SAT / ACT Prep Online Guides and Tips

Good SAT Scores: Ivy League Plus Edition

Setting a target SAT score to aim for is important, but what if you want to shoot for the moon and get an Ivy League-caliber SAT score? Read on to find out what SAT scores Ivy League Plus schools require.

feature image credit: Strauss Hall, Harvard Yard/used under CC BY 2.0/Resized from original.



UPDATE: Schools Not Requiring Test Scores

During the COVID-19 epidemic, many schools broke with their normal testing policies and have gone test optional indefinitely. Schools with test optional policies do not require you to send your SAT or ACT scores as part of your admissions application, and not submitting standardized test scores will not adversely impact your chances of getting in. 

Since the COVID-19 pandemic has ended, some schools have retained their test optional policies, while others have reinstated their SAT/ACT score requirements in the admissions process. For instance, in 2023, Columbia University made its COVID-era test optional policy permanent for admissions, and some other schools have followed suit. At the same time, some schools, like MIT, have dropped their COVID-era test optional policies and reinstated their SAT/ACT admissions requirement.

To stay on top of SAT/ACT admissions requirements for your schools of choice, it’s important to check admissions websites and do your research! You can also check out this article for a list of every school that's currently test optional.


Ivy League SAT Scores

While your SAT score isn’t the only factor that determines whether or not you get accepted to Ivy League-level schools, it does play a significant role in helping colleges compare candidates from different high schools. This is even more true for international students who don't have AP or IB courses in their schools, since US colleges and universities use those courses as ways to evaluate the academic potential of students attending a wide range of high schools, including students from countries with different grading systems altogether.

Your personal target SAT score is determined by the scores of students attending the schools you want to attend. If you’re aiming for top-tier schools like the Ivy League, Stanford, MIT, or UChicago, this target score is going to necessarily be higher than it would be for less selective institutions, but just how high does your target SAT score have to be?

To answer this question, we've compiled a chart of the 25th and 75th percentile scores from all eight Ivy League schools (Brown, Columbia, Cornell, Dartmouth, Harvard, Princeton, UPenn, and Yale) as well as from MIT, UChicago, and Stanford. The chart includes averages of section scores from all the schools as well as the total SAT scores.


School Names SAT 25th %ile Scores SAT 75th %ile scores
MIT 730 790 1520 780 800 1570
UChicago 730 770 1500 770 800 1570
Yale 720 740 1460 780 800 1560
Harvard 730 760 1490 780 800 1580
Princeton 740 760 1510 780 800 1570
Stanford 730 770 1500 780 800 1570
Columbia 730 770 1500 780 800 1560
UPenn 730 770 1500 770 800 1570
Dartmouth 710 770 1480 730 790 1520
Brown 730 760 1490 780 800 1560
Cornell 710 750 1460 770 800 1570
Average 728 766 1492 773 799 1564

Score data taken from College Board; section scores may not add up to the total score.



What Does This Mean For You?

Going by our standard recommendations for setting target scores, you’d need to get a 1560 SAT score to be on par with the bottom 75% of students admitted to Ivy League Plus schools; students with scores below 1460 are unlikely to be accepted.

The school with the largest spread between the 25th and 75th percentile scores is Cornell (110-point difference), while the schools with the smallest spread is Dartmouth (40-point difference). This is important because it means there’s a lot more SAT score wiggle room for the middle 50% of students who apply  Cornell than there is for students applying to Dartmouth.


body_cornell-1.jpgUntitled/used under CC BY 2.0/Resized from orignal.


Realistically speaking, few students apply exclusively to Ivy League Plus schools because they are so selective. If you do, you might fail to get into any college at all (this happened to a student a year above me in high school).

Plus, a high SAT score doesn’t guarantee you admission to any school; other quantitative measures like GPA also matter a great deal. For example, many of these schools have an average unweighted GPA for admitted students that is very close to 4.0.

The bottom line: a score of 1560 or above on the SAT means that you are competitive for the top schools in the country, while a score of 1460 or below likely shuts you out of most of the Ivy League Plus schools.


What’s Next?

Are you all fired up about getting into the toughest schools in the country after reading this article? Then you'll love our complete guide on how to get into Harvard and the Ivy League and these two sample recommendation letters that got PrepScholar co-founder Allen Cheng into Harvard (and other Ivy League Plus schools).

Want to ensure your SAT prep isn't time wasted? Make sure you're following all the top tips from our article on how to get a perfect SAT score.



Have friends who also need help with test prep? Share this article!

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Laura Staffaroni
About the Author

Laura graduated magna cum laude from Wellesley College with a BA in Music and Psychology, and earned a Master's degree in Composition from the Longy School of Music of Bard College. She scored 99 percentile scores on the SAT and GRE and loves advising students on how to excel in high school.

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