SAT Scores for Admission to Top Universities

A Side-by-Side Comparison of Top University Admissions Data

Duke University
Duke University. Photo Credit: Allen Grove

(Note: scores for the Ivy League are addressed separately.)

You've taken the SAT, and you've gotten your scores back--now what? If you're wondering if you have the SAT scores you'll need to get into one of the top private universities in the United States, here's a side-by-side comparison of scores for the middle 50% of enrolled students. If your scores fall within or above these ranges, you're on target for admission.

SAT Score Comparison for Top Universities

Top University SAT Score Comparison (mid 50%)
(Learn what these numbers mean)
 SAT ScoresGPA-SAT-ACT
Admissions
Scattergram
 ReadingMathWriting
 25%75%25%75%25%75%
Carnegie Mellon650740710800670760see graph
Duke670760690790690780see graph
Emory620720650770640730see graph
Georgetown660750660750--see graph
Johns Hopkins670750690780670770see graph
Northwestern690760710800680770see graph
Notre Dame670760680770--see graph
Rice680760710800680770see graph
Stanford690780700800690780see graph
University of Chicago720800720800700780see graph
Vanderbilt710790720800690770see graph
Washington University690760710790690770see graph
View the ACT version of this table
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Check out the "see graph" links in the right column to get a general idea of where your grades and test scores fit in with other applicants for each school.

You might notice that some students with SAT scores within or above the average range were not admitted to the school and that students with test scores below the average were admitted. This shows that the schools generally have ​holistic admissions, meaning that SAT (and/or ACT) scores are just one part of the application.

These schools look at more than just test scores when making an admissions decision. 

Perfect 800s don't guarantee admission if other parts of your application are weak—these universities like to see well-rounded applications and are not simply focused on an applicant's SAT scores. Admissions officers will also want to see a strong academic record, a winning essay, meaningful extracurricular activities and good letters of recommendation. A special talent in areas such as athletics and music can also play an important role in the admissions process.

When it comes to grades for these schools, nearly all successful applicants will have "A" averages in high school. Also, successful applicants will have demonstrated that they have challenged themselves by taking Advanced Placement, IB, Honors, Dual Enrollment, and other difficult college preparatory classes. 

The schools on this list are selective—admissions are competitive with low acceptance rates (20% or lower for many of the schools). Applying early, visiting the campus, and putting significant effort into both the primary Common Application essay and all supplemental essays are all great ways to help boost your chances of being admitted.

Even if your grades and test scores are on target for admission, you should consider these universities to be reach schools. It is not unusual for applicants with 4.0 averages and excellent SAT/ACT scores to be rejected.

More SAT Comparison Tables: Ivy League | top universities | top liberal arts | top engineering | more top liberal arts | top public universities | top public liberal arts colleges | University of California campuses | Cal State campuses | SUNY campuses | more SAT tables

Data from the National Center for Educational Statistics