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.
UPDATE: Schools Not Requiring Test Scores During COVID-19
As a result of the COVID-19 epidemic, many schools are breaking with their normal testing policies and going test optional for the 2020-2021 application season. That means schools with temporary test-optional policies (including all the schools mentioned in this article, except UChicago, which is already test-optional) will 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.
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||New SAT 25th %ile Scores||New SAT 75th %ile scores|
Score data taken from College Board; section scores may not add up to the total score.
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What Does This Mean For You?
Going by our standard recommendations for setting target scores, you’d need to get a 1550 new SAT score to be on par with the top 75% of students admitted to Ivy League Plus schools; students with scores below 1400 on the new SAT are unlikely to be accepted.
The school with the largest spread between the 25th and 75th percentile scores is Cornell (160-point difference), while the school with the smallest spread is MIT (60-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 to, say, Cornell or Stanford, than there is for students applying to MIT or UChicago.
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, Harvard’s scatterplot of admitted students for Fall 2016 shows the vast majority of students with a GPA of 3.8 or better out of 4.0.
The bottom line: a score of 1550 or above on the SAT means that you are highly competitive for the top schools in the country, while a score of 1400 or below likely shuts you out of most of the Ivy League Plus schools.
Beyond schools going temporarily test-optional, how else is COVID-19 affecting college applications? Find out with our complete guide to 2020-2021 college applications.
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.
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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.