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Admission Requirements For Harvard University

What are Harvard’s admission requirements? While there are a lot of pieces that go into a college application, you should focus on only a few critical things:

  • GPA requirements
  • Testing requirements, including SAT and ACT requirements

School location: Cambridge, MA

This school is also known as: Harvard College, Harvard University

If you want to get in, the first thing to look at is the acceptance rate. This tells you how competitive the school is and how serious their requirements are.

The acceptance rate at Harvard is 4.7%. For every 100 applicants, only 5 are admitted.

This means that the school is very selective. Meeting their GPA requirements and SAT / ACT requirements is important to screen through their first round and prove your academic readiness. If you do not meet their expectations, you get almost zero chance.

After crossing this hurdle, you need to impress the readers of the Harvard app through their other apps, including extracurricular, essays and letters of recommendation. We’ll cover more below.

Harvard GPA Requirements

Many schools have a minimum GPA requirement, but this is usually only the minimum minimum to submit an application without being rejected immediately.

The really important GPA requirement is the GPA you need for the opportunity to actually get in. To this end, we look at the average GPA of school-in-school students.

The average GPA at Harvard is 4.18

With a 4.18 GPA, Harvard requires you to be the best in your class. You need to compete with other applicants in almost straight A’s in all classes. In addition, you should strive to attend classes-AP or IB courses-to show college-level academics is a matter of light breeze lifting.

If you are currently a junior or senior, IT is difficult for your GPA to change university applications in a timely manner. If your GPA is at or below the school average of 4.18, you’ll need a higher SAT or ACT score to compensate. This will help you compete effectively with other applicants with a higher GPA.

SAT and ACT Requirements

Each school has different requirements for standardized tests. Most schools require an SAT or ACT test, and many require an SAT Subject Test.

You must take the SAT or ACT to submit an application to Harvard. What’s more, you need to do well to have a powerful application.

Harvard SAT Requirements

Many schools say they don’t have a SAT score cutoff, but the truth is there is a hidden SAT requirement. This is based on the average score of the school.

The average SAT score composite at Harvard is a 1510 on the 1600 SAT scale.

This score makes Harvard Extremely Competitive for SAT test scores.

Harvard SAT Score Analysis (New 1600 SAT)

The 25th percentile New SAT score is 1460, and the 75th percentile New SAT score is 1580. In other words, a 1460 on the New SAT places you below average, while a 1580 will move you up to above average.

Section Average 25th Percentile 75th Percentile
Math 770 740 800
Reading + Writing 740 720 780
Composite 1510 1460 1580

SAT Score Selection Policy

The score selection policy at your school is an important part of your test strategy.

Harvard has a”top-of-the-line” score selection policy.”

This is also known as ” superscoring.”This means that you can choose to send the SAT test to the school. Of all the scores they receive, your app reader will consider the highest scores for all SAT test dates you submit.

Therefore, if your SAT superscore is currently below a 1580, we strongly recommend that you consider prepping for the SAT and retaking it. You have a very good chance of raising your score, which will significantly boost your chances of getting in.

Even better, because of the Superscore, you can focus all your energy on a single section at a time. If your Reading score is lower than your other sections, prep only for the Reading section, then take the SAT. Then focus on Math for the next test, and so on. This will give you the highest Superscore possible.

Harvard ACT Requirements

The average ACT score at Harvard is 34. This score makes Harvard Extremely Competitive for ACT scores.

The 25th percentile ACT score is 33, and the 75th percentile ACT score is 35.

Even though Harvard likely says they have no minimum ACT requirement, if you apply with a 33 or below, you’ll have a very hard time getting in, unless you have something else very impressive in your application. There are so many applicants scoring 34 and above that a 33 will look academically weak.

ACT Score Sending Policy

If you’re taking the ACT as opposed to the SAT, you have a huge advantage in how you send scores, and this dramatically affects your testing strategy.

Here it is: when you send ACT scores to colleges, you have absolute control over which tests you send. You could take 10 tests, and only send your highest one. This is unlike the SAT, where many schools require you to send all your tests ever taken.

This means that you have more chances than you think to improve your ACT score. To try to aim for the school’s ACT requirement of 35 and above, you should try to take the ACT as many times as you can. When you have the final score that you’re happy with, you can then send only that score to all your schools.

ACT Superscore Policy

By and large, most colleges do not superscore the ACT. (Superscore means that the school takes your best section scores from all the test dates you submit, and then combines them into the best possible composite score). Thus, most schools will just take your highest ACT score from a single sitting.

We weren’t able to find the school’s exact ACT policy, which most likely means that it does not Superscore. Regardless, you can choose your single best ACT score to send in to Harvard, so you should prep until you reach our recommended target ACT score of 35.

SAT/ACT Writing Section Requirements

Both the SAT and ACT have an optional essay section.

Harvard requires you to take the SAT Essay/ACT Writing section. They’ll use this as another factor in their admissions consideration.

SAT Subject Test Requirements

Schools vary in their SAT subject test requirements. Typically, selective schools tend to require them, while most schools in the country do not.

Harvard has indicated that SAT subject tests are required for admission. Read further to see how many and which ones they require.

Typically, your SAT/ACT and GPA are far more heavily weighed than your SAT Subject Tests. If you have the choice between improving your SAT/ACT score or your SAT Subject Test scores, definitely choose to improve your SAT/ACT score.

Because this school is extremely selective, getting a high SAT/ACT score and GPA is vital to having a chance at getting in. If you don’t pass their SAT/ACT and GPA requirements, they’ll likely reject you without much consideration.To have the best shot of getting in, you should aim for the 75th percentile, with a 1580 SAT or a 35 ACT. You should also have a 4.18 GPA or higher. If your GPA is lower than this, you need to compensate with a higher SAT/ACT score.For a school as selective as Harvard, you’ll also need to impress them with the rest of your application. We’ll cover those details next.But if you apply with a score below a 1580 SAT or a 35 ACT, you unfortunately start out with the odds against you and have a tiny chance of getting in. There are just too many students with high SAT/ACT scores and strong applications, and you need to compete against them.

Application Requirements

Every school requires an application with the bare essentials – high school transcript and GPA, application form, and other core information. Many schools, as explained above, also require SAT and ACT scores, as well as letters of recommendation, application essays, and interviews. We’ll cover the exact requirements of Harvard here.

Admission Requirements for International Students


International Credits and Degrees

If you earned credits or degrees outside the United States, you must have transcripts sent directly from these schools to the Center for Educational Documentation (CED) for evaluation. Request a course-by-course evaluation if you wish to receive transfer credit or a general evaluation if you do not. Direct the CED to send a copy of your evaluation directly to the Admissions Office.


International Credits and Degrees

If you earned a degree outside the United States, you must have transcripts sent directly from these schools to the Center for Educational Documentation(CED) for evaluation. Direct the CED to send a copy of your general evaluation directly to the Admissions Office.

Application Requirements Overview

  • Common Application Accepted, supplemental forms required
  • Universal Application Accepted, supplemental forms required
  • Electronic Application Available
  • Essay or Personal Statement Required for all freshmen
  • Letters of Recommendation 2
  • Interview Required
  • Application Fee $75
  • Fee Waiver Available?Available
  • Other Notes

Testing Requirements

  • SAT or ACT Required
  • SAT Essay or ACT Writing Required
  • SAT Subject Tests Required
  • Scores Due in Office March 6

Coursework Requirements

  • Subject Required Years
  • English
  • Math
  • Science
  • Foreign Language
  • Social Studies
  • History
  • Electives

Deadlines and Early Admissions

  • Offered?Deadline Notification
  • Regular Admission
    • YesJanuary 1April 1
  • Early Action
    • YesNovember 1 None
  • Early Decision
    • No

Admissions Office Information


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