Are grades and SAT scores a pass or fail factor in admissions?

Is it true that grades and SAT scores are simply a pass or fail factor in admissions to the top colleges? (Harvard, Yale, Upenn, etc.) Aren’t out of school activities the main determining factor, or do grades and SAT scores count more than just a pass/fail?

Some people told me that grades and SAT scores are an important factor, others tell me it’s just a pass or fail to see if you’re qualified. Which is true?

Grades and SAT scores are a very important factor. Now, it’s not a solid determinant, but in most cases, good grades and good SAT scores are required for top colleges. However, there are obvious exceptions. If you get into ISEF, they might let a lukewarm SAT score or a B+/A- GPA pass. If you are an olympic gold medalist, Your SAT score could be in the upper 1000’s and your GPA might be a low B average and you’d still be a serious contender. It just depends. However, if you are captain of your soccer team, president of lit club, and student council vice president, don’t expect that to make up for mediocre test scores or GPA.

For top schools, I’d say it’s more of a pass/fail as in if you’re academically qualified or not.

However, that does not mean they are not important. No activity is going to make up for a poor GPA and SAT score. It’s just that so many people have high stats that it seems like they’re not as important anymore.

Grades get you to the door, but the rest of the application (Activities, essays, recs) really gets you through it.