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.?
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.
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.
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
|University||Location||25th Percentile||75th Percentile|
|Brown University||Providence, RI||1450||1570|
|Boston University||Boston, MA||1300||1500|
|Boston College||Chestnut Hill, MA||1320||1490|
|California Institute of Technology||Pasadena, CA||1540||1580|
|Carnegie Mellon University||Pittsburgh, PA||1410||1540|
|Case Western University||Cleveland, OH||1350||1520|
|Columbia University||New York, NY||1490||1580|
|College of William and Mary||Williamsburg, VA||1310||1490|
|Cornell University||Ithaca, NY||1390||1530|
|Dartmouth College||Hanover, NH||1430||1560|
|Duke University||Durham, NC||1315||1570|
|Emory University||Atlanta, GA||1360||1490|
|Georgetown University||Washington, D.C.||1320||1520|
|Harvard University||Cambridge, MA||1470||1570|
|Johns Hopkins University||Baltimore, MD||1480||1560|
|Massachusetts Institute of Technology||Cambridge, MA||1500||1570|
|New York University||New York, NY||1360||1500|
|Northwestern University||Evanston, IL||1440||1540|
|Princeton University||Princeton, NJ||1380||1540|
|Rice University||Houston, TX||1440||1560|
|Stanford University||Stanford, CA||1390||1540|
|Tufts University||Medford, MA||1410||1540|
|University of California, Berkeley||Berkeley, CA||1280||1490|
|University of California, Los Angeles||Los Angeles, CA||1280||1500|
|University of Chicago||Chicago, IL||1460||1560|
|University of Michigan, Ann Arbor||Ann Arbor, MI||1380||1540|
|University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill||Chapel Hill, NC||1270||1470|
|University of Notre Dame||Notre Dame, IN||1390||1530|
|University of Pennsylvania||Philadelphia, PA||1370||1520|
|University of Texas-Austin||Austin, TX||1230||1480|
|University of Virginia||Charlottesville, VA||1320||1500|
|Yale University||New Haven, CT||1460||1600|
Where should my SAT range fall and what does 25th and 75th percentile mean?
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.
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.
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?
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?
Is 1530 a good SAT score for Caltech?
We believe so.