Ah, Stanford University–an iconic campus in one of the most gorgeous and temperate parts of the United States. Sounds like a pretty dreamy place to go to college, right?
Stanford University is located in Stanford, California (less than 50 miles from the Bay Area), and is one of the most prestigious research universities in the United States; in fact, it’s actually ranked as one of the top ten universities in the world!
Stanford’s appeal comes largely from its entrepreneurial prestige, its proximity to Silicon Valley, and its first-rate Computer and Information Sciences program. Biomedical Sciences and Engineering are also top-notch, but really, any program at Stanford boasts both rigor and cache.
Because of its superior reputation, Stanford is also one of the most selective universities out there, which means that the application process is highly competitive, and the school is quite hard to get into.
That said, if you have excellent grades and test scores, it’s definitely worth a shot to apply, so let’s take a look at exactly how to get into Stanford, starting with some quick Stanford admissions facts:
|Stanford SAT scores (average composite)
|1505 on a 1600 scale
|Stanford ACT scores (average composite)
|34 out of 36
|Stanford GPA (average of admitted students)
|3.96 on a 4.0 scale
|Stanford acceptance Rate
|4.3% (For the class of 2023; information for the class of 2024 is not yet available.)
If you think Stanford might be a great fit for you, read on for greater specifics on what exactly is required to get you accepted!
And feel free to refer to this very useful and comprehensive overview of Stanford’s holistic selection process which breaks down everything they’re looking for in a candidate.
More About Stanford SAT Scores
As discussed on Stanford’s Freshman Application Requirements page, there is no minimum SAT score required to apply to Stanford, nor is there a score that guarantees admissions; however, as noted above, the average composite SAT score for admitted students is a 1505 on a 1600 scale.
The 25th percentile for a composite score is 1440 and the 75th percentile is 1550. What this essentially means is that if you score lower than 1440, you’re scoring in the lowest 1/4 of applicants, and if you’re scoring in the highest 1/4 of applicants, you’re above average. Pretty straightforward.
But what about how your scores on the individual sections of the SAT? Here’s how those typically shake out in terms of applicant pool:
|Reading & Writing
Now, word to the wise: Stanford requires submitting SAT or ACT scores, although you can certainly submit both if you’d like.
But if you submit SAT scores, know that Stanford has an “all scores” policy for the SAT, meaning that any and all of your SAT scores will be sent to Stanford, including ones you might not be as happy with.
But don’t worry! Stanford admissions won’t average your scores, and will most likely just look at your highest scores, so don’t worry about taking it several times (although the general rule is up to six times but not more).
Also, it’s important to keep in mind that if you submit SAT scores to Stanford, you must complete and submit the essay portion of the test.
Above all, remember that getting a top SAT score for Stanford requires lots of practice. Be sure to include official SAT prep in your study plan. And supplement that with some good third-party SAT prep. Magoosh’s free SAT practice test is a fantastic place to start. From there, definitely consider a Magoosh SAT subscription. That comes with video lessons, many additional practice questions, and free email support from Magoosh tutors.
More About Stanford ACT Scores
Unlike the SAT, you are able to submit only the ACT scores of your choice to Stanford, which might put you a bit more at ease.
You do, however, have to complete the Writing test if you choose to submit your ACT scores.
While there isn’t a minimum composite ACT score to apply to Stanford, the 25th percentile ACT score is 31, and the 75th percentile ACT score is 35. This means that anything under a 31 will place you below average (and frankly, make your chances of acceptance nearly impossible, and a 35 and above will put you well above average.
The following chart shows the 25th, 50th, and 75th percentile scores for the individual section and composite scores:
As you can see, ACT scores are very competitive for Stanford, just like SAT scores! And like the SAT, the ACT requires good preparation, especially if you want to get into a top school like Stanford. Once more, a combination of official prep resources and Magoosh ones should be your go-to.
For a winning blend of ACT practice, see the list of official ACT prep materials. Then, grab Magoosh’s free ACT practice test and consider trying a Magoosh ACT subscription. (You can go for a free trial before you buy our additional lessons and questions for the ACT.)
Keep in mind that Stanford also takes ACT superscores into consideration, so you may want to consider taking the test multiple times!
More About Stanford’s Admissions Rate:
Historically, Stanford’s acceptance rate is typically slightly under 5%. Meaning, for every 100 applications, 5 students maximum get accepted.
And as more students than ever have been applying for Stanford, acceptance rates have been declining over the last few years. For the class of 2023, the acceptance rate was 4.3%. In other words, Sandford is extremely competitive.
This doesn’t mean it’s impossible to get into Stanford, it just means that Stanford is really doubling-down on its reputation as highly selective; and if admission rates continue to decline, you’ll have to be an ideal candidate on several fronts.
More About Stanford’s GPA Average:
As noted above, the average cumulative high school GPA of students admitted to Stanford is 3.96 on a 4.0 scale, which means you really need to be a straight-A student to even be considered for admissions. It’s possible to get in with a GPA under 4.0, but you’ll need to compensate with higher SAT or ACT scores too.
Depending on how your school calculates GPA, As in honors, IB, or AP classes can greatly help your chances of improving your GPA and making you a more viable candidate.
Also, keep in mind that it’s pretty hard to change your GPA significantly once you’re a junior or a senior, so if you’ve got Stanford in mind early on in your high school career, it pays to be very mindful about your grades and course selection starting as early as freshman year.
And remember that while your transcript will be sent out to colleges after first-semester senior year (with your cumulative GPA to that point), you’ll still have to maintain this GPA through the second semester of your senior year if you are accepted to Stanford!
Stanford’s Freshman Profile:
The most recent enrollment statistics for Stanford are for the class of 2023, which will give you a good sense of the type of students they admit.
Here are some quick facts about the class of 2023:
- 1,701 students matriculated in total
- Students represents 48 U.S. states as well as 79 non-U.S. countries
- 59% of students went to public school, 27% went to private school, <1% were homeschooled
- The class of 2023 is 48% male and 52% female
- 8% of students are Black or African American
- 17% of students are Hispanic or Latino
- 27% of students are Black or White
- <1% of students are Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander
- 9% of students are two or more races
- 21% of students are Asian
Other Stanford Admissions Requirements and Info:
Here is a quick and comprehensive list of what you’ll need to apply to Stanford:
- A coalition application or common application
- A $90 nonrefundable application fee or fee waiver request (which requires approval from your college counselor)
- SAT with Essay or ACT with Writing Test scores
- School report including a letter of recommendation from your counselor
- Official transcripts
- Letters of recommendation from two academic teachers
Additionally, students who would like to showcase their competitive ability in the performing arts may submit a formal Stanford Arts Portfolio which can be submitted for consideration to one of the following departments: Art Practice, Dance, Music, Theatre.
The Arts Portfolio is completely optional, but if you are applying to one of the above departments, it can give you a significant and competitive edge!
FAQs About Stanford:
Is Stanford an Ivy League university?
While Stanford is an incredibly prestigious university, it’s not actually an “Ivy League” school, no.
The term “Ivy League” has come mean “prestigious” to many people, and Stanford is certainly on par with the excellence of those schools considered “Ivy League,” but in reality, this term refers to an athletic conference of schools that are all old, distinguished and known for their ivy-covered buildings!
The 8 schools that comprise the “Ivy League” are: Brown, Columbia, Cornell, Harvard, Princeton, and Yale Universities; Dartmouth College; and the University of Pennsylvania, which are all similar in prestige to Stanford.
Do all Stanford applicants get interviews?
Here’s more information on the Stanford interviews, but the short answer is no. Don’t be worried about whether or not you get an interview though! The main thing is to put your energy into submitting a killer application!
Is Stanford University need-blind?
Yes, Stanford is need-blind, which means that your need (or lack thereof) for financial assistance does not affect your chances of getting into Stanford!
How to Get Into Stanford
So, overall, how can you best increase your chances of getting into Stanford? Beyond making sure your GPA and test scores are as high as possible, you can do the following:
- Demonstrate success in challenging courses such as Honors, IB, and AP courses; this shows that you’re currently prepared for the rigor of a challenging college classes.
- Engage in plenty of extracurricular activities (and make sure to include any leadership roles or awards won in your application).
- Write a very strong common app essay and short essay responses.
- Demonstrate “spiked” talent in one area (not to the deficit of other areas, but this makes you stand out!).
Transizion expert Ashley C. has some advice on how to emphasize “intellectual vitality” in your admissions essays, a quality that Stanford cares a lot about.
One of the Stanford Short Essay Questions reads, ‘The Stanford community is deeply curious and driven to learn in and out of the classroom. Reflect on an idea or experience that makes you genuinely excited about learning.’
This gives you the chance to directly address your intellectual vitality. Make sure that you follow directions by choosing something that genuinely excites you, not something that you believe will impress the admissions team. They’re not looking for any particular answer here; they’re looking for passion, curiosity, and a love of learning.”
Also, it might go without saying, but let’s say it anyway since we can’t stress this enough: prepare, prepare, prepare for your tests way ahead of time! Here is a great, free 1-week SAT free trial as well as a great free 1-week ACT free trial to get you started!
Best of luck!!!