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Why a 4.0 high school GPA and 2400 SAT won’t get you into Harvard

by John

High school GPA and SAT score to get into the Ivy LeaguesFirst off, there’s no need to freak out if you’re not the valedictorian or salutatorian.

Did you know that the vast majority of admits to Harvard and Stanford aren’t?

Here’s what you need to know about your high school GPA to get into the Ivy Leagues:

1) It’s ok to have a poor freshman year GPA. What’s important is to show an UPWARD TREND – improvement over time

2) As important as your high school GPA is your transcript and the classes you take. Be sure to take the HARDEST CLASSES AVAILABLE – APs, IB, etc

3) Make your junior year count. It’s the one that Admissions Committees focus the most on – you want your best grades in this year

4) Don’t forget about the SAT. It counts as much (and sometimes more) than your high school GPA and class ranking

5) As long as you’re in the top 5 percent of your class, roughly speaking, you’ll be fine

Canadians reading this: thinking about applying to Harvard, Stanford, or any school in the States? You probably have much less information handy regarding the SATs, but don’t worry – there are plenty of SAT preparation courses available that’ll get you ready. Just do a little poking around online and talk to your teachers and guidance counselors.

I’m not recommending you do the BARE MINIMUM necessary. You should always aim for #1.

But, follow my 5 steps above, and you’ll be fine. Focus on your passions – whether that’s sports, science, or social studies.

Learn how to get into Harvard now!

I went through this process awhile back and was accepted to 6 Ivies and Stanford. I wrote a book on college admissions help called Hopeless to Harvard.


I’ve gotten a lot of feedback on this article from readers, and wanted to clarify and elaborate on a few points:
-What matters more than your junior year being the best in terms of grades is that you are on an UPWARD TREND. Ivy League schools like to see consistent improvement – it indicates that you’re working hard and getting better
-Top 5% is great at good high schools like Thomas Jefferson, Stuyvesant, TAMS, Whitney, etc – but is not the best at smaller high schools in Middle America. As with everything I say here, take it with a grain of salt – if your school only has 200 students and has only sent 1 to Wharton in the past 5 years, being top 5% will NOT be enough
-I canNOT emphasize enough how important taking hard classes is. Admissions committees will significantly discount standard math, science, history, etc classes if you are not taking Honors/Pre-AP/AP/IB – provided that your school offers them. The only exception is if you took a normal, non-Honors class, and then scored a 5 on that subject’s Advanced Placement Exam

Hope that helps!

Want to attend Ivy League schools? Check out my insider’s course and guide to getting into Harvard, even with a 1360 SAT from a public high school. Comes with 50 ACTUAL apps and essays from students admitted to Brown, Stanford, Harvard, Yale, Princeton and more!

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