University Of Pittsburgh Application Essay Prompt

This prompt reminds us of the classic job interview question: “What is your biggest weakness?” When answering questions like these, it’s important to demonstrate honesty and self-awareness, but it’s even more important to showcase your strengths through the discussion of your “weaknesses” or anticipated challenges.

 

A possible route you could take for this essay could be briefly describing something you have struggled with previously (e.g., social anxiety when around a lot of new people) and explain ways in which you’ve overcome this in the past and how it has positively affected you (for example, by putting yourself out there and joining the chess club, which is now one of your favorite hobbies and greatest skills).

 

This type of response not only shows strength through your willingness to be somewhat vulnerable, but also illustrates your growth, problem-solving skills, and ability to deal with tough situations.

 

Keep in mind, though, that you should definitely spend more time detailing how you’ve overcome a problem than talking about the problem itself. It won’t give the admissions team much confidence in your ability to deal with the inevitably stressful situations of college if you spend 150 out of 200 words talking about how much of a burden your crippling social anxiety has been for you. Avoid writing a sob story; instead, reflect on your growth and maturity.

 

Remember: You are trying to demonstrate how you’ve grown from challenges and learned to face your fears, not just describe how your fears have negatively affected you.

 

Another route you could take is to talk about an anticipated challenge you have not previously faced, but how your strengths and other experiences you’ve had will help you with them. For example, perhaps you come from a small private school with a graduating class of 60 people. Or maybe you live in a rural town in Oklahoma and have never been to a city on the East Coast. Both of these backgrounds would potentially make attending Pitt overwhelming and nerve-wracking for you at first.

 

For this kind of response, it is still important to focus more on how you will handle the challenge than the actual challenge itself. If, like mentioned in the example above, you are coming from an extremely small high school, you could talk about how your strengths (e.g., outgoing or adventurous personality) or past experiences (for example, doing a summer study-abroad program) will help you deal with the challenge.

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 University of Pittsburgh is 54%. For every 100 applicants, 54 are admitted.

This means the school is moderately selective. The school expects you to meet their requirements for GPA and SAT/ACT scores, but they're more flexible than other schools. If you exceed their requirements, you have an excellent chance of getting in. But if you don't, you might be one of the unlucky minority that gets a rejection letter.

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 University of Pittsburgh is 4.

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

With a GPA of 4, University of Pittsburgh 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.

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 University of Pittsburgh. More importantly, you need to do well to have a strong application.

University of Pittsburgh 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: 1340 (Old: 1893)

The average SAT score composite at University of Pittsburgh is a 1340 on the 1600 SAT scale.

On the old 2400 SAT, this corresponds to an average SAT score of 1893.

This score makes University of Pittsburgh Moderately Competitive for SAT test scores.


University of Pittsburgh SAT Score Analysis (New 1600 SAT)

The 25th percentile New SAT score is 1250, and the 75th percentile New SAT score is 1420. In other words, a 1250 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
Math660620720
Reading333135
Writing333236
Composite134012501420

University of Pittsburgh SAT Score Analysis (Old 2400 SAT)

The 25th percentile Old SAT score is 1750, and the 75th percentile SAT score is 2020. In other words, a 1750 on the Old SAT places you below average, while a 2020 puts you well above average.

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

SectionAverage25th Percentile75th Percentile
Math649600690
Reading625580660
Writing619570670
Composite189317502020

SAT Score Choice Policy

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

University of Pittsburgh 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, University of Pittsburgh 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 University of Pittsburgh 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 1340, 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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University of Pittsburgh ACT Requirements

Just like for the SAT, University of Pittsburgh 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 University of Pittsburgh is 29. This score makes University of Pittsburgh Moderately Competitive for ACT scores.

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

Even though University of Pittsburgh likely says they have no minimum ACT requirement, if you apply with a 26 or below, you'll have a harder time getting in, unless you have something else impressive in your application.

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 29 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.

However, in our research, we found that University of Pittsburgh does in fact offer an ACT superscore policy. To quote their Admissions Office:

We combine your highest ACT subscores from all tests submitted.

Source

Superscoring is powerful to your testing strategy, and you need to make sure you plan your testing accordingly. Of all the scores that University of Pittsburgh receives, your application readers will consider your highest section scores across all ACT 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 4 test scores:

EnglishMathReadingScienceComposite
Test 13216161620
Test 21632161620
Test 31616321620
Test 41616163220
Superscore3232323232

Even though the highest ACT composite you scored on any one test date was 20, University of Pittsburgh 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 20 to 32 in this example.

This is important for your testing strategy. Because you can choose which tests to send in, and University of Pittsburgh forms your Superscore, you can take the ACT 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 ACT score is currently below a 29, we strongly recommend that you consider prepping for the ACT 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 ACT. Then focus on Math for the next test, and so on. This will surely give you the highest Superscore possible.


Studying for the ACT instead? Want to learn how to improve your ACT score by 4 points?

Download our free guide on the top 5 strategies you must be using to improve your score. This guide was written by Harvard graduates and ACT perfect scorers. If you apply the strategies in this guide, you'll study smarter and make huge score improvements.


SAT/ACT Writing Section Requirements

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

University of Pittsburgh requires you to take the SAT/ACT Writing section. They'll use this as another factor in their admissions consideration.


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 University of Pittsburgh 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.



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