ACT scores to Harvard

Viewing the common data set, I can see that a 35 is the 75th percentile for harvard acceptance. This makes me feel somewhat comfortable, because this is what I scored. However, I know that many applicants have essentially perfect scores. Does anyone know the percent of students who have scores like this that got accepted/rejected? Maybe I should also note that I got 800’s on chem and math II subject SATs.

Harvard doesn’t publish that information.

My son, who had an unweighted 96.7 GPA from Stuyvesant High School, ranked about 20th in his class with 6 AP’s (all 5’s), 8 SAT Subject Tests (all 750+), and a 36 ACT, was rejected from Harvard, even though his sister was a sophomore at the school.

However, my son was also accepted to a wonderful group of colleges with those credentials, including Princeton, Dartmouth, Brown, Williams, Pomona, Middlebury, Georgetown, Boston College, Vanderbilt and Yale, where he graduated last May.

Bottom line: With a score of 35 – and I’m assuming you have the GPA to go along with it – so long as you apply to safety, target and reach schools, you will be accepted a large group of colleges. Harvard, may or may not be one of them. Best of luck to you!

Thank you very much for the response. This is obviously a very broad question, and possibly impossible to answer, but do you know what got your son into schools like Princeton and Yale. There’s scores, but many people have perfect scores. Was there some kind of sport or extra curricular that defined him? (and your daughter too for that matter)


Five years ago, my son received 10 acceptance letters and on every single letter was a handwritten note from either the Dean of Admissions or the Regional Admissions Director. Each note made mention of my son’s essay, as in “After reading your essay, the committee’s vote was unanimous” or “Loved your essay about your baseball coach” or “Welcome! Based on your essay, we feel you will be a huge asset to our school.” When my daughter applied to college six years ago, she received similar comments on her acceptance letters regarding her essays.

Not one comment on either my daughter or son’s acceptance letters said “Great SAT scores” or “Loved your teacher recommendations” or “What a wonderful transcript.”

So, IMHO, essays are the key. They are how Admissions Directors gets to know an applicant and how an Admissions Director remembers and differentiates you from other students. That said, essays are subjective, and not every Admissions Director likes the same thing, or looks for the same thing.

Do you have any tips for me? I know the common essay tips like “try to show your personality”, etc. But you clearly have first-hand experience with great writing across multiple children. I feel like my essays might be slightly lacking, but I find it hard to write in this way, because my entire schooling has trained me oppositely.

Based on stats published by Brown and what I’ve seen at a few other elite schools (for instance, from Stanford’s interviewer handbook). About 75% of perfect scorers are rejected these days. Of course, this says nothing about what other attributes they had or didn’t have.

You can write a wonderful essay about any topic; you can also write a horrible essay about the very same topic. Much depends on what you say, how you say it and the “tone” of your essay. My schedule doesn’t permit me to work with student’s on their essays, but these two articles have some great advice, all of which I agree with.

I just shared your links with my daughter. Thanks for the generous insight @gibby

Wow. I wish I had the chance to read what must have been an extraordianarily rich and compelling essay.