What are SAT and ACT Score Ranges for the top colleges and universities?

What are SAT and ACT Score Ranges for the top colleges and universities?

10 March, 2021

03/10/2021

College admissions at top schools seem to only keep getting more competitive. Students looking to attend one of these extremely selective schools need to prepare an application that is strong in all of its components. That includes standardized test scores.

Standardized testing, unfortunately, causes a lot of anxiety for high school students. Luckily, with enough preparation, standardized tests can become the least stressful part of the college admissions process.

What Scores do I Need to get into a Top College?


That’s a complicated question. Most colleges don’t have a minimum SAT or ACT score that they will accept. That being said, getting in with a lower SAT or ACT score is going to be an uphill battle. Everything else in your application will have to be outstanding to convince admissions officers to overlook a sub-par SAT or ACT score.

It will be much easier to just buckle down, study hard, and earn a competitive standardized test score. Not to mention that merit scholarships can depend heavily on your ACT and SAT scores. Just because you might be able to jump the hurdle of getting with an otherwise low application, doesn’t mean that your SAT or ACT score won’t make a big difference when it comes time to fund your education.

Ideally, you should aim for an SAT or ACT score above average at the schools you are interested in attending. While you don’t absolutely need an above-average score to get into any school (by-definition, half of their students have a below-average score), it will make you a much more competitive student in an increasingly impressive application pool.

SAT and ACT Scores for Top Colleges

Princeton


SAT 75th Percentile: 1570
SAT 50th Percentile: 1510
SAT 25th Percentile: 1460

ACT 75th Percentile: 35
ACT 50th Percentile: 34
ACT 25th Percentile: 33

Harvard


SAT 75th Percentile: 1570
SAT 50th Percentile: 1510
SAT 25th Percentile: 1460

ACT 75th Percentile: 35
ACT 50th Percentile: 34
ACT 25th Percentile: 33

Columbia


SAT 75th Percentile: 1570
SAT 50th Percentile: 1510
SAT 25th Percentile: 1450

ACT 75th Percentile: 35
ACT 50th Percentile: 34
ACT 25th Percentile: 33

Massachusetts Institute of Technology


SAT 75th Percentile: 1570
SAT 50th Percentile: 1540
SAT 25th Percentile: 1510

ACT 75th Percentile: 36
ACT 50th Percentile: 35
ACT 25th Percentile: 34

Yale


SAT 75th Percentile: 1570
SAT 50th Percentile: 1515
SAT 25th Percentile: 1460

ACT 75th Percentile: 35
ACT 50th Percentile: 34
ACT 25th Percentile: 33

Stanford


SAT 75th Percentile: 1570
SAT 50th Percentile: 1500
SAT 25th Percentile: 1440

ACT 75th Percentile: 35
ACT 50th Percentile: 33
ACT 25th Percentile: 32

University of Chicago


SAT 75th Percentile: 1570
SAT 50th Percentile: 1530
SAT 25th Percentile: 1500

ACT 75th Percentile: 35
ACT 50th Percentile: 34
ACT 25th Percentile: 33

University of Pennsylvania


SAT 75th Percentile: 1560
SAT 50th Percentile: 1500
SAT 25th Percentile: 1450

ACT 75th Percentile: 35
ACT 50th Percentile: 34
ACT 25th Percentile: 32

California Institute of Technology


SAT 75th Percentile: 1560
SAT 50th Percentile: 1540
SAT 25th Percentile: 1530

ACT 75th Percentile: 36
ACT 50th Percentile: 36
ACT 25th Percentile: 35

John’s Hopkins University


SAT 75th Percentile: 1570
SAT 50th Percentile: 1520
SAT 25th Percentile: 1470

ACT 75th Percentile: 35
ACT 50th Percentile: 34
ACT 25th Percentile: 33

Northwestern


SAT 75th Percentile: 1550
SAT 50th Percentile: 1490
SAT 25th Percentile: 1440

ACT 75th Percentile: 35
ACT 50th Percentile: 34
ACT 25th Percentile: 33

Should I Take the SAT or the ACT?


Colleges will accept both the SAT and the ACT without noting a specific preference for one or the other. The biggest difference between the two tests is the inclusion of the science section in the ACT.

The science section is meant to test your critical thinking skills, so it will not be particularly to your advantage or disadvantage to have specific scientific knowledge. Rather, being able to read graphs, statistics, and science-themed passages will help you get through the section.

Though both tests are about the same length (3 hours for the SAT and 2 hours 55 minutes for the ACT), the ACT had 4 sections instead of 3. That means that each section is a bit longer for the SAT than the ACT.

The SAT is scored from 400 to 1600, while the 1-36. The specificity of the SAT score can work to your advantage or disadvantage in the ACT to SAT conversion, but it is hard to estimate one’s scores with that level of accuracy. Looking at an online SAT to ACT conversion chart can help demonstrate how the scoring differs.

Many students choose to take both tests or prep for both and take whichever they feel more confident about. This method ensures that you are taking the right test for you, but means that you are wasting time learning material that ultimately won’t matter to your college admissions. Take an ACT vs. SAT cognitive assessment here to evaluate which test will benefit you the most.

Why do Colleges Care About Test Scores Anyway?


We’ve all had that one teacher who is an especially hard grader. Maybe you even tried to switch out of their section to save your GPA and were extremely jealous of the other class who worked half as hard for a higher grade.

Well, this happens all over the country. While most high school chemistry classes will cover the same material, there isn’t a great way to tell which kids had tough graders, which kids went to competitive high schools, or whether that psych elective had the reputation as an easy GPA boost or a rigorous literature survey for burgeoning neuroscientists.

Without the time or information to find the answers to all these questions, standardized test scores provide an easy way to compare students from different high schools. This is especially important for schools that receive more applications than they can review in-depth.

Furthermore, these test scores help identify students who might have underperformed in high school. Many students may have faced extenuating circumstances during high school that made it difficult to achieve academically. A high standardized test score can demonstrate their potential to succeed in college.

Then there is the element of school pride and prestige. Colleges and universities like to show off how smart their students are. They will usually publish their standardized test score averages to demonstrate the strength and achievement of their incoming freshman class.

How Do Top Colleges View Standardized Test Scores Differently Than Other Schools?


The difference between top colleges and other schools is that they often have the liberty to reject more students. Applicants to these schools are often competing against many of the most impressive high school students in the world. You will be competing against non-profit founders, top athletes, published authors, and people who had overcome significant personal adversity.

There isn’t a lot of room for the otherwise average applicant to have weak spots in their application. That includes a standardized test score lower than what the school usually accepts. Plus, a particularly high standardized test score can help the average applicant stand out in an extremely competitive pool.

I Have a Top Standardized Test Score. Am I Guaranteed a Spot?


Not at all! While getting a good standardized test score is certainly makes the path to a top college a lot easier, it by no means guarantees you a spot. Top colleges are overwhelmed with tens of thousands of applications a year. As such, they have the luxury to reject high scorers with an otherwise weak application or who they don’t think would fit into their culture.  

You're standardized test score still carries a lot of weight in the admissions process, but it doesn't mean it's quite time to sit back and relax just yet. Even with a great standardized test score, it important to keep up your GPA, be an active member of your community, and craft superb essays. Luckily, these are the fun parts of the application process, where you get to learn about the schools and demonstrate why you would be a great addition to their community.

How Do I Improve my SAT and ACT Score?


Although much of what the ACT and SAT test has already been covered in your high school classes, it is still important to prepare. Some students prefer self-study using books or Khan Academy, but this method is often overwhelming for students simultaneously balancing their high school classes and other activities.

Most students benefit from the structure, accountability, and experience of a prep class or one-on-one tutoring. Students already have to do the hard work of studying for standardized tests, they shouldn’t also have to do all of the planning it takes to curate an effective study schedule.

When to get help


Everyone could use a little bit of help. Getting into a top college is a lot of work, especially when you are balancing it on top of all of your other commitments. Although there are plenty of resources online and high schools often provide some support in applying to college, many students find they benefit from more comprehensive services, whether that is standardized test tutoring or application assembly assistance.  

Having an honest, non-judgmental, experienced guide help through the admissions process can increase your chances of finally getting into your dream school while making the entire process less stressful.

Noodle Pros had a wide range of tutors with a proven track record of improving standardized test scores and getting students admitted. Go to https://www.noodlepros.com/request/ to connect with a results-oriented tutor and get personalized one-on-one instruction.

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