Skip to Content JB Pritzker, Governor, State of Illinois

State Scholar Selection Process

{ISAC Rules, Section 2760.20}

The State Scholar formula calculation uses a combination of the ACT/SAT test scores, class rank (if the school ranks) or the unweighted GPA (if the school does not rank), and class size.

High schools submit the academic data from the end of a student’s sixth semester to ISAC via the GAP Access portal.  The Required Sixth Semester Data page includes details about the required data and the electronic options to submit the data to ISAC.  

A student must take either the ACT or SAT exam during the student’s third or fourth semester prior to high school graduation (typically the junior year). The designated period for a 2019-20 Scholar to have taken the ACT or SAT exam was between August 1, 2017 and June 30, 2018.

A student may take either or both examinations during the designated period. All scores from the ACT or SAT exam taken during the designated period must be submitted to ISAC.  Scores are sent to ISAC by the testing companies in August of each year. If a student submits scores from more than one College Entrance Examination taken during the designated period, ISAC will use the highest of the scores. ISAC will accept supplementary score reports of exams taken between August 1, 2017 and June 30, 2018, upon the student’s authorization to the test service.

The formula used in the selection of Illinois State Scholars is as follows:

    1. Test scores are converted to an Illinois Standard Test Score (ISTS) as follows:
      • The SAT Reasoning Test: Evidence Based Reading & Writing Section Score + Math Section Score are added together and converted to the equivalent ACT Score. Refer to the official ACT-SAT Concordance (Table A1: SAT Total to ACT Composite) to obtain the converted equivalent ACT Score.
    2. High school class ranks are converted to an Illinois Standard Rank Score (ISRS)
      • The percentile of the class rank for each student is determined: 

        Percentile = Size of class MINUS (rank in class minus .5) divided by Class Size
        • The table below is used to convert a percentile class rank to the ISRS.

          Percentile ISRS 
          99.75 - 99.99 30 
          99.54 - 99.74 29
          99.19 - 99.53  28
          98.62 - 99.18 27
          97.73 - 98.61  26
          96.42 - 97.72  25
          94.53 - 96.41  24
          91.93 - 94.52  23
          88.50 - 91.92 22
          84.14 - 88.49 21
          78.82 - 84.13 20
          72.58 - 78.81 19
          65.55 - 72.57 18
          57.94 - 65.54 17
          50.00 - 57.93 16
    3. An Illinois Weighted Selection Score (WSS) for each student is computed by adding the Illinois Standard Test Score to the Illinois Standard Rank Score.
      • Example:

        Illinois Standard Test Score (ISTS) = 24 (from #1)
        Illinois Standard Rank Score (ISRS)= 24 (from #2)

        24 + 24 = WSS of 48

        Students with an ISTS at or above the 95th percentile on a college exam, and who meet all other eligibility requirements, are automatically designated as State Scholars. Students with an ISTS below the top 95th percentile but who have a WSS greater than or equal to the cutoff score are also designated as State Scholars. The WSS and the 95th percentile cutoffs on a college exam are established annually.
    4. In any academic year, approximately 10% of all Illinois high school graduates are named State Scholars. A WSS cutoff is determined by ISAC each year in order to yield this result.

      Students with an ISTS of 30 or higher are automatically designated as State Scholars; students with an ISTS lower than 30 but have a WSS greater than or equal to the cutoff score of 48 are also designated as 2019-20 State Scholars.

    5. SSP Early Announcement

      High schools have the option to include their eligible students for consideration in the early State Scholar processing cycle. Early announcements allow Scholar to include the honorary designation of State Scholar on college admission and merit-based scholarship applications. Early announcement means that many students (and their high schools) will receive notification regarding their State Scholar designation prior to the final round of announcements that will take place in late fall (historically, around the Thanksgiving holiday).

      • Checking the "Run Selection" box (located on the "State Scholar Program: Search By School – Results" screen of the SSP system in GAP Access) allows the high school's students to be included for consideration in the next round of 2019-20 State Scholar announcements.

      • For high schools that submit sixth semester data via an Excel spreadsheet, the "Run Selection" box will become available to check after the Excel file has moved to a "Promoted" status.

      • For high schools that use the online process, the school needs to check the "Run Selection" box once the final sixth semester data has been submitted

      Students whose high schools submit sixth semester data, but are not included for consideration in an early announcement round, will be considered for State Scholar designation when the last announcement round takes place (after the November 2, 2018 data submission deadline has passed).

      High schools may generate the "Finalists" report in the SSP system after their State Scholars have been announced.

      Refer to the SSP Finalist page regarding announcement details.

    6. New Option for Obtaining Certificates of Achievement

      High schools have the option of downloading and printing Certificates of Achievement.

      • Schools that do not choose to download and print their own certificates may instead wait for ISAC to mail printed Certificates of Achievement to them after the November 2, 2018 deadline for submitting sixth semester data has passed and the final round of announcements takes place.

      • High schools that download their own certificates will not receive the ISAC-printed Certificates of Achievements later this fall.