SAT Requirements for the Top 50 Colleges (2023)

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.

Table Key:

  • 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

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School NameUS News RankingSAT Requirements
Princeton University1Highest section - version 2
Harvard University 2 Highest section - version 1
Columbia University3Highest section - version 1
Massachusetts Institute of Technology3Highest section - version 1
University of Chicago 3Highest section - version 1
Yale University3All scores
Stanford University7All scores
Duke University8Highest section - version 2
University of Pennsylvania8All scores
Johns Hopkins University10Highest section - version 2
Northwestern University10Highest section - version 2
California Institute of Technology12Highest section - version 1
Dartmouth Colege12Highest section - version 2
Brown University14Highest section - version 1
Vanderbilt University14Highest section - version 2
Cornell University16All scores
Rice University16All scores
University of Notre Dame18Highest section - version 2
University of California - Los Angeles19All scores
Washington University in St. Louis19Highest section - version 2
Emory University21Highest section - version 2
Georgetown University22All scores
University of California - Berkeley22All scores
University of Southern California22Highest section - version 2
Carnegie Mellon University25All scores
University of Virginia25Highest section - version 2
Tufts University27All scores
University of Michigan - Ann Arbor27Highest section - version 2
Wake Forest University27Highest section - version 2
New York University30Highest section - version 2
University of California - Santa Barbara30All scores
University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill30Highest section - version 2
University of California - Irvine33All scores
University of Rochester33Highest section - version 2
Brandeis University35Highest section - version 2
Georgia Institute of Technology35Highest section - version 2
University of Florida35Highest section - version 2
Boston College38Highest section - version 2
College of William and Mary38Highest section - version 2
University of California - Davis38All scores
Boston University42Highest section - version 2
Case Western Reserve University42Highest section - version 2
Northeastern University44Highest section - version 2
Tulane University44Highest section - version 2
Pepperdine University46Highest section - version 2
University of Georgia46Highest section - version 2
University of Illinois - Urbana Champaign46Highest section - version 2
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute49Highest section - version 2
University of Texas - Austin49Highest sitting - version 1
University of Wisconsin - Madison49Highest sitting - version 1
Villanova University49Highest section - version 2
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SAT Requirements for the Top 50 Liberal Arts Colleges

School NameUS News RankingSAT Requirements
Williams College1Highest section - version 1
Amherst College2Highest section - version 1
Swarthmore College3Highest section - version 2
Wellesley College4Highest section - version 2
Bowdoin College5All scores
Carleton College5Highest section - version 2
Middlebury College5Highest section - version 2
Pomona College5All scores
Claremont McKenna College9Highest section - version 2
Davidson College10Highest section - version 2
Grinnell College11Highest section - version 1
Haverford College11Highest section - version 2
Smith College11Highest section - version 2
Vassar College11Highest section - version 2
Washington and Lee University11Highest section - version 2
Colgate University16All scores
Hamilton College16Highest section - version 1
Colby College18Highest section - version 2
Harvey Mudd College18All scores
United States Military Academy (West Point)18Highest section - version 2
Wesleyan University18Highest section - version 1
Bates College22Highest section - version 2
Soka University of America22All scores
United States Naval Academy22Highest section - version 2
Barnard College25All scores
University of Richmond25Highest section - version 2
Bryn Mawr College27Highest section - version 2
Colorado College27Highest section - version 1
Macalester College27All scores
Kenyon College27Highest section - version 2
Mount Holyoke College30Highest section - version 1
Oberlin College30Highest section - version 1
Scripps College30All scores
United States Air Force Academy30Highest section - version 2
College of the Holy Cross35Highest section - version 1
Bucknell University36Highest section - version 1
Franklin and Marshall College36Highest section - version 2
Lafayette College36Highest section - version 2
Occidental College39Highest section - version 2
Pitzer College41Highest section - version 2
Skidmore College41Highest section - version 2
Denison University43Highest section - version 1
Thomas Aquinas College43Highest section - version 1
Whitman College 43Highest section - version 2
Centre College46Highest section - version 2
Connecticut College46Highest sitting - version 1
Trinity College46Highest section - version 2
Gettysburg College49Highest section - version 2
Sewanee - University of the South49Highest 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.

Tags :which sat scores to send,score submission policies,score choice,sat requirements,SAT scores

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