Application Tips

Application Submission

• When applying to Penn, be sure to submit the Common Application or the Coalition Application and the Penn-specific Essay.

• We encourage all applicants to regularly monitor the Penn Applicant Portal to ensure that all required documents have been received for a complete application.  After the deadline, Penn Admissions will contact applicants with missing materials.

• Be sure to proofread your entire application for spelling and grammar, and have another pair of eyes—whether your parent, sibling, or teacher—review it. Do not rely on spell-check.

Financial Aid

• Be sure to complete your Penn financial aid application by the deadline so that, if you are admitted, you will be notified of your aid package in a timely manner.


• Some Penn undergraduate schools, programs, and majors require certain prerequisites. Prospective transfer applicants should review requirements related to intended programs of study before applying.   

High School Preparation

• Engineering applicants are strongly encouraged to take the highest levels of physics and calculus available in their secondary schools.

• Wharton applicants are strongly encouraged to take the highest level of calculus available in their secondary schools.

• Nursing applicants are encouraged to pursue a strong secondary school preparation in the sciences—particularly chemistry.

• The Admissions Selection Committee will review your curriculum within the context of what courses are available at your secondary school. Competitive applicants will have taken the most rigorous courses.

• Rather than choosing activities you think will help improve your college application, get involved in the things you most enjoy. The Admissions Selection Committee does not value certain kinds of activities over others; we just want to see passion, dedication, and leadership in whatever you do.

Required Tests

• The Admissions Selection Committee does not have a preference for the ACT or SAT. Take whichever test you prefer. 

• Although Penn Admissions participates in Score Choice, we encourage students to submit their entire testing history for both ACT and SAT exams.

• Applicants to the Wharton School are recommended to take the Math Level 2 subject test.

• Applicants to fields in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) are recommended to take the Math Level 2 subject test and a science subject test (preferably Physics for Engineering applicants).

• Candidates to the School of Nursing are recommended to take a science subject test, preferably Chemistry.

Recommendation Letters

• When selecting teachers to write your letters of recommendation, choose ones in courses that relate to your intended major.

• Letters of recommendation should be from teachers who taught you in your junior or senior years of high school in core academic subject areas.

• When asking a teacher to write a letter of recommendation, don’t assume that they remember everything about you. If you remind them about your performance in the classroom, they will be better able to write a detailed and compelling letter on your behalf. 


• In the holistic review of applications, we look beyond your academic qualifications to the intangible qualities of our applicants. Be authentic when drafting your essays, so that we can get a sense of who you are and what you might bring to our community. If you are true to your experiences, ideas, and aspirations, we will have a better chance to get to know you.

• Read each essay prompt on the Penn-specific Essay carefully and be sure that your responses address each question and its parts.