Columbia Admissions: The SAT, ACT Scores, and GPA You Need to Get In

how to get into columbia sat scores columbia sat scores -magoosh

So you want to go to Columbia. You aspire to be a part of the diverse, international student body. You hope to take advantage of the infinite resources New York City has to offer. You want an urban life, but also a classic college campus. Columbia has it all!

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Now the only thing standing between you, and The Big Apple That Never Sleeps, is the Columbia University Admissions Committee.

So how do you get into Columbia?

The Short Answer

Everyone likes a short answer…check out these stats!

Columbia Average SAT ScoreColumbia Average ACT ScoreColumbia Acceptance RateColumbia Average GPA

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Wait, where are you going?? Don’t worry…there’s a lot more to a successful college application than just your GPA and test scores!

However, almost all schools require that applicants submit either SAT or ACT results to be considered for admission. So scoring well on tests is a very good place to start. And, lucky for you, we’re here to help!

Now keep reading for a whole lot of information about Columbia admissions: Columbia SAT Scores (…or Columbia ACT Scores, if that’s more your cup of tea), GPA, and tons of demographics and admissions data.

And Now…The Long Answer

With its large, international applicant pool and space for only a few thousand students per class, Columbia can afford to be selective. Last year 42,569 students applied to Columbia–only 2,274 were accepted (making Columbia’s admissions rate 5.3%). Out of the admitted students, 1,406 applicants have chosen to attend.

As you can see from The Short Answer, you’ll need great SAT scores, a high GPA, a challenging course load, several extracurricular achievements, and favorable teacher recommendations in order to a competitive application to Columbia. I know it sounds like a lot, but with the right preparation, organization, and devotion, it is possible for you to get into this school.

Let’s take a more in depth look at those statistics–and talk about getting your application materials where they need to be to get you where you want to go.

Columbia SAT Scores

Here are the most recent Columbia SAT scores for students who submitted SAT scores and were admitted to Columbia in 2018!

Columbia Average SAT ScoreColumbia 25th-75th Percentile SAT Score Range: New SAT
1520[1480, 1560]

What should you take away from these numbers?

Well, first of all, the data tells us that the top 25% of students admitted to Columbia this year earned a combined SAT score of over 1560 (which probably means scoring at least 760 on both parts of the SAT).

The middle 50% earned between 1480 and 1560, while the bottom 25% earned below 1480.

This means that 75% of Columbia’s current sophomore class scored above a 1480 on the SAT.

To give yourself the best chance at admission, it’s a good idea to aim for an SAT score at the 75th percentile of whatever the school you’re applying to. Having a specific goal score will allow you to focus your studying, and hitting that 75th percentile of Columbia SAT scores will give you a little more room to breathe as you go through the admissions process. (Check out these stories of the perfect SAT score to help you create a plan for your goal score for Columbia).

Even if you don’t quite reach your SAT goal for Columbia, your scores might make you a good candidate elsewhere. For some ideas, check out this post covering the SAT score range for each of the top 100 colleges and universities in America. Having a fallback never hurt anyone–especially a fallback in the top 100 nationally ranked schools!

Columbia ACT Scores

Maybe you’ve taken our SAT or ACT quiz, and you’re feeling like the ACT might be better suited to your skills and test-taking style.

Never fear, we’ve got those stats too.

Columbia 25th-75th Percentile ACT AverageColumbia 25th-75th Percentile ACT Score Range
34[33, 35]

For students who submitted ACT scores and were admitted to Columbia in 2018, the 25th percentile of Columbia ACT scores came in at 33; the 75th percentile of Columbia ACT scores landed all the way up at 35.

Our advice: aim for the perfect ACT score in order to make your score competitive.

Keep in mind that Columbia also takes ACT superscores into consideration, so you may want to consider taking the test multiple times!

Columbia GPA Average

Columbia, like many other schools, does not officially report the GPAs of its admitted students–however, using data collected from more than one thousand schools, we are able to estimate that the the average GPA of a freshman at Columbia is 4.14.

High schools typically award grade points out of four, so to score about a 4.0 means you would have had be getting A’s–not only in your regular classes–but also in several AP or IB classes as well.

Not sure what your GPA is? Use Magoosh’s GPA Calculator to figure it out, stat!

Columbia Acceptance Rate

As we mentioned earlier, Columbia’s acceptance rate in 2018 was 5.3%. So who were those 5.3%?

To answer that question, let’s take a look at Columbia’s Freshman Class Profile.

Columbia Freshmen Profile (2019-2020)


Other gender identity<1%
White/Caucasian 39%
American Indian/Alaskan Native 2%
Black/African American 11%
Hispanic/Latinx 14%
Asian/Asian America42%
Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander 1%
US Citizens & Permanent Residents
International Citizens10%
Number of Countries Represented50

Columbia Admissions FAQ

Since we know there’s more to the admissions process than just the numbers, we threw together some handy FAQs to help answer some other questions you may have about how to get into Columbia.

Meme of a dog with question

Q. Can I apply to Columbia as a DACA recipient or undocumented student?
A. Yes. Columbia accepts all applicants regardless of citizenship status.

Q. Can I get financial aid as a DACA recipient or undocumented student?
A. Yes. Columbia is committed to meeting 100% of the demonstrated financial need of all students (who don’t already have a degree). As a DACA recipient or undocumented student, although you will not be eligible to receive federal and state financial aid–Columbia is willing to privately cover your financial aid using their own funding.

Q. Does Columbia admit students who have not completed high school?
A. Not unless you can submit a GED or TASC credential, with a passing score–which is basically the equivalent of completing high school.

Q. Does Columbia allow part-time study?
A. You cannot study part-time at either Columbia College or Columbia Engineering. However, you are allowed to study part-time at the Columbia School of General Studies.

Q. Aside from near-perfect scores and GPA and strong extracurriculars, how else can I make sure my application to Columbia stands out?

A. According to Transizion expert Mike M., you want to emphasize the diversity of your passions and learning experiences:

columbia admissions tips with mike -magoosh

“Like most Ivy League schools, Columbia University is looking for a well-rounded and diverse student body. As a result, they have built their curriculum, referred to affectionately as the Core, around promoting a diverse array of interests and knowledge in all of their students. In stark contrast with Brown’s independent approach, Columbia has strict class requirements, regardless of major, that include courses in science, art, music, writing, international art, history, and much more. Columbia believes that in order to excel in one field, students need to have a broad understanding of the world. The upshot of this philosophy for potential applicants is that they value diversity in education, and showing that you have a general interest in learning is a great way to illustrate that you would fit in nicely Columbia.

A great tip to bolster your application to Columbia is to focus on the diversity of your learning experience. You still want to do well on standardized tests and in your normal studies, since they must be strong in order to even be considered by admissions, but variety is the key to making yourself stand out. Don’t go crazy, though. No admissions officer will view being a member of 20 different clubs as anything but a naked attempt to falsely strengthen your application. However, of the clubs that you actively engage, you should try to vary the focus. If you’re in chess club, then also try out for a sports team. You are a three-dimensional human being with multi-faceted interests, and the trick here is to demonstrate that fact for your admissions officer.”

And Lia_Columbia (’19), featured on AdmitSee, has a few pointers as well:

image of Lia_Columbia

“Don’t write about prestige. Ever. And don’t just [write] about where the school is located. If you’re just applying to Columbia because it’s in New York, you should reevaluate why it’s on your list. One of the things I did was use an anecdote about my life and connect it to something I liked at Columbia. In my case, I used my experience playing charades at TASP over the summer to talk about why I love Columbia’s Core. I think this essay worked because it was very specific to Columbia and still showed a lot about me as a person (and writer).”

The Takeaway

For now, challenge yourself when choosing which courses to take, but also make sure that you’ll still be able to get good grades in all of them. Don’t forget those AP and IB classes.

Devote the rest of your time to extracurricular activities (that you actually enjoy) so you’ll be able to demonstrate your interests and passions to the Columbia admissions committee.

And finally, see to it that your standardized scores are strong enough by doing some planning.

Create a study schedule, remembering to allot yourself more time than you think you’ll need just in case you run into any unexpected difficulties, and find a test prep program that works for you. I recommend checking out the Free 1-Week SAT Trial or the Free 1-Week ACT Trial from Magoosh. If you like one of them, you can sign up–if not, it’s free!

Do all of these things and you’ll know that you’ve tried your best. Hopefully, you’ll be accepted. But if not, remember that there are so many other great schools out there that would love to have you.

With any luck, you’ll be heading to NYC in the Fall.

Happy studying! 🙂

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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  • Molly Kiefer

    Molly is one of Magoosh’s Content Creators. She designs Magoosh’s graphic assets, manages our YouTube channels and podcasts, and contributes to the Magoosh High School Blog.

    Since 2014, Molly has tutored high school and college students preparing for the SAT, GRE, and LSAT. She began her tutoring journey while in undergrad, helping her fellow students master math, computer programming, Spanish, English, and Philosophy.

    Molly graduated from Lewis & Clark College with a B.A. in Philosophy, and she continues to study ethics to this day. An artist at heart, Molly loves blogging, making art, taking long walks and serving as personal agent to her cat, who is more popular on Instagram than she is.


By the way, Magoosh can help you study for both the SAT and ACT exams. Click here to learn more!

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