Ivy League Schools Ranked By How Smart Their Students Are

How do America’s oldest and most elite universities compare in terms of sheer student brainpower?

We recently ranked the smartest colleges in America, and Ivy League schools were featured prominently at the top of the list, with four breaking into the overall top 10. 

Here, we look at how these storied institutions stack up against each other. It turns out there’s a three-way tie for No. 1 between Princeton, Harvard, and Yale universities. 

In order to determine a school’s overall smarts, Jonathan Wai, a Duke University Talent Identification Program researcher, analysed the average standardized test scores that schools report to US News. (Those that did not report scores are not included.)

These tests are often criticised, but research shows that both the SAT and ACT are good measures of general cognitive ability and give a reasonable snapshot of the brainpower level of that school.

ACT scores were translated into SAT scores (maths + verbal) using this concordance table, so that all schools could be compared using one metric. Then, an average of the 25th and 75th percentile was computed (see a full description of the methodology and limitations here).

On the following ranking, a (3) indicates that the school did not supply all students it has scores for, or did not tell US News if it had.

Here are America’s Ivy League schools ranked by student brainpower:

Smarts Rank Overall Smarts Rank          School Average SAT
1 3 Princeton University 1505
1 3 Harvard University 1505
1 3 Yale University 1505
4 7 Columbia University 1485
5 11 Dartmouth College 1460
6 18 University of Pennsylvania 1450
7 22 Brown University (3) 1435
8 28 Cornell University 1420



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