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Grades and Test Scores

The grades you earn in high school are the most important factor in CSU admission decisions. Your high school grade point average is calculated using your grades in all your college prep "a-g" classes completed after the 9th grade.

Test scores are required unless you have a grade point average (GPA) above 3.00 and are a resident of California. The CSU uses a calculation called an eligibility index that combines your high school grade point average with the score you earn on either the SAT or ACT tests. Even if you have a GPA above 3.00, it is useful to take either an SAT or ACT as the score may indicate if you do not need to take English and math placement tests after you are admitted and before you enroll at the CSU. The eligibility index for out-of-state students is higher and admission requirements for international students are somewhat different.

While SAT/ACT test scores are not required to establish the admission eligibility of California residents with high school GPAs of 3.00 or above (nonresidents 3.61 or above), impacted campuses and impacted first-time freshmen enrollment categories often include test scores among the supplemental criteria required of all applicants to those campuses and enrollment categories.

If you have your high school GPA and the results of your SAT or ACT test, then you can calculate your eligibility index. From there you can quickly see whether you meet the minimum admission standards. Remember, some campuses have higher standards for particular majors or those students who live outside the local campus area.

Which Test Should I Take?

CSU campuses use either the ACT or the SAT in the calculation of your eligibility index. The fact that you can submit either test may surprise you since you may have only heard about one test or the other.

We cannot easily advise you about which test to take, but here are some differences between the ACT and SAT. Speak with your high school counselor to determine which test would be a better measure of your strengths and preparation for university studies.


The ACT covers four areas: English, mathematics, reading, and science. The ACT Composite score is used for admission to the CSU. The ACT also offers, as an option, the Writing Test. The CSU does not require the score from the Writing Test for admission purposes.

For more information about the ACT and to register for the test and send scores, please go to

If you have listed a CSU campus as an ACT score report recipient, you can use the ACT Scores Manager to release your score to additional campuses. Before you can use the ACT Scores Manager, you must first have arranged for your scores to be sent to a CSU campus.

If you have not yet arranged for your ACT scores to be sent to a CSU campus, you can learn how to request this at


The SAT currently consists of three sections: Critical Reading, Math, and Writing. Scores from Critical Reading and Math are added and used for admission to the CSU. Scores from the Writing section will not be used for admission purposes to the CSU.

CSU campuses will accept current and new SAT scores for admission and exemption from the Entry Level Mathematics and English Placement Test. Applicants may submit scores from either test.

Visit to learn more about the SAT tests and to register online to take the SAT test.

Once you have taken the SAT test, you should list the CSUMentor institution code, so that CSUMentor can store your scores for any CSU campus to retrieve. The CSUMentor institution code for the SAT is 3594.

Tip: If you take one test, and you don't feel it accurately indicates your abilities, then you might consider taking the other test instead of repeating the first test to improve your score.

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