Update: This post contains data on Harvard SAT Scores based on Harvard’s class of 2022.
So You Want to Go to Harvard…
You dream of singing the fight song as the Harvard Crimson thrash Yale at Harvard Stadium. You want to join the ranks of such notable alumni as FDR, Bill Gates, and Conan O’Brien. Maybe you’ll even get to hear Will Ferrell give your commencement speech, while dressed as a sailor (yeah, this really happened.) And so you’re wondering about Harvard SAT Scores…
I love your ambition! Let’s make it happen.
The Magic Formula for Harvard SAT Scores
There is no magic formula for getting into Harvard. The newest class of students admitted into the hallowed halls of Harvard (including Magoosh’s own Lena Felton) represents a tiny-but-diverse portion of the group that applied. Of the 42,749 students who applied last fall, 1,962 were admitted. Harvard reports that this was a record low of 4.9% admitted. Given that Harvard stated that its previous year’s admission rate of 4.9% represented a record low, we can infer that Harvard admissions have become even more competitive.
So, getting into Harvard isn’t easy, and it’s not getting any easier. But you knew that already. That’s why you want to attend!
What You Need to Get In
When reviewing your application, Harvard is looking for the total package. They want to admit students who will not only thrive academically, but who will also add something new and interesting to their student body. Harvard admissions officers are creating a community of scholars, and they truly value diversity.
The Truth: You will definitely need to have a good GPA and be amongst the top of your high school class. (If that’s something you’d like to improve, check out the video below for tips.) In addition, you will need to excel on your SAT. On your application, you will also need to demonstrate, through extracurricular activities and hobbies, that you value civic engagement, teamwork, and non-academic endeavors.
What SAT Score Do I Need to Get In to Harvard?
Don’t worry – Harvard isn’t looking at you as a faceless SAT score on an online application. In fact, Harvard’s Class of 2022 is a fairly diverse group.
There is no absolute minimum SAT score that you need to get into Harvard. Though, considering that Harvard only admitted 4.9% of applicants last year, it’s safe to say that your entire application has to make an impression.
Harvard Admissions By the Numbers: Harvard SAT Scores
Some interesting stats about the Harvard Class of 2022:
1520: Average composite SAT score
So what’s that look like, section by section?
|Section||Average Score of Entering Class||Percentage of Entering Students Who Scored 700+|
|Writing||744||75% over 710|
*Numbers here are from the class of 2020. We’ll let you know when there’s an official update!
“The majority of students admitted represent a range of scores from roughly 600 to 800 on each section of the SAT as well as on the SAT Subject Tests. The 25th percentile for admitted students on the SAT is about 1470; the 75th percentile is about 1570.”
What does that mean? The top 25% of admitted students earned a combined SAT score of over 1570 (that’s near perfect). The middle 50% earned between 1470 and 1570. And the bottom 25% earned below 1470. As you can see, 75% of Harvard’s recently admitted class scored above 1470 on the SAT.
For comparison, the average SAT score was 1060 for the high school class of 2017. Harvard expects high, but not impossible scores. They are definitely achievable with a lot of focus, preparation, and a good study schedule (see SAT Study Resources below for help.)
A Note on Re-Taking the Exam
It’s also important to note here that you can take the SAT more than once. Harvard Admissions understands that people get nervous, and that their first test score is not always indicative of their ability to perform well on the SAT.
So, if you have already taken the test once and didn’t manage to earn a 2100 or above, or 1400 or above on the new SAT, don’t stress. Harvard will see all of your SAT scores, but will only consider your highest scores. There is one caveat, though: Harvard Admissions believes that taking the SAT more than twice offers diminishing returns. And the evidence supports their claim (duh, it’s Harvard – they did their research.) After taking the SAT two times, your score isn’t likely to change much in either direction.
P.S…Go here for updated information on SAT Score Ranges for the Top 100 Colleges and Universities!
Study for the SAT! If Harvard is your dream, then you need to start planning early. Take the PSAT your sophomore year, create an SAT study schedule that works in your busy life and in your time frame, beef up your skills with an SAT prep program that works for you (I recommend checking out the Free 1-Week SAT Trial at Magoosh), and consider taking the test twice if you need to.
And remember that it’s not all about straight As and perfect SAT scores. Mike M. from Transizion can tell you more:
That may seem completely out of your league, but remember, they want future world-changers, not necessarily current world-changers. You don’t already have to be Oppenheimer or Thoreau to be accepted – although that wouldn’t hurt. Your main objective when applying to Harvard should be to convince the admissions department that you are well on your way toward that goal.
First, you need to be extremely passionate about something. You really can’t fake this step. You should have a subject or a world issue that really drives your ambition. Next, you need to pursue that end through your extra-curriculars…Lastly, you need to learn how to articulate your passion in both writing and conversation. Every Harvard applicant must complete an admissions essay and an admissions interview because they want to know the more subjective side of your success.”
All in all, prepare yourself to the best of your ability and have no regrets. Hopefully, Harvard will admit you with open arms (and some financial aid.) But, if not, there are plenty of other amazing universities out there that would love to add you to their community.
And for more intel on your chances, Go4Ivy also has a tool that can help predict your admissions chances at competitive universities such as Harvard that you can check out! 🙂
SAT Study Resources
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in December 2013 and has been updated for freshness, accuracy, and comprehensiveness.