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What's a Good SAT / ACT Score for the Ivy League? What's the Lowest Score I Can Get in With?

Posted by Dr. Fred Zhang | Nov 1, 2014 10:00:00 AM

SAT/ACT Score Target, College Admissions



What are the ACT / SAT scores that Ivy League universities like Brown, Columbia, Cornell, Dartmouth, Harvard, Princeton, UPenn, and Yale look for?  Here, we look at what scores they consider good, and what scores are borderline.


SAT / ACT Scores Aren't Everything

When you get to schools at the Ivy League level, none of the schools are just looking at your SAT / ACT score. In fact, if you were to ask any of these schools' directors of admissions whether a perfect score would guarantee you admission, the answer would be a big, fat NO.

These schools look for strong test scores as well as strong recommendations, extracurriculars, and GPAs, which I will call Other Factors. If you have a great SAT / ACT score, then you can get away with "merely" excellent Other Factors. If you're at the bottom of the range here, you definitely need a superstar rating in Other Factors. Keep this in mind!

Exclusive Free Bonus: Click here to download a free step-by-step guide on finding your personal SAT/ACT score target. Once you go through these steps, you'll know exactly what score you need to aim for.


Good Score or Bad Score?

A SAT score of 2330 (out of 2400) or an ACT score of 34 will place you right in the top 75% of most ivy league schools. Likewise, an SAT score of 2050 or ACT score of 30 would put you at the boundary of the bottom 25% of most ivy league schools. Thus, you can interpret your score as follows:

2330 / 1550 (New SAT) / 34 or more: you don't need to improve your SAT / ACT scores. Work on making sure you don't have any weaknesses on the rest of your app.

2050 / 1370 (New SAT) / 30 or below: your SAT / ACT score is going to be very limiting. You need to improve your score much more, and at the same time make sure you have at least one super-strong other component of your college app!  Check out our post on what to do with a low ACT / SAT score.

Individual Scores for Schools:

School Name   75% New SAT 75% SAT   25% SAT   75% ACT   25% ACT  
Harvard 1590 2390 2100 35 32
Princeton 1580 2370 2100 35 31
Yale 1580 2370 2100 35 32
Dartmouth 1550 2330 2020 34 30
Columbia 1550 2320 2050 34 31
Brown 1530 2300 2000 34 29
UPenn 1530 2300 2030 34 31
Cornell 1500 2250 1950 34 30


Interpret the table as follows: 25% means this is the 25th percentile score by section on the ACT / SAT summed together. If you're getting LOWER than the 25th percentile, you'll have a really rough time getting in. You just won't stand up when compared to all the other really 

Clearly these are very high standards. The 75th percentile score at the Ivy League is the 99th percentile score nationwide. The Ivy Leagues are really composed of the top 1% students in the country.

Want to know how to get into these schools? Read our famous How to Get Into Harvard and the Ivy League guide. Not only will you need amazing test scores, you'll need to really stand out by showcasing something special.


What to Do Next:

While these are standard guidelines, everyone has a different target SAT/ACT score depending on the specific schools they're planning to apply to.

This means you need to know the SAT/ACT score target that's right for you. How do you figure this out?

Click the link below and enter your email address to get a free step-by-step guide on how to calculate your personal SAT/ACT target score.


Other posts that might interest you:

How to Get Into Harvard, by a Harvard Alum

What's a good ACT score or good SAT score for non-Ivy-League colleges?

How is the SAT / ACT different from your normal high school test?

Why you need to prep for the SAT


Want to improve your SAT score by 160 points or your ACT score by 4 points? We've written a guide for each test about the top 5 strategies you must be using to have a shot at improving your score. Download it for free now:

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Free eBook: 5 Tips to 4+ Points on the ACT


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Dr. Fred Zhang
About the Author

Fred is co-founder of PrepScholar. He scored a perfect score on the SAT and is passionate about sharing information with aspiring students. Fred graduated from Harvard University with a Bachelor's in Mathematics and a PhD in Economics.

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