Sep 13

Harvard Admission Requirements

Harvard Admission Requirements

What criteria does Harvard have for admission? Even though there are many components to a college application, you should concentrate on only a few crucial ones:

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

What you need to do to apply successfully to Harvard will be covered in this guide.

Location: Cambridge, Massachusetts

Other names: Harvard University and Harvard College

Do you want to improve your chances of getting into a top-tier university? Schedule your consultation with Tokyo Academics today!

Admissions Rate: 4.7%

The acceptance rate should be your first consideration if you want to be admitted. This reveals how demanding the school’s criteria are and how competitive it is.

4.7% of applicants are accepted at Harvard. Only 5 out of every 100 applications are accepted.

This demonstrates how picky the school is. To get beyond their initial filters and demonstrate your academic readiness, it’s crucial to meet their GPA standards and SAT/ACT requirements. Your chances of being in are almost nonexistent if you don’t live up to their standards.

Once you’ve gotten past this obstacle, you’ll need to wow the Harvard admissions committee with your extracurricular activities, essays, and letters of recommendation. We’ll talk about more below.


GPA requirements for Harvard

Many colleges have minimum GPA requirements, but in reality, this is frequently the bare minimum that is needed to submit an application without it being rejected right away.

The GPA criterion that counts is the GPA you need to have a legitimate possibility of being admitted. We consider the school’s current students’ average GPA for this.

At Harvard, the standard GPA is 4.18.

(While some schools publish an unweighted GPA, most utilize a weighted GPA out of 4.0.)

Harvard needs you to be at the top of your class with a GPA of 4.18. To compete with other applications, you’ll need to receive almost all A’s. You should also enroll in challenging classes, such as AP or IB courses, to demonstrate that college-level coursework is simple.

It’s challenging to change your GPA in time for college applications if you’re currently a junior or senior. You will require a better SAT or ACT score to make up for a GPA that is equal to or lower than the school average of 4.18. You will be better able to compete with applicants who have GPAs that are higher than yours thanks to this.


Requirements for the SAT and ACT

Standardized testing requirements vary from school to school. The SAT or ACT are typically required, and many schools also demand SAT subject assessments.

To submit an application to Harvard, you must take the SAT or ACT. More importantly, a strong application requires achievement.


SAT Requirements for Harvard

There is a covert SAT requirement, notwithstanding the claims of many colleges that they have no cutoff for SAT scores. Based on the typical grade at the institution.

Harvard’s average composite SAT score is a 1520 out of a possible 1600.

Harvard is now Extremely Competitive for SAT test scores because of this score.


Analysis of Harvard SAT results (New 1600 SAT)

The 25th percentile and 75th percentile New SAT scores are 1460 and 1580, respectively. To put it another way, a 1460 on the New SAT places you below average, and a 1580 puts you above average.

Those who reside close to Harvard might wish to research instructors in Acton and other parts of the Boston region to improve their test results.

The updated SAT section scores are broken down as follows:



25th Percentile              

75th Percentile





Reading + Writing               









SAT Score Policy of Option

Your testing plan heavily relies on your school’s Score Choice policy.

The “Highest Section” score choice rule is in effect at Harvard.

Another name for this is “superscoring.” This implies that you have a choice as to which SAT tests you submit to the institution. Your application readers will take into account your highest section scores from all of your SAT test dates out of all the scores they receive.

Therefore, we strongly advise that you think about studying for the SAT and retaking it if your present superscore is less than a 1580. You have a great opportunity to improve your score, which will greatly increase your chances of being admitted.

Even better, the Superscore allows you to concentrate solely on a single section at a time. Only prepare for the Reading part of the SAT before taking it if your Reading score is lower than those of your other sections. For the subsequent test, concentrate on math, and so forth. You will receive the maximum Superscore by doing this.


ACT Requirements for Harvard

Harvard probably doesn’t have a strict ACT threshold, like the SAT, but if you score too low, your application will be rejected.

At Harvard, the typical ACT score is 34. Harvard is now Very Competitive for ACT scores with this score.

ACT scores range from 33 to 35, with 35 representing the 75th percentile.

Even though Harvard probably states that there is no minimum ACT requirement, if you apply with a 33 or lower, you will likely struggle to get in unless you have other extremely strong application materials. Because so many applicants received a 34 or higher, a 33 will appear to be an academically inadequate score.


Policy for sending ACT scores

The ACT has a significant edge over the SAT in terms of how scores are sent, which has a significant impact on your test-taking technique.

Here it is: you have complete control over whatever tests you send to universities along with your ACT scores. You could send the best test out of ten that you take. Contrary to the SAT, where many institutions demand that you send all of your past test results, this does not.

This indicates that you have more opportunities than you might realize to raise your ACT score. You should attempt to take the ACT as many times as you can in order to try to aim for the school’s ACT requirement of 35 and above. When you’re satisfied with your final result, you can send only one score to all of your schools.


Superscore Policy of ACT

Generally speaking, very few colleges superscore the ACT. When you “superscore,” the school combines the best sectional scores from each test date you submit to produce the highest possible composite score. Therefore, the majority of colleges will only consider your highest ACT score from a single test.

The fact that we were unable to locate the school’s official ACT policy suggests that Superscore is not used there. In any case, you can send Harvard your best ACT score, so you should study up until you attain our suggested target ACT score of 35.


Writing Section Requirements for the SAT/ACT

The essay portion of the SAT and ACT is optional.

You must take the SAT Essay/ACT Writing part to apply to Harvard. This will be taken into account as yet another aspect when deciding who to admit.


Requirements for SAT Subject Tests

The SAT subject test requirements vary between schools. The majority of schools in the nation do not, whereas selective ones frequently do.

According to Harvard, SAT subject tests are necessary for admission. Find out how many and which ones they need by reading on.

Usually, your GPA and SAT/ACT scores carry a much greater weight than your SAT Subject Test scores. If you have the option to increase your SAT/ACT score or your SAT Subject Test scores, increase your SAT/ACT score without a doubt.


Notes from Our Expert

We conducted a more thorough investigation on this school and discovered the data below.

In addition to the ACT/SAT, two SAT Subject Tests are strongly advised but not needed. You don’t have to submit results if completing the Subject Tests will put a financial strain on you or if you believe that other components of your application—like your AP or IB scores—convey the same information.



Verdict on Final Admissions

A strong GPA and SAT/ACT score are essential for your chance of admission to this highly selective school. If you don’t meet their GPA and SAT/ACT requirements, you’ll probably be rejected without much thought.

You should aim for the 75th percentile, with a 1580 SAT or a 35 ACT, to have the best chance of getting in. A GPA of at least 4.18 is also required. You must make up the difference if your GPA is below this with a higher SAT/ACT score.

You’ll also need to make an impression on them with the rest of your application for a premium institution like Harvard. Next, we’ll discuss those specifics.

However, if you apply with a score of less than a 1580 SAT or 35 ACT, you unluckily start off against the odds and have a very small chance of being accepted. You need to compete against students who have good applications and high SAT/ACT scores because there are simply too many of them.

The admissions committee will consider your GPA, SAT/ACT scores, curriculum difficulty, extracurricular activities, letters of reference, and personal statements in addition to these factors. Your odds of admission are only roughly estimated by this tool. Consider the big picture of what your chance represents rather than using this tool as a crystal ball:

  • 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 advise you to submit applications to institutions with various prospects. Applying to some reach schools will offer you a chance to get into the school at the top of your range while applying to some safety schools will ensure you have a college to attend.


Application Requirements

The bare minimum is required for every institution’s application: a high school transcript, a GPA, an application form, and other relevant details. As previously mentioned, numerous colleges additionally want SAT and ACT scores, letters of recommendation, application essays, and interviews. We’ll go through Harvard’s exact requirements right here:

Application Requirements Overview

Common Application 
Universal Application
Electronic Application
Essay or Personal Statement
Letters of Recommendation
Application Fee
Fee Waiver Available? 
Other Notes


Accepted, supplemental forms required
Accepted, supplemental forms required
Required for all freshmen

Testing Requirements

SAT Essay or ACT Writing
SAT Subject Tests
Scores Due in Office

March 6

Coursework Requirements

Foreign Language
Social Studies

Required Years

Deadlines and Early Admissions


Regular Admission
Early Action
Early Decision




January 1
November 1


April 1

Admissions Office Information




Cambridge, MA 02138
(617) 495-1551

Alternative Schools for You

You’ll probably be interested in these colleges if you’re interested in Harvard. Depending on how difficult they are to get into compared to Harvard, we have placed them into 3 groups.


Reach Schools: More Difficult to Enter

The average SAT scores at these schools are higher than Harvard’s. You’ll be competitive for these institutions if you raise your SAT score.

School Name




University of Chicago
Yale University
Carnegie Mellon University

Chicago, IL
New Haven, CT
Pittsburg, PA



Same Level: Equally Difficult to Enter

These institutions will give you a comparable chance of admission if you are a strong candidate for Harvard.

School Name




Princeton University
Columbia University
University of Pennsylvania
Cornell University
Tufts University
Northeastern University
New York University

Princeton, NJ
New York, NY
Philadelphia, PA
Ithaca, NY
Medford, MA
Boston, MA
New York, NY



Safety Schools: Simpler to Enter

You should have little trouble getting into these schools if you are currently competitive for Harvard. Even though Harvard is currently beyond your price range, you may already be a strong candidate for these institutions.

School Name




University of Michigan
Boston University
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

Ann Arbor, MI
Boston, MA
Troy, NY