To get into a top college a good SAT or ACT has been crucial in the past. In past years, the SAT/ACT scores were key components of the college admission application. However, this year, most schools have gone test optional and many have abandoned standardized testing completely. This leaves many students asking whether they need to take the SAT or ACT tests to get into top universities and, if so, what score do they need to get in order to get into the best universities in the U.S.? Opus College Prep admissions experts work closely with students and families to assess applications to different universities and to weigh the ACT and SAT score students need to look strongest in their college admissions applications at the top 50 colleges in the USA.
Do I need an SAT, ACT, or standardized exam score?
During COVID-19, many students are asking whether they even need to take the SAT or ACT tests to get into top US colleges. For students wondering whether the schools they want to attend require the SAT or ACT, Fairtest tracks 1200+ schools and their test-blind and test-optional requirements.
ACT/SAT scores are only one component colleges weight in evaluating admissions candidacy. Other factors colleges consider are academic rigor, academic grades, other students at your school compared to you, extracurricular activities, personal qualities, and how much support your school shows you. These are just a few factors, but academics and testing are just one part.
In past years, standardized testing, SAT and ACT scores have been key for admissions evaluations. An SAT/ACT score offers universities with a touchstone to understand how a student compares with other students at his/her school. In the past, universities used ACT/SAT scores to understand whether a student could handle the academically challenging curriculum being offered.
What impact can high ACT/SAT scores have on college admissions?
Filtering: First, a high score means that a student can often make it through some intense filtering on the part of highly selective universities.
Scholarships: Top colleges also use SAT scores and cutoffs to earmark merit aid and scholarship money for top students.
While many students are opting out of SAT or ACT testing and many schools are going test optional, we believe universities will begin leaning into GPA against peers, high achievements, stellar accomplishments, and standout factors among students. Still, being that many students are still taking the SAT, we are sharing the SAT scores for the top 50 US universities.
SAT Statistics for Top 50 U.S. Universities
|University||Location||25th Percentile||75th Percentile|
|Brown University||Providence, RI||1450||1570|
|California Institute of Technology||Pasadena, CA||1540||1580|
|Carnegie Mellon University||Pittsburgh, PA||1410||1540|
|Columbia University||New York, NY||1490||1580|
|Cornell University||Ithaca, NY||1390||1530|
|Dartmouth College||Hanover, NH||1430||1560|
|Duke University||Durham, NC||1315||1570|
|Emory University||Atlanta, GA||1360||1490|
|Georgetown University||Washington, D.C.||1320||1520|
|Harvard University||Cambridge, MA||1470||1570|
|Johns Hopkins University||Baltimore, MD||1480||1560|
|Massachusetts Institute of Technology||Cambridge, MA||1500||1570|
|New York University||New York, NY||1360||1500|
|Northwestern University||Evanston, IL||1440||1540|
|Princeton University||Princeton, NJ||1380||1540|
|Rice University||Houston, TX||1440||1560|
|Stanford University||Stanford, CA||1390||1540|
|Tufts University||Medford, MA||1410||1540|
|University of California, Berkeley||Berkeley, CA||1280||1490|
|University of California, Los Angeles||Los Angeles, CA||1280||1500|
|University of Chicago||Chicago, IL||1460||1560|
|University of Michigan, Ann Arbor||Ann Arbor, MI||1380||1540|
|University of Notre Dame||Notre Dame, IN||1390||1530|
|University of Pennsylvania||Philadelphia, PA||1370||1520|
|University of Southern California||Los Angeles, CA||1320||1480|
|University of Virginia||Charlottesville, VA||1320||1500|
|Vanderbilt University||Nashville, TN||1400||1550|
|Wake Forest University||Winston-Salem, NC||1320||1490|
|Washington University in St. Louis||St. Louis, MO||1500||1560|
|Yale University||New Haven, CT||1460||1600|
|Tufts University||Medford, MA||1380||1530|
|University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill||Chapel Hill, NC||1270||1470|
|University of Rochester||Rochester, NY||1320||1500|
|University of California-Santa Barbara||Santa Barbara, CA||1230||1480|
|University of Florida||Gainesville, FL||1280||1440|
|University of California-Irvine||Irvine, FL||1180||1440|
|Boston College||Chestnut Hill, MA||1320||1490|
|University of California-San Diego||San Diego, CA||1250||1470|
|University of Cailfornia-Davis||Davis, CA||1150||1410|
|Boston University||Boston, MA||1300||1500|
|Brandeis University||Waltham, MA||1280||1500|
|Case Western University||Cleveland, OH||1350||1520|
|College of William and Mary||Williamsburg, VA||1310||1490|
|Northeastern University||Boston, MA||1360||1540|
|Tulane University||New Orleans, LA||1350||1490|
|Villanova University||Villanova, PA||1300||1470|
|University of Illinois-Urbana Champaign||Champaign, IL||1220||1480|
|University of Texas-Austin||Austin, TX||1230||1480|
|Lehigh University||Lehigh, PA||1270||1450|
|Pepperdine University||Malibu, CA||1220||1420|
Where should my SAT range fall and what do 25th and 75th percentile mean?
The 25th and 75th percentiles show the range in which students fall at each university. For the most selective universities, students should plan on falling closer toward the 75th percentile.
The 25th percentile score shows students the score that a group under 25% of total students at a college scored under. Conversely, the 75th percentile score shows us the score at which only 25% of students at a university scored above. The range between 25th and 75th percentile score is called an interquartile score. If you plan to apply to a university, it is helpful to be somewhere in the middle 50% as a starting point. This is especially true for University of California, University of Texas and other state-based systems that often do take raw data and lean into testing and grades more than some smaller private schools.