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Nadyja Von Ebers

How to Get Into Princeton: SAT and ACT Scores, GPA, and More

how to get into princeton sat scores princeton act scores -magoosh

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:

  • The 25the percentile for Princeton SAT scores is 1470
  • The 75th percentile for Princeton SAT scores is 1590
  • 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:

    SectionAverage25th Percentile75th Percentile
    Math770730800
    Reading383740
    Writing 383740
    Composite 152014701590

    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 ScoresPercent Accepted
    1500-16008.2%
    1380-14905.0%
    1260-1370

    3.4%
    1100-12501.2%
    900-10900.0%
    Below 9000.0%

    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.

    improve your sat score; start your premium SAT prep today

    More About Princeton ACT Scores

    As mentioned above, the average composite ACT score at Princeton is a whopping 33.

    As far as percentiles:

  • The 25th percentile for Princeton ACT scores is 32
  • The 75th percentile for Princeton ACT scores is 35
  • 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 ScoresPercent Accepted
    32-367.8%
    27-315.3%
    22-26%2.3%
    18-210.5%
    Below 180.0%

    So again, even high scores on the ACT alone won’t guarantee you entrance to Princeton; they’re only part of the equation.

    Liam got a 35 on the act. Get a higher act score.

    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:

    GPAPercent Accepted
    4.09.4%
    3.90-3.997.5%
    3.80-3.89
    4.6%
    3.70-3.79
    2.7%
    3.60-3.69
    2.9%
    3.50-3.59
    3.0%
    Below 3.50
    2.6%

    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:

  • They come from 48 states, plus Washington, D.C., Guam, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands
  • 50.5% are women; 49.5 percent are men
  • 53.4% have self-identified as people of color, including biracial and multiracial students
  • 64.5% of the admitted students come from public schools
  • 17% are the first in their families to attend college
  • 23% are eligible for federal Pell grants for low-income students
  • 11.2% are children of Princeton alumni
  • 24.8% of all students admitted said they want to study engineering…and 48.3 percent of those students are women
  • 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.

  • You’ll need three very strong letters of recommendation–one from your school counselor and two from your academic teachers (from two different academic areas). Your teachers can help illuminate your growth, character, potential, drive, and other qualitative things about you that go deeper than just numbers. A strong letter of recommendation can go a long way in a highly competitive selection process, and here’s exactly how to ask for a letter of recommendation for college.
  • SAT subject tests are not required but are highly suggested by Princeton to help give them an idea of your academic ability in a particular subject.
  • Consider submitting an optional arts form if you’ve excelled in architecture, creative writing, dance, music, theater, or visual arts, and would like your talent in one or more of these fields to be considered during the application review process.
  • Additionally, here’s some helpful information on academic preparation for attending Princeton that can help give you an edge.

    Princeton FAQs

    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:

  • A 4.0 or higher GPA
  • A 1590 or higher on your SAT
  • A 35 or higher on your ACT
  • Additionally you’ll want:

  • Glowing letters of recommendation
  • Incredibly strong, unique, captivating, and insightful essay responses
  • Participation in multiple impressive extracurricular activities, specifically in leadership roles
  • 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:

    princeton admissions -magoosh

    “A running theme for all Ivy League Schools is that they want students who demonstrate a well-rounded zeal for learning. One common misconception, though, is that if you don’t have an astronomical GPA, or a perfect score on your standardized tests that you have no chance of being accepted. This simply isn’t true. On Princeton’s own website, they give the percentages of students accepted at various GPAs. This means that even if you have a GPA less than 4.0, you still have a chance. The chances are much slimmer, but that does not mean you should not try. Each part of the application is important, and normally, one relatively weak facet will not automatically get you accepted or denied, even at Princeton.

    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!

    Improve your SAT or ACT score, guaranteed. Start your 1 Week Free Trial of Magoosh SAT Prep or your 1 Week Free Trial of Magoosh ACT Prep today!

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    About Nadyja Von Ebers

    Nadyja von Ebers holds an MA in English from DePaul University and has been an English instructor at the high school and college levels for the last eleven years. She has extensive experience teaching preparation for various AP exams as well as the ACT, SAT, and GED. Nadyja loves helping students reach their maximum potential and thrives in both literal and virtual classrooms. When she's not teaching, she enjoys reading and writing for pleasure and loves spending time in or near the ocean.


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