Boston University Essay Questions

You only have two essays to write, one short and one long, on the Boston University application.  In fact, the short essay is only 5-6 sentences (which really qualifies more as a paragraph than it does a short essay).  It's important to make the most of that limited opportunity to help the BU admissions committee get to know you better.  So here are some tips to help you do that.

Short answer

In five or six sentences, tell us how you first became interested in BU and what steps you have taken to learn more about us.

I'm not sure I can adequately describe just how many responses the BU admissions committee is likely to read that are some version of,

"I first became interested in Boston University when I read about it in a college guidebook.  The combination of great academics in large city seemed like the perfect combination for me.  The more I researched the school, the more I liked it.  I also visited the campus last summer."

AtCollegewise, we teach our students a concept we call "Own your story."  To own your story means that you've written something that nobody else applying to college could have written (or at the very least, that thousands of other kids would absolutely not have written).

The person who wrote the response above doesn't own that story.  Any kid applying to Boston University could have written it.  Believe me, a lot of them will.  And they'll torture the admissions committee because of it. 

But compare that response to this one:

"In April of my junior year, my high school counselor told me, "Kevin, you're an interesting kid.  Why are you applying to such uninteresting colleges?  I asked her what she thought would be a good choice for me, and the first school she named was Boston University.  I've visited your website obsessively, probably once a day at least for the last six months.  I've read about all the classes I would take as a communications major.  And last summer, I took a three-hour road trip with my friend in my '93 Corolla just so we could take a tour of BU." 

The chances that another student will write an identical response are zero.  This student owns his story.  So the most important thing you need to do in this response, even though it's only 5-6 sentences long, is to own your story.  Be very specific.  Whether you read a guidebook or talked to your friends or visited the school or went to a college fair, share the details about how you learned and followed up with BU, and do so in a way that no other applicant will be able to do. 

What about the long essay?

Here's the prompt:

This section of the application gives you an opportunity to present yourself in a way that grades and test scores cannot. The Board of Admissions uses your essay to determine your ability to organize thoughts and express yourself clearly. Accordingly, we ask that you prepare this work entirely on your own.

In an essay of no more than 500 words, please select three words that describe you best and tell us how you will use these qualities/characteristics to contribute fully to the BU community.

A lot of students are going to pick three words that make them sound impressive, like "diligent," "determined" and "trustworthy" and then struggle to fill the rest of the essay with descriptions of how they'll use these traits in college.  That's hard to do, because they didn't pick words that actually described themselves; they just picked words that sounded good.  So they don't necessarily have any stories to relate that show these traits in action (or if they do, it's what the admissions committee knows already, like, "I am very committed to my academics").

There are no right or wrong answers to this question.  The three words are just a vehicle for you to share more about yourself and help the admissions committee get to know you better.  The best way to tackle this question is to work backwards.  Don't even think about the three words just yet.  Instead, think about how you will contribute to the BU community.

"Contributing" to a college community means participating, engaging, doing more than just going to class and then sitting in your room playing video games.  So think about what kind of college kid you expect yourself to be.  How do you envision yourself spending your time in and out of class?  What parts of college are you most excited about? 

When you ask yourself those questions, you'll start to get a picture of yourself in college.  For example, you might envision,

"I'm excited to finally start learning more about writing.  I've been saying forever that I like to write, but in college I'm going to actually have professors teach me how to be great at it.  I can't wait for that to happen." Or…

"My favorite times in high school have been Friday nights playing acoustic guitar with my friends.  I really hope I get to do that a lot in college.  I'm going to set a goal for myself to find other musicians whose idea of a good time is to stay up late, teach each other songs, and enjoy making music together." Or…

"I can't remember the last time I wasn't on an athletic team.  And while I'm never going to be a good enough baseball player to play at the college level, one of the things I'm really excited about is to play a lot of different sports and to have some of them just be purely for fun, like pick-up basketball games, or co-ed intramural volleyball, or even just a weekend softball game with my friends.  I might even try broom ball.  I like the camaraderie of playing sports with friends and I think that's how I'll be spending a lot of my time in college." 

Contributing in college means becoming an engaged member of the campus community.  So, that's step one.  Think about how you'll make those contributions.

Now, take the next step backwards and think about your experiences in these areas so far.  What stories do you have that illustrate yourself doing these things, or exemplifying these traits?  Be specific and own the stories.  Review your answers and ask yourself which ones really make up who you are.  The writer, musician and athlete above make it pretty clear that they're going to find some way to do these things wherever they are, and that they spent a lot of time doing these things in high school.  Those stories are part of who they are, and they are the types of examples you should be looking for in your own life.

This is important, because the prompt specifically asks for three words that "best describe you."  It's not always clear what words best describe you, but if you sometimes like to write, or just occasionally strum a guitar, or play basketball with your brother every now and then, those aren't necessarily experiences that are defining for you, and the associated words probably aren't good choices.  

Now, you've identified how you'll contribute, and you've found some stories from your current life that illustrate those themes.  So now, ask yourself what three words you could use to sum these experiences or traits up.  For example, our sample applicants above could be "communicative," "musical" and "athletic." Do an honesty check when you pick the words.  If "musical" isn't really a word you would use to define yourself, is this experience or trait really an important part of who you are?  If it isn't, pick a different story.  And if it is, just pick a different word.  

The best college essays start with a lot of thought, not so much about what would sound good, but rather, about what you'd really like to say. Start there with these essays, and you'll be submitting a much stronger application to BU.

Note:  Before you follow our tips, we recommend you read our "How to" guide here: Download HowToUse30Guides

And if you have other questions about essays, applications, interviews or financial aid, visit our online store.  We’ve got books, videos and downloadable guides to help you.  Or you could speak with one of our online college counselors.

Filed Under: Advice for specific colleges

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 Boston University is 33%. For every 100 applicants, 33 are admitted.

This means the school is very selective. If you meet Boston University'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.

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 Boston University is 3.6.

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

With a GPA of 3.6, Boston University requires you to be above average in your high school class. You'll need at least a mix of A's and B's, with more A's than B's. You can compensate for a lower GPA with harder classes, like AP or IB classes. This will show that you're able to handle more difficult academics than the average high school student.

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 3.6, 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 Boston University. More importantly, you need to do well to have a strong application.

Boston University 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: 1370 (Old: 1946)

The average SAT score composite at Boston University is a 1370 on the 1600 SAT scale.

On the old 2400 SAT, this corresponds to an average SAT score of 1946.

This score makes Boston University Moderately Competitive for SAT test scores.


Boston University SAT Score Analysis (New 1600 SAT)

The 25th percentile New SAT score is 1290, and the 75th percentile New SAT score is 1470. In other words, a 1290 on the New SAT places you below average, while a 1470 will move you up to above average.

Belmont students, and other students near BU, should consider searching for local tutors with expertise in SAT and ACT prep to bolster their test scores.

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

SectionAverage25th Percentile75th Percentile
Math700640760
Reading333136
Writing353336
Composite137012901470

Boston University SAT Score Analysis (Old 2400 SAT)

The 25th percentile Old SAT score is 1800, and the 75th percentile SAT score is 2100. In other words, a 1800 on the Old SAT places you below average, while a 2100 puts you well above average.

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

SectionAverage25th Percentile75th Percentile
Math672620730
Reading627580680
Writing647600690
Composite194618002100

SAT Score Choice Policy

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

Boston University 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, Boston University 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 Boston University 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 1470, 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.


Exclusive: Want to learn how to improve your SAT score by 160 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 SAT perfect scorers. If you apply the strategies in this guide, you'll study smarter and make huge score improvements.


Boston University ACT Requirements

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

The 25th percentile ACT score is 27, and the 75th percentile ACT score is 31.

Even though Boston University likely says they have no minimum ACT requirement, if you apply with a 27 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 27 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 31 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 Boston University does in fact offer an ACT superscore policy. To quote their Admissions Office:

The Board does not superscore the ACT; however, if you send in scores from multiple test dates, the Board of Admissions will consider the scores from each of the subcategories, noting the highest scores achieved for each. For this reason, we encourage applicants to submit scores from all ACT test dates as well.

Source

Superscoring is powerful to your testing strategy, and you need to make sure you plan your testing accordingly. Of all the scores that Boston University 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, Boston University 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 Boston University 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 31, 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.

Boston University 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.

Boston University has indicated that SAT subject tests are required for SOME applicants. Typically this means that applying to certain majors or colleges within the school requires SAT subject tests, and others don't. Read further to see if you'll need to submit SAT subject scores.

Typically, your SAT/ACT and GPA are far more heavily weighed than your SAT Subject Tests. If you have the choice between improving your SAT/ACT score or your SAT Subject Test scores, definitely choose to improve your SAT/ACT score.



Comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *