ACT Scores Needed for Top Colleges

Since the ACT is accepted by all 4-year universities in the United States, most college applicants take the ACT (either in addition to the SAT or on its own) as part of the college admissions process. Whether you’ve already taken the ACT and you have your scores back, or you’re about to take the ACT and want to know what score you need to get into your dream school, we’re here to help you sort through admission requirements and statistics for some of the United States’ most prestigious schools.


Listed below are the current top 10 undergraduate universities, as per the US News rankings, and the ACT range for the middle 50% of admitted applicants. This range means that 25% of admitted applicants scored below and 25% scored above the scores you’ll see, but half of all admitted applicants scored within the given range. You should also keep in mind that as a general rule, universities view applications holistically. That means that you won’t be automatically admitted or rejected based on any one factor, be that your ACT score, GPA, or extracurriculars.

[ RELATED: ACT Scores Needed for Top Liberal Arts Colleges ]

Located in downtown Baltimore, Johns Hopkins is a private research-based university with under 6,000 undergraduate students. With less than a 5% acceptance rate, Johns Hopkins is one of the most competitive universities in the country. In the class of 2022, 96% of admitted students were in the top 10% of their class, and the middle 50% of accepted students scored between 33 and 35 on the ACT.

UPenn, founded in 1740 by Benjamin Franklin, is a research-based Ivy League university with just over 10,000 full-time undergraduate students. UPenn had an 8.4% acceptance rate for the 2018 admissions cycle and a middle 50% ACT score of 33-35.

Duke, an Ivy League university located in Durham, NC, gives its students flexibility to design their own degree program and encourages undergraduate students to pursue their own research interests. Its acceptance rate for the class of 2022 was 8.6%, and the middle 50% of ACT scores of admitted students is 33-35. 

Located in California’s Silicon Valley, it’s no wonder that Stanford is one of the country’s leading research universities. Stanford has just over 7,000 undergraduate students and a 4.4% acceptance rate. The middle 50% of ACT scores of admitted students is 32-25.

Yale, an Ivy League school founded in 1701 in New Haven, Connecticut, has about 6,000 undergraduate students. All undergraduates attend Yale College, which focuses on a liberal arts education and emphasizes studies in art, science, writing, and international studies. The middle 50% of ACT scores of admitted students is 32-35.

[ RELATED: What’s a good ACT score? ]

Located in downtown Chicago, the University of Chicago is a research-based institution that aims to teach students how, not what to think. The complete range of ACT scores of admitted students for the class of 2022 is 20-36, but the middle 50% is 33-35.

MIT, located in Cambridge, Massachusetts, is a science and technology-based university that was founded in 1861 for the purpose of advancing the industrial revolution. There are under 5,000 undergraduates, and while there’s no ACT cutoff, the middle 50% of admitted students in the class of 2022 got a 34-36 on the math section, 35-36 on the English section, and a 34-35 composite score.

Columbia is an Ivy League university in New York City. Its metropolitan location provides the university with a variety of unique resources, and it actively seeks to make international academic connections and attract international students. The middle 50% of accepted students got between a 33 and 35 on the ACT. 

Harvard, founded in 1636, is the United States’ oldest university. As is typical of Ivy League universities, the undergraduate student body is fairly small at under 7,000. Harvard’s museums and library (the largest academic library in the world!) are acclaimed worldwide. The middle 50% of admitted students got between a 33 and a 35 on the ACT.

Princeton University, located in Princeton, New Jersey, was founded in 1746 and has an undergraduate student body of under 6,000. There’s a strong emphasis on small-group learning, and even larger lectures will include a smaller group element for more intimate discussion. Princeton’s acceptance rate is 6%, and the middle 50% of accepted students gets between a 32 and a 35 on the ACT.

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[ KEEP STUDYING: College Admissions Tips and Resources ]