We can’t lie. It’s pretty exciting to think about attending Princeton University, currently the #1 university in the United States. If you’re someone seeking the best of the best for college, Princeton is it.
Princeton University has always had a sterling reputation, but it’s harder to get into than ever, so before we dive into a thorough guide to getting into Princeton, let’s take a look at some cold hard facts about what it takes to get in.
Quick Princeton Admissions Statistics
|Princeton SAT scores (average composite score of admitted students)||1520 out of 1600|
|Princeton ACT scores (average composite score of admitted students)||33 out of 36|
Princeton GPA (average of admitted students)
|3.9 out of 4.0|
|Princeton acceptance Rate||5.5% (Class of 2022)
So as you can see, getting into Princeton is far from a cake-walk! But if academics are your jam, you just might stand a chance. This is a great overview of everything you need to know about getting into Princeton (which includes information about the class of 2021), but let’s take a look at each of the critical pieces of your Princeton application.
More About Princeton SAT Scores
As noted above, the average composite SAT score of students admitted to Princeton is 1520 out of 1600, which is a remarkably high average.
As far as the percentiles go:
Okay, but what does this actually mean? Well, it means that if you score at or below a 1470, you’ll be below average compared to students admitted to Princeton. On the other hand, if you score a 1590 (a nearly perfect score!) or higher, you’ll be above average compared to other applicants.
In terms of the individual subjects on the SAT, here’s how the percentiles shake out:
|Section||Average||25th Percentile||75th Percentile|
Or, if you prefer to think of it this way, here are the percentages of students who were admitted (to the class of 2021) with various composite SAT scores:
|SAT Scores||Percent Accepted|
So the gist is that you’re going to need a very high SAT score alongside other impressive aspects of your application–because only 8% of students are admitted!
As far as submitting your SAT scores to Princeton, you may be happy to know that Princeton has a “highest scores” policy, sometimes also referred to as “superscoring.” With this system, you can choose which tests you send to Princeton, and the admissions readers will consider only the highest scores across all testing dates.
More About Princeton ACT Scores
As mentioned above, the average composite ACT score at Princeton is a whopping 33.
As far as percentiles:
This means that a composite score of 32 will put you below average, while a composite score of 35 will put you above average compared to other students admitted to Princeton.
So for the best chance at getting in, we recommend taking the ACT as many times as possible to crack at least a 35.
And to give you a sense of how many students are actually admitted within specific score ranges:
|ACT Scores||Percent Accepted|
So again, even high scores on the ACT alone won’t guarantee you entrance to Princeton; they’re only part of the equation.
More About Princeton GPA Average
You guessed it. Much like your ACT or SAT scores, your GPA is going to need to be sky-high if you want to call yourself a Tiger.
The average GPA of students applying to Princeton is 3.9, which means you’ll have to earn straight A’s in all of your classes.
You should also have a wealth of Honors, AP, and/or IB classes on your transcript to show that you can keep up with and excel in college-level courses. In fact, depending on how your high school weighs your GPA, A’s in these challenging classes will be weighted more heavily and increase your GPA.
According to Princeton’s admissions statistics (for the class of 2021, which constitutes the most recent information on their website), here are the percentages of applicants accepted by GPA range:
Are you noticing a pattern here? Princeton’s acceptance rate is pretty darn low even for those with perfect or near perfect GPAs, which just reinforces the fact that you’ll have to be a rockstar candidate on all fronts.
Another important thing to keep in mind is that it’s pretty hard to change your GPA significantly once you’ve entered your junior year. So if you’ve got your eye set on Princeton (or any other extremely selective college for that matter), you’ll want to get awesome grades early on and keep them up through the entirety of your high school career.
More About Princeton’s Acceptance Rate
As if Princeton has not always been incredibly hard to get into, its admissions rate for the class of 2022 (starting this fall of 2018) is historically low.
This past March, Princeton’s Office of Communications released a press release entitled “Princeton offers admission to 5.5 percent of Class of 2022 applicants,” and, well, the title pretty much speaks for itself.
Out of 35,370 applicants, Princeton admitted 1,941, or 5.5% of the application pool, which was also the largest in history. Princeton’s acceptance rate historically has lingered around 7%, but dropped to 6.1% for the class of 2021, and has now dropped further.
According to Dean of Admissions Janet Lavin Rapelye, “The admission committee was impressed with the superb academic accomplishments of these admitted students… They will bring extraordinary talents, ideas, backgrounds and beliefs to our community.”
She also added, “We had to make difficult decisions this year given the strength and depth of the applicant pool. As we do every year, the admission staff conducted a holistic review of each applicant’s academic, personal and extracurricular performance. We could not admit all the qualified candidates.”
So if we haven’t stressed this enough, you’ll have to be a really well-rounded candidate to make the cut!
Princeton’s Freshman Profile for 2022
Princeton’s most recently published freshman profile actually reflects data on the class of 2021, which includes tons of useful information about test score averages, demographics, diversity, etc. Likewise, here is an even more comprehensive admissions overview for the class of 2021 including valuable information about financial aid awards and more.
As far as some data on the most recently admitted freshman, the article on Princeton’s current admissions rate linked above actually has the most up-to-date information.
Here are some quick facts about Princeton’s incoming freshman for the class of 2022:
Other Princeton Admissions Requirements and Information
This is a great Princeton application checklist, but let’s discuss some of key parts of your application (beyond your transcripts, test scores, etc.) that will help you stand out further.
Additionally, here’s some helpful information on academic preparation for attending Princeton that can help give you an edge.
Does Princeton use the Common App?
Princeton accepts the Common App (short for the Common Application), the Coalition Application, and the Universal College Application. If you’re submitting via the Common App, here’s a guide to writing a common app essay that will wow the admissions board!
Is Princeton University an Ivy League school?
Yep, and according to good ol’ Wikipedia, “The eight members [Of the Ivy League] are Brown University, Columbia University, Cornell University, Dartmouth College, Harvard University, the University of Pennsylvania, Princeton University, and Yale University. The term Ivy League has connotations of academic excellence, selectivity in admissions, and social elitism.”
Does Princeton require an interview?
Interviews are not required and not given to all applicants. Depending on availability, you may be offered an interview with a member of the Princeton Alumni Schools Committee. Don’t worry though; you’re application will not be weakened if you don’t get an interview!
Can I transfer to Princeton?
Historically, Princeton has not accepted transfer students, but starting this year, a limited number of transfer students will be admitted. Here’s more information on Princeton transfer students and what is required of them.
So… Here’s How to Get Into Princeton University
Alright, so in your heart you just feel like a Princeton Tiger. For your best chance of becoming one, you’ll want to aim for:
Additionally you’ll want:
According to Princeton’s helpful tips for admission, “We look for students with intellectual curiosity, who have pursued and achieved academic excellence. We also look for students with strong personal and extracurricular accomplishments.”
What if you may not have the best GPA and/or test scores? Mike M. from Transizion has some words that might soothe your concerns:
What you need to do is focus on your strengths…Work hard on every part of your application, and you will have a fighting chance. Admissions officers look for those who are most likely to succeed, and that potential can be judged from more than just one part of your story.”
But because Princeton’s test score averages are so steep, we highly recommend starting a study plan as early as possible! Check out this 1-week SAT free trial as well as a great 1-week ACT free trial to get you started!
Good luck and may the force truly be with you on your quest to get into Princeton University!