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Realistic Targets

Updated: Aug 16, 2021

One of the most challenging aspects about the College Admissions process is knowing where to even get started. Until a student has gotten his or her SAT/ACT scores back it is difficult to know which schools may be considered either Reaches, Targets, or Safety schools. While grades are probably the most important factor in College Admissions (sorry, but you’re not getting into Princeton with a B- GPA), SAT and ACT scores are another crucial part of the application process.


What you generally want to look for when considering realistic targets is whether or not you fit in a school’s “Interquartile” range of test scores - that is, whether you fit between the 25th and 75th percentile of students who got into that school in the previous year. If you are comfortably above that range, then the school probably represents a Safety school, while if you are in that range or below then it can be considered a Target or a Reach (depending on other factors like your GPA). While it is not impossible to get into a school if you fall below the 25th percentile SAT/ACT score, it is very difficult unless you have an incredible story or other mitigating circumstances.


Here is a list of the “Interquartile Ranges” for the top schools in the country, organized by the 25th percentile SAT score for each school:


Cal Tech:

SAT: 1530-1590

ACT: 34-35


MIT:

SAT: 1490-1570

ACT: 33-35


Rice:

SAT: 1490-1580

ACT: 33-35


Chicago:

SAT: 1480-1580

ACT: 32-35


Washington University in St. Louis:

SAT: 1470-1570

ACT: 32-34


Harvey Mudd:

SAT: 1470-1570

ACT: 33-35


Harvard:

SAT: 1460-1590

ACT: 32-35


Johns Hopkins:

SAT: 1460-1580

ACT: 33-35


Columbia:

SAT: 1450-1580

ACT: 32-35


Vanderbilt:

SAT: 1440-1570

ACT: 32-35


Princeton:

SAT: 1430-1570

ACT: 31-35


Dartmouth:

SAT: 1430-1560

ACT: 30-34


Carnegie Mellon:

SAT: 1430-1560

ACT: 32-35


Amherst College:

SAT: 1430-1560

ACT: 32-34


Yale:

SAT: 1420-1590

ACT: 32-35


Northwestern: SAT: 1420-1560

ACT: 32-35


Pennsylvania:

SAT: 1420-1560

ACT: 32-35


Duke:

SAT: 1410-1560

ACT: 31-35


Tufts:

SAT: 1410-1540

ACT: 31-34


Brown:

SAT: 1405-1570

ACT: 31-35


Williams:

SAT: 1400-1570

ACT: 31-35


Stanford:

SAT: 1390-1540

ACT: 32-35


Cornell:

SAT: 1390-1550

ACT: 31-34


Haverford:

SAT: 1390-1530

ACT: 31-34


Swarthmore:

SAT: 1380-1540

ACT: 31-34


Notre Dame:

SAT: 1370-1520

ACT: 32-34


Georgia Tech:

SAT: 1370-1520

ACT: 31-34


Northeastern:

SAT: 1370-1520

ACT: 32-34


Pomona:

SAT: 1370-1530

ACT: 30-34


Vassar:

SAT: 1370-1510

ACT: 31-33


Wellesley:

SAT: 1360-1530

ACT: 30-33


Carleton:

SAT: 1360-1530

ACT: 31-34


Hamilton:

SAT: 1360-1510

ACT: 31-33


Emory:

SAT: 1350-1520

ACT: 30-33


Georgetown:

SAT: 1350-1520

ACT: 30-34


Washington and Lee:

SAT: 1350-1490

ACT: 31-33


Claremont McKenna:

SAT: 1340-1510

ACT: 30-34


Colby:

SAT: 1340-1500

ACT: 31-33


Case Western

SAT: 1340-1520

ACT: 30-33


Illinois Urbana-Champaign

SAT: 1340-1500

ACT: 26-32


Michigan:

SAT: 1330-1500

ACT: 30-33


Tulane:

SAT: 1330-1490

ACT: 30-33


Middlebury:

SAT: 1320-1510

ACT: 30-34


Rensselaer Polytechnic:

SAT: 1320-1500

ACT: 28-32


Boston College:

SAT: 1320-1490

ACT: 31-33


Davidson:

SAT: 1310-1470

ACT: 30-33


Grinnell:

SAT: 1310-1510

ACT: 30-34


Colgate:

SAT: 1310-1500

ACT: 31-33


Virginia:

SAT: 1310-1500

ACT: 29-33


Barnard:

SAT: 1310-1500

ACT: 30-33


Bryn Mawr:

SAT: 1310-1500

ACT: 29-33


Pitzer:

SAT: 1310-1490

ACT: 29-32


UC Berkeley:

SAT: 1300-1530

ACT: 29-34


USC

SAT: 1300-1500

ACT: 30-34


University of Rochester:

SAT: 1300-1490

ACT: 29-33


College of William and Mary:

SAT: 1300-1480 ACT: 29-33


Boston University:

SAT: 1300-1480

ACT: 29-32


Wesleyan:

SAT: 1300-1500

ACT: 29-33


Colorado College:

SAT: 1300-1490

ACT: 29-33


Macalester:

SAT: 1300-1480

ACT: 29-32


Smith:

SAT: 1290-1490

ACT: 30-33


Bowdoin:

SAT: 1290-1510

ACT: 30-34


NYU:

SAT: 1290-1490

ACT: 29-33


Scripps:

SAT: 1290-1460

ACT: 29-33


Brandeis: SAT: 1280-1470

ACT: 29-33


University of Wisconsin - Madison

SAT: 1280-1450

ACT: 27-31


Oberlin:

SAT: 1280-1450

ACT: 28-33


Occidental:

SAT: 1280-1440

ACT: 27-32


Union:

SAT: 1270-1430

ACT: 29-32


Bates:

SAT: 1270-1450

ACT: 29-32


Richmond:

SAT: 1270-1460

ACT: 29-32


U.S. Air Force Academy:

SAT: 1270-1410

ACT: 29-33


College of the Holy Cross:

SAT: 1270-1410

ACT: 28-31


Villanova:

SAT: 1270-1450

ACT: 30-33


Lehigh:

SAT: 1270-1430

ACT: 29-32


Mount Holyoke:

SAT: 1270-1460

ACT: 29-33


Connecticut College:

SAT: 1270-1400

ACT: 29-31


Gettysburg:

SAT: 1270-1410

ACT: 26-30


Trinity:

SAT: 1260-1420

ACT: 28-32


Kenyon:

SAT: 1260-1460

ACT: 29-33


Wake Forest:

SAT: 1260-1440

ACT: 28-32


UNC Chapel Hill

SAT: 1260-1440

ACT: 27-32


Ohio State:

SAT: 1260-1450

ACT: 27-31


Franklin and Marshall:

SAT: 1260-1420

ACT: 28-32


Lafayette:

SAT: 1260-1440

ACT: 28-31


Bucknell:

SAT: 1250-1420

ACT: 28-31


Whitman:

SAT: 1250-1450

ACT: 26-31


UCLA:

SAT: 1240-1500

ACT: 27-33


Sarah Lawrence:

SAT: 1240-1410

ACT: 27-31


Florida:

SAT: 1240-1400

ACT: 28-32


UC Santa Barbara:

SAT: 1240-1470

ACT: 26-32


University of Texas - Austin

SAT: 1230-1460

ACT: 26-33


Miami

SAT: 1220-1410

ACT: 28-32


Skidmore:

SAT: 1200-1400

ACT: 27-31


Denison:

SAT: 1200-1380

ACT: 28-31


Thomas Aquinas:

SAT: 1200-1380

ACT: 25-30


Pepperdine:

SAT: 1200-1390

ACT: 26-31


Georgia:

SAT: 1200-1370

ACT: 26-31


U.S. Military Academy (West Point):

SAT: 1185-1400

ACT: 23-28


Center College:

SAT: 1170-1410

ACT: 26-31


Syracuse:

SAT: 1160-1350

ACT: 25-30


UC San Diego:

SAT: 1140-1380

ACT: 26-32


UC Davis:

SAT: 1120-1360

ACT: 25-31


Remember, though, that test scores alone will NOT get you into a school by themselves. It's better to think of your SAT or ACT score as a "key" that will get your application seriously considered by the admissions committee. However, you better make sure to keep up your grades, engage in a number of extracurricular activities, and write some killer essays even if you are comfortably above the 75th percentile of any school that you are applying to!



Don't even know where to begin? Check out our handy list!

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