The ACT and SAT Scores You Need to Get Into Harvard

What SAT or ACT scores do you need to get into Harvard?

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To say that “it’s tough” to get accepted into Harvard University is an understatement. With nearly 35,000 applications sent in each year and a 6% acceptance rate, Harvard is one of the most–if not the most–selective colleges.

Requirements for applications include taking the SAT or ACT (with writing) exam, getting letters of recommendation from teachers, submitting a high school transcript, and earning an impressive GPA–generally above a 4.0 in this case.

But let’s talk about entrance exams. What kind of SAT or ACT scores would you need to make the cut for Harvard? A good trick to use is to look at the average scores between the 25th percentile and 75th percentile to see how the middle 50% of students in a college score, finding averages makes comparisons easier.

ACT (With Writing)

The average ACT score for Harvard students is between 32-35 (and keep in mind, 36 is the highest you can score), well above the national average of 21. Harvard averages are higher than that of any other Ivy League in the country.

And let’s break it down further by looking at some of the ACT sections and how Harvard compares to the national average. For the English section, the average acceptee scored a 34, and for Math a 33. On the national level, most students earned a 20.4 for English and a 20.8 for Math.

Harvard ACT -- average scores


For Harvard, average SAT scores range between 2120-2400. Nationally, the average is 1497 as of 2015. A reminder that these scores are based on the old 2400 scale, and that the SAT will be transitioning to a 1600 point scale later in 2016. The averages will likewise change, but you can be sure they will still be incredibly high scores!

For the Math section, the average Harvard student scored a 755. Nationally, it was 511. For the Verbal (or Reading) section, Harvard acceptees averaged a 750, compared to the 495 national average.

Harvard SAT -- average scores

How Harvard Acceptees Stack Up

Let’s take a look at the average composite scores for the students. For 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.

Of course Harvard, like any school, isn’t just looking at your ACT or SAT score to determine acceptance. They also look for how you push yourself, how you’re involved with your community, what extracurricular activities you’re into, as well as many other factors. Test scores and GPAs are important–very important!–but they aren’t the only thing to pay attention to. After all, you’re a student, not just a number on a page.

Harvard accepts both the ACT (with writing) and/or SAT, so pick the test that’s right for you (click here to compare the ACT vs SAT)!


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