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Harvard Acceptance Rate – How Hard is It To Get In?

You will need help finding a university as popular and dignified as Harvard University. Harvard is regarded as the best university in the United States and the world.

Type “the best universities in the world” in your browser this moment, and Harvard will rank among the top five. As a result of its leadership and pioneering status among universities, it is one of the most challenging schools to get into.

The acceptance rate of this great school is also meager and has remained that way for many years. Students must bring their ‘A’ game to study here, including near-perfect GPAs, SAT, and ACT scores.

Even with the stringent academic and extracurricular requirements, thousands of top students worldwide apply each year. Also, the application process is long, and part of your efforts includes a written essay you have to craft yourself and submit to the admission committee.

Among other important information, this article will expose you to the acceptance rate, academic requirements, and other resources you need to get into Harvard University.

Harvard University Acceptance Rate

Ultra-wealthy parents donating a building or huge sums of money is expected in a school like Harvard. Even heavily-recruited athletes are some of the rarities you may come across. But one thing is common. You must have all the requirements to unlock the gates to Harvard Yard. That’s because you’re going to join a long list of applicants with sparkling transcripts and exceptional test scores.

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While being a genius or having prodigious talents gives you an upper hand, it’s by no means all-sufficient to get you in. For example, Harvard rejects valedictorians every day of the admissions cycle, but with some straightforward guides, you can make it in. The best place to start is with the acceptance rate of this great school.

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The acceptance rate of Harvard University is 4%. But certain factors can see that percentage roll down to about 3.5% or get as high as 7%. For example, the Crimson Class of 2026 was accepted at a 7.9% clip. Out of the 9,406 early applicants, just 740 were admitted.

Another example is the Class of 2025 REA numbers, where 747 out of 10,086 REA applications to join the 2021-22 freshman class were admitted at an acceptance rate of 7.4%. Further, 8,023 applicants were deferred to the regular cycle, while 924 received an outright rejection.

The Class of 2026 saw a record 61,220 applicants, out of which a distinctly low 1,954 hopefuls were admitted. That translates to a record low 3.19% acceptance rate, similar to but pales, compared to the 3.43% rate for the Class of 2025.

Contrast the above data to 40,248 applications submitted for a place in the 2020-21 first-year class, where about 1,980 were accepted, which equated to a 4.9% acceptance rate.

Harvard University: SAT and ACT Requirements

The requirements are examined below if you’re wondering how you can get into Harvard based on the SAT and ACT scores.

Some schools will tell you that they do not have a cutoff mark for SAT scores, but that is farther from the truth. Thankfully, Harvard does not kid around with its SAT requirements based on the average score. To that extent, Harvard’s average SAT composite score is 1520, going on a 1600-point scale. With this score, getting in is highly competitive with SAT results.

In addition, Harvard super scores the SAT, meaning that your top section scores across every SAT date are considered. Instead of limiting your results to just one day, the admissions committee combines your best section scores to obtain the highest possible composite score.

Just like the requirements for SAT, the average ACT score at Harvard continues to rise. Currently, the average ACT score is 33. Note that you won’t find a confirmed minimum ACT score from Harvard, but if you apply with 29 or lower, your chances of getting in significantly reduce. In line with that, always keep the test scores requirements at the back of your mind before entering your application.

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Despite the low acceptance rate associated with Harvard, good SAT and ACT scores can increase your chances of getting into the university.

Harvard University GPA Requirements

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GPA provides many permutations, and many schools give you an idea of their minimum GPA requirement. Moreover, your GPA is a prerequisite to prevent your application from getting rejected.

One tip to help you estimate Harvard’s requirements is to look at the school’s current students’ average GPA. Almost every student admitted to Harvard has an unweighted GPA of 4.18 or above, meaning students need a 4.2 to be seriously evaluated.

You’ll have to score primarily A’s in your high school subjects to meet the GPA requirements based on the information above. Another ace up your sleeve is enrolling in challenging subjects, such as AP or IB courses, demonstrating that college-level academics are simple. However, Harvard has some specific acceptance rates for Undergraduate Levels. So, if you’re a junior or senior, changing your GPA on time for a college application takes a lot of work.

Further, your GPA may fall below Harvard’s requirements. If that is the case, ensure your SAT and ACT scores are better to compensate for your low GPA.

As you’ll see later, Harvard encourages a balanced weight selection method to analyze each applicant. Your general application must be all-encompassing across different areas of life to give you a headstart in the process.

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A university is a place where you learn everything about something and something about everything. So, Havard aims for the best, whether you’re a genius with the talent to paint, write, conduct scientific experiments, or do other endeavors.

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Additionally, the world is technologically advanced, so you’ll find more than a handful of experts operating at a higher level than yours. That said, you can stand out in any capacity you choose to while having a fair enough ability in others.

Following the information above, one thing is clear: Harvard is on the lookout for smart young students who are among the best or have the potential to be among the very best at any niche in the world.

While it’s great to have a rounded knowledge, Harvard is not overly interested in a “jack of all trades” type of applicant. Simply put, you have to know your stuff and excel at it. You can draw inspiration from the list of notable Crimson alumni to get a sense of what the university is looking for.

Along with other leading universities in the world, Harvard wants to develop the next generation of politicians, award-winning writers, scientists, intellectuals, thespians, musicians, and tech geniuses whose inventions and innovations will add meaning to the world. Always look for ways to excel in academics and on the extracurricular front.

How Does Harvard Rate Applicants?

The admissions committee has to soft through many applicants and the information they provide before selecting its preferred students. To make things easier for the admissions officers, they use ratings of 1-4, in some cases, 1-6. This is the breakdown of the numbers:

  1. Academic
  2. Extracurricular
  3. Athletics
  4. Personal

Harvard adds pluses and minuses to the numeric rating to mark some differences and distinctions. Even with these ratings, some students are more than qualified.

If you must improve your chances of getting admitted, conduct a personal and accurate assessment of yourself using the four focal areas above. For example, distinguished athletes are actively recruited by the coaches of any of Harvard’s 42 Division I sports teams.

Further, your extracurriculars have to be above ordinary. Havard wants genuine excellence in one or several activities. So, winning a prestigious international math competition or an established debate competition is a step in the right direction.

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Some students impact society with scientific research and top-notch ideas like charitable organizations, and others create technology useful to many people. You, too, can stand out with personal interests you can share with the world.

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Harvard University: Tips to Get in

Follow these tips to fall within the requirements for Havard University:

  • Maintain a 4.22 GPA while taking the most difficult subjects in high school: The class of 2025 set the benchmark for this average, thanks to most applicants scoring at least a 4.0 GPA. So, it would help if you had strong grades to be considered, especially through challenging subjects. Also, many candidates for a top institution like Harvard have completed 12 or more AP courses.
  • Further, ensure you fall into a positive Academic Index, which combines an applicant’s academic record into a simple figure, so the committee can determine which candidates fall foul of its educational requirements.
  • Aim for good SAT and ACT scores: For these categories, aim for an SAT score of 1580 and an ACT score of 35. However, any score in the central 50% is acceptable, but as you go higher in test scores, the greater your chances of admission. Besides, Harvard does not superscore standardized test scores.
  • Craft interesting essays: Harvard welcomes a variety of candidates with exceptional skills, which explains why it has an acceptance rate of 4%. That of the Harvard Business School is 9%. But with your essay, you can show you have a unique and interesting voice and personality. To that end, you’re required to have one required essay and two optional essays, or you can send all three essays.
  • Ace the interview: The interview is probably the only aspect of the process that doesn’t hold much influence over admissions. But Harvard still considers them before making a decision. Ensure you do not get ‘surprised’ by the Harvard interview team by educating yourself about the procedure and preparing for it. For example, “tell us more about yourself” might present challenges if you’re not confident enough to answer them.
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Is getting into Harvard University difficult?

With an acceptance rate that rarely goes above 5 percent, Harvard takes some doing to get into. High GPA, SAT, and ACT scores must combine to give you a great chance. Moreover, your personality, essays, and interests play a huge role in the process.

How does Harvard University evaluate applicants?

The admissions committee considers each application and the applicant’s unique background, experiences, extracurricular capabilities, grades, and test scores.


If you are academically qualified, there is no harm in filling out a Harvard application. However, as with all top colleges, you need a great plan and grades to gain admission into Harvard.

Moreover, Harvard is an Ivy League university with a rich history of producing some of the best and brightest graduates. You can toe this line when you fill in applications matching every requirement. Further, most graduates from Harvard go on to enjoy successful careers in the sciences, business, and politics.

Now that you know the acceptance rate of this institution and other scores you will need, you can turn your focus to other aspects, such as extracurricular activities and interests. Count yourself privileged to attend Harvard with other successful candidates.


About Martin Vernon

A lifelong learner, educator, and advocate for education as a means for individual and social change. Thanks for stopping by and I hope you have a great day!

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