Test Scores for Ivy League
and Top College Admissions

Though many schools adopted test optional policies for the 2020 admissions cycle, one of the best ways to know whether you should consider a school to be a match, reach or safety is to compare your standardized test scores with the middle 50% scores of  previously admitted students.

If your scores are well above the average, you can consider the school to be a safety school. If your scores are within the middle 50%, you can consider the school to be a match school, and if your scores are below the average, you can consider it to be a reach school. That being said, remember that schools and colleges in the U.S. practice holistic admissions, so your test scores are not definitive indicators of your chances of admission.

College admissions statistics change each and every year, so it’s important to compare your scores with the most recent averages released by the schools you are considering. We’ve compiled the most up to date admissions information for you so that you can begin crafting the right college list for you.

College 2019 Admission Rate 2019 Middle 50% SAT scores 2019 Middle 50% ACT scores 2020 Admission Rate 2020 Middle 50% SAT scores 2020 Middle 50% ACT scores Test-Optional?
Princeton University 4.9% Math: 750 - 800 ERW: 710 - 770 33 - 35 5% Math: 750 - 800 ERW: 710 - 770 32 - 35 Yes
Harvard University 5% Math: 740 - 800 ERW: 720 - 790 33 - 35 5% Math: 740 - 800 ERW: 720 - 780 33 - 35 Yes
Columbia University 5% Composite: 1450 - 1560 33 - 35 6% Composite: 1480 - 1560 33 - 35 Yes
MIT University 7% Math: 790 - 800 ERW: 730 - 780 33 - 35 6.9% Math: 790 - 800 ERW: 730 - 780 33 - 35 No (no SAT II)
Yale University 7% Math: 740 - 790 ERW: 720 - 770 33 - 35 6% Math: 730 - 790 ERW: 720 - 770 33 - 35 Yes
Standford University 5% Math: 720 - 800 ERW: 700 - 770 32 - 35 4%* Math: 720 - 800 ERW: 700 - 770 32 - 35 Yes
University of Chicago 9% Composite: 1480 - 1580 33 - 35 7% Composite: 1490 - 1570 33 - 35 Yes
University of Pennsylvania 7.7% Composite: 1460 - 1550 33 -35 8% Composite: 1440 - 1560 32 - 35 Yes
Northwestern University 18% Composite: 1440 - 1550 32 - 35 8%* Composite: 1430 - 1550 33 - 35 Yes
Duke University 9% Composite: 1550 - 1560 33 -35 8% Composite: 1450 - 1570 33 - 35 Yes
Johns Hopkins University 11% Composite: 1480 - 1550 33 - 35 11% Composite: 1470 - 1560 33 - 35 Yes
California Institute of Technology 6.4% Math: 790 - 800 ERW: 740 - 780 35 - 36 7% Composite: 1530 - 1560 33 - 35 Yes
Dartmouth College 7.9% Math: 730 - 790 ERW: 710 - 770 32 - 35 9% Composite: 1420 - 1560 31 - 35 Yes
Brown University 6.9%** Math: 720 - 790 ERW: 700 - 760 32 - 35 8% Composite: 1420 - 1550 32 - 35 Yes
University of Notre Dame 15.8% Composite: 1410 - 1540 33 - 35 18% Composite: 1400 - 1550 33 - 35 Yes
Vanderbilt University 9.1% Math: 750 - 800 ERW: 710 - 760 33 - 35 10% Composite: 1450-1560 33 - 35 Yes
Cornell University 10% Math: 720 - 800 ERW: 680 - 760 32 - 35 11% Composite: 1390 - 1540 32 - 34 Yes
Rice University 9% Composite: 1470 - 1560 33 - 35 11% Composite: 1450 - 1560 33 - 35 Yes
Washington University in St. Louis 14% Composite: 1480 - 1550 33 - 35 15% Composite: 1470 - 1560 32 - 35 Yes
University of California – Los Angeles 12 Composite: 1370 - 1540 30 - 35 14% Composite: 1270 - 1520 28 - 34 Yes
Princeton University
2019 Admission Rate 4.9%
2019 Middle 50% SAT scores Math: 750 - 800 ERW: 710 - 770
2019 Middle 50% ACT scores 33 - 35
2020 Admission Rate 5%
2020 Middle 50% SAT scores Math: 750 - 800 ERW: 710 - 770
2020 Middle 50% ACT scores 32 - 35
Harvard University
2019 Admission Rate 5%
2019 Middle 50% SAT scores Math: 740 - 800 ERW: 720 - 790
2019 Middle 50% ACT scores 33 - 35
2020 Admission Rate 5%
2020 Middle 50% SAT scores Math: 740 - 800 ERW: 720 - 770
2020 Middle 50% ACT scores 32 - 35
Columbia University
2019 Admission Rate 5%
2019 Middle 50% SAT scores Composite: 1450 - 1560
2019 Middle 50% ACT scores 33 - 35
2020 Admission Rate 6%
2020 Middle 50% SAT scores Composite: 1480 - 1560
2020 Middle 50% ACT scores 33 - 35
MIT University
2019 Admission Rate 7%
2019 Middle 50% SAT scores Math: 790 - 800 ERW: 730 - 730
2019 Middle 50% ACT scores 33 - 35
2020 Admission Rate 6%
2020 Middle 50% SAT scores Math: 790 - 800 ERW: 730 - 780
2020 Middle 50% ACT scores 34 - 36
Yale University
2019 Admission Rate 7%
2019 Middle 50% SAT scores Math: 740 - 790 ERW: 720 - 730
2019 Middle 50% ACT scores 33 - 35
2020 Admission Rate 6%
2020 Middle 50% SAT scores Math: 730 - 790 ERW: 720 - 770
2020 Middle 50% ACT scores 33 - 35
Stanford University
2019 Admission Rate 5%
2019 Middle 50% SAT scores Math: 720 - 800 ERW: 700 - 770
2019 Middle 50% ACT scores 32 - 35
2020 Admission Rate 4%*
2020 Middle 50% SAT scores Math: 720 - 800 ERW: 700 - 770
2020 Middle 50% ACT scores 32 - 35
University of Chicago
2019 Admission Rate 9%
2019 Middle 50% SAT scores Composite: 1480 - 1580
2019 Middle 50% ACT scores 33 - 35
2020 Admission Rate 7%
2020 Middle 50% SAT scores Composite: 1490 - 1570
2020 Middle 50% ACT scores 33 - 35
University of Pennsylvania
2019 Admission Rate 7.7%
2019 Middle 50% SAT scores Composite: 1460 - 1550
2019 Middle 50% ACT scores 33 - 35
2020 Admission Rate 8%
2020 Middle 50% SAT scores Composite: 1440 - 1560
2020 Middle 50% ACT scores 32 - 35
Northwestern University
2019 Admission Rate 18%
2019 Middle 50% SAT scores Composite: 1440 - 1550
2019 Middle 50% ACT scores 32 - 35
2020 Admission Rate 8%*
2020 Middle 50% SAT scores Composite: 1430 - 1550
2020 Middle 50% ACT scores 33 - 35
Duke University
2019 Admission Rate 9%
2019 Middle 50% SAT scores Composite: 1550 - 1560
2019 Middle 50% ACT scores 33 - 35
2020 AdmissionRate 8%
2020 Middle 50% SAT scores Composite: 1450 - 1570
2020 Middle 50% ACT scores 33 - 35
Johns Hopkins University
2019 Admission Rate 11%
2019 Middle 50% SAT scores Composite: 1480 - 1550
2019 Middle 50% ACT scores 33 - 35
2020 Admission Rate 11%
2020 Middle 50% SAT scores Composite: 1470 - 1560
2020 Middle 50% ACT scores 33 - 35
California Institute of Technology
2019 Admission Rate 6.4%
2019 Middle 50% SAT scores Math: 790 - 800 ERW: 740 - 780
2019 Middle 50% ACT scores 35 - 36
2020 Admission Rate 7%
2020 Middle 50% SAT scores Composite: 1530 - 1570
2020 Middle 50% ACT scores 35 - 36
Dartmouth College
2019 Admission Rate 7.9%
2019 Middle 50% SAT scores Math: 730 - 790 ERW: 740 -780
2019 Middle 50% ACT scores 32 - 35
2020 Admission Rate 9%
2020 Middle 50% SAT scores Composite: 1420 - 1560
2020 Middle 50% ACT scores 31 - 35
Brown University
2019 Admission Rate 6.9%**
2019 Middle 50% SAT scores Math: 720 - 790 ERW: 700 - 760
2019 Middle 50% ACT scores 32-35
2020 Admission Rate 8%
2020 Middle 50% SAT scores Composite: 1420 - 1550
2020 Middle 50% ACT scores 32 - 35
University of Notre Dame
2019 Admission Rate 15.8%
2019 Middle 50% SAT scores Composite: 1410 - 1540
2019 Middle 50% ACT scores 33 - 35
2020 Admission Rate 18%
2020 Middle 50% SAT scores Composite: 1400 - 1550
2020 Middle 50% ACT scores 35 - 35
Vanderbilt University
2019 Admission Rate 9.1%
2019 Middle 50% SAT scores Math: 750 - 800 ERW: 710 - 760
2019 Middle 50% ACT scores 33 - 35
2020 Admission Rate 10%
2020 Middle 50% SAT scores Composite: 1450 - 1560
2020 Middle 50% ACT scores 35 - 35
Test-Optional? yes
Cornell University
2019 Admission Rate 10%
2019 Middle 50% SAT scores Math: 720-800 ERW: 680-760
2019 Middle 50% ACT scores 32-35
2020 Admission Rate 11%
2020 Middle 50% SAT scores Composite: 1390 - 1540
2020 Middle 50% ACT scores 32 - 34
Test-Optional? yes
Rice University
2019 Admission Rate 9%
2019 Middle 50% SAT scores Composite: 1470-1560
2019 Middle 50% ACT scores 33-35
2020 Admission Rate 11%
2020 Middle 50% SAT scores Composite: 1450 - 1560
2020 Middle 50% ACT scores 33 - 35
Test-Optional? yes
Washington University in St. Louis
2019 Admission Rate 14%
2019 Middle 50% SAT scores Composite: 1480 - 1550
2019 Middle 50% ACT scores 33 - 35
2020 Admission Rate 15%
2020 Middle 50% SAT scores Composite: 1470 - 1570
2020 Middle 50% ACT scores 32 - 35
Test-Optional? yes
University of California-- Los Angeles
2019 Admission Rate 12%
2019 Middle 50% SAT scores Composite: 1370-1540
2019 Middle 50% ACT scores 30-35
2020 Admission Rate 14%
2020 Middle 50% SAT scores Composite: 1270 - 1520
2020 Middle 50% ACT scores 28 - 34
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 and ACT 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.

2021 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.