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Required SAT Scores for the Top Tier Colleges and Universities

written by: Kate Henschel•edited by: Wendy Finn•updated: 1/23/2011

You've got your SAT scores in hand and can't wait to start applying to the best universities in the US. But what scores are required to get it? Read on for more information on the required SAT scores for top tier colleges and universities.

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    SAT Score Basics

    Your SAT score will be made up of three scores: critical reading (also known as verbal), math, and writing. Each section is worth a possible 800 points for a combined total of 2400 possible points. Colleges consider SAT scores to be a part of your overall application, but they are not the most important part. This means that having a high SAT score does not guarantee you admission, but a lower SAT score also won't automatically get you a rejection letter.

    Unfortunately, this flexibility means that there's no concrete answer as to whether or not your score is "good enough." The college may have a minimum score that they look for in applications for admission, but they don't release it to the public. Instead, you'll find a 25/75 range for most universities. This means it's the score for the 25th percentile and the 75th percentile of admitted students, or the range of the middle 50% of students. By comparing your score with these numbers, you can have a better idea of how you compare to other admitted students. If your score close to the 75th percentile score or higher, your score is strong compared to other students. If your score is close to the 25th percentile, your score isn't as strong as many of the admitted students. Don't get disheartened, though, because it means 25% of the admitted students have an SAT score lower than the 25th percentile average.

    Photo Credit: WikiMedia Commons 

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    Top Tier Colleges and their 25/75 SAT Ranges

    The U.S. News and World Report has released its top colleges and universities for 2011, and eleven universities have been ranked in the top ten this year (several universities tied for top positions). These top tier colleges and universities and their 25/75 SAT scores are:

    1. Harvard University:

    • Critical Reading: 690 / 780
    • Math: 690 / 790
    • Writing: 690 / 780

    2. Princeton University:

    • Critical Reading: 690 / 790
    • Math: 700 / 790
    • Writing: 700 / 780

    3. Yale University:

    • Critical Reading: 700 / 800
    • Math: 700 / 780
    • Writing: 700 / 790

    4. Columbia University:

    • Critical Reading: 680 / 770
    • Math: 680 / 780
    • Writing: 690 / 770

    5. Stanford University:

    • Critical Reading: 660 / 760
    • Math: 680 / 780
    • Writing: 670 / 760

    5. University of Pennsylvania:

    • Critical Reading: 660 / 750
    • Math: 690 / 780
    • Writing: 670 / 760

    7. California Institute of Technology (CalTech):

    • Critical Reading: 690 / 770
    • Math: 770 / 800
    • Writing: 680 / 770

    7. Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT):

    • Critical Reading: 650 / 760
    • Math: 720 / 800
    • Writing: 660 / 760

    9. Dartmouth College:

    • Critical Reading: 660 / 770
    • Math: 670 / 780
    • Writing: 670 / 770

    9. Duke University:

    • Critical Reading: 660 / 760
    • Math: 680 / 780
    • Writing: 660 / 760

    9. University of Chicago:

    • Critical Reading: 690 / 780
    • Math: 680 / 780
    • There is no data available for SAT Writing scores
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    So What Does it all Mean?

    If you're looking to go to the best school possible, you'll want to compare your scores with the ranges for SAT scores for top tier colleges and universities. Although there is not an actual minimum requirement publish for these top colleges, your SAT scores can be an important part of your application. The 25/75 ranges are just a reference, and they may change year to year. They may also vary by program, so student admitted to engineering programs may have higher average math scores and slightly lower verbal scores.

    References:

    College Profiles. http://collegeapps.about.com/od/collegeprofiles/College_Profiles.htm

    U.S. News and World Report. "National Universities Rankings." http://colleges.usnews.rankingsandreviews.com/best-colleges/national-universities-rankings