What You Need For Harvard: Admission Requirements (2022)

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
  • Application requirements

In this guide we'll cover what you need to get into Harvard and build a strong application.

School location: Cambridge, MA

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


Admissions Rate: 4.7%

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.

What You Need For Harvard: Admission Requirements (1)

This means the school isextremely selective. Meeting their GPA requirements and SAT/ACT requirements is very important to getting past their first round of filters and proving your academic preparation. If you don't meet their expectations, your chance of getting in is nearly zero.

After crossing this hurdle, you'll need to impress Harvard application readers through their other application requirements, including extracurriculars, essays, and letters of recommendation. We'll cover more below.


What You Need For Harvard: Admission Requirements (2)
Want to build the best possible college application?

We can help. PrepScholar Admissions is the world's best admissions consulting service. We combine world-class admissions counselors with our data-driven, proprietary admissions strategies. We've overseen thousands of students get into their top choice schools, from state colleges to the Ivy League.

We know what kinds of students colleges want to admit. We want to get you admitted to your dream schools.

Learn more about PrepScholar Admissions to maximize your chance of getting in.

What You Need For Harvard: Admission Requirements (3)


Harvard GPA Requirements

Many schools specify a minimum GPA requirement, but this is often just the bare minimum to submit an application without immediately getting rejected.

The GPA requirement that really matters is the GPA you need for a real chance of getting in. For this, we look at the school's average GPA for its current students.

Average GPA: 4.18

The average GPA at Harvard is 4.18.

What You Need For Harvard: Admission Requirements (4)

(Most schools use a weighted GPA out of 4.0, though some report an unweighted GPA.

With a GPA of 4.18, Harvardrequires you to be at the top of your class. You'll need nearly straight A's in all your classes to compete with other applicants. Furthermore, you should be taking hard classes - AP or IB courses - to show that college-level academics is a breeze.

If you're currently a junior or senior, your GPA is hard to change in time for college applications. 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 against other applicants who have higher GPAs than you.


SAT and ACT Requirements

Each school has different requirements for standardized testing. Most schools require the SAT or ACT, and many also require SAT subject tests.

You must take either the SAT or ACT to submit an application to Harvard. More importantly, you need to do well to have a strong application.

Harvard SAT Requirements

Many schools say they have no SAT score cutoff, but the truth is that there is a hidden SAT requirement. This is based on the school's average score.

Average SAT: 1520

The average SAT score composite at Harvard is a 1520 on the 1600 SAT scale.

This score makes Harvard Extremely Competitive for SAT test scores.

(Video) How to Get Into Harvard (7 Things to Consider When Applying)

What You Need For Harvard: Admission Requirements (5)

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.

Those who live near Harvard may want to look into tutors in Acton and elsewhere in the Boston area to strengthen their test performance.

Here's the breakdown of new SAT scores by section:

SectionAverage25th Percentile75th Percentile
Math770740800
Reading + Writing750720780
Composite152014601580

SAT Score Choice Policy

The Score Choice policy at your school is an important part of your testing strategy.

Harvard has the Score Choice policy of "Highest Section."

This is also known as "superscoring." This means that you can choose which SAT tests you want to send to the school. Of all the scores they receive, your application readers will consider your highest section scores across all SAT test dates you submit.

Click below to learn more about how superscoring critically affects your test strategy.

How does superscoring change your test strategy? (Click to Learn)

For example, say you submit the following 3 test scores:

SectionR+WMathComposite
Test 17003001000
Test 23007001000
Test 3300300600
Superscore7007001400

Even though the highest total you scored on any one test date was 1000, Harvard will take your highest section score from all your test dates, then combine them to form your Superscore. You can raise your composite score from 1000 to 1400 in this example.

This is important for your testing strategy. Because you can choose which tests to send in, and Harvard forms your Superscore, you can take the SAT as many times as you want, then submit only the tests that give you the highest Superscore. Your application readers will only see that one score.

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.


Exclusive: Want to learn how to improve your SAT score by 160 points?What You Need For Harvard: Admission Requirements (6)

Download our free guide on the top 5 strategies you must be using to improve your score. This guide was written by Harvard graduates and SAT perfect scorers. If you apply the strategies in this guide, you'll study smarter and make huge score improvements.

What You Need For Harvard: Admission Requirements (7)


Harvard ACT Requirements

Just like for the SAT, Harvard likely doesn't have a hard ACT cutoff, but if you score too low, your application will get tossed in the trash.

Average ACT: 34

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

What You Need For Harvard: Admission Requirements (8)

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.

(Video) HOW TO GET INTO HARVARD: 7 Tips That Will Actually Get You Accepted

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.


Studying for the ACT instead? Want to learn how to improve your ACT score by 4 points?What You Need For Harvard: Admission Requirements (9)

Download our free guide on the top 5 strategies you must be using to improve your score. This guide was written by Harvard graduates and ACT perfect scorers. If you apply the strategies in this guide, you'll study smarter and make huge score improvements.

What You Need For Harvard: Admission Requirements (10)


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.


Our Expert's Notes

We did more detailed research into this school and found the following information.

Two SAT Subject Tests (in addition to the ACT/SAT) are strongly recommended, though not required. If taking Subject Tests causes a financial burden or if you feel other parts of your application (like AP or IB scores) convey the same information, you don't have to submit scores.

Source


Final Admissions Verdict

What You Need For Harvard: Admission Requirements (11)

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.


What You Need For Harvard: Admission Requirements (12)
Want to build the best possible college application?

We can help. PrepScholar Admissions is the world's best admissions consulting service. We combine world-class admissions counselors with our data-driven, proprietary admissions strategies. We've overseen thousands of students get into their top choice schools, from state colleges to the Ivy League.

We know what kinds of students colleges want to admit. We want to get you admitted to your dream schools.

Learn more about PrepScholar Admissions to maximize your chance of getting in.

(Video) How to apply to Harvard University as an international student

What You Need For Harvard: Admission Requirements (13)


Admissions Calculator

What are your chances of admission at Harvard University?

Chances of admission with these scores:

Here's our custom admissions calculator. Plug in your numbers to see what your chances of getting in are.

Pick your test:New SATACT

SAT Score

Your GPA

Note: Your admission decision relies not only on your GPA and SAT/ACT scores, but also on your coursework difficulty, extracurriculars, letters of recommendation, and personal statements. This tool provides only a simplistic estimate of your chances of admission. Instead of treating this tool as a crystal ball, we recommend you consider the big picture of what your chance means:

  • 80-100%: Safety school: Strong chance of getting in
  • 50-80%: More likely than not getting in
  • 20-50%: Lower but still good chance of getting in
  • 5-20%: Reach school: Unlikely to get in, but still have a shot
  • 0-5%: Hard reach school: Very difficult to get in
We recommend you apply to schools across a range of chances. Applying to some safety schools will guarantee you have a college to go to, while applying to some reach schools will give you a shot at getting into the school at the top of your range.

How would your chances improve with a better score?

Take your current SAT score and add 160 points (or take your ACT score and add 4 points) to the calculator above. See how much your chances improve?

At PrepScholar, we've created the leading online SAT/ACT prep program. We guarantee an improvement of 160 SAT points or 4 ACT points on your score, or your money back.

Here's a summary of why we're so much more effective than other prep programs:

  • PrepScholar customizes your prep to your strengths and weaknesses. You don't waste time working on areas you already know, so you get more results in less time.
  • We guide you through your program step-by-step so that you're never confused about what you should be studying. Focus all your time learning, not worrying about what to learn.
  • Our team is made of national SAT/ACT experts. PrepScholar's founders are Harvard graduates and SAT perfect scorers. You'll be studying using the strategies that actually worked for them.
  • We've gotten tremendous results with thousands of students across the country. Read about our score results and reviews from our happy customers.

There's a lot more to PrepScholar that makes it the best SAT/ACT prep program. Click to learn more about our program, or sign up for our 5-day free trial to check out PrepScholar for yourself:

What You Need For Harvard: Admission Requirements (14)


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.

Application Requirements Overview

  • Common ApplicationAccepted, supplemental forms required
  • Universal ApplicationAccepted, supplemental forms required
  • Electronic ApplicationAvailable
  • Essay or Personal StatementRequired for all freshmen
  • Letters of Recommendation2
  • InterviewRequired
  • Application Fee$75
  • Fee Waiver Available?Available
  • Other Notes

Testing Requirements

  • SAT or ACTRequired
  • SAT Essay or ACT WritingRequired
  • SAT Subject TestsRequired
  • Scores Due in OfficeMarch 6

Coursework Requirements

  • SubjectRequired Years
  • English
  • Math
  • Science
  • Foreign Language
  • Social Studies
  • History
  • Electives

Deadlines and Early Admissions

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

Admissions Office Information

  • Address:
    86
    Cambridge, MA 02138
  • Phone:(617) 495-1551
  • Email:[emailprotected]

Other Schools For You

If you're interested in Harvard, you'll probably be interested in these schools as well. We've divided them into 3 categories depending on how hard they are to get into, relative to Harvard.


What You Need For Harvard: Admission Requirements (15)

Reach Schools: Harder to Get Into

These schools are have higher average SAT scores than Harvard. If you improve your SAT score, you'll be competitive for these schools.

(Video) 3 Harvard Admissions Officers Answer Your Test-Optional + Standardized Test Questions
School NameLocationSAT AvgACT Avg
University of ChicagoChicago, IL152034
Yale UniversityNew Haven, CT151534
Carnegie Mellon UniversityPittsburgh, PA151034

What You Need For Harvard: Admission Requirements (16)

Same Level: Equally Hard to Get Into

If you're competitive for Harvard, these schools will offer you a similar chance of admission.

School NameLocationSAT AvgACT Avg
Princeton UniversityPrinceton, NJ150534
Columbia UniversityNew York, NY150534
University of PennsylvaniaPhiladelphia, PA150034
Cornell UniversityIthaca, NY148034
Tufts UniversityMedford, MA146533
Northeastern UniversityBoston, MA146534
New York UniversityNew York, NY144032

What You Need For Harvard: Admission Requirements (17)

Safety Schools: Easier to Get Into

If you're currently competitive for Harvard, you should have no problem getting into these schools. If Harvard is currently out of your reach, you might already be competitive for these schools.

School NameLocationSAT AvgACT Avg
University of MichiganAnn Arbor, MI143533
Boston UniversityBoston, MA142032
Rensselaer Polytechnic InstituteTroy, NY140931

What You Need For Harvard: Admission Requirements (18)
Want to build the best possible college application?

We can help. PrepScholar Admissions is the world's best admissions consulting service. We combine world-class admissions counselors with our data-driven, proprietary admissions strategies. We've overseen thousands of students get into their top choice schools, from state colleges to the Ivy League.

We know what kinds of students colleges want to admit. We want to get you admitted to your dream schools.

Learn more about PrepScholar Admissions to maximize your chance of getting in.

What You Need For Harvard: Admission Requirements (19)


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FAQs

What requirements are needed to enter Harvard university? ›

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.

How can I increase my chances of getting into Harvard? ›

How to Improve Your Chances of Getting into Harvard
  1. Achieve at least a 4.22 while taking the most challenging classes available. ...
  2. Aim for a 1580 SAT and 35 ACT (use the 75th percentile) ...
  3. Cultivate at least one or two Tier 1-2 extracurriculars (find your “spike”) ...
  4. Write engaging essays. ...
  5. Ace Your Interview.
11 Sept 2021

Do you need a perfect GPA to get into Harvard? ›

Harvard GPA Requirements

However, unweighted GPAs are not very useful, because high schools weight GPAs differently. In truth, you need close to a 4.0 unweighted GPA to get into Harvard. That means nearly straight As in every class.

Can you get into Harvard with a 1600 SAT score? ›

Harvard SAT Score Analysis (New 1600 SAT)

In other words, a 1460 places you below average, while a 1580 will move you up to above average. There's no absolute SAT requirement at Harvard, but they really want to see at least a 1460 to have a chance at being considered.

What grades does Harvard look at? ›

What GPA do I need to get into Harvard? To be considered for admission to Harvard, you must earn top grades in high school. The Harvard Crimson reports that the average reported GPA of entering freshmen in the class of 2022 was 3.90 on a 4.0 unweighted scale.

How does Harvard choose students? ›

Our admissions process values academic excellence, but never reduces applicants to any one factor, such as grades or test scores. Decisions to admit an applicant are made by the full, diverse, 40-person admissions committee through which each member has one vote.

Is it difficult to get into Harvard? ›

Harvard University — 3.19%

With a record-low admission rate of just 3.19% for the class of 2026, Harvard currently ranks as the most difficult school to get into. This rate reflects admission into Harvard College, the Ivy League university's undergraduate school.

Is Harvard expensive? ›

That's good news because a stint at Harvard doesn't always come cheap. The standard tuition for the 2021-2022 academic year is $51,143 without any financial aid, up from $49,653 a year earlier. Room and board and other fees bring the total price tag to a hefty $74,528. That's pricey even by private school standards.

Can I go to Harvard after 12th? ›

Harvard welcomes applications from all over the world. Their admissions and financial aid processes are the same for all applicants – regardless of nationality or citizenship. Harvard does not have quotas or limits based on either citizenship or the location of high school.

Can I study in Harvard for free? ›

If your family's income is less than $75,000, you'll pay nothing. Families who earn more than $150,000 may still qualify for financial aid. For more than ninety percent of American families, Harvard costs less than a public university. All students receive the same aid regardless of nationality or citizenship.

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