The ACT and SAT Scores You Need to Get Into Harvard

Accepting a student to Harvard University is no easy feat. Every year, this Ivy League school receives about 35,000 applications from around the world, and it has an acceptance rate of 4.7%. This means that fewer than five out of every 100 applicants are accepted. 

Harvard ranks among the most–if not the most–selective colleges because of its low acceptance rate. Additionally, Harvard’s average SAT and ACT scores are among the highest in the country.

If you wanted to apply to this prestigious school, what scores would you need on the SAT or ACT? The middle 50% of students in a college can be determined by comparing their scores between the 25th percentile and 75th percentile. Comparisons can be made easier by checking the average SAT and ACT scores for Harvard.

Average ACT score for Harvard University (With Writing)

For students accepted to Harvard, an average ACT score of 32 to 35 is required. Compared to the national average of 21, this is well above average. The highest score you can achieve is 36, so this is an ambitious goal. ACT scores for Harvard University are higher than those for any other Ivy League school.

Let’s take a closer look at some of the ACT sections and how Harvard compares to the national average. A 34 was the average score for English, and a 33 was the average score for Math. At the national level, most students earned a 20.4 in English and a 20.8 in Math. There is a considerable difference between the two, which only illustrates how competitive Harvard is.

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Average SAT score for Harvard University

Students who get accepted to Harvard have an average SAT score between 2120 and 2400. Based on 2015 data, the national average is 1497. This is a reminder that these scores are based on the old 2400 scale, and that the SAT will transition to a 1600-point scale later in 2016. Harvard will still require incredibly high scores, despite the averages changing!

On average, Harvard students score 755 on the Math section of the SAT. The national average was 511. In the Verbal (or Reading) section, Harvard acceptees averaged 750, compared to 495 nationally.

How Harvard Acceptees Stack Up

Let’s take a look at the average composite scores for the students. For the ACT it’s a 34, SAT is 2260. This means that, nationally, these students rank in the 99th percentile for both tests. Impressive, to say the least.

What are the other Harvard requirements for admission?

Just comparing the average ACT/SAT scores for Harvard with the national average is eye-opening. It speaks volumes about how selective the school is. But SAT and ACT scores are not the only things Harvard considers when assessing applications. They have a few other, equally stringent requirements, in addition to the high standardized test scores.

They will also want to look at your high school transcript, your GPA, and letters of recommendation from teachers. In addition, they will want to see how you push yourself, what extracurricular activities you’re into, and how involved you are with your community. 

Not surprisingly, they expect you to excel in all areas – they are after all looking for the best of the best. And with so many applications to choose from, you would have to be outstanding to catch their attention.  Your chances of getting in are almost nil if you don’t meet their high expectations.

A look at Harvard GPA requirements

Earning an impressive GPA is non-negotiable if you want to get accepted into Harvard. A high GPA is just as important as scoring high ACT and SAT scores.

Like most schools, Harvard too specifies a minimum GPA requirement. But this minimum does not guarantee that you’ll get accepted. It only ensures that your application does not get rejected immediately.

For instance, the minimum GPA requirement for Harvard is 4.0. However, to beat the other highly accomplished applicants, you’ll need to earn a GPA that’s higher than the minimum. The average GPA of applicants who get accepted into Harvard is 4.18. 

That means you need to be top of your class and earn straight A’s in most of your classes to stand any chance of getting accepted. 

That too, earning a high GPA in easy classes won’t do you much good. Admissions officers will want to see that you’ve taken more challenging classes such as AP or IB courses. Earning a high GPA in hard classes shows admissions officers that you’ll find college-level academics easy.

How To Boost Your Changes of Getting Accepted into Harvard

Those who wish to study at Harvard begin working towards their dream at an early age. To attend Harvard, you’ll need to make your plans as early as possible. High school students should take challenging classes. You’ll then need to work hard to earn a high GPA. 

It is also important to make time for meaningful extracurricular activities and community involvement. It’s not necessary to participate in a long list of activities. Rather than focusing on quantity, focus on quality.

SAT or ACT preparation is also required in addition to all of the above. It is best to answer practice tests in order to achieve this. Your performance on practice tests can tell you a lot about your strengths and weaknesses. 

Start early so you can work on your weak areas to improve your score. It is important that you score higher on the SAT and ACT than the Harvard average. Your chances of getting accepted will increase if you do that.

Choose the ACT (with writing) or SAT that is right for you (click here to compare the ACT vs SAT).

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