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Average SAT Scores at the Top 30 US Universities 2021

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To get into a top college you need a good SAT or ACT. In past years, the SAT and ACT scores were key requirements of the college admission process. However, this year, most schools have gone test-optional and many have abandoned standardized testing entirely. This leaves many students wondering if they need to take the SAT or ACT tests to get into top schools and, if so, what score do they need to get in order to get admission into the best universities in the U.S.? 

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Luckily, this is where a student major comes in, to help you have an idea of what is needed.  

Do I need an SAT, ACT, or standardized exam score?

ACT/SAT scores are only one part colleges weigh in assessing admissions applications. Other factors colleges consider are academic grades, academic rigor, extracurricular activities, personal qualities, other students at your school compared to you, and how much support your school shows you. 

These are just a few factors, and academics and testing are just one part. 

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In the past, standardized testing, SAT and ACT scores have been vital for admissions assessments. An SAT/ACT score offers universities a yardstick to understand how a student compares with other students at his/her school.  

In the past, universities used ACT/SAT scores to determine if a student could handle the academically challenging curriculum being offered.

What is the use of having high ACT/SAT scores?

1. A high score shows that a student can mostly make it through some intense filtering on the part of highly selective universities. 

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2. Top colleges also use SAT/ACT scores and cutoffs to assign merit aid and scholarship money for top students. 

While a lot of students are opting out of SAT or ACT testing and many schools are going test-optional, we still believe universities will still lean to GPA against peers, stellar accomplishments, high achievements, and standout factors among students. 

However, due to the fact that many students are still taking the SAT, we decide to share the SAT scores for the top 30 US universities. 

SAT Statistics for Top 30 U.S. Universities

UniversityLocation25th Percentile75th Percentile
Brown UniversityProvidence, RI14501570
Boston UniversityBoston, MA13001500
Boston CollegeChestnut Hill, MA13201490
California Institute of TechnologyPasadena, CA15401580
Carnegie Mellon UniversityPittsburgh, PA14101540
Case Western UniversityCleveland, OH13501520
Columbia UniversityNew York, NY14901580
College of William and MaryWilliamsburg, VA13101490
Cornell UniversityIthaca, NY13901530
Dartmouth CollegeHanover, NH14301560
Duke UniversityDurham, NC13151570
Emory UniversityAtlanta, GA13601490
Georgetown UniversityWashington, D.C.13201520
Harvard UniversityCambridge, MA14701570
Johns Hopkins UniversityBaltimore, MD14801560
Massachusetts Institute of TechnologyCambridge, MA15001570
New York UniversityNew York, NY13601500
Northwestern UniversityEvanston, IL14401540
Princeton UniversityPrinceton, NJ13801540
Rice UniversityHouston, TX14401560
Stanford UniversityStanford, CA13901540
Tufts UniversityMedford, MA14101540
University of California, BerkeleyBerkeley, CA12801490
University of California, Los AngelesLos Angeles, CA12801500
University of ChicagoChicago, IL14601560
University of Michigan, Ann ArborAnn Arbor, MI13801540
University of North Carolina-Chapel HillChapel Hill, NC12701470
University of Notre DameNotre Dame, IN13901530
University of PennsylvaniaPhiladelphia, PA13701520
University of Texas-AustinAustin, TX12301480
University of VirginiaCharlottesville, VA13201500
Yale UniversityNew Haven, CT14601600

Where should my SAT range fall and what does 25th and 75th percentile mean?

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The 25th and 75th percentiles show the range in which students fall at each university. For the top universities, students should plan on falling closer toward the 75th percentile. 

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The 25th percentile score shows students the score that a group under 25% of total students at a college scored under.

On the contrary, the 75th percentile score shows us the score at which only 25% of students at a university scored above. The range between the 25th and 75th percentile score is called an interquartile score. 

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So looking at Yale, for example, 25% of students achieved an SAT score lower than 1460, and 25% of students achieved an SAT score higher than 1600 – this means that 50% of the students at Yale score between 1460 and 1600 on the SAT.

If you plan to apply to a university, it will be helpful for you if you are somewhere in the middle 50% as a starting point. This is especially true for the University of Texas, University of California, and other state-based systems that mostly take raw data and lean into testing and grades more than some smaller private schools.

FAQ on SAT scores

What is the minimum SAT score requirement in the USA?

Aim for a minimum of 1100 to get into most colleges.

Is 1500 a good SAT score for an Ivy League?

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Yes, it is, though other factors will also be considered for the school to grant you admission. But, 1500 is a great nudge in your direction.

What is the lowest SAT score ever accepted to Columbia?

1490

Is 1530 a good SAT score for Caltech?

We believe so.

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