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Catrina Coffey

Harvard ACT Scores

Hey there, Magooshers! Let’s talk about getting in to Harvard.

Elle Woods

As with the other schools we’ve discussed so far (Princeton and Yale), Harvard does not have any ACT score cutoffs. At time of writing, they don’t have their average ACT score on their website, but according to universitylanguage.com, the middle 50% of Harvard students scored between a 32 and a 35 on the ACT. That’s around the same as the average scores for the other schools we’ve looked at so far. (And if you’re interested, there are more average scores listed here.)

So, again, Harvard isn’t looking just at your test scores. They have their own culture that they want to make sure their students will do well in. Harvard, in particular, values strength of character and creativity. They say it everywhere:

While academic accomplishment is important, the Admissions Committee considers many other factors—strong personal qualities, special talents or excellences of all kinds, perspectives formed by unusual personal circumstances, and the ability to take advantage of available resources and opportunities.

And here:

  • Have you been stretching yourself?
  • Have you been working to capacity in your academic pursuits, your full-time or part-time employment, or other areas?
  • Do you have reserve power to do more?
  • How have you used your time?
  • Do you have initiative? Are you a self-starter? What motivates you?
  • Do you have a direction yet? What is it? If not, are you exploring many things?

And here, as well:

Efforts to define and identify precise elements of character, and to determine how much weight they should be given in the admissions process, require discretion and judiciousness. But the committee believes that the “best” freshman class is more likely to result if we bring evaluation of character and personality into decisions than if we do not. […]

Personal qualities and character provide the foundation upon which each admission rests. Harvard alumni/ae often report that the education they received from fellow classmates was a critically important component of their college experience. […]

While there are students at Harvard who might present unusual excellence in a single academic or extracurricular area, most admitted students are unusually strong across the board and are by any definition well rounded.

And also here:

America will, in the end, be grateful to us for giving her original philosophers, critics, and artists; and we can let the world see that just as we prize physicians and scientists and lawyers and judges and economists, we also are proud of our future philosophers, novelists, composers, and critics, who, although they must follow a rather lonely and highly individual path, are also indispensable contributors to our nation’s history and reputation.

So, for Harvard, it isn’t enough to have a great GPA and good test scores. The admissions committee at Harvard wants to see prospective students who are well rounded, creative, intellectual, and motivated. Harvard wants the sort of people who take adversity and learn something from it, and who make the best use they can out of whatever resources are available to them.

But again, a great GPA and good test scores certainly can’t hurt you. Remember, prestigious schools can afford to be as selective as they want, so it is in your best interest to offer the best view of yourself that you can… which includes, if possible, a high GPA and test scores within their middle 50% range. Harvard didn’t get their reputation for academic achievement for nothing!

Pictured: Not Harvard

To the Magooshers out there who want to head to Harvard, best of luck to you! And remember, there is a school out there that will work for you, whether that’s Harvard or not! But if you do get in and decide to attend, enjoy that lovely Massachusetts weather!



About Catrina Coffey

Catrina graduated from Rider University with a B.A. in English. She’s been helping students prepare for standardized tests since 2011. In her spare time, you can find her reading anything within arms’ reach, playing video games, correcting grammar, or studying word derivations. (Did you know that procrastinate comes from the Latin word cras, which means “tomorrow”?)

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