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 Harvard 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 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.
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 Harvard. More importantly, you need to do well to have a strong application.
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.
Those who live near Harvard may want to look into tutors in Acton and elsewhere in the Boston area to strengthen their test performance.
Here's the breakdown of new SAT scores by section:
|Section||Average||25th Percentile||75th Percentile|
|Reading + Writing||750||720||780|
SAT Score Choice Policy
The Score Choice policy at your school is an important part of your testing strategy.
Harvard has the Score Choice policy of "Highest Section."
This is also known as "superscoring." This means that you can choose which SAT tests you want to send to the school. Of all the scores they receive, your application readers will consider your highest section scores across all SAT 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 3 test scores:
Even though the highest total you scored on any one test date was 1000, Harvard 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 1000 to 1400 in this example.
This is important for your testing strategy. Because you can choose which tests to send in, and Harvard forms your Superscore, you can take the SAT 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 SAT superscore is currently below a 1580, we strongly recommend that you consider prepping for the SAT 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 SAT. Then focus on Math for the next test, and so on. This will give you the highest Superscore possible.
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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.
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.
Studying for the ACT instead? Want to learn how to improve your ACT score by 4 points?
Download our free guide on the top 5 strategies you must be using to improve your score. This guide was written by Harvard graduates and ACT perfect scorers. If you apply the strategies in this guide, you'll study smarter and make huge score improvements.
SAT/ACT Writing Section Requirements
Both the SAT and ACT have an optional essay section.
Harvard 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.
Harvard has indicated that SAT subject tests are required for admission. Read further to see how many and which ones they require.
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.
We did more detailed research into this school and found the following information.
Two SAT Subject Tests (in addition to the ACT/SAT) are strongly recommended, though not required. If taking Subject Tests causes a financial burden or if you feel other parts of your application (like AP or IB scores) convey the same information, you don't have to submit scores.