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.
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.
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.
(Most schools use a weighted GPA out of 4.0, though some report an unweighted GPA.
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 3.96, 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.
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.
The average SAT score composite at Stanford is a 1505 on the 1600 SAT scale.
This score makes Stanford Extremely Competitive for SAT test scores.
Stanford SAT Score Analysis (New 1600 SAT)
The 25th percentile SAT score is 1440, and the 75th percentile SAT score is 1550. In other words, a 1440 on the SAT places you below average, while a 1550 will move you up to above average.
Here's the breakdown of SAT scores by section:
|Section||Average||25th Percentile||75th Percentile|
|Reading + Writing||735||700||770|
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 1300 on one test and a 1500 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.
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 1550, 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.
The average ACT score at Stanford is 34. This score makes Stanford Extremely Competitive for ACT scores.
The 25th percentile ACT score is 32, and the 75th percentile ACT score is 35.
Even though Stanford likely says they have no minimum ACT requirement, if you apply with a 32 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 32 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 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.
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.
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:
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 35, 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 give you the highest Superscore possible.
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SAT/ACT Writing Section Requirements
Both the SAT and ACT have an optional essay section.
Stanford requires you to take the SAT Essay/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.