How to Practically Guarantee Admission to an Ivy League

By Eric Eng

By Eric Eng

Three students walking with coffees while chatting.

How to Practically Guarantee Admission to Ivy League Class of 2026

Every high-achieving high school student, the dream is to attend a fantastic college or university in order to get the very best undergraduate education possible. For many of those students, the goal is to attend one of the eight highly competitive and prestigious Ivy League schools.

The Ivy League is made up of some of the most historic and impactful schools in the entire United States.

Attendance and graduation from any of the schools open incredible professional and personal doors to ensure a successful and fulfilling life after school. For that reason, there is no doubt that there are tens of thousands of students all over the world who want to be members of the Ivy League class of 2026.

But getting into any school in the Ivy League is incredibly challenging. After all, all of the schools currently boast acceptance rates that are below 10 percent. Here are the acceptance rates for the eight Ivy League schools from this past application cycle.

Ivy League School Overall Early Action/Decision Acceptance Rate Regular Decision Acceptance Rate
Brown 5.00% 14.60% 6.60%
Columbia 4.00% 12.00% 5.14%
Cornell 7.90% 19.00% 8.82%
Dartmouth 6.23% 21.00% 6.15%
Harvard 3.45% 8.74% 2.80%
Penn 5.80% 15.00% 7.44%
Princeton 4.50% 5.78% 5.78%
Yale 4.50% 4.35% 5.91%

From this quick breakdown alone, it should be clear just how difficult it is to get into any one of the Ivy League schools. Over 400,000 students applied last year, and just over 21,000 ended up actually getting in.

Here at AdmissionSight, we know nearly everything there is to know about applying – and getting into – an Ivy League school. That’s just one of the reasons why 75 percent of the students that we work with end up getting into either an Ivy League school or a top-10 school elsewhere in the United States.

So, how can a student practically guarantee admission to the Ivy League Class of 2026? While there is no reason to flat-out guarantee admission to a school like Harvard, Princeton or Yale, there are many steps that a student can take during and after they begin their applications to colleges to give themselves the very best chance at success possible.

Let’s break them all down together!

Tips to improve your chances of admission to Ivy League

For students that want to get into Ivy League schools, there are a lot of different goals that they are going to have to meet and a lot of different important factors that they are going to keep in mind.

While the journey to acceptance to any of the Ivy League schools definitely starts with a student’s grade point average and standardized test scores, the schools’ final decisions go far deeper than that.

So let’s break down the most obvious – as well as the lesser-known facts – about what it takes to get into a school in the Ivy League.

A female student thinking while holding a pencil in hand.

Work hard throughout high school to get a fantastic GPA

Remember when we said that we were going to start with the most obvious tips? Well, this one is probably at the top of the list when it comes to impressing admissions officers at Ivy League schools.

Well, “impressing” might not actually be the most accurate word. To be frank, admissions officers at Ivy League schools expect students to earn top grades as a sort of prerequisite to applying and getting into a school.

While there are certain cases in which students without exceptional GPAs do gain acceptance, it is certainly the exception and not the rule. So, what are the average GPAs for students who get into Ivy Leagues? Take a look, below:

  • Brown University – 4.05 GPA
  • Columbia University – 4.14 GPA
  • Cornell University – 4.05 GPA
  • Dartmouth College – 4.06 GPA
  • Harvard University – 4.18 GPA
  • University of Pennsylvania – 3.85 GPA
  • Princeton University – 3.91 GPA
  • Yale University – 4.12 GPA

Remember, those are the average GPAs of students that get in. For that reason, you will want to consider those numbers more of a benchmark then the ultimate goal. If you can earn a higher GPA, it will only improve your chances of getting in. Still, while a GPA plays a large role, it alone will not get you into an Ivy League school.

One final note on GPAs as they relate to getting into Ivy League schools. And chances are good you have already figured this bit out, but it is still really important to mention.

The reason why many of the average GPAs are quite a bit higher than a straight A, 4.0 GPA is because the vast majority of students take advanced courses that come with weighted GPAs.

That means taking honors courses, AP classes and IB classes. High school students interested in attending an Ivy League school should take as many advanced courses as possible to prove their determination to challenge themselves, as well as to prove that they will be able to handle the rigors and pressure of an Ivy League curriculum.

Get stellar standardized test scores

If getting a fantastic GPA is the first prerequisite to getting into a top Ivy League school, then the second is surely earning a great SAT or ACT score.

As is the case with GPAs, earning a great score on the standardized test will not be enough to get into the ivy league class of 2026, but it is a really important part of the puzzle.

A student studying hard for exam fell asleep on pile of books.

Here are the 25th and 75th percentile scores for every Ivy. The 25th percentile score represents a score that is below the average, the 75th percentile score represents a score that is above the average.

Keep in mind, the perfect score for an ACT is 36, while the perfect score for the SAT is 1600.

Brown University

  • ACT range
    • 25th percentile: 32
    • 75th percentile: 35
  • SAT range
    • 25th percentile: 1420
    • 75th percentile: 1550

Columbia University

  • ACT range
    • 25th percentile: 33
    • 75th percentile: 35
  • SAT range
    • 25th percentile: 1450
    • 75th percentile: 1560

Cornell University

  • ACT range
    • 25th percentile: 32
    • 75th percentile: 34
  • SAT range
    • 25th percentile: 1390
    • 75th percentile: 1540

Dartmouth University

  • ACT range
    • 25th percentile: 31
    • 75th percentile: 35
  • SAT range
    • 25th percentile: 1420
    • 75th percentile: 1560

Harvard University

  • ACT range
    • 25th percentile: 33
    • 75th percentile: 35
  • SAT range
    • 25th percentile: 1460
    • 75th percentile: 1580

The University of Pennsylvania

  • ACT range
    • 25th percentile: 32
    • 75th percentile: 35
  • SAT range
    • 25th percentile: 1440
    • 75th percentile: 1560

Princeton University

  • ACT range
    • 25th percentile: 32
    • 75th percentile: 35
  • SAT range
    • 25th percentile: 1440
    • 75th percentile: 1570

Yale University

  • ACT range
    • 25th percentile: 33
    • 75th percentile: 35
  • SAT range
    • 25th percentile: 1450
    • 75th percentile: 1560

While some students are naturally very strong test-takers, it is important to keep in mind that the SAT and ACT are unlike any of the tests that you will encounter in your regular high school curriculum. That is why it is a great idea to take the PSAT your sophomore year of high school to get a good feel for what it is like to prepare for and take a standardized test.

Beyond that, taking quite a lot of time to prepare for the test of your choice is highly recommended. In fact, it is not at all uncommon for students to begin preparing for the exam of their choice in the summer leading up to their junior year.

Either way, it’s typical for students to spread out their preparation for the exam to six months before the day of their test.

Students should also keep in mind that it is very typical for students to take the exam of their choice two or more times in order to get the best grade possible. However, students should be advised against taking it more than four times, as this starts to look quite questionable in the eyes of admissions officers.

Invest your time in the right kind of extracurriculars

Now that we have gotten the two most obvious tips out of the way for students that are looking to get into Ivy League schools, let’s start getting into the less obvious factors.

Coincidentally, these factors actually tend to play very important roles in the decision-making process, as this is where students are able to really set themselves apart from the other students that they are competing with all over the world.

Four students walking with their backs facing the camera.

In the past, it was considered best for students to be as well-rounded as possible. That means that admissions officers wanted to see students spending their time out of the classroom taking part in a lot of different – and simply, a lot – of activities.

Students would get involved in multiple team sports, try out for the school play, get involved in academic competitions, and try to do community service throughout their high school years to prove that they were a Jack of all trades.

Now, it is far more smiled upon for students to prove that they have committed fully to a few activities outside of the classroom that they are highly passionate about and interested in.

It is even better for students to get involved in activities that relate in one way or another to their future goals, whether that be what they may want to focus on in their undergraduate education, or even past that once they start pursuing their first job out of college.

The most impactful approach these days is for students to become “specialist” in their chosen extracurriculars and prove their incredible talents and ability through what they do.

So what does that mean? It’s actually quite simple if you think about it.

A specialist in art or being creative will get heavily involved in art, theater, music, writing, or any other kind of art that interests them. They will earn starring roles, enter national or international competitions and hopefully even win a few.

A specialist in science will get involved in science clubs in their school, form a team for the Science Olympiad, try to work in a research lab their nearby community college or four-year college or university, or even enroll in at one of the many summer science programs that are offered at the Ivy League schools.

This same concept can be applied to students who are interested in engineering, math, law, public policy, or any other focus of education or industry in the world!

To boil it all down, perhaps what matters most is that through their extracurriculars and how they choose to spend their time out of school, high school students are able to achieve success and earn roles of leadership amongst their peers.

If Ivy League schools are looking for one thing, it is students that they believe will grow up to one day become leaders in the industry or their choice.

If you are able to give them confidence that you are determined and able to do just that, you will vastly improve your chances of getting into the Ivy League Class of 2026.

Write stellar college essays and get impressive letters of recommendation

We thought it was best to combine these tips into one section because there are some very real similarities between a student writing the personal essays in a college application and that student getting letters of recommendation from the faculty members at their school.

In fact, these two aspects of every Ivy League application often work in tandem with one another in some pretty interesting ways.

A female student having thoughts while looking at the horizon is holding a pen.

When it comes to the personal essays that students write for their college applications, this is one of the few moments for students to really show admissions officers who they are as a person. Students should make sure to spend a fair amount of time even before they begin writing to come up with the best way to approach the essay.

Some students believe that the best way to write a fantastic essay is to write about some unique or rare perspective that they have gained through experience.

However, it could be better explained this way: The best college application essays are the ones that look at the mundane from unique perspectives.

Schools are not expecting every student that applies to the school to come from incredibly humble beginnings or overcome some incredible challenge in life. But they do expect every student to have a strong sense of self and a grasp on perspective.

So think about the moments – no matter how small or inconsequential they may seem – that had major impacts on your as a person and as a student.

In fact, students can use this process as a bit of soul searching for themselves. Try to uncover something true and honest as it pertains to why you believe an Ivy League school is the right place for you.

When it comes to the letters of recommendation, this is a chance for admissions officers to see what the teachers who have taught you and built relationships with you have to say.

As a student, it is your job to build strong relationships so that teachers have great things to write about you. It is also important that you make sure to give any teacher that you want to write a letter for you ample heads up.

It is common for students to approach the teachers of their choice at the end of their junior years of high school to make sure that teachers are willing and able to write a fantastic letter.

Beyond that, meeting with the teachers and the counselor that will be writing your letters of recommendation can be very helpful. Of course, students are not advised to tell the teachers what they want them to write, but talking about your overall application, the strengths you plan to accentuate, and how you choose to “brand” yourself on your application can be helpful for them.

First off, it can help them get the ball rolling in terms of what they want to talk, and it will also help make sure that your application is a coherent representation of you as a student and person!


So, there you have it. These are without a doubt the most important factors that will go into your application to any of the eight Ivy League schools.

Getting into any of the Ivy schools is an incredible accomplishment and requires a lot of work. Hopefully, this quick breakdown has helped you better understand what is expected of the students that want to walk the halls of any of the Ivies.

Here at AdmissionSight, we considered it our number one goal to help these kinds of students realize their dreams and get into the ivy league class of 2026.

If you are interested in learning about how we help the students we work with and why our success rate is so high, contact us today to set up a free consultation. We can’t wait to hear from you!


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