Stanford Requirements for Admission

What are Stanford's admission requirements? While there are a lot of pieces that go into a college application, you should focus on only a few critical things:

  • GPA requirements
  • Testing requirements, including SAT and ACT requirements
  • Application requirements

In this guide we'll cover what you need to get into Stanford and build a strong application.

School location: Stanford, CA

This school is also known as: Stanford University


Admissions Rate: 6%

If you want to get in, the first thing to look at is the acceptance rate. This tells you how competitive the school is and how serious their requirements are.

The acceptance rate at Stanford is 6%. For every 100 applicants, only 6 are admitted.

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This means the school is extremely selective. Meeting their GPA requirements and SAT/ACT requirements is very important to getting past their first round of filters and proving your academic preparation. If you don't meet their expectations, your chance of getting is nearly zero.

After crossing this hurdle, you'll need to impress Stanford application readers through their other application requirements, including extracurriculars, essays, and letters of recommendation. We'll cover more below.


Stanford GPA Requirements

Many schools specify a minimum GPA requirement, but this is often just the bare minimum to submit an application without immediately getting rejected.

The GPA requirement that really matters is the GPA you need for a real chance of getting in. For this, we look at the school's average GPA for its current students.

Average GPA: 4.18

The average GPA at Stanford is 4.18.

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(Most schools use a weighted GPA out of 4.0, though some report an unweighted GPA.

With a GPA of 4.18, Stanford requires you to be at the top of your class. You'll need nearly straight A's in all your classes to compete with other applicants. Furthermore, you should be taking hard classes - AP or IB courses - to show that college-level academics is a breeze.

If you're currently a junior or senior, your GPA is hard to change in time for college applications. If your GPA is at or below the school average of 4.18, you'll need a higher SAT or ACT score to compensate. This will help you compete effectively against other applicants who have higher GPAs than you.


SAT and ACT Requirements

Each school has different requirements for standardized testing. Most schools require the SAT or ACT, and many also require SAT subject tests.

You must take either the SAT or ACT to submit an application to Stanford. More importantly, you need to do well to have a strong application.

Stanford SAT Requirements

Many schools say they have no SAT score cutoff, but the truth is that there is a hidden SAT requirement. This is based on the school's average score.

Average SAT: 2210 (New: 1520)

The average SAT score composite at Stanford is a 2210 on the old 2400 SAT scale.

On the new 1600 SAT, this corresponds to an average SAT score of 1520.

This score makes Stanford Extremely Competitive for SAT test scores.

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Stanford SAT Score Analysis (New 1600 SAT)

The 25th percentile New SAT score is 1450, and the 75th percentile New SAT score is 1580. In other words, a 1450 on the New SAT places you below average, while a 1580 will move you up to above average.

Here's the breakdown of new SAT scores by section:

SectionAverage25th Percentile75th Percentile
Math760730800
Reading383640
Writing383640
Composite152014501580

Stanford SAT Score Analysis (Old 2400 SAT)

The 25th percentile Old SAT score is 2070, and the 75th percentile SAT score is 2350. In other words, a 2070 on the Old SAT places you below average, while a 2350 puts you well above average.

Here's the breakdown of old SAT scores by section:

SectionAverage25th Percentile75th Percentile
Math745700790
Reading730680780
Writing735690780
Composite221020702350

SAT Score Choice Policy

The Score Choice policy at your school is an important part of your testing strategy.

Stanford has the Score Choice policy of "All Scores."

This means that Stanford requires you to send all SAT scores you've ever taken to their office.

This sounds daunting, but most schools don't actually consider all your scores equally. For example, if you scored an 1800 on one test and a 2100 on another, they won't actually average the two tests.

In fact, we researched the score policies at Stanford, and they have the following policy:

For the SAT, we will focus on the highest individual Critical Reading, Math and Writing scores from all test sittings.

Source

Some students are still worried about submitting too many test scores. They're afraid that Stanford will look down on too many attempts to raise your score. But how many is too many?

From our research and talking to admissions officers, we've learned that 4-6 tests is a safe number to submit. The college understands that you want to have the best chance of admission, and retaking the test is a good way to do this. Within a reasonable number of tests, they honestly don't care how many times you've taken it. They'll just focus on your score.

If you take it more than 6 times, colleges start wondering why you're not improving with each test. They'll question your study skills and ability to improve.

But below 6 tests, we strongly encourage retaking the test to maximize your chances. If your SAT score is currently below a 2350, we strongly recommend that you consider prepping for the SAT and retaking it. You don't have much to lose, and you can potentially raise your score and significantly boost your chances of getting in.


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Stanford ACT Requirements

Just like for the SAT, Stanford likely doesn't have a hard ACT cutoff, but if you score too low, your application will get tossed in the trash.

Average ACT: 33

The average ACT score at Stanford is 33. This score makes Stanford Strongly Competitive for ACT scores.

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The 25th percentile ACT score is 31, and the 75th percentile ACT score is 34.

Even though Stanford likely says they have no minimum ACT requirement, if you apply with a 31 or below, you'll have a very hard time getting in, unless you have something else very impressive in your application. There are so many applicants scoring 33 and above that a 31 will look academically weak.

ACT Score Sending Policy

If you're taking the ACT as opposed to the SAT, you have a huge advantage in how you send scores, and this dramatically affects your testing strategy.

Here it is: when you send ACT scores to colleges, you have absolute control over which tests you send. You could take 10 tests, and only send your highest one. This is unlike the SAT, where many schools require you to send all your tests ever taken.

This means that you have more chances than you think to improve your ACT score. To try to aim for the school's ACT requirement of 34 and above, you should try to take the ACT as many times as you can. When you have the final score that you're happy with, you can then send only that score to all your schools.

ACT Superscore Policy

By and large, most colleges do not superscore the ACT. (Superscore means that the school takes your best section scores from all the test dates you submit, and then combines them into the best possible composite score). Thus, most schools will just take your highest ACT score from a single sitting.

However, in our research, we found that Stanford does in fact offer an ACT superscore policy. To quote their Admissions Office:

For the ACT, we will focus on the highest Composite and the highest Combined English/Writing scores from all test sittings. We will also consider individual subscores.

Source

Superscoring is powerful to your testing strategy, and you need to make sure you plan your testing accordingly. Of all the scores that Stanford receives, your application readers will consider your highest section scores across all ACT test dates you submit.

Click below to learn more about how superscoring critically affects your test strategy.

How does superscoring change your test strategy? (Click to Learn)

For example, say you submit the following 4 test scores:

English Math Reading Science Composite
Test 1 32 16 16 16 20
Test 2 16 32 16 16 20
Test 3 16 16 32 16 20
Test 4 16 16 16 32 20
Superscore 32 32 32 32 32

Even though the highest ACT composite you scored on any one test date was 20, Stanford will take your highest section score from all your test dates, then combine them to form your Superscore. You can raise your composite score from 20 to 32 in this example.

This is important for your testing strategy. Because you can choose which tests to send in, and Stanford forms your Superscore, you can take the ACT as many times as you want, then submit only the tests that give you the highest Superscore. Your application readers will only see that one score.

Therefore, if your ACT score is currently below a 34, we strongly recommend that you consider prepping for the ACT and retaking it. You have a very good chance of raising your score, which will significantly boost your chances of getting in.

Even better, because of the Superscore, you can focus all your energy on a single section at a time. If your Reading score is lower than your other sections, prep only for the Reading section, then take the ACT. Then focus on Math for the next test, and so on. This will surely give you the highest Superscore possible.


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SAT/ACT Writing Section Requirements

Both the SAT and ACT have a Writing section that includes an essay.

Stanford requires you to take the SAT/ACT Writing section. They'll use this as another factor in their admissions consideration.


SAT Subject Test Requirements

Schools vary in their SAT subject test requirements. Typically, selective schools tend to require them, while most schools in the country do not.

Stanford has indicated that SAT subject tests are recommended. Typically this means that SAT subject tests are not required, but submitting them can showcase particular strengths. For example, if you're applying to an engineering school, submitting science and math SAT subject tests will boost your application.

Typically, your SAT/ACT and GPA are far more heavily weighed than your SAT Subject Tests. If you have the choice between improving your SAT/ACT score or your SAT Subject Test scores, definitely choose to improve your SAT/ACT score.



Final Admissions Verdict

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Because this school is extremely selective, getting a high SAT/ACT score and GPA is vital to having a chance at getting in. If you don't pass their SAT/ACT and GPA requirements, they'll likely reject you without much consideration.

To have the best shot of getting in, you should aim for the 75th percentile, with a 2350 SAT or a 34 ACT. You should also have a 4.18 GPA or higher. If your GPA is lower than this, you need to compensate with a higher SAT/ACT score.

For a school as selective as Stanford, you'll also need to impress them with the rest of your application. We'll cover those details next.

But if you apply with a score below a 2350 SAT or a 34 ACT, you unfortunately start out with the odds against you and have a tiny chance of getting in. There are just too many students with high SAT/ACT scores and strong applications, and you need to compete against them.



Admissions Calculator

What are your chances of admission at Stanford University?
Chances of admission with these scores:

Here's our custom admissions calculator. Plug in your numbers to see what your chances of getting in are.

Pick your test: Old SAT New SAT ACT

SAT Score
Your GPA
Note: This is only an estimate for the average student, based on data collected from thousands of students. Other factors in your application may come into play, such as extracurriculars and recommendation letters.

How would your chances improve with a better score?

Try to take your current SAT score and add 160 points (or take your ACT score and add 4 points) to the calculator above. See how much your chances improve?

At PrepScholar, we've created the leading online SAT/ACT prep program. We guarantee an improvement of 160 SAT points or 4 ACT points on your score, or your money back.

Here's a summary of why we're so much more effective than other prep programs:

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Application Requirements

Every school requires an application with the bare essentials - high school transcript and GPA, application form, and other core information. Many schools, as explained above, also require SAT and ACT scores, as well as letters of recommendation, application essays, and interviews. We'll cover the exact requirements of Stanford here.

Application Requirements Overview

  • Common Application Accepted
  • Universal Application Not accepted
  • Electronic Application Available
  • Essay or Personal Statement Required for all freshmen
  • Letters of Recommendation 2
  • Interview Not required
  • Application Fee $90
  • Fee Waiver Available? Available
  • Other Notes

Testing Requirements

  • SAT or ACT Required
  • SAT or ACT Writing Required
  • SAT Subject Tests Recommended
  • Scores Due in Office 15

Coursework Requirements

  • Subject Required Years
  • English
  • Math
  • Science
  • Foreign Language
  • Social Studies
  • History
  • Electives

Deadlines and Early Admissions

  •  
    • Offered? Deadline Notification
  • Regular Admission
    • Yes 3 1
  • Early Action
    • Yes 1 15
  • Early Decision
    • No

Admissions Office Information


Other Schools For You

If you're interested in Stanford, you'll probably be interested in these schools as well. We've divided them into 3 categories depending on how hard they are to get into, relative to Stanford.


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Reach Schools: Harder to Get Into

These schools are more selective and have higher scores than Stanford. If you improve your SAT score, you'll be competitive for these schools.

School Name Location SAT Avg (1600) SAT Avg (2400) ACT Avg
Yale University New Haven, CT 1540 2265 33
Harvard College Cambridge, MA 1540 2260 34
Princeton University Princeton, NJ 1540 2250 33
Duke University Durham, NC 1540 2250 34
University of Chicago Chicago, IL 1520 2228 33
Massachusetts Institute of Technology Cambridge, MA 1520 2220 34
Washington University in St. Louis St. Louis, MO 1520 2220 33

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Same Level: Equally Hard to Get Into

If you're competitive for Stanford, these schools will offer you a similar chance of admission.

School Name Location SAT Avg (1600) SAT Avg (2400) ACT Avg
Columbia University New York, NY 1520 2215 33
Vanderbilt University Nashville, TN 1520 2215 33
Dartmouth College Hanover, NH 1510 2195 32
Rice University Houston, TX 1510 2180 33
University of Pennsylvania Philadelphia, PA 1500 2163 32
Tufts University Medford, MA 1490 2158 31
Brown University Providence, RI 1490 2155 32

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Safety Schools: Easier to Get Into

If you're currently competitive for Stanford, you should have no problem getting into these schools. If Stanford is currently out of your reach, you might already be competitive for these schools.

School Name Location SAT Avg (1600) SAT Avg (2400) ACT Avg
Cornell University Ithaca, NY 1480 2120 32
Carnegie Mellon University Pittsburgh, PA 1470 2117 32
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Troy, NY 1420 1376 29
Northeastern University Boston, MA 1440 2058 31
Boston College Chestnut Hill, MA 1430 2045 32
University of Michigan Ann Arbor, MI 1430 2041 30
New York University New York, NY 1410 2015 30

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