Oct 06

The Complete Guide To Harvard University

The Complete Guide To Harvard University

Everyone is familiar with Harvard University’s fundamental facts: it is the oldest and, possibly, most reputable and well-known university in the United States, located in the center of thriving Cambridge, Massachusetts. In order to benefit from Harvard’s substantial resources, close ties to the city of Boston, historic campus, and active, aspirational student body, applicants come from all over the world.

Do you have a high enough SAT or ACT score to get into Harvard? How did you do in high school? Ivy League entrance procedures appear to be complicated. How do universities like Harvard decide who to admit? What actions can you do to raise your chances? improve your test results? More extracurricular activities? Take quick action?

Everything we know about the Harvard University admissions procedure is summarized below. Continue reading to learn if you are a competitive applicant and how to improve your chances of being accepted as a student.

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

Acceptance Rate at Harvard

You’re correct in one respect: Harvard is a very selective institution. Harvard’s overall admissions rate for 2018 was merely 4.6%, which means that more than 95 out of every 100 applicants were turned down. In addition, that total number includes Harvard’s early action acceptance rate, which is greater than Harvard’s ordinary decision rate, as we have previously said. Therefore, in actuality, Harvard’s regular admittance rate is closer to 3%!

Additionally, as more local and overseas applicants come each year, the college admissions process becomes more difficult. Therefore, you must make a strong impression. The admissions data is a little unsettling, but don’t be alarmed. You can better adapt your college application to match Harvard’s requirements once you know what they are.


GPA requirements for Harvard

Your grade point average comes first (GPA). Based on your high school transcript, which you will submit with your overall application, Harvard admissions officers will compute your chances of admission.

An admitted high school student to Harvard last year had a reported average GPA of 4.04 out of 4.0, or what is known as a “weighted” GPA. Unweighted GPAs are less helpful, though, because high schools assign varied weights to GPAs. In reality, to get into Harvard, you need a GPA of close to 4.0 unweighted. That translates to almost A grades in every subject.


Requirements for the SAT and ACT

Harvard needs the SAT or ACT for admission, just like the other Ivy League schools and the majority of other institutions. They don’t have a preference, so pick the test that fits you best, study hard for it, and prepare to take it several times.

Students accepted to Harvard have varying average ACT composite scores and SAT totals (see table below). To ensure you’re optimizing your chances of admission, your SAT/ACT score should be closer to the 75th percentile than the 25th percentile unless you fit into one of a few favored groups (sports, legacies, benefactors, etc.)


Harvard Average ACT and SAT Scores
Test/Section 25th Percentile 50th Percentile (Mean) 75th Percentile
SAT Total
SAT Reading
SAT Math
ACT Composite

Keep in mind that SAT is the test that Harvard University “superscores,” not the ACT. This means that for the SAT, they will combine and compare section results from several days, but they will not  consider this for ACT scores.


Tests for SAT subjects

Last but not least, Harvard suggests that applicants send in their scores from two SAT II subject tests. Harvard does not specifically need these tests, but if your SAT subject test scores are in the 90th percentile or higher, you should submit them.


Because the scores are scaled based on who takes the test in a given year, utilize percentiles rather than scores to make this choice. For instance, a 750 on the SAT Subject Test for Math 2 is considered to be significantly lower than a 750 on the English Language and Literature test.


Other Conditions for Harvard Applications

These are Harvard’s general academic requirements. What about the rest of it? The admissions officers at Harvard want to know about all the other aspects of your life in addition to how well you’ve done in school. Besides submitting your GPA and SAT results, there are a few more crucial elements in the Harvard admissions procedure:

  • SAT and two SAT Subject Test Scores, or ACT scores
  • Two teacher recommendations and one counselor letter
  • A high school transcript
  • A mid-year report
  • A $75 application fee or fee waiver
  • A completed Common Application
  • Harvard-specific essays


Recommendation Letters

First, Harvard will request letters of reference from two of your professors and your school counselor in order to learn more about you as a student than is evident from your transcripts and test results. Don’t just think about the teachers who gave you the greatest grades when deciding who to ask; also think about the people who know you well and will write excellent, personalized letters.


School records and a counselor’s recommendation

Second, your school counselor will provide the following documents together with your transcript and his or her letter:

  • A school report that details the demographics of your school as well as its key characteristics (such as whether there is a cap on the number of AP classes you can enroll in).
  • A mid-year report, which will inform Harvard of any changes to your senior year grades after you have submitted your application.

Additionally, they will aid Harvard in contextualizing your application.


Essay for the Common Application

After that, you must submit the Common Application (or Coalition Application). You’ll become quite familiar with this online application process when you apply to colleges because it’s where you’ll go to apply to Yale, Brown, Princeton, and Harvard in addition to Harvard! The Common Application contains a large portion of the usual demographic and educational data. The “activities” portion of the application asks you to include all of your extracurricular activities.

The Common Application also requests a single personal essay, which will be sent to all of your schools. You have the opportunity to inform Harvard and the other institutions about a significant event or theme in your life in this essay, which must be 650 words or less. Plan to update your Common App essay numerous times if you want to submit a competitive application.


Additional Essays

Last but not least, Harvard and many other schools require supplemental, school-specific essays in addition to the main essay. These can vary from year to year, but in general they inquire about your interest in the institution and/or further information regarding your prior experiences. Harvard University offered three questions for a short-answer essay last year. Among the subjects were:

  • Describe one of your extracurricular activities or professional experiences in brief detail.
  • What information about you would you like your future college roommate to know?
  • The goal of Harvard College is to prepare its students to lead society as citizens and civic leaders. What would you do to help this goal be successful while improving the lives of your classmates?

For admission to competitive universities like Harvard and the rest of the Ivy League, you must have a solid application strategy to get these essays written, reviewed, and finished as well as a cogent narrative to present in them.


Application Fee

The $75 application fee is the final cost for submitting your application through these online platforms. By demonstrating financial hardship, these costs may be waived.


Deadline of Applications

Remember the next deadlines while you compile all of this information! Harvard requires that all materials be submitted by:

  • November 1 for Single-Choice Early Action
  • January 1 for Regular Decision

Mid-December marks the publication of Early Action judgments, and Regular Decision applicants will hear online by April. Accepted students have until May 1 to decide whether or not to enroll.


Harvard’s Accepted Student Population Statistics

Students from all backgrounds and from all across the country are admitted to Harvard University. The Harvard Crimson reported the following demographic breakdown of the Harvard Class of 2023:

  • 50% men, 50% women
  • 25.4% Asian American
  • 14.8% African-American/black
  • 12.4% Latinx
  • 2.4% Native American/Pacific Islander
  • 16.4% first-generation students


Final Thoughts on Harvard Applications

The last thing to bear in mind is that because Harvard University is so selective, it makes sense to apply to other institutions that are comparable, such as Yale University, Princeton University, and Columbia University, even if you are a strong candidate there.

Good luck! And never forget that you can come to Tokyo Academics for guidance on anything related to this, including how to comprehend your GPA, when to take the SAT or ACT, what extracurricular activities to participate in, how to spend your summers, and what on earth to write about for all of those essays.

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