What are Harvard'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 Harvard and build a strong application.
School location: Cambridge, MA
This school is also known as: Harvard University, Harvard College, Harvard University
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 Harvard is 4.7%. For every 100 applicants, only 5 are admitted.
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 in is nearly zero.
After crossing this hurdle, you'll need to impress Harvard application readers through their other application requirements, including extracurriculars, essays, and letters of recommendation. We'll cover more below.
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Harvard 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.
The average GPA at Harvard is 4.18.
(Most schools use a weighted GPA out of 4.0, though some report an unweighted GPA.
With a GPA of 4.18, Harvard
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.
Harvard hasn't explicitly named a policy on SAT/ACT requirements, but because it's published average SAT or ACT scores (we'll cover this next), it's likely test flexible. Typically, these schools say, "if you feel your SAT or ACT score represents you well as a student, submit them. Otherwise, don't."
Despite this policy, the truth is that most students still take the SAT or ACT, and most applicants to Harvard will submit their scores. If you don't submit scores, you'll have one fewer dimension to show that you're worthy of being admitted, compared to other students. We therefore recommend that you consider taking the SAT or ACT, and doing well.
Harvard 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.
The average SAT score composite at Harvard is a 1520 on the 1600 SAT scale.
This score makes Harvard Extremely Competitive for SAT test scores.
Harvard SAT Score Analysis (New 1600 SAT)
The 25th percentile New SAT score is 1460, and the 75th percentile New SAT score is 1580. In other words, a 1460 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:
|Section||Average||25th Percentile||75th Percentile|
SAT Score Choice Policy
The Score Choice policy at your school is an important part of your testing strategy.
Harvard ACT Requirements
Just like for the SAT, Harvard likely doesn't have a hard ACT cutoff, but if you score too low, your application will get tossed in the trash.
The average ACT score at Harvard is 34. This score makes Harvard Extremely Competitive for ACT scores.
The 25th percentile ACT score is 33, and the 75th percentile ACT score is 35.
Even though Harvard likely says they have no minimum ACT requirement, if you apply with a 33 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 34 and above that a 33 will look academically weak.
Those who live near Harvard may want to look into tutors in Acton and elsewhere in the Boston area to strengthen their test performance.
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 35 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.
We weren't able to find the school's exact ACT policy, which most likely means that it does not Superscore. Regardless, you can choose your single best ACT score to send in to Harvard, so you should prep until you reach our recommended target ACT score of 35.
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SAT/ACT Writing Section Requirements
Both the SAT and ACT have an optional essay section.
Harvard hasn't reported their stance on SAT Essay/ACT Writing, but most likely they consider it to be optional. Thus you don't need to worry too much about Writing for this school, but other schools you're applying to may require it.
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.
We did not find information that Harvard requires SAT subject tests, and so most likely it does not. At least 6 months before applying, you should still doublecheck just to make sure, so you have enough time to take the test.
What are your chances of admission at Harvard 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:
Note: Your admission decision relies not only on your GPA and SAT/ACT scores, but also on your coursework difficulty, extracurriculars, letters of recommendation, and personal statements. This tool provides only a simplistic estimate of your chances of admission. Instead of treating this tool as a crystal ball, we recommend you consider the big picture of what your chance means:
We recommend you apply to schools across a range of chances. Applying to some safety schools will guarantee you have a college to go to, while applying to some reach schools will give you a shot at getting into the school at the top of your range.
- 80-100%: Safety school: Strong chance of getting in
- 50-80%: More likely than not getting in
- 20-50%: Lower but still good chance of getting in
- 5-20%: Reach school: Unlikely to get in, but still have a shot
- 0-5%: Hard reach school: Very difficult to get in
How would your chances improve with a better score?
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:
There's a lot more to PrepScholar that makes it the best SAT/ACT prep program. Click to learn more about our program, or sign up for our 5-day free trial to check out PrepScholar for yourself:
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 Harvard here.
Application Requirements Overview
Essay or Personal Statement
Letters of Recommendation
Fee Waiver Available?
SAT or ACT
SAT Essay or ACT Writing
SAT Subject Tests
Scores Due in Office
Deadlines and Early Admissions
Admissions Office Information
If you're interested in Harvard, 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 Harvard.
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