How to get into Harvard University

What you need to know

Strategy for getting into Harvard

Harvard University is one of the country’s best schools. Harvard prides itself on “preparing students for the challenges they will face beyond the classroom”.  The school is focused on maintaining a diverse and inclusive community, seeking to admit students with diverse backgrounds, skills and perspectives. Students spend their freshman year living in historic Harvard Yard and then move to one of 12 upper-class Residential Houses for the remaining 3 years. Students can select from one of 45 undergraduate concentrations (majors) and can also register for classes at other Harvard schools.

Harvard’s admit rate of 5.2% (14.8% Early Action) is slightly lower than last year’s rate and included a record number of African American and Asian American admittees, with the majority of students receiving some form of need-based financial aid.


  School Standardized Testing Stats

What you need to know

The average SAT score composite at Harvard University is a 2260


You must score extremely well. Harvard has one of the lowest acceptance rates of any college. You should aim for above 700 on all exams before you consider applying. Many students waste valuable time on a Harvard application that is completely unviable. That being said there are certainly outstanding and exceptional students who score in the mid-600s on certain areas of the exam who are admitted.

Section Average 25th Percentile 75th Percentile
Reading 750 700 800
Math 755 710 800
Writing 755 710 800
Composite 2260 2120 2400

  Application Essays

What you need to know

Harvard University application essay tips


Harvard wants to measure your growth and your potential for growth, as well as what you may contribute to the Harvard community. You should use your essays to discuss activities, causes, experiences, and subjects that you care about deeply. You will want to demonstrate this with anecdotes from your life that show you going above and beyond—truly stretching yourself. Harvard wants to see that you have the initiative to withstand the academic pressures of the school and that you are truly striving to attain your maximum personal and academic potential.

Additional Essays

You may wish to include an additional essay if you feel the college application forms do not provide sufficient opportunity to convey important information about yourself or your accomplishments. You may write on a topic of your choice, or you may choose from one of the following topics:

  • Unusual circumstances in your life
  • Travel or living experiences in other countries
  • A list of books you have read during the past twelve months
  • How you hope to use your college education
  • An intellectual experience (course, project, book, discussion, paper, poetry, or research topic in engineering, mathematics, science, or other modes of inquiry) that has meant the most to you
  • What you would want your future college roommate to know about you