SAT Requirements for the Top 50 Colleges
July 22, 2019
SAT Requirements for the Top 50 Colleges
If you’ve taken the SAT multiple times, sorting through all your scores can seem like a hassle - especially when you’ve got particular sections or sittings where your performance is way better than others. Guess what? You don’t always have to send in every one your scores to all of your schools. If you’re concerned about your test scores and don’t want to send every score, schools’ SAT requirements are something to pay attention to when you start working on your college applications.
From the amount of preparation, to extenuating circumstances such as an illness on the test date, to plain old luck, SAT scores depend on a lot of factors. You might have test dates where you’ve scored significantly better, or fluke section scores you’d rather not show to colleges. This is where SAT requirements play an important part.
Many schools don’t need to look at all of your test scores. Not only can you choose which score you send to these schools, but depending on the policy, sometimes only your highest section or best test dates will count. To help you understand the distinct policies better, I’ve outlined the difference between Score Choice and Superscore, the SAT requirements at the top 50 national universities and liberal arts colleges, and how to strategize your score submission to make sure you present your best self in the college admissions process.
The Different Scoring Policies
When it comes to SAT requirements, you’ll hear the words Score Choice and Superscore thrown around a lot. Both of them are useful to know if you’ve taken the SAT multiple times.
Score Choice is a policy which allows you to choose exactly which scores from a single test date you will send to a college. Under Score Choice rules, you will not be able to pick the highest test section scores and combine them, but you can choose your scores from specific dates. In this case, prioritize the highest composite score. For example, if you’ve gotten an 800 in Math on your October SAT and a total of 1460, but a 760 in Math and a total of 1520 on your November SAT, you should submit the November SAT score, regardless of the lower Math score.
Superscore, on the other hand, allows you to pick and choose, sending the highest score from each section for your schools to consider. So, if you got an 800 in Math on your June sitting, but a 760 in your August, Superscore allows you to combine them. You can create an advantageous composite score by using the higher Math score alongside your higher Critical Reading, regardless of which sitting each score was from.
You need to know which schools use which policy. Outlined below are the SAT requirements for the top 50 national universities and liberal arts colleges, and the specific ways they might use Superscore and Score Choice.
- All scores - The school considers all of your SAT scores in its review process and requires that you submit all SAT scores from all test dates.
- Highest section - version 1 - The school considers your highest section scores across all SAT scores that you submit, but looks at all your scores (the school keeps lower scores visible).
- Highest section - version 2 - The school considers your highest section scores that you submit. Only your highest score from each section will be looked at in the admissions decision.
- Highest sitting - version 1 - The school considers the SAT scores from your single highest test date, regardless of section scores, but looks at all your test dates. (the school keeps lower scores visible).
- Highest sitting - version 2 - The school considers only the scores from your single highest test date and does not look at scores from any other date.
SAT Requirements for the Top 50 National Universities
|School Name||US News Ranking||SAT Requirements|
|Princeton University||1||Highest section - version 2|
|Harvard University||2||Highest section - version 1|
|Columbia University||3||Highest section - version 1|
|Massachusetts Institute of Technology||3||Highest section - version 1|
|University of Chicago||3||Highest section - version 1|
|Yale University||3||All scores|
|Stanford University||7||All scores|
|Duke University||8||Highest section - version 2|
|University of Pennsylvania||8||All scores|
|Johns Hopkins University||10||Highest section - version 2|
|Northwestern University||10||Highest section - version 2|
|California Institute of Technology||12||Highest section - version 1|
|Dartmouth Colege||12||Highest section - version 2|
|Brown University||14||Highest section - version 1|
|Vanderbilt University||14||Highest section - version 2|
|Cornell University||16||All scores|
|Rice University||16||All scores|
|University of Notre Dame||18||Highest section - version 2|
|University of California - Los Angeles||19||All scores|
|Washington University in St. Louis||19||Highest section - version 2|
|Emory University||21||Highest section - version 2|
|Georgetown University||22||All scores|
|University of California - Berkeley||22||All scores|
|University of Southern California||22||Highest section - version 2|
|Carnegie Mellon University||25||All scores|
|University of Virginia||25||Highest section - version 2|
|Tufts University||27||All scores|
|University of Michigan - Ann Arbor||27||Highest section - version 2|
|Wake Forest University||27||Highest section - version 2|
|New York University||30||Highest section - version 2|
|University of California - Santa Barbara||30||All scores|
|University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill||30||Highest section - version 2|
|University of California - Irvine||33||All scores|
|University of Rochester||33||Highest section - version 2|
|Brandeis University||35||Highest section - version 2|
|Georgia Institute of Technology||35||Highest section - version 2|
|University of Florida||35||Highest section - version 2|
|Boston College||38||Highest section - version 2|
|College of William and Mary||38||Highest section - version 2|
|University of California - Davis||38||All scores|
|Boston University||42||Highest section - version 2|
|Case Western Reserve University||42||Highest section - version 2|
|Northeastern University||44||Highest section - version 2|
|Tulane University||44||Highest section - version 2|
|Pepperdine University||46||Highest section - version 2|
|University of Georgia||46||Highest section - version 2|
|University of Illinois - Urbana Champaign||46||Highest section - version 2|
|Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute||49||Highest section - version 2|
|University of Texas - Austin||49||Highest sitting - version 1|
|University of Wisconsin - Madison||49||Highest sitting - version 1|
|Villanova University||49||Highest section - version 2|
SAT Requirements for the Top 50 Liberal Arts Colleges
|School Name||US News Ranking||SAT Requirements|
|Williams College||1||Highest section - version 1|
|Amherst College||2||Highest section - version 1|
|Swarthmore College||3||Highest section - version 2|
|Wellesley College||4||Highest section - version 2|
|Bowdoin College||5||All scores|
|Carleton College||5||Highest section - version 2|
|Middlebury College||5||Highest section - version 2|
|Pomona College||5||All scores|
|Claremont McKenna College||9||Highest section - version 2|
|Davidson College||10||Highest section - version 2|
|Grinnell College||11||Highest section - version 1|
|Haverford College||11||Highest section - version 2|
|Smith College||11||Highest section - version 2|
|Vassar College||11||Highest section - version 2|
|Washington and Lee University||11||Highest section - version 2|
|Colgate University||16||All scores|
|Hamilton College||16||Highest section - version 1|
|Colby College||18||Highest section - version 2|
|Harvey Mudd College||18||All scores|
|United States Military Academy (West Point)||18||Highest section - version 2|
|Wesleyan University||18||Highest section - version 1|
|Bates College||22||Highest section - version 2|
|Soka University of America||22||All scores|
|United States Naval Academy||22||Highest section - version 2|
|Barnard College||25||All scores|
|University of Richmond||25||Highest section - version 2|
|Bryn Mawr College||27||Highest section - version 2|
|Colorado College||27||Highest section - version 1|
|Macalester College||27||All scores|
|Kenyon College||27||Highest section - version 2|
|Mount Holyoke College||30||Highest section - version 1|
|Oberlin College||30||Highest section - version 1|
|Scripps College||30||All scores|
|United States Air Force Academy||30||Highest section - version 2|
|College of the Holy Cross||35||Highest section - version 1|
|Bucknell University||36||Highest section - version 1|
|Franklin and Marshall College||36||Highest section - version 2|
|Lafayette College||36||Highest section - version 2|
|Occidental College||39||Highest section - version 2|
|Pitzer College||41||Highest section - version 2|
|Skidmore College||41||Highest section - version 2|
|Denison University||43||Highest section - version 1|
|Thomas Aquinas College||43||Highest section - version 1|
|Whitman College||43||Highest section - version 2|
|Centre College||46||Highest section - version 2|
|Connecticut College||46||Highest sitting - version 1|
|Trinity College||46||Highest section - version 2|
|Gettysburg College||49||Highest section - version 2|
|Sewanee - University of the South||49||Highest section - version 2|
It’s clear from the table that the majority of top schools prioritize the best sections and you can generally benefit from sending different sets of scores rather than one sitting if your section scores have varied. Note that a few top schools such as Yale, Stanford, UPenn, Georgetown, and all the UC schools, require that you send in all scores, so there is no way to game it.
Score Submission Strategies
Now that you’ve gone through the SAT requirements at the top colleges, here are some pointers to keep in mind when strategizing how to send your scores.
- Read the policies very carefully - Pay attention to the wording schools use to outline their SAT requirements. A school may follow a certain policy, but still have additional preferences. For example, Princeton notes, “We allow applicants to use the Score Choice feature of the SAT but we encourage the submission of all test scores.” So even though you are definitely allowed to choose which scores you submit - and the school will Superscore accordingly - the word “encourage” clearly means that you should send in all scores.
- Think about your school list - The SAT requirements for top schools might affect how you plan your college list. If you had hoped to apply to Stanford but you’ve scored very poorly at a particular sitting, you might have to look at other options since Stanford considers all scores. On the other hand, if you scored poorly on the Critical Reading section the first time but got a considerably higher score the second time, you can take advantage of Duke or Northwestern’s scoring policies, as they only look at the highest score from each section.
- Check median scores - Checking the median scores of admitted students is another important factor when choosing which scores to send. At the end of the day, a “good score” is relative. You won’t know if you’ve done well according to a school’s standards unless you view the data. If a school uses Superscore and your highest section scores add up to fall within the median range of a school, you’re on the safer side.
- Consider SAT optional schools - Finally, if you’re not happy with any of your scores, consider test optional colleges. Some top schools such as UChicago, Bates, and Bowdoin don’t require that you submit SAT scores. So if your grades, personal statement, and extracurriculars are strong, but you think your SAT scores will bring you down, there’s no need to submit your SAT score to these schools.
It’s crucial to pay attention SAT requirements before you start panicking at the sight of a low score. While the SAT score isn’t the most important component of your application, numbers are easily comparable and having a competitive score can put you in a good position. If you’re not feeling confident about your scores, take advantage of schools with Superscore and Score Choice policies to make sure you’re able to put your best foot forward.