JB Pritzker, Governor, State of Illinois

State Scholar Selection Process

{ISAC Rules, Section 2760.20}

SSP Selection Formula
SSP Early Announcment
SSP Certificates of Achievement

SSP Selection Formula

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 2021-22 Scholar to have taken the ACT or SAT exam was between August 1, 2019 and June 30, 2020. As indicated in the June 16 e-Message, Spring 2020 college entrance exams have been postponed to the fall of 2020 as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. Further updates that impact the 2021-22 processing cycle will be posted on SSP Program News.

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, 2019 and June 30, 2020, 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 Tables (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) = 25 (from #1)
      Illinois Standard Rank Score (ISRS)= 24 (from #2)

      25 + 24 = WSS of 49

      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 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 31 or higher are automatically designated as State Scholars; students with an ISTS lower than 31 but have a WSS greater or equal to the WSS set for the processing year are also designated as State Scholars.

SSP Early Announcement

The early announcements option allows students to be designated as State Scholars prior to the final round of announcements in late fall. Scholars at high schools choosing to take advantage of early announcements may have more opportunities to list this honorary designation on applications for college admission and merit-based scholarships.

  • 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 2021-22 State Scholar announcements.
  • The "Run Selection" box becomes available to check after ISAC has processed the high school's Excel spreadsheet and resolved any discrepancies.
    • An e-mail will be sent to the high school’s Primary Administrator (principal) and the School Contact (as listed in the SSP system’s “State Scholar Program: Search by School: Results” screen) to indicate when the “Run Selection” box is available to check.
    • Before checking the box, be sure to review all data in the SSP system for accuracy.
  • For high schools that use the online process, the "Run Selection" box will be available immediately. The school needs to check the "Run Selection" box once the final sixth semester data has been submitted. Refer to the SSP Online Processing User Guide.

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 in late fall.

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

SSP Certificates of Achievement

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

  • Instructions for downloading and printing Certificates of Achievement are provided in the SSP File Upload User Guide.
  • 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 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.