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

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.

Top University SAT Score Comparison (mid 50%)(Learn what these numbers mean)

Reading 25% Reading 75% Math 25% Math 75%
Carnegie Mellon 700 760 730 800
Duke 670 750 710 790
Emory 670 740 680 780
Georgetown 680 760 670 760
Johns Hopkins 720 770 730 800
Northwestern 700 770 720 790
Notre Dame 680 750 690 770
Rice 730 780 760 800
Stanford 690 760 700 780
University of Chicago 730 780 750 800
Vanderbilt 710 770 730 800
Washington University 720 770 750 800

View the ACT version of this table

Note: A comparison of SAT scores for the 8 Ivy League schools are addressed in a separate article.

Click on the school's name in the left column to get more admissions information including a graph of GPA, SAT, and ACT data. 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.

Data from the National Center for Education Statistics

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Your Citation
Grove, Allen. "SAT Scores for Admission to Top Universities." ThoughtCo, Apr. 5, 2023, Grove, Allen. (2023, April 5). SAT Scores for Admission to Top Universities. Retrieved from Grove, Allen. "SAT Scores for Admission to Top Universities." ThoughtCo. (accessed June 9, 2023).