SAT Scores for Ivy League Admissions

A Side-by-Side Comparison of Ivy League SAT Admissions Data

Baker Library and Tower at Dartmouth University
Baker Library and Tower at Dartmouth University. Photo Credit: Allen Grove

You're going to need good SAT scores to get into an Ivy League school. While you don't need a perfect 1600 on the exam to be admitted, successful applicants do tend to be in the top couple of percentiles. Unless you're truly exceptional in some other way, you'll want to have roughly a 1400 or higher to be competitive. Below you'll find 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 Ivy League admissions. Just keep in mind that the Ivy League is so competitive that many students within the ranges below do not get in.

Ivy League SAT Score Comparison (mid 50%)
(Learn what these numbers mean)
 SAT Scores
 ReadingMath
 25%75%25%75%
Brown University705780700790
Columbia University700780710790
Cornell University690760700790
Dartmouth College710770720790
Harvard University730790730800
Princeton University710780720790
University of  Pennsylvania700770720790
Yale University730780730800
View the ACT version of this table
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Be Realistic About Your Chances

The ranges in the graph tell you if you are within the SAT score range of students who get into the Ivy League schools. They ranges do not tell you if you are likely to get in. Many of the Ivies have single-digit acceptance rates, and the great majority of applicants have scores within or above the ranges in the table.

A perfect 1600 on the exam is no guarantee of admission, and many straight "A" students with exceptional SAT scores receive rejection letters.

Because of the highly competitive nature of Ivy League admissions, you should always consider these eight institutions to be reach schools even if your SAT scores are on target for getting in.

Holistic Admissions

All of the Ivy League schools have truly holistic admissions. In other words, the admissions folks are evaluating the entire applicant, not just his or her numerical measure such as SAT scores and GPA. For that reason, be sure to keep SAT scores in perspective and realize that they are just one part of the admissions equation. Perfect 800s across the board don't guarantee admission if other parts of your application are weak.

The most important part of your application will be a strong academic record. This doesn't just mean high grades. The admissions folks will want to see high grades in the most challenging courses available to you. Those AP, IB, and dual enrollment classes can all play an important role in your application. Success in college-level classes is the best predictor of college success available to the admissions office.

Other important pieces of your application include a winning essay, meaningful extracurricular activities and good letters of recommendation. Make sure your essay tells an engaging story and highlights some aspect of your experiences or accomplishments that is not readily evident from the rest of your application. A particularly compelling personal story can partially make up for SAT scores that are below the norm for a university.

On the extracurricular front, the strongest applicants show meaningful depth in an extracurricular area, and they show that have taken on greater and greater responsibilities throughout high school.

One unfortunate reality of Ivy League admissions is the important role of legacy status. If one of your parents or siblings attended the school, your chances of being admitted will be higher. This is a controversial but common admissions practice, and it is one that you have no control over.

Finally, keep in mind that applying early to an Ivy League school can double or even triple your chances of being admitted. Applying through an Early Action or Early Decision program is one of the best ways to demonstrate your interest in a university, and some top schools fill 40% or more of a class with early applicants.

A Final Word About Ivy League SAT Scores

Although strong non-numerical measures can help compensate for less-than ideal SAT scores, you'll want to be realistic. If you have a combined SAT score of 1000, your chances of getting in are going to be almost zero. The most successful applicants score above 700 in each section of the exam, have "A" grades in challenging classes, and are truly impressive on the extracurricular front.

Data Source: the National Center for Education Statistics.