GPA, SAT, and ACT Admissions Data for the Ivy League

What It Takes to Get into the 8 Highly Selective Ivy League Schools

Princeton University Chapel
Princeton University Chapel. Lee Lilly / Flickr

The eight Ivy League schools are among the most selective colleges in the country. This doesn't mean that you need a 4.0 GPA and 1600 on the SAT to get in (although it doesn't hurt). All the Ivy League schools have holistic admissions, so they are looking for students who will contribute more than good grades and test scores to the campus community.

A winning Ivy League application needs to present a strong academic record, meaningful extracurricular activities, glowing letters of recommendation, and a compelling application essay. Your college interview and demonstrated interest may also help, and legacy status can give you an advantage.

When it comes to the empirical part of your application, you will need good grades and standardized test scores to get accepted to an Ivy League school. All of the Ivies accept both the ACT and SAT, so choose the exam that works best for you. But how high do your grades and test scores need to be? Follow the links below to learn more about each Ivy League school, and to see admissions data for accepted, rejected, and waitlisted applicants:

Brown University

Located in Providence, Rhode Island, Brown is the second smallest of the Ivies, and the school has more of an undergraduate focus than universities such as Harvard and Yale. Their acceptance rate is only 9 percent. The great majority of students who get into Brown University have a nearly perfect 4.0 GPA, an ACT composite score above 25, and a combined SAT score (RW+M) of above 1200.

Columbia University

Located in Upper Manhattan, Columbia University can be an excellent choice for students looking for an urban college experience. Columbia is also one of the largest of the Ivies, and it has a close relationship with neighboring Barnard College. It has a very low acceptance rate of around 7 percent. Students accepted at Columbia have GPAs in the A range, SAT scores (RW+M) above 1200, and ACT composite scores above 25.

Cornell University

Cornell's hillside location in Ithaca, New York, gives it stunning views of Cayuga Lake. The university has one of the top engineering and top hotel management programs in the country. It also has the largest undergraduate populations of all the Ivy League schools. It has an acceptance rate of about 15 percent. Most students accepted at Cornell have a GPA in the A range,  SAT scores (RW+M) above 1200 and ACT composite scores above 25.

Dartmouth College

If you want a quintessential college town with its central green, nice restaurants, cafés, and bookstores, Dartmouth's home of Hanover, New Hampshire, should be appealing. Dartmouth is the smallest of the Ivies, but don't be fooled by its name: it is a comprehensive university, not a "college." Dartmouth has a low acceptance rate of 11 percent. To be accepted, students tend to have A averages, an ACT composite score above 25, and a combined SAT score (RW+M) of above 1250. 

Harvard University

Located in Cambridge, Massachusetts, with dozens of other colleges and universities nearby, Harvard University is the most selective of the Ivy League Schools as well as the most selective university in the country. Its acceptance rate is just 5 percent. For the best chance of acceptance, you should have an A average, SAT scores (RW+M) over 1300, and ACT composite scores above 28.

Princeton University

Princeton's campus in New Jersey makes both New York City and Philadelphia an easy day trip. Like Dartmouth, Princeton is on the smaller side and has more of an undergraduate focus than many of the Ivies. Princeton accepts only 7 percent of applicants. To be accepted, you should have a GPA of 4.0, SAT scores (RW+M) above 1250, and ACT composite scores above 25.

University of Pennsylvania

The University of Pennsylvania is one of the larger Ivy League schools, and it has a roughly equal population of undergraduate and graduate students. Its campus in West Philadelphia is just a short walk to Center City. Penn's Wharton School is one of the top business schools in the country. They accept about 10 percent of applicants. To be accepted, you should have a GPA of 3.7 or higher, a combined SAT score (RW+M) of over 1200, and an ACT composite of 24 or higher.

Yale University

Yale is close to Harvard and Stanford with its painfully low acceptance rate. Located in New Haven, Connecticut, Yale also has an even larger endowment than Harvard when measured in relation to enrollment numbers. Yale's acceptance rate is just 7 percent. For the best chance of acceptance, you need a 4.0 GPA, SAT score (RW+M) above 1250, and an ACT composite score above 25.

A Final Word

All of the Ivies are highly selective, and you should always consider them to be reach schools as you come up with your short list of schools to which you will apply. Thousands of extremely well-qualified applicants are rejected by the Ivies every year.