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Rita Neumann

Harvard SAT Scores

Update: This post contains data on Harvard SAT Scores based on Harvard’s class of 2020.

So You Want to Go to Harvard…

You dream of singing the fight song as the Harvard Crimson thrash Yale at Harvard Stadium. You want to join the ranks of such notable alumni as FDR, Bill Gates, and Conan O’Brien. Maybe you’ll even get to hear Will Ferrell give your commencement speech, while dressed as a sailor (yeah, this really happened.) And so you’re wondering about Harvard SAT Scores…

I love your ambition! Let’s make it happen.

The Magic Formula for Harvard SAT Scores

There is no magic formula for getting into Harvard. The newest class of students admitted into the hallowed halls of Harvard (including Magoosh’s own Lena Felton) represents a tiny-but-diverse portion of the group that applied. Of the 39,041 students who applied last fall, 2,106 were admitted. Harvard reports that this was a record low of 5.2% admitted. Given that Harvard stated that its previous year’s admission rate of 5.8% represented a record low, we can infer that Harvard admissions have become even more competitive.

So, getting into Harvard isn’t easy, and it’s not getting any easier. But you knew that already. That’s why you want to attend!

What You Need to Get In

When reviewing your application, Harvard is looking for the total package. They want to admit students who will not only thrive academically, but who will also add something new and interesting to their student body. Harvard admissions officers are creating a community of scholars, and they truly value diversity.

The Truth: You will definitely need to have a good GPA and be amongst the top of your high school class. In addition, you will need to excel on your SAT. On your application, you will also need to demonstrate, through extracurricular activities and hobbies, that you value civic engagement, teamwork, and non-academic endeavors.

What SAT Score Do I Need to Get In to Harvard?

Don’t worry – Harvard isn’t looking at you as a faceless SAT score on an online application. In fact, Harvard’s Class of 2020 is a fairly diverse group.

There is no absolute minimum SAT score that you need to get into Harvard. Though, considering that Harvard only admitted 5.2% of applicants last year, it’s safe to say that your entire application has to make an impression.

Remember, as well, that the applicant group of 2016 was in a fairly unique position. They were the last group to take the old SAT! Now that the test has been reformatted, it’s important to look at the in-section scores more than the composite scores to get a sense of your chances in 2017 and beyond.

Harvard Admissions By the Numbers: Harvard SAT Scores

It’s been difficult to get specific information about the SAT scores of Harvard’s admitted classes of 2020. However, I highly recommend reading their report, Meet the Class of 2020 for some interesting interactive charts and graphs.

Some interesting stats about the Harvard Class of 2020:
2234.6: Average composite SAT score

Now, don’t worry/get confused about this composite score! Remember, for future applicants, the scoring scale of the SAT will be different. If you take a look at our ACT to new SAT to old SAT score conversion post, you’ll see that this equates to 1530 on the revised SAT (which the College Board started offering in 2016).

So what’s that look like, section by section?

SectionAverage Score of Entering ClassPercentage of Entering Students Who Scored 700+
Critical Reading73875%
Writing74475% over 710

In Harvard’s own words:

“The majority of students admitted represent a range of scores from roughly 600 to 800 on each section of the SAT as well as on the SAT Subject Tests. The 25th percentile for admitted students on the SAT is about 2100; the 75th percentile is about 2350.” [Emphasis our own.]

What does that mean? The top 25% of admitted students earned a combined SAT score of over 2350 (that’s near perfect). The middle 50% earned between 2100 and 2350. And the bottom 25% earned below 2100. As you can see, 75% of Harvard’s recently admitted class scored above 2100 on the SAT.

In terms of the new SAT, this equates to a combined SAT score of 1580 for the top 25% of students. For the middle 50%, it converts to between 1470 and 1580. And the bottom 25% scored the equivalent of below 1470.

For comparison, TIME reported that the average SAT score, of all the students who took the SAT in 2015, was 1490 out of 2400. Harvard expects high, but not impossible scores. They are definitely achievable with a lot of focus, preparation, and a good study schedule (see SAT Study Resources below for help.)

A Note on Re-Taking the Exam

It’s also important to note here that you can take the SAT more than once. Harvard Admissions understands that people get nervous, and that their first test score is not always indicative of their ability to perform well on the SAT.

So, if you have already taken the test once and didn’t manage to earn a 2100 or above, or 1400 or above on the new SAT, don’t stress. Harvard will see all of your SAT scores, but will only consider your highest scores. There is one caveat, though: Harvard Admissions believes that taking the SAT more than twice offers diminishing returns. And the evidence supports their claim (duh, it’s Harvard – they did their research.) After taking the SAT two times, your score isn’t likely to change much in either direction.

      P.S…Go here for updated information on SAT Score Ranges for the Top 100 Colleges and Universities!

The Takeaway

Study for the SAT! If Harvard is your dream, then you need to start planning early. Take the PSAT your sophomore year, create an SAT study schedule that works in your busy life and in your time frame, beef up your skills with an SAT prep program that works for you (I recommend checking out the Free 1-Week SAT Trial at Magoosh), and consider taking the test twice if you need to.

Prepare yourself to the best of your ability and have no regrets. Hopefully, Harvard will admit you with open arms (and some financial aid.) But, if not, there are plenty of other amazing universities out there that would love to add you to their community.

And for more intel on your chances, Go4Ivy also has a tool that can help predict your admissions chances at competitive universities such as Harvard that you can check out! 🙂

SAT Study Resources


Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in December 2013 and has been updated for freshness, accuracy, and comprehensiveness.

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About Rita Neumann

Rita creates fun, inspiring, and educational resources that introduce students to Magoosh and help them prep for their exams. She earned both her BA and Master of Pacific International Affairs from UC San Diego, where she also studied Spanish, French, and Portuguese. Rita loves education and marketing, just as much as she loves vinyasa yoga and baking chocolate chip cookies.

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