The Applicant Review Process

What Are We Looking For?

There is no formula for a successful application to Washington and Lee. We strive to be thoughtful and careful as we individually review every application we receive. We are looking for an exceptional group of 460 - 470 students who are curious, passionate about learning and will enliven our classrooms, who will excel on the playing fields and in the arts, who will produce high quality newspapers and magazines and who will participate in the 100+ clubs and student organizations on our campus. We read your application looking for what impact you will have on Washington and Lee and what W&L can offer you.

Academic Achievement

Our review process is holistic rather than formulaic. We consider each piece of every application in our admission decisions. The most important part of your application is your daily record - what courses you have taken and how well you have done in them. We are looking for students who have a superior record of achievement in the most challenging curriculum available to them. This does not necessarily mean that you should take every AP class your school offers, but it does mean that you should push yourself in every subject. We recommend that you take four or more years of coursework in English, math, the lab sciences and social sciences, and a foreign language. Beyond the core subjects, take "academic" electives, courses that contribute to the overall rigor of your studies, versus those which provide a break in your schedule.

Standardized Test Scores

All U.S. citizens applying for admission to W&L are required to submit the results of either the SAT (W&L's code is 5887) or the ACT (W&L's code is 4430). Although we do not put undue weight on test scores, they are an important tool that helps us distinguish between similarly qualified applicants. We realize they reflect your performance on one Saturday morning, and we want to give you every benefit of the doubt. Here's the good news:

  • Writing scores are not required on either exam
  • We will accept either version of the SAT
  • We "super score" both the SAT and ACT (though we will not do so for results from different generations of SAT). This means we will combine your best section scores from multiple tests to produce your highest SAT or ACT score.
  • SAT Subject Tests are not required for admission to W&L.

We also encourage international students to submit the SAT or ACT. However, when English is not a student's first language or the language of instruction in his or her school, we will accept the TOEFL or IELTS as demonstration of proficiency in English.

Other Factors

In a typical year, we receive applications from a few thousand applicants who are well qualified to succeed academically at Washington and Lee. In order to select the students whom we will admit, we consider a wide range of non-academic factors in addition to your academic record. These include your extra-curricular involvement (quality is much more important than quantity), character (revealed by letters of recommendation, your essay and your accomplishments), your interest in attending and "fit" with W&L, and other personal qualities. To help us get to know you, be honest, be yourself and schedule an admissions interview.