Last Updated on April 20, 2023
Ivy League admissions are notoriously competitive, with acceptance rates at most Ivy League schools below 10%, and in some cases, well below that mark. (Take Columbia and Harvard, for example, which have acceptance rates of roughly 5% and 4%, respectively.) So, if you’re wondering, “What is a good SAT score for Ivy Leagues?,” trust me, you’re not alone!
In this article, we’ll answer some common and important questions about Ivy League SAT scores, including what the average SAT scores are, what is considered a good SAT score, whether admitted students always have high SAT scores, and more. When all is said and done, you’ll have a solid understanding of what types of SAT scores students applying to Ivy League schools typically need to be competitive.
Here are the topics we’ll cover:
- Which Schools Are Ivy League?
- How Important Are SAT Scores for Ivy League Schools?
- What Is the Average SAT Score at Ivy League Schools?
- What Is a Good SAT Score for Ivy League Schools?
- Can I Get Into an Ivy League School with a 1400 SAT?
- What Is the Minimum SAT Score for Ivy League Schools?
- In Conclusion
First, let’s review which schools we’re talking about when we say “Ivy League.”
Which Schools Are Ivy League?
The Ivy League is a small group of highly prestigious and academically rigorous colleges and universities in the northeastern U.S. Ivy League schools have long been considered among the top educational institutions in the country and the world, attracting both U.S. and international students.
There are 8 Ivy League colleges and universities:
- Brown University
- Columbia University
- Cornell University
- Dartmouth College
- Harvard College
- University of Pennsylvania
- Princeton University
- Yale University
All 8 Ivy schools consistently rank in the top 25 U.S. universities, and Ivy schools occupy most of the spots in the top 5.
The Ivy League schools are Brown, Columbia, Cornell, Dartmouth, Harvard, UPenn, Princeton, and Yale.
How Important Are SAT Scores for Ivy League Schools?
For students applying to Ivy League schools, every detail of their college applications matters. That said, standardized tests are just one component among many in a person’s college applications. For instance, a student’s academic record, extracurricular activities, internships, and application essays are all key elements that Ivy League schools scrutinize. Consider the following statement from the Yale admissions website:
“… it is safe to say that performance in school is more important than testing. A very strong performance in a demanding college preparatory program may compensate for modest standardized test scores, but it is unlikely that high standardized test scores will persuade the admissions committee to disregard an undistinguished secondary-school record.”
Yale is not alone in making such declarations. So, while test scores are an important opportunity to show off your knowledge and skills, they are not the be-all and end-all when applying to the Ivy Leagues.
In other words, you can leverage a good SAT score to help burnish your Ivy League college applications, but you can’t expect even a great SAT score to single-handedly carry you over the finish line.
TTP PRO TIP:
The SAT is an important opportunity to show off your knowledge and skills, but it’s not the be-all and end-all when applying to the Ivy Leagues.
In fact, if you’re applying to college in the near future, it may be that the Ivy Leagues you’re interested in are test optional. Let’s discuss.
Testing Requirements During the Pandemic
During the Covid-19 pandemic, many colleges and universities, including Ivy League schools, instituted test-optional policies. These policies paused the requirement that applicants submit scores from standardized tests for admissions. So, depending on when and where you’re applying to college, you may have the option to not submit test scores with your applications.
For example, Cornell suspended its SAT and ACT requirement for 2021, 2022, 2023, and 2024 applicants. As a result, in Cornell’s class of 2025 (which entered in fall 2021), only about 41% of students submitted SAT scores with their applications, and only about 20% of students submitted ACT scores. So, many incoming students took advantage of the test-optional policy.
Now, testing requirements vary from school to school, and some schools may have already ended test-optional policies that were in place at the beginning of the pandemic. So, you shouldn’t assume that because one Ivy League school still has a test-optional policy in place, they all do. Always check individual school websites to confirm current admissions policies.
TTP PRO TIP:
Check individual school websites to confirm whether the schools you’re interested in have test-optional policies.
You also must consider whether you actually would want to forgo taking the SAT. Let’s discuss.
Should You Skip the SAT?
It may seem like a no-brainer that if you have the option to skip the SAT, you should. However, there are a couple of very important reasons why you might not want to skip the SAT even if the Ivy Leagues you’re interested in don’t require it during your admissions cycle.
As I already touched on, the SAT can be a powerful opportunity to show your top-choice schools that you’re a top-choice candidate. Remember, you have only so many opportunities to show yourself off in your college applications. Furthermore, your academic record is already set. So, why not grab an additional opportunity to paint yourself in the best light by submitting an impressive SAT score?
Moreover, although you may be laser-focused on gaining admittance to certain Ivy Leagues at the moment, further down the road, you may decide that there are other schools you want to apply to, and those schools may require the SAT. So, regardless of whether you submit an SAT score with your applications to Ivy Leagues, it may be smart to have an SAT score in your back pocket. After all, you don’t want your college options to be more limited than they otherwise would be.
Of course, if your SAT score is not that impressive, you may choose to take advantage of test-optional policies if they’re still in place at your desired schools when you apply. However, if possible, you might consider additional test prep and an SAT retake, given the boost that a good SAT score could give your candidacy.
TTP PRO TIP:
Even if the Ivy Leagues you’re interested in have test-optional policies, it may still be a smart play to take the SAT.
Now, let’s discuss what types of scores students enrolled in the Ivy Leagues generally have.
What Is the Average SAT Score at Ivy League Schools?
You may be surprised to learn that most Ivy League schools do not currently publish the average SAT scores of their incoming classes. What they do typically publish is SAT data related to the middle 50% score range.
The middle 50% range, or “mid-50%,” is the score range from the 25th percentile score in a class to the 75th percentile score. So, 25% of the class will have scored at or lower than the bottom of that range and 25% will have scored at or above the top of that range. Hence, the range represents the “middle 50%.”
Most Ivy League schools publish data related to the middle 50% score range, which is the range from the 25th percentile score in an incoming class to the 75th percentile score.
So, let’s look at the mid-50% Ivy League SAT score ranges of students matriculating in fall 2021 (class of 2025).
Middle 50% SAT Score Ranges of Ivy League Students: Fall 2021
|School||Mid-50% Composite Score||Mid-50% Math Score||Mid-50% EBRW Score|
*Data is for incoming students in fall 2020 (class of 2024).
**Rounded to the nearest ten.
Based on the data above, we see that Ivy League SAT score ranges for the middle 50% of enrolled students tend to be around the mid to upper 1400s at the low end and the mid to upper 1500s at the high end. Remember, some students may have scored below or above that range. However, it’s unlikely that a large number of students deviated tremendously from that range. In other words, we can consider the mid-50% range a pretty representative sample.
Additionally, while we can’t say exactly what the average Ivy League SAT score is, we can say that the average mid-50% score range is 1470-1560. That average gives us a solid sense of how an Ivy League student with neither an exceptionally high nor exceptionally low score (by Ivy League standards) performs on the SAT.
TTP PRO TIP:
Consider the mid-50% SAT score range a pretty representative sample of how students at a particular school perform on the SAT.
So, should we assume that any score that falls within those mid-50% ranges is a good score for Ivy Leagues schools? Not so fast! There’s more to the story.
What Is a Good SAT Score for Ivy League Schools?
While Ivy League schools don’t expect perfect SAT scores, there is no denying that the bar is set high. Thus, if you’re looking to leverage your SAT score to make yourself a more competitive applicant, you’ll want to shoot for the 75th percentile score among admitted students at your schools of choice.
In other words, aim for a score around the top of the mid-50% range. For most Ivy Leagues, the top of the mid-50% range is an SAT score of 1560 or 1570.
Does scoring below 1560 mean that you’ve tanked your candidacy at these top schools? Absolutely not! Clearly, many students have been accepted to Ivy League universities and colleges with SAT scores below the 75th percentile mark. However, if you really have your heart set on certain schools and want to use the SAT as a way to boost your candidacy, around the 75th percentile mark is a good target.
TTP PRO TIP:
To help boost your competitiveness at an Ivy League school, aim for an SAT score around the top of the mid-50% range of the most recent class.
Now, what if you have an SAT score below the mid-50% range? Should you still try for the Ivy Leagues?
Can I Get Into an Ivy League School with a 1400 SAT?
It’s possible that some students scoring in the bottom 25th percentile at Ivy League schools were admitted with SAT scores of 1400 — or lower.
For example, according to the CollegeBoard website (by the makers of the SAT), the complete range of SAT scores of Cornell students is 1400-1560. So, that range spans 50 points below and 20 points above the mid-50% range that Cornell reported for its 2021 incoming class. (Note that CollegeBoard does not specify which year the complete range is associated with, nor whether that range applies to admitted or enrolled students.)
Furthermore, given that schools evaluate applicants in a holistic fashion, I don’t think that anyone can say for sure that it’s simply impossible to gain admittance to an Ivy League school because you scored 1400, 1390, etc., on the SAT.
That said, if you really have your heart set on the Ivy Leagues, and your SAT score is 1400, you may want to consider a retake to give yourself a more solid shot at admittance. Particularly if you’re aiming for a school that boasts high test scores even for the Ivy Leagues, such as Columbia, UPenn, or Brown, a higher score may help you better hold your own against stiff competition.
TTP PRO TIP:
If your SAT score is 1400 and you really have your heart set on the Ivy Leagues, consider a retake.
With all this in mind, let’s discuss whether there is a minimum SAT score you need to be eligible for the Ivy Leagues.
What Is the Minimum SAT Score for Ivy League Schools?
First, it’s always best to check individual school websites to see what each school’s policies are. However, generally speaking, Ivy League schools don’t specify a particular minimum SAT score required for admission. After all, Ivy League admissions committees, like those at many other colleges and universities, take numerous factors into account when evaluating applicants.
For example, regarding required minimum SAT scores, Harvard states the following:
“There are no score cutoffs, and we do not admit ‘by the numbers’.”
Similarly, Princeton makes the following statement:
“We employ no minimum test scores for admission; rather, the entirety of a student’s background is considered in context.”
Such statements are typical for Ivy League schools.
In fact, in evaluating your candidacy, some schools will even use your highest section scores from different test sittings if you submit scores from more than one SAT. Again, before you go submitting multiple test scores, check individual school websites! Don’t assume that the policies of one Ivy League school will be the same as another’s. Although Ivy League schools have many similarities, they all have their own test policies and admissions requirements.
Keep in mind also that if you’re worried that your SAT score may be too low for you to be a competitive applicant, you can always contact the admissions offices at the schools you’re interested in by email or phone to get their take.
Generally speaking, Ivy League schools don’t specify a minimum SAT score required for admission.
When setting your SAT score goal and preparing your college applications for the Ivy League schools, remember the following:
- The SAT is a great opportunity to show off your knowledge and skills, but it’s not the be-all and end-all when applying to the Ivy Leagues.
- According to 2021 and 2020 incoming class data, the average middle 50% score range of Ivy League students is approximately 1470-1560.
- To leverage your SAT score for Ivy League admissions, shoot for around the top of the mid-50% range among admitted students at your schools of choice.
- If you really have your heart set on the Ivies, and your SAT score is below the mid-50% range, consider a retake to give yourself a more solid shot at admittance.
- Even if your desired Ivy League schools are test-optional when you apply, there may still be good reasons to take the SAT.