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College Admission Rates

Every year, the college admissions landscape changes slightly. Admissions rates go up or down (more commonly the latter), colleges move in and out of the top 20, and testing policies change as colleges move toward a more holistic application process. In light of COVID-19, several top tier schools have adapted their testing policy or become completely test-optional. That being said, at all of these schools, test scores and acceptance rates can greatly impact your chances of acceptance. We’ve compiled the most up to date admissions information for you so that you can begin crafting the right college list for you.

CollegeAdmission RateMiddle 50 % SAT scoresMiddle 50 % ACT scoresTest-Optional?
Princeton University5.80%Math: 750 - 800
ERW: 710 - 770
33 - 35Yes
Harvard University4.60%Math: 740-800
ERW: 720-780
33-35Yes
Columbia University5.30%Composite: 1480 - 156033 - 35Yes
MIT University6.70%Math: 790 - 800
ERW: 730 - 780
34 - 36No (no SAT II)
Yale University6.20%Math: 730-790
ERW: 720-770
33-35Yes
Stanford University4.4%*Math: 720 - 800
ERW: 700 - 770
32 - 35Yes
University of Chicago6.20%Composite: 1500 - 156033- 35Yes
University of Pennsylvania7.70%Composite: 1460 - 155033 - 35Yes
Northwestern University8.4% *Composite: 1440 - 155032 - 35Yes
Duke University7.80%Composite: 1550 - 156033 - 35Yes
Johns Hopkins University11%Composite: 1480 - 155033 - 35Yes
California Institute of Technology6.40%Math: 790 - 800
ERW: 740 - 780
35- 36Yes
Dartmouth College7.90%Math: 730 - 790
ERW: 710 - 770
32 - 35Yes
Brown University6.9%**Math: 720-790
ERW: 700-760
32-35Yes
University of Notre Dame15.80%Composite: 1410 - 154033 - 35Yes
Vanderbilt University9.10%Math: 750 - 800
ERW: 710 - 760
33- 35Yes
Cornell University10%Math: 720-800
ERW: 680-760
32-35Yes
Rice University9%Composite: 1470-156033-35Yes
Washington University in St. Louis14%Composite: 1480 - 155033 - 35Yes
University of California – Los Angeles12%Composite: 1370-154030-35Yes
Princeton University
Admission Rate5.8%
Middle 50 % SAT scoresMath: 750 - 800
ERW: 710 - 770
Middle 50 % ACT scores33 - 35
Test-Optional?yes
Harvard University
Admission Rate4.6%
Middle 50 % SAT scoresMath: 740-800
ERW: 720-780
Middle 50 % ACT scores33-35
Test-Optional?yes
Columbia University
Admission Rate5.3%
Middle 50 % SAT scoresComposite: 1480 - 1560
Middle 50 % ACT scores33 - 35
Test-Optional?yes
MIT University
Admission Rate6.7%
Middle 50 % SAT scoresMath: 790 - 800
ERW: 730 - 780
Middle 50 % ACT scores34 - 36
Test-Optional?No (no SAT II)
Yale University
Admission Rate6.2%
Middle 50 % SAT scoresMath: 730-790
ERW: 720-770
Middle 50 % ACT scores33-35
Test-Optional?yes
Stanford University
Admission Rate4.4%*
Middle 50 % SAT scoresMath: 720 - 800
ERW: 700 - 770
Middle 50 % ACT scores32 - 35
Test-Optional?yes
University of Chicago
Admission Rate6.2%
Middle 50 % SAT scoresComposite: 1500 - 1560
Middle 50 % ACT scores33- 35
Test-Optional?yes
University of Pennsylvania
Admission Rate7.7%
Middle 50 % SAT scoresComposite: 1460 - 1550
Middle 50 % ACT scores33 - 35
Test-Optional?yes
Northwestern University
Admission Rate8.4% *
Middle 50 % SAT scoresComposite: 1440 - 1550
Middle 50 % ACT scores32 - 35
Test-Optional?yes
Duke University
Admission Rate7.8%
Middle 50 % SAT scoresComposite: 1550 - 1560
Middle 50 % ACT scores33 - 35
Test-Optional?yes
Johns Hopkins University
Admission Rate11%
Middle 50 % SAT scoresComposite: 1480 - 1550
Middle 50 % ACT scores33 - 35
Test-Optional?yes
California Institute of Technology
Admission Rate6.4%
Middle 50 % SAT scoresMath: 790 - 800
ERW: 740 - 780
Middle 50 % ACT scores35- 36
Test-Optional?yes
Dartmouth College
Admission Rate7.9%
Middle 50 % SAT scoresMath: 730 - 790
ERW: 710 - 770
Middle 50 % ACT scores32 - 35
Test-Optional?yes
Brown University
Admission Rate6.9%**
Middle 50 % SAT scoresMath: 720-790
ERW: 700-760
Middle 50 % ACT scores32-35
Test-Optional?yes
University of Notre Dame
Admission Rate15.8%
Middle 50 % SAT scoresComposite: 1410 - 1540
Middle 50 % ACT scores33 - 35
Test-Optional?yes
Vanderbilt University
Admission Rate9.1%
Middle 50 % SAT scoresMath: 750 - 800
ERW: 710 - 760
Middle 50 % ACT scores33- 35
Test-Optional?yes
Cornell University
Admission Rate10%
Middle 50 % SAT scoresMath: 720-800
ERW: 680-760
Middle 50 % ACT scores32-35
Test-Optional?yes
Rice University
Admission Rate9%
Middle 50 % SAT scoresComposite: 1470-1560
Middle 50 % ACT scores33-35
Test-Optional?yes
Washington University in St. Louis
Admission Rate14%
Middle 50 % SAT scoresComposite: 1480 - 1550
Middle 50 % ACT scores33 - 35
Test-Optional?yes
University of California-- Los Angeles
Admission Rate12%
Middle 50 % SAT scoresComposite: 1370-1540
Middle 50 % ACT scores30-35
Test-Optional?yes

*Numbers shown reflect data from the class of 2022
**Numbers shown reflect data from the class of 2024

All data is sourced from the universities’ self-reported admissions data or the National Center for Education Statistics.

FAQs

What does test-optional mean?

Test-optional schools do not require standardized test scores in order to be admitted. However, they may still recommend that you submit test scores. You should interpret any recommendation from a college – whether it related to standardized tests, high school courses, or supplemental essays – as seriously as requirements. Remember that even at test-optional schools you will be compared to students who submitted their test scores, and colleges will typically prefer students with high test scores rather than ones with no scores to report. If you’re concerned that your test scores are not impressive enough for one of these schools, visit our tutoring page to learn more about how Command Education helps students excel on SAT, ACT, and SAT Subject tests. 

How do I know if a school is a reach, match, or safety?

Once you’ve identified which colleges you are interested in, the next critical step is deciding if a school is a reach, match or safety. Of course, there are so many factors that go into college admissions beyond test scores, especially this year. However, these factors are still a helpful tool in determining the likelihood of getting into a certain school. As a general rule, top 20 schools are reaches for everyone—even if you have a dazzling resume, perfect test scores, and a 4.0 GPA. The schools ranked above are not a guarantee for anyone. In addition to the top 20 schools, reach schools include schools at which your test scores fall below the middle 50%. For example, at Villanova, the middle 50% for the SAT is 1400-1500. If your scores are below 1400, this school would be a reach for you. If your SAT score is between 1450-1500, or in the top half of the middle 50%, Villanova would be a match for you. And lastly, if your SAT score is above a 1500, you could consider Villanova a safety. However, keep in mind other factors, such as the acceptance rate (27.7%) and the middle 50% for GPA (4.13-4.47). These are pretty competitive numbers, so even if your SAT score is above 1500, Villanova may be a low match for you, rather than a safety.

How are rankings determined?

The rankings list above comes from US News and World Report’s 2020 Best National Universities list. The rankings are determined based on several factors: outcomes (such as graduation rate and social mobility), faculty resources (such as average class size and faculty salary, expert opinions (from surveys completed by presidents, provosts and deans of admissions at peer institutions), financial resources, student excellence (such as standardized test scores and class standing of incoming students), and alumni giving. After all of this data is considered, US News and World Report grades colleges on a scale of 0-100; the top school sets the bar for all other institutions in the list, as it earns a score of 100. 

Do I have to report all of my test scores?

The short answer to this is: sometimes. Some schools, like Stanford and Georgetown, require you to submit all of your scores, others allow you to do Score Choice and only send in certain scores. If you want to send scores for free without a waiver, you will need to opt to send them before you even know your scores, in which case, you may send scores you are not happy with. If you dread the idea of sending all of your SAT or ACT scores to a college, keep in mind that some colleges “superscore,” meaning that they look at all of your test scores but only consider the best scores from each test to form a composite super score.  

Of the schools listed above, the following superscore SATs:

  • Brown University
  • Columbia University
  • Duke University
  • Johns Hopkins University
  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)
  • Notre Dame University
  • Stanford University
  • University of Chicago
  • Yale University

The following schools superscore ACTs

  • California Institute of Technology (CalTech)
  • Duke University
  • Johns Hopkins University
  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)
  • University of Chicago
  • Washington University in St. Louis
  • Do I need a college consultant to get into a top school?

    Although it is certainly possible to get into college without the help of a college consultant, working with a consultant can certainly give you an edge. A college consultant can help you find your voice as a writer, highlight your hook in your activities list, and avoid classic mistakes that students make in their applications every year. More importantly, working with a counselor provides you with confidence in your application that will give you much more peace of mind throughout the application and decision process. 

    If you decide against hiring a college consultant, you should still seek help with your application. Ask friends, teachers, or older siblings to assist you with editing and polishing your essays or consider taking an online course. Command Education has a variety of online resources for seniors in high school such as our College Application Accelerator™ and our Command College Essay Review™.

    What do I need to do to get into an Ivy League school?

    There is no one way to get into an Ivy League school, but in order to set yourself up for the greatest chance of success, there are a few things you must do. 

    • Take the most academically rigorous classes that are offered at your high school. Higher level classes demonstrate that you don’t shy away from a challenge, and that you’re willing to work hard.  
    • Earn strong SAT and ACT scores.
    • Take initiative and make an impact, whether through clubs at school, a community organization, or your own passion project.
    • Establish strong relationships with your teachers so that they can write compelling letters of recommendation for you.

    How long does it take to apply to college?

    From researching colleges to hitting “submit” on your Common Application, there are several stages in the college application process. How long this process takes varies on a case by case basis. You might start researching and touring colleges as early as freshman year or as late as senior fall. You can submit all of your applications in October or wait until 11:59 pm on January 1st. Of course, there is a happy medium between each of these extremes. Ideally, you would start creating your preliminary college list junior fall so that you can visit colleges during the spring and summer breaks of junior year. You should have a well-balanced college list, consisting of about 15-20 schools by the start of senior year. During junior spring or senior fall, you should ask your teachers for letters of recommendation. Over the summer before senior year, you should work on your activities list and personal statement. During senior fall, gradually work on your supplemental essays, aiming to finish by early December so that you have an entire month to polish and submit them.

    2020 College Application Booster®

    Under the guidance of our senior counselors, all of whom are Ivy League and top tier universities graduates, students who join our College Application Booster® Camp tackle the college application process months before their peers, allowing them to direct their focus towards their academics and testing.

    Why Should I Hire a College Consultant

    The college admissions landscape is complicated and has changed a lot over the past several years. Read our 6 reasons to hire a private college counselor/ college consultant.