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

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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)1505 out of 1600
Princeton ACT scores (average composite score of admitted students)34 out of 36
Princeton GPA (average of admitted students)
3.9 out of 4.0
Princeton acceptance Rate
5.5% (Class of 2024)

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 Princeton’s undergraduate admissions, but let’s take a look at each of the critical pieces of your Princeton application.

A Word About Princeton Admissions and Test Scores in Response to Covid-19

You can read the full overview of Princeton admissions changes due to Covid-19, but here are some highlights:

  • Standardized test requirements were paused for the 2020-2021 application cycle, and will potentially be paused again for the next application cycle. This means that applications were considered complete without standardized test scores. Please check the page above frequently for updates on testing polcies.
  • The single deadline for first-year applicants is January 1, 2021, which will be a regular decision deadline. Applicants will be informed of their acceptance by April 21, 2021.
  • Below we will detail the SAT and ACT requirements for Princeton outside of Covid-19 circumstances.

    More About Princeton SAT Scores

    As noted above, the average composite SAT score of students admitted to Princeton is 1505 out of 1600, which is a very high average.

    As far as the percentiles go:

  • The 25the percentile for Princeton SAT scores is 1440
  • The 75th percentile for Princeton SAT scores is 1570
  • Okay, but what does this actually mean? Well, it means that if you score at or below a 1430, you’ll be below average compared to students admitted to Princeton. On the other hand, if you score a 1570 (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
    Math765730800
    Reading/Writing740710770
    Composite 150514401570

    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
    1570 and above8%+
    1505-15695-8%
    1440-1504
    3-5%
    1440-15501.2%
    1375-14492-3%
    Below 1375<2%

    So the gist is that you’re going to need a very high SAT score alongside other impressive aspects of your application–because only about 5% 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 34.

    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.

    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.

    The most recent admissions statistics for Princeton by GPA are from 2021, but they’ll give you a strong sense of your chances of getting in based on your GPA:

    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 rock star 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

    Princeton is historically very hard to get into, and still is, but the incoming classes have been increasingly diverse.

    This year, 32,836 students applied and 1,823 were accepted. According to this article, 17% are first generation college students and 61% of students from the U.S. identified as people of color.

    According to Dean of Admission Karen Richardson on the class of 2024, “I was very impressed by the talent displayed in the overall pool. We had to make some very difficult decisions in the process of admitting a class that will come to Princeton, form a community and use what they learn to do amazing things…These students are artists, scientists, athletes, musicians, caregivers, debaters and much more. Most importantly, through their applications, they showed a real desire to engage with others in the types of critical yet respectful discussions that make Princeton a dynamic place.”

    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 2024

    Princeton’s most recently published freshman profile includes lots of useful information about test score averages, demographics, diversity, and so on.

    Here are some quick facts about Princeton’s incoming freshman for the class of 2024:

  • 49.4 are women; 50.6 percent are men
  • 61% have self-identified as people of color, including biracial and multiracial students
  • 17% are the first in their families to attend college
  • 19.3% are eligible for federal Pell grants for low-income students
  • 62.8% come from public high schools
  • 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 3.9 or higher GPA
  • A 1500 or higher on your SAT
  • A 33 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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    By the way, Magoosh can help you study for both the SAT and ACT exams. Click here to learn more!

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