Harvard ACT Scores: Full Breakdown

Harvard ACT Scores: Full Breakdown

Harvard University requires much of its applicants if they hope to be successful. Across schools nationwide, standardized testing is a notorious part of the college application process – this article breaks down Harvard-specific ACT requirements and Harvard ACT scores. In addition to this post, check out our other two articles that discuss Harvard’s SAT and GPA expectations!

What is the average ACT score at Harvard?

In keeping with its reputation of academic excellence, Harvard’s average composite ACT score falls around a 34, out of the maximum possible 36 points. This is significantly higher than the national average of about 21. The 25th percentile score for the incoming Class of 2025 was a 33, and the 75th percentile was a composite score of 36. This means that the lowest 25% of scorers achieved a 33 or below, and the highest 25% of scorers had a perfect ACT composite score. These numbers demonstrate the high standards Harvard holds for its students. However, the range also shows that there is no one number that applicants must achieve for admission.

What is the average ACT English score at Harvard?

The ACT composite score is the average of the scores a student achieves on each of the four test sections: English, mathematics, reading, and science. Here, we will break down the Harvard ACT English and Math score statistics.

The average ACT English score at Harvard for the enrolled Class of 2025 was between 35 and 36, with the 25th and 75th percentiles falling at each of those scores. Overall, Harvard students perform very well on the English section of the ACT, with the majority achieving perfect or nearly perfect scores.

What is the average ACT Math score at Harvard?

The average ACT Math score for the Class of 2025 fell between the 25th and 75th percentiles of 32 and 35. Therefore, an ACT Math score of 34 or 35 would place you around the middle 50% of scorers at Harvard. While these scores are a bit lower than the English section scores, they are still quite high. However, as with the other sections, there is no one particular benchmark that applicants must meet. Now, let’s look at the specific Harvard ACT requirements.

What are Harvard’s ACT requirements?

For the Classes of 2027 through 2030, Harvard has made its applications test-optional. This means that applicants are not required to submit standardized test scores. Furthermore, applicants who choose not to do so will not be at a disadvantage. However, students are still welcome and encouraged to submit any materials and scores they feel will help their application. If you have an ACT score you are proud of, feel free to submit it along with the rest of your application – good scores only help. 

Applying students are allowed to self-report their ACT test scores in their applications. Admitted students who plan to enroll will later be required to submit official test score documentation. 

In accordance with their current test-optional policy, Harvard does not require the Writing section of the ACT. If students want to submit Writing section scores along with their multiple choice section scores, however, they are more than welcome to do so. Application reviewers will take into account whatever information an applicant provides. 

More information regarding Harvard ACT requirements can be found on their helpful Application Requirements webpage. 

What percent of Harvard applicants submit the ACT?

Of all the students who enrolled at Harvard in the fall of 2021, 31% submitted ACT scores. 54% submitted SAT scores, and the remaining 15% did not submit either. The SAT remains the most popular standardized test among accepted applicants, but students should select the test that most closely meets their needs. There is no disadvantage to submitting one over the other, or to omitting test scores entirely. The best decision will vary depending on an individual’s strengths, weaknesses, and scores. 

Should I go test-optional?

Now that we’ve reviewed the stats, let’s discuss options. Whether or not an applicant submits scores is an entirely personal decision. However, we emphasize that a good score can only help an applicant. Therefore, if circumstance allows, we recommend that every applicant take either the ACT or SAT at least once. If they perform well, then their score will boost their application, and if it goes poorly, then they can omit the score from their Harvard application. 

What determines a “good score” depends on the context of the school. A good rule-of-thumb is to compare scores to the average of the college, and if the score is within the middle 50% range, then the score is comparable to the college’s standard. In such a case, sending the score would likely only help the applicant.

Does Harvard superscore the ACT?

Harvard does not generate superscores for its applicants. Instead, they will evaluate your strongest single ACT sitting. If you choose to send your pre-generated ACT Superscore, Harvard will also receive the full scores for your single strongest sitting. This means that, even if you send the superscore, Harvard will still see and evaluate your highest composite ACT score from a single test day. If you choose to submit ACT scores, each of these values will be considered as a part of your application. More information about superscoring and other testing FAQs can be found under the Applying to Harvard section on Harvard’s FAQ page.

However, Harvard does allow applicants to use the ACT equivalent of the College Board Score Choice option. This means that applicants can select which test dates they want to submit scores from. (Keep in mind that using the ACT Superscore function will reveal the full results from your best single test, regardless.) This is a useful option for students who may want to submit one or two scores they are most proud of, but would prefer to keep others private. 

What’s a good ACT score for Harvard?

Harvard does not have set ACT score requirements or cutoffs. They specifically state that they do not “admit by the numbers,” and there is no one score that an applicant must achieve to earn the attention of the admissions committee. Nevertheless, the vast majority of admitted students have highly competitive scores. The statistics above show that the average Harvard ACT score hovers around a 34, so aiming for a score within a point or two of or that average will set up an applicant for success. The highest 25% of ACT scorers at Harvard achieved a perfect 36 composite score – a really “good” score at Harvard will inevitably be quite high.

Section25th50th75th
Composite343536
English353536
Math323435

Can I get into Harvard with a low ACT?

Getting into Harvard with a low ACT score is not impossible, especially since Harvard is now test-optional. An ACT score on the lower end of Harvard’s score range will still be quite high: the lowest quarter of Harvard scorers still achieved up to a 33. With this in mind, it would be in the applicant’s best interest to aim for at least the lower quartile score of 33, if not higher. 

Even with a score below Harvard’s average, doing well in the application ring is not impossible. In-school academics and extracurricular achievements play an important role in the judgment of applications, and essays are weighted heavily. A student with a low ACT score who omits to submit their scores and instead uses their Harvard application to highlight extracurricular strengths may fare better than an applicant with a 36 on the ACT but little else to recommend them. Therefore, while standardized testing can be an important tool in the application process, it is not the only thing a student should focus on. Devoting time and energy to extracurricular projects and interests, as well as classes and schoolwork, is arguably more important for test-optional applications like Harvard’s. 

When should I take the ACT for Harvard?

The junior spring of high school preceding college application deadlines is often referred to as an ideal time to take standardized tests for college admissions. The ACT administration recommends taking the exam at least two months before the application deadlines for the colleges you plan to send scores to. Harvard specifically asks that students applying via Restrictive Early Action submit their results for receipt by the end of October. However, the scores from the November series are acceptable, if necessary.

Regular Decision applicants should aim to submit test results as early as possible, ideally before the end of November to facilitate an early start to the application evaluation process. The very last ACT date that Harvard will accept scores from is the February sitting, as specified on their First Year Application Timeline

What is Harvard’s ACT code?

Harvard’s ACT code for submitting official test scores is 1840

While Harvard no longer requires applicants to submit ACT or SAT test scores, the standards for those who do choose to submit scores are still quite high. Choosing not to take the exams or to omit scores from an application will not harm an applicant, but sending a good score can only help. Ultimately, the decision of whether to take and submit exam scores is a personal decision to be evaluated in the context of an applicant’s strengths, goals, and priorities. If you are considering the SAT instead, be sure to check out our Harvard SAT Breakdown, as well as our article on Harvard’s GPA stats!

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