What GPA and SAT Score Do You Need to Get Into Columbia?

November 3, 2021
By AdmissionSight

What GPA and SAT Score Do You Need to Get Into Columbia?

For students who are thinking about applying to Columbia University, there are a lot of important questions that they are going to have to get the answers to. So, what GPA and SAT scores do you need to get into Columbia? The answers to that question are pretty straightforward, but there is also quite a lot more that goes into getting into a school that is as prestigious and competitive as Columbia.

One of the most important things students should be focusing on is whether or not they are setting themselves up for success with their grades and standardized test scores.

Columbia University's Central Quadrangle and buildings on each side.

At AdmissionSight, we know just how much work goes into a student’s ability to overcome the Columbia University acceptance rate and get into the school. And while a student is going to have to do a lot more than just get great grades and SAT or ACT scores to get into Columbia, the journey certainly starts there.

So, if you are wondering about What GPA and SAT scores do you need to get into Columbia? or the Columbia requirements that you must fulfill to complete your application, then you have come to the right place!

Let’s break all that down and more together.

Columbia’s GPA requirements

What GPA and SAT scores do you need to get into Columbia? When it comes to the vast majority of colleges and universities within the United States, there is no official grade point average threshold that a student has to meet in order to apply.

Moreover, there is also the lowest GPA to get into Columbia either. For each and every student, the school takes a holistic and personalized approach to make sure that the admissions officers are making the best decisions possible for the school and for the students that apply.

With that being said, if you are interested in how to get into Columbia, the important thing to keep in mind is the Columbia average GPA.

This – of course- refers to the average grade point average that high school students who are accepted to Columbia received during their high school years. That GPA is an astounding 4.12.

It’s quite likely that the first thing you are noticing is that the average 4.12 GPA is higher than a 4.0 GPA. But if a 4.0 GPA reflects a perfect, straight-A GPA, then how is a 4.12 GPA even possible?

Well, as it turns out, the Columbia average GPA tells us something very important about the kinds of students that get into the school. The reason for that is because the 4.12 average GPA is a weighted GPA.

That means that the vast majority of students are not only getting A grades in many of their courses, but are also taking advanced courses such as honors, AP, and/or IB courses.

There are some really important reasons why advanced courses should essentially be considered Columbia requirements for anyone interested in getting into the school. Admissions officers at Columbia are always looking for indicators within a student’s application that the student would be a good fit at the school.

Because Columbia offers one of the most rigorous and demanding curricula in the country, a student has to be prepared to work hard and deal with quite a bit of pressure within their classes.

If they spent a lot of their time in high school taking advanced courses, then they will undoubtedly be better equipped to deal with the challenges awaiting them at Columbia.

What is the GPA cut off for Columbia?

Now that you know the average GPA for high school students that get into Columbia, you may be wondering the lowest GPA to get into Columbia. In fact, the school itself makes it very clear that there is no cutoff on its FAQ page.

“No. Columbia does not have a ‘cut-off GPA or test score for applicants,” the FAQ page declares.

Still, if you have Columbia at the top of your list of dream schools, you are going to want to make sure that you not only reach that 4.12 GPA average, but ideally above that!

Still, if you are still curious about the lowest GPA to get into Harvard, students with a GPA somewhere around a 3.5 or 3.7 could get into Columbia if they are able to get a really strong SAT or ACT along with impressive extracurricular activities, strong personal essays and more.

Average SAT score to get into Columbia

Now that you know about the Columbia average GPA, you are probably curious about the Columbia SAT scores. After all, the main topic of this piece is “What GPA and SAT scores do you need to get into Columbia?”

As you might expect based on the incredibly high average GPA, the average SAT is similarly demanding. In fact, based on recent metrics, the average Columbia SAT score is a 1505 out of the perfect 1600 score! The 25th percentile SAT score for Columbia is 1450 and the 75th percentile score is 1560.

By this point, it should be clear that an important way for any student to improve their chances of getting into Columbia is to earn great grades throughout high school and do very well on the SAT. However, there is a very important note regarding standardized tests in today’s application climate.

In case you are not currently aware, there are many schools across the United States that have made standardized tests completely optional. Columbia joined a long list of some of the most prestigious schools out there in trying to keep applicants safe by not forcing them to take either the SAT or ACT.

“In response to continued disruptions to standardized testing availability due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Columbia is extending our test-optional policy for one year, effective for transfer and first-year applicants to Columbia College or Columbia Engineering for the fall of 2022,” the school announced.

“ACT and SAT test results will not be a required component for the first-year 2021-2022 application cycle, and students who are unable or choose not to submit test scores will not be at a disadvantage.

We will continue to evaluate all submitted information within the holistic and contextual review process that considers individual circumstances shaping each applicant’s journey. The rigor of a student’s curriculum, their academic achievement, and their demonstrated intellectual curiosity will remain central to our review.”

A pencil shading an answer choice.

However, at AdmissionSIght, we still consider the standardized test aspect of a university application to be very important. That is especially true for students who have a below average GPA compared to the other students that are applying to their target school.

The most important thing when it comes to the test optional policy that is currently in place for many schools is to remember that above all, safety is important.

If you do not feel that it is possible for you to take either the SAT or ACT safely amidst the current COVID-19 pandemic, then absolutely take advantage of the test optional policy.

However, if you can do it safely, then you should seek out an opportunity to take the SAT. After all, getting a great score when so many other students will not be taking the test could really improve your chances of getting in!

Columbia University acceptance rate

Now that you know the Columbia average GPA and the range of Columbia SAT scores, you are probably also curious about the actual acceptance rate at the school. As it turns out, the acceptance rate is quite low indeed, just like the acceptance rate at the rest of the Ivy League schools.

When it comes to the most recent acceptance rate for the school, the graduating class of 2025 – meaning students that just applied in 2021 – endured the lowest acceptance rate in the history of the school. The acceptance rate was just 5.8 percent.

2021 also marked the highest number of individual students who applied to the school ever. A total of 37,389 students applied to the school in 2021. So as you can see, the chances of getting into Columbia are quite low no matter what kind of student you are.

But there are a lot of things that any high school student can do to improve their chances of getting into Columbia.

How to improve your chances of getting into Columbia

If you are really thinking about improving your chances of how to get into Columbia, one of the very first things that you can do is start the entire application process as early as possible.

This is of course true if the school that you are interested in applying to accepts Early Action or Early Admit applications. Then you will definitely want to get started sooner rather than later.

But even if you are applying Regular Decision, getting started on your application as early as possible will definitely help you.

This helps for a few reasons. First off, you will be able to make sure that you have all the time you need to fill out the application completely. Moreover, you will need to give yourself time to get important documents from your school as well as letters of recommendation.

All of this takes a fair amount of time. If you want too long, you will end up risking not getting everything done as well as it otherwise could be done. Remember, it is not just the information itself that ends up on your application that is important, but the application itself. Everything that can be judged will be judged when it comes to your application.

While we are on the topic of starting your college application to Columbia University as early as possible, we should also talk about taking advantage of Early Decision. Early Decision isn’t offered at a lot of schools, which allows students to express their clear desire to attend one school over the other schools that they will be applying to.

There are unique caveats to applying Early admission, including that if you actually get into the school you will have to withdraw your other applications and attend. On top of that, you will have to get your application in early.

But those unique changes to the process can render much better chances of beating the Columbia acceptance rate and getting in.

In fact, keep in mind that while the regular decision acceptance rate for Columbia in 2020 was just above 5.0 percent, the acceptance rate for students who applied via Early Decision was 15.1 percent. That means that just by applying early, students tripled their chances of getting into Columbia.

Earn high grades and test scores

This should go without saying, but it is so important to the entire application process that we thought that we would mention it one last time.

When it comes to test scores and grades in high school, students should not see them as a way to guarantee their acceptance to a top school at Columbia. Instead, students should see great grades and test scores as a sort of prerequisite. Alone, they may not get you into the school but without them, students can practically guarantee that their chances will grow far slimmer.

Three college students taking an exam.

While there are many other factors that are taken into consideration for every student, there is no doubt that students GPA and standardized test scores will always be a strong consideration that admissions officers make.

Impress with your extracurricular activities

Another great way for high school students to make it clear that they are going to be a great fit on a prestigious campus like Columbia is to take advantage of their time outside of the classroom during their high school years. One important thing that high schoolers need to do throughout high school is invest their time and energy and extracurriculars outside of the classroom.

While admissions officers at schools like Columbia do not necessarily care what extracurricular activities high school students get involved in, they do certainly look at extracurriculars to help shine a light on what kinds of topics and activities a given student is passionate about.

Two men getting ready to play baseball on the field.

You can also be sure that admissions officers will look to see if a student was able to maintain those commitments through their four high school years and really make an impact on the communities that they were a part of. Whether you are interested in joining as many sports teams as you can, starring as many school plays as possible, or getting involved in academic competitions, there is no way to go wrong.

Another great way to show that you have what it takes to be a student at Columbia is to take advantage of their summer months outside of school and enroll yourself in a summer program that is held on Columbia’s campus in Manhattan.

Getting involved in a summer program we’ll show that you had interest in Colombia at a young age and will offer you the valuable experience to actually live on campus, meet current students, and even learn from some of the school’s world-renowned faculty.

Craft fantastic personal essays

Perhaps more than any of the other Ivy League schools, Columbia University puts a very real emphasis on the personal essay section of their application.

Columbia actually asks students to answer a series of challenging and interesting questions with the hopes that a student’s answers will help shine a light on who that young man or woman is beyond just their grades and test scores.

A female student with a notebook and pen, thinking and looking for inspiration.

In fact, the prompts that Colombia offers often rely heavily on unifying cultural topics such as literature, music, film, art and more.

Answering these questions in an impressive and personal way can truly have a strong impact on a student application and can even help a student overcome a lackluster GPA or standardized test score.

So, any student that is truly committed to beating the Columbia University acceptance rate and getting into the school needs to take the time and energy necessary to craft truly fantastic essays.

Do not simply write the first answer that comes to mind, make sure to really think and come up with an answer that you identify with and connect to. Furthermore, make sure that you give yourself the time necessary to edit, improve and even rewrite your essay answers if necessary.

Will you get into Columbia University?

At AdmissionSight, we know that getting into Columbia – or any of the Ivy Leagues for that matter – isn’t easy. We also know that every single school year, students do manage to beat the odds and get an acceptance letter from the school of their dreams.

The vast majority of students that we work with do just that, and it is something that we are truly proud of! If you are interested in what you can do to improve your high school GPA, strengthen your test scores and improve your chances of getting into Columbia, contact us today for a free consultation.


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