Is Harvard Test Optional?

By Eric Eng

By Eric Eng

University students talking in front of a laptop.

Is Harvard Test Optional?

Is Harvard Test Optional? It has been decided that applicants to Harvard will not be required to submit their scores from standardized tests for at least the next four years. However, students are encouraged to send any materials they believe would convey their accomplishments in secondary school and their promise for the future.

As a result of the announcement made by Harvard that it would extend its test optionality policy during the pandemic, prospective students for the upcoming classes of ’27, ’28, ’29, and ’30 at Harvard College will be able to apply to the institution without having to provide their SAT or ACT scores.

As a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, Harvard initially waived its testing requirement in June of 2020, enabling applicants for the Class of 2025 to do so without submitting their test scores. After that, in January, Harvard dropped the requirement for students who would be entering the Class of 2026, citing the ongoing challenges posed by the pandemic.

The university stated that it would extend the test-optional policy further when it made the announcement that it would accept 7.9 percent of early action applicants as part of its Class of 2026.

Using a pencil while writing in a desk.

Because many students continued to have limited access to testing sites as a result of COVID-19, the most recent admissions cycle, which was for the Class of 2026, was the second cycle in which students have been able to apply to Harvard without being required to take standardized tests. Standardized tests are just one of many factors that are taken into consideration during the admissions process at Harvard, which takes the applicant as a whole.

The admissions committee will take into consideration a candidate’s achievements both inside and outside of the classroom during their senior year of high school. These may include participation in extracurricular activities and community service, as well as employment and family responsibilities.

As a result of Harvard’s test optional policy, students who choose not to send in their scores from standardized tests will not be penalized in any way during the application process. Applicants will be evaluated based on what they have presented, and students will be considered for the scholarship based on what they have presented.

It is more likely that Harvard is placing its bets on the fact that the move will increase the number of students from historically underrepresented groups on campus and also score lower on the tests. The pandemic has prompted several colleges to adopt a test optional policy. Still, some educational establishments adopted this strategy a long time ago in the hope of fostering greater diversity.

What is the Current Harvard Acceptance Rate?

Harvard is infamous for its extremely low acceptance rate; out of the 61,220 students who applied, the university only accepted 1,954 students, for a rate of just 3.2 percent. 740 students were accepted through the early decision round, and 1,214 students were accepted through the regular round.

Young woman smiling while lounging in the campus.

The students in the incoming class hail from all fifty United States, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the US territories and possessions overseas, and 98 different countries. There are a total of 20.5 percent of admitted students who are qualified to receive Pell Grants (which are typically given to students with low incomes), and there are 18 students who are veterans.

The following students will be a part of Harvard’s class of 2026:

27.8 percent of Americans are of Asian descent

15.5% of people who are either African American or Black

12.6 percent Latin

2.9% of the population is Native American

0.8% of the population is Native Hawaiian

54.2 percent of people surveyed identified as female

The Acceptance Rates for the Harvard Class of 2026

Applications Accepted Students Acceptance Rate
Regular Applications 51,814 1,214 2.3%
Early Applications 9,406 740 7.9%
Overall 61,220 1,954 3.2%

Harvard Regular Admissions Results for the Class of 2026

Only 1,954 students can call themselves members of Harvard University’s class of 2026. Of those students, 1,214 were accepted through Harvard’s regular admissions process, which had an acceptance rate as low as 2.3 percent.

Likely, the COVID-19 pandemic, optional standardized testing, and an uptick in the number of students applying to college have contributed to the downward trend in admission rates reported by the majority of the nation’s top universities over the past three years. Harvard, which is widely considered to be the most selective school in the Ivy League, has seen a steady decline in the percentage of applicants it accepts over the past three years.

Harvard Early Admissions Results for the Class of 2026

The results of Harvard University’s Early Admission process for the Class of 2026 were made public in December 2021. This prestigious institution of higher learning recently made the announcement that 740 students have been granted early admission, making the university’s acceptance rate 7.4 percent. Since Harvard has adopted a test optional policy, it will also be to your advantage to apply to Harvard as soon as possible, which will significantly improve your chances of being accepted there.

What are the Admission Requirements for Harvard University?

One of the best universities in the world, Harvard University is a member of the Ivy League.

Female students studying in a table.

Naturally, there is a great deal of competition among students who come from all parts of the world. Other than test scores, the admissions committee at Harvard takes into account a wide variety of criteria to choose truly exceptional students. The following are the primary aspects on which you should concentrate:

  • Minimum GPA requirements
  • Requirements for taking the SAT and ACT, as well as others
  • Application requirements

Harvard Requirements: GPA

So, to enroll at Harvard, what do you need to do? Many schools require a minimum grade point average. In most cases, meeting this fundamental requirement is the first step in preventing your application from being immediately declined.

You can get a good idea of what it takes to get into Harvard by looking at the average GPA of the school’s current students. Because the vast majority of students accepted into Harvard have unweighted grade point averages of 4.18 or higher, you must have at least a 4.2 to be seriously considered.

To submit an application to Harvard, you’ll need to demonstrate that you earned mostly A’s throughout your high school career. To support your claim that academic work at the college level is not difficult, it would be beneficial for you to take some challenging classes, such as those offered by the Advanced Placement or International Baccalaureate programs.

Changing your grade point average in time for college applications when you are a junior or senior can be challenging. If your grade point average is lower than what is required by Harvard University, you will need to improve your score on either the SAT or the ACT to compensate. The goal of Harvard’s admissions office is to use a fair selection process that takes into account your qualifications.

Yes, it is essential to ensure that one satisfies all of Harvard’s requirements. Despite this, your participation in extracurricular activities, your portfolio, your goals for the future, and the knowledge you’ve gained will all work in your favor to help you craft a compelling application for Harvard.

Harvard Requirements: SAT & ACT

Although you are not required to as Harvard is currently test optional, it is advantageous to take either the SAT or the ACT to submit an application to Harvard. Numerous colleges and universities assert that they do not have a minimum acceptable SAT score, but they all do.

Taking an exam in a desk.

The median score determines the required SAT score for admission to Harvard University. On a scale from 1 to 1600, the average SAT composite score at Harvard University is 1520. Regarding SAT results, Harvard is in a very competitive position with this score.

The SAT at Harvard is given a perfect score. This indicates that the highest section scores you’ve achieved across all of your SAT dates will be considered. Instead of limiting your results to just one day, Harvard takes the best section scores from each of your attempts and averages them together to determine your overall score.

In a manner analogous to the requirements for the SAT at Harvard University, the average score on the ACT at Harvard is also rising. Accepted students to Harvard typically have ACT scores in the range of 33. Although Harvard claims there is no minimum ACT score required for admission, applicants with scores of 29 or lower will have a difficult time being accepted.

Because of this, it is essential to be aware of the various requirements for standardized test scores imposed by Harvard University. Despite the relatively low acceptance rate at Harvard University, this can increase the likelihood that you will be admitted there.

What are the Application Requirements for Harvard?

The admissions standards for Harvard University change from program to program, so it’s essential to do your research before applying. However, as a general rule, you will be expected to share the following documents:

  • Common Application or Coalition Application, Powered by Scoir
  • Questions for Harvard University can be found on the Common Application or the Coalition Application Harvard supplement
  • $85 fee (or request a fee waiver)
  • The SAT or ACT, with or without the writing component, Harvard is test optional for application cycles 2022-2026.
  • Optional: AP or other examination results
  • School Report and High School Transcript, which both include a letter from a guidance counselor.
  • Report from the Instructor (2)
  • The Report at the Half-Year Mark (after your first semester grades)
  • The Last Report from School (for admitted students only)

When is the Application Deadline for Harvard University?

You have the option of applying to Harvard through either our Restrictive Early Action program or our Regular Decision program. Both of these programs allow you to review the admission and financial aid packages provided by other schools, and they both give you until May 1 to make a decision regarding which college you will attend.

Male student using a laptop to write an essay.

The first of November is when your application must be received to be considered for admission through the Restrictive Early Action Admission program. You can expect to hear something from Harvard around the middle of December.

Your application must be received by January 1st if you wish to be considered for the Regular Decision pool of candidates. You can expect to receive an update regarding the status of your application toward the tail end of March or the beginning of April.

Harvard Application Dates & Deadlines

Type of Application Application Date Harvard Notification Application Acceptance Deadline
Restrictive Early Action Nov 1 Mid-December May 1
Regular Decision Nov 1 End-March May 1

Are you looking for guidance that will best prepare you for entry into one of the elite universities in the country? We’ve got you covered! At AdmissionSight, we have over 10 years of experience guiding students through the competitive admissions process.

We can assist you in preparing your admission requirements. AdmissionSight will assist you throughout the admissions process to increase your chances of gaining entry into an Ivy League institution.


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