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Academic requirements

Regent Admission Index

Applicants will be considered for admission based upon their Regent Admission Index (RAI) score. Below is the mathematical formula for calculating an RAI score:

RAI Formula

  ACT composite (or converted SAT) score x 3
+ Cumulative GPA x 30
+ Number of years of high school core courses x 5
  RAI (Regent Admission Index)

Note: For purposes of calculating the RAI, SAT scores will be converted to ACT composite equivalents; high school GPA is expressed on a 4-point scale; and number of high school courses completed in the core subject areas is expressed in terms of years or fractions of years of study.

Applicants who achieve at least a 245 RAI score and who meet the minimum high school course requirements will automatically be offered admission.

Applicants who achieve less than a 245 RAI score and who meet the minimum high school course requirements may also be offered admission, based on individual academic review of their application materials.

For applicants who choose not to report an ACT or SAT score, admission will be based on high school grade point average and high school core course requirements.

Minimum high school course requirements

Students who wish to enter Iowa State University directly from high school must also meet the minimum high school course requirements for admission as indicated below:

Subject Requirement Description
English/Language Arts 4 years Emphasizing writing, speaking, and reading, as well as an understanding and appreciation of literature
Mathematics 3 years Including one year each of algebra, geometry, and advanced algebra
Science 3 years Including at least two years of courses which emphasize elements of biology, chemistry, or physics
Social Studies 2 years

Additional entrance requirements for the colleges of engineering and liberal arts and sciences

In addition to the high school course requirements listed above, students applying for admission to the College of Engineering must complete two years of a single foreign language. Students applying for admission to the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences must complete a third year of social studies and two years of a single foreign language.

English proficiency for students from Puerto Rico

Students who graduate from high school in Puerto Rico are automatically considered to have met Iowa State's English proficiency requirement, even if they indicate English is not their primary language.

Nontraditional students are held to the same high school course requirements as all entering freshmen. However, because research has shown that traditional measures of high school performance (e.g., GPA, class rank) are not always good predictors of academic success for nontraditional students, those who achieve less than a 245 RAI score are still encouraged to apply for admission.

Nontraditional admissions

General Equivalency Diploma (GED) applicants are welcome to enroll at Iowa State University. The specific GED score requirements for admission depend upon when the GED test was taken.

GED taken prior to 2014

Applicants who have achieved an overall average score at the 50th percentile or higher with no score lower than the 45th percentile will be offered admission. Applicants are also required to achieve GED sub-test scores at the 75th percentile for subject areas in which they did not satisfy the Minimum High School Course Requirements for Admission.

GED taken in 2014 or later

Applicants who have achieved a score of 170 or higher on each of the four content areas (Reasoning Through Language Arts, Mathematical Reasoning, Science, and Social Studies) will be offered admission.

The state of Iowa uses the HiSET (in place of the GED) as the assessment for persons who wish to earn their high school equivalency diploma. The HiSET is composed of five sub-tests listed below, each of which are scored from 1-20 with a score of 8 considered "passing" and a score of 15 considered "college ready". The total HiSET score ranges from 1-100.

HiSET sub-tests:

  • Language Arts – Reading
  • Language Arts – Writing
  • Mathematics
  • Social Studies
  • Science

First-year applicants who achieve a minimum sum score of 75 on the HiSET and a minimum score of 15 on each of the five sub-tests will automatically be offered admission. Applicants who do not meet these minimum requirements will be considered on an individual basis.

Each year, Iowa State welcomes first-year applicants who have been educated at home.

In addition to submitting the first-year application for admission, home schooled students must also submit the following items:

  • Home school transcript.
  • High school transcript if any courses have been taken through the local high school.
  • College transcript(s) if any college coursework has been attempted.
  • Applicants may choose whether they wish to submit ACT or SAT scores. Those who wish to have their ACT or SAT scores considered must have their scores sent to Iowa State directly from the testing agency.

GPA policy for home school students

When calculating a home school applicant's high school GPA for admission, only those grades which have been assigned by an independent entity (e.g., the local high school, a college, or an accredited online curriculum) are factored into the cumulative GPA. Home school applicants must have earned independently assigned grades in at least 12 semester credits of college-level coursework or at least 5 Carnegie units of high school-level coursework (or a combination of both) before their independently assigned grades can be used to establish their high school GPA.

Home school applicants who have not earned enough independently assigned grades to have an established high school GPA will be considered for admission on an individual basis. This will include a holistic evaluation of the student’s entire academic record, including ACT/SAT test scores, high school core classes, and coursework taken through high school and local colleges and universities.

Iowa State is test-optional for first-year applicants. Students may choose whether they wish to self-report their ACT/SAT scores when they apply for admission.

CLT scores can also be submitted for consideration.