Admissions Facts & Advice

FAQs for Student Advisors

Over the years, the Dartmouth Admissions Office has collected questions from teachers, guidance counselors, and community advisors. Here are answers to some of the most common questions.

(Contact us any time with additional questions.)

Does Dartmouth require applicants to complete specific courses while in high school?
No, Dartmouth has no specific subject requirements for prospective students. We do, however, encourage students to undertake the strongest course of study available at their secondary schools.

Most applicants to Dartmouth present strong secondary school transcripts that include the following courses:

  • 4 years of English
  • 4 years of mathematics (often through calculus, if available)
  • 4 years of social science
  • 4 years of laboratory science
  • 4 years of a foreign language 

Policies and opportunities will vary from one school to the next, and the Admissions Committee takes the context of the school curriculum into consideration when reviewing an application. If you feel that your curriculum needs further explanation, we encourage counselors to contact our office. In most cases, unusual curricular choices are best highlighted in a concise explanation provided by the you in the Secondary School Report evaluation or by the applicant in the “Additional Information” section of the Common Application. 

Is there minimum test score on the SAT or ACT required for admission to Dartmouth?
No, we review each application carefully, regardless of the standardized testing results. Testing is one of a number of factors we include in our review of an application. See our latest Testing Statistics

What SAT Subject tests should applicants take? Does it matter?
Applicants should take the subjects they like the most. Generally, they tend to do best in these subjects and this can help us understand their academic strengths. Students interested in studying specific subject areas at Dartmouth do not need to take any specific subject tests. Some subject test scores may help with placement at Dartmouth and give students a head start on a desired concentration, but they will also have the opportunity to take placement exams during orientation. Read more about how we use testing in our review of an application.

Is there a minimum high school grade point average required for admission to Dartmouth?
No, each application is reviewed carefully and holistically, regardless of the student's cumulative grade point average. That said, admission to Dartmouth is highly selective and most students who apply for admission have been very successful students.

Does Dartmouth grant credit for AP, A-Level, IB, or CLEP examinations?
Beginning in the fall of 2014, Dartmouth will grant course credit on entrance for AP or IB examinations, as well as offering exemptions and placement in some subject areas. Credit on entrance appears on the Dartmouth transcript, however it does not count towards the 35 credits required to graduate. This policy will apply to entering First Year students in the Class of 2018 and to Transfer students who enroll in the fall of 2014. For more information about pre-matriculation credits please visit the Office of the Registrar website.

Should a student continue with an activity or class throughout high school or try new things?
It depends. Students should try to engage in the activities that challenge them the most and that they enjoy the most. If a student has taken three years of a foreign language in high school, but wants to take a calculus course in senior year that is offered at the same time as the fourth year of the language, they might want to choose the class that will help them grow the most in ways meaningful to that student. It's ultimately their choice. We encourage students to speak with you to get the best advice in the context of your school.The same is true for extracurricular activities. It’s better for a student not to remain in the same activity for four years simply for their college application. We encourage participation in activities that will allow the student to mature intellectually and socially and that mean the most to them personally.

Do admissions officers check a student's Facebook profile?
Since anything published online is public information, we reserve the right to use public information regarding an applicant’s candidacy to make admissions decisions. However, the Dartmouth Admissions Office does not actively "research" candidates online, unless there are circumstances that require us to validate or confirm a student's candidacy. (For example, we might confirm awards granted in a particular science fair, in order to get a sense of a student's accomplishments at the local, regional, state, or national level.) Sometimes the web can be a helpful tool in understanding the context or community of a particular applicant. Students should represent themselves professionally. We're not trying to use the web as a "spy" tool. However, social media sites ARE a representation of oneself, and students should want to put their best foot forward.

Should an applicant attend an information session locally, if they have already attended one on campus?
This year, our Admissions Office will travel to over 40 cities in the U.S. to speak about the Dartmouth experience. These Information Sessions will be posted on our website as the fall travel season progresses, and they are open to the public. Typically, the information session in your city will highlight reasons why Dartmouth is unique. We'll talk about the Dartmouth Plan, the research opportunities on campus, and our accessibility to our faculty. If a student has already visited campus, the information session might be somewhat repetitive, but chances are they will learn something new.

How important are the applicant’s grades when being considered for admission?
A student’s grades are important and are looked at in the application process in several main ways:

  1. Predictive ability of grades.
    A top GPA in high school may be an indicator that a candidate will continue to do well in college. However, this is only part of the way we look at a student's GPA in the application process.
  2. Grade trends.
    We look at grade trends that will help us understand a student's academic trajectory in his or her secondary school. We use the rest of the application to try to fill in WHY the trend looks the way it does. If a student has a particular reason for, say, a dip in grades in junior year, please advise the student that they should let us know about it in the "Additional Information" section of the Common Application.
  3. Rigor of curriculum.
    Our Admissions Committee will also look at the curriculum and note whether the courses the student has been/is taking are the most demanding offered in your school.

Does a candidate have to take four years of a language to be admitted to Dartmouth?
Dartmouth does not have any set academic requirements. We certainly look to see that a student is taking a challenging and appropriate curriculum to succeed at Dartmouth. When we receive an application, we review the student’s high school profile very carefully to understand what curriculum is offered at that particular high school.

How do you evaluate music/art supplements?
Applicants with extraordinary talent in the fine or performing arts may submit supplementary materials for review. While we expect that students with a vested interest in the arts will continue their participation at the collegiate level, an arts submission neither guarantees nor commits a student to participate in the arts at Dartmouth if admitted, nor does non-submission preclude such participation. The Arts Supplement is an optional component of the application.

Should prospective athletic recruits send in their athletic "highlights" video?
Student-athletes with a keen interest in a particular sport are encouraged to contact the coach at Dartmouth directly. The Dartmouth Admissions Office does not accept "Athletic Supplements" from the Common Application, and we also do not review videos or athletic portfolios. The coaches for individual sports can be reached via the Dartmouth Big Green website.

If an applicant graduated from high school ten years ago, can he or she still apply?
Yes! While most Dartmouth students enroll directly after high school, a number of students at the College have spent anywhere from a year to several decades or more out of school before attending. The experiences they're able to share and the perspectives they bring add to the diversity of our community.

If a mostly A student suddenly gets a C in math in 10th grade is she or he doomed?
The errant C on a student's transcript, in and of itself, does not preclude admission. In any case, we read each student's transcript and school profile closely and determine to what extent the student has challenged him/herself given what is available. It is our holistic understanding of the candidacy and how it fits within the context of our applicant pool that determines the outcome.

We have more questions and answers for prospective students on our searchable FAQs page. Your students might also like to read our general Application Advice page.