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Do you have to be a math whiz to understand 'Best College' rankings?

U.S. News & World Report's just-released college rankings pass judgment on more than 1,000 institutions, using an exhaustive three-step process. But don't worry, we won't test you on it.

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3. Schools are ranked in their category by a total weighted score

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The rankings are published every year in lists on the U.S. News & World Report website (and, of course, in its print magazine). Though the methodology may boggle the mind of the average citizen, the process has its critics, many of whom argue it is too superficial or weights the wrong things.

Here’s the list of the 2011 Top 20 "national universities." (For those who need help recognizing the Ivy League schools, look for the asterisks.)

1. *Harvard University (tie)

1. *Princeton University (tie)

3. *Yale University

4. *Columbia University

5. The California Institute of Technology (tie)

5. Massachusetts Institute of Technology (tie)

5. Stanford University (tie)

5. University of Chicago (tie)

5. *University of Pennsylvania (tie)

10. Duke University

11. *Dartmouth College

12. Northwestern University

13. Johns Hopkins University

14. Washington University in St. Louis

15. *Brown University

16. *Cornell University

17. Rice University (tie)

17. Vanderbilt University (tie)

19. University of Notre Dame

20. Emory University

RECOMMENDED: The world's top universities in 2011

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