal Poly has more than tripled since the turn of the millennium. Given the growing popularity of this increasingly-selective public university–last year’s acceptance rate was only 29%–you will want to be aware of the following:
If you’re applying to California Polytechnic State University – San Luis Obispo you’ll face some tough competition, since the school’s acceptance rate is only 35%. Definitely don’t wait until the last minute to submit your application, since applying early may be in your favor.
Average Test Scores
About 70% of students accepted to Cal Poly San Luis Obispo submitted their SAT scores. When looking at the 25th through the 75th percentile, SAT Evidence-Based Reading and Writing scores ranged between 600 and 680. Math scores were between 600 and 700.SAT Reading and Writing Scores for California Polytechnic State University – San Luis Obispo ( 600 to 680 )200800SAT Math Scores for California Polytechnic State University – San Luis Obispo ( 600 to 700 )200800Cal Poly San Luis Obispo received ACT scores from 68% of accepted students. When looking at the 25th through the 75th percentile, ACT Composite scores ranged between 26 and 31.
Acceptance Rate; 38%
Early Decision Acceptance Rate; No data available —
Total Applicants; 52,371
SAT Range; 1240-1440
SAT Reading; 620-700
SAT Math; 20-740
Students Submitting SAT; 78%
ACT Range; 26-32
ACT English; 26-34
ACT Math; 26-32
ACT Writing; No data available —
Students Submitting ACT; 48%
How Cal Poly SLO Rates Applicants
There are only two factors that this school ranks as “very important” to their admissions decision process and they are: the rigor of your courses and GPA earned within those courses. They “consider” items such as: extracurricular activities, talent/ability, first-generation status, geographical residence, volunteer work, and paid work experience.
Cal Poly, along with all other California State University campuses have gone test-blind, meaning they will no longer consider SAT or ACT scores in the application process. Previously, test scores had been a “very important” component of the review process at Cal Poly.
In the words of the admissions office:
- “For the purposes of your application, we’ll consider your 9th-11th grade weighted GPA. That number is calculated from college-prep coursework as designated on your application. Weight is granted for courses designated as ‘honors,’ ‘college-level,’ ‘advanced placement’ or ‘international baccalaureate’ for up to eight semesters.”
- “Cal Poly takes activities such as work experience, internships, volunteer programs and extracurricular activities into consideration. We are also interested in any leadership roles you may have held in these activities.”
- “All candidates are objectively evaluated by the cognitive and non-cognitive variables under our faculty-mandated Multi-Criteria Admission (MCA) process.”
Tips for Applying to Cal Poly
If you plan on joining the nearly 59,000 Mustang freshmen hopefuls for the next admissions cycle, you should also know the following:
- This university does not offer interviews or consider recommendations, essays, or demonstrated interest.
- You will be required to select a major from a list of more than 60 on your application.
- Applications can be submitted any time from 10/1 through 11/30.
- There are no essays for applicants to Cal Poly SLO.
Should I Apply to Cal Poly?
If you earned a 4.0 (or better) weighted GPA in high school, you are a viable candidate to any program within Cal Poly –San Luis Obispo. Students with a 4.1 or 4.2 in a mostly honors/AP curriculum will fare best. That said, very few students are able to consider Cal Poly as a “safety” these days; all students need to make sure that they formulate an appropriate college list, containing a complement of “reach”, “target”, and “safety” schools. You’ll definitely want to do this in collaboration with an admissions professional who is aware of the latest trends and strategies associated with your prospective colleges.
Cal Poly Requirements for Admission
What are Cal Poly’s admission requirements? While there are a lot of pieces that go into a college application, you should focus on only a few critical things:
- GPA requirements
- Testing requirements, including SAT and ACT requirements
- Application requirements
In this guide we’ll cover what you need to get into Cal Poly and build a strong application.
School location: San Luis Obispo, CA
Admissions Rate: 30.2%
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 30.2%. For every 100 applicants, 30 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.
Cal Poly GPA 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.
Average GPA: 4
The average GPA at Cal Poly is 4.
(Most schools use a weighted GPA out of 4.0, though some report an unweighted GPA.
With a GPA of 4, 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 4, 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.
SAT and ACT Requirements
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: 1335
The average SAT score composite at Cal Poly is a 1335 on the 1600 SAT scale.
This score makes Cal Poly Moderately Competitive for SAT test scores.
Cal Poly SAT Score Analysis (New 1600 SAT)
The 25th percentile New SAT score is 1240, and the 75th percentile New SAT score is 1430. In other words, a 1240 on the New SAT places you below average, while a 1430 will move you up to above average.
Here’s the breakdown of new SAT scores by section:
|Section||Average||25th Percentile||75th Percentile|
|Reading + Writing||660||620||700|
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.
For example, say you submit the following 3 test scores:
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 1430, 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 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: 29
The average ACT score at Cal Poly is 29. This score makes Cal Poly Moderately Competitive for ACT scores.
The 25th percentile ACT score is 26, and the 75th percentile ACT score is 32.
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 29 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 32 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 32.