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Last updated April 26, 2023

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How to Use the Dartmouth Common Data Set

Key Takeaway

As with any other Ivy, you'll need more than good grades to get into Dartmouth. Your essays, extracurriculars, and application narrative matter a lot. But if you're looking for a boost in chances, an Early Decision application might tip the scales in your favor if you're already a strong applicant.

The Dartmouth Common Data Set can be one of the best tools in your Dartmouth application toolkit. The data tells you a lot about what Dartmouth admissions officers look for in applicants, so you can craft your application in a way that counts.

Let’s get into it.

How Dartmouth Evaluates Applicants — based on CDS data

Dartmouth admissions officers evaluate your application across a number of factors that have varying levels of importance. As you can see in the chart below, there are several factors that rank as “very important.”

The very important factors are all the ones you think about when you write your college applications: Dartmouth wants to see that you’re a good student, community member, and person. Interestingly, Dartmouth ranks talent and ability as secondary. It’s difficult to say what, exactly, the Dartmouth admissions office intended when ranking talent and ability as secondary. But if you’re a fantastic student with good community involvement but less than national recognition for your accomplishments, you may have a better chance at Dartmouth compared to a school that ranks talent as a primary factor (like Stanford or Brown, for example).

Very important Important Considered Not considered
Rigor Talent/ability Interview State residency
Class rank   First generation Religious affiliation
GPA   alumni/ae relation  
Test scores   Geographical residency  
Essay   Volunteer work  
Recommendations   Work experience  
Extracurriculars   Level of applicant interest  
Character/personal qualities      

Does Dartmouth track demonstrated interest?

Yep, Dartmouth considers demonstrated interest. Since admissions officers will be looking for it when evaluating your application, you should be doing everything you can to show enthusiasm about Dartmouth: open your Dartmouth emails, attend virtual or in-person visits, connect with your admissions counselor—whatever you can do that will be tracked by the admissions office.

Does Dartmouth care about standardized test scores?

Yes. Standardized test scores are very important to your Dartmouth application. The Dartmouth Common Data Set lists standardized test scores alongside course rigor, essays, GPA, and extracurriculars in importance. Dartmouth is still test-optional, so you’ll have to weigh your scores against the middle 50%. For more on how, exactly, to do that, see our How to Get into Dartmouth guide.

Does Dartmouth care about essays?

Yes, essays are essential in the Dartmouth application review process. Essays are the narrative backbone of your application. Dartmouth admissions officers need to know whether or not you’re a good fit, so they look to your essays to learn more about your strengths, character, and personal qualities. Spending time strategizing, writing, and revising your essays can set your application up for success. And there are several supplementals for Dartmouth, so you’ll need to set aside some extra time to write. When you’re ready to get started, we’ve got a whole guide to the Dartmouth supplemental essays for you.

What GPA do I need to get into Dartmouth?

The Dartmouth Common Data Set doesn’t report specific GPA information. But we do learn about class rank, which we can use to extrapolate the kinds of high school GPAs admitted students have.

Of the enrolled first-year students who submitted class rank, 99.5% were in the top half of their high school graduating class. 98.7% were in the top quarter, and 94.1% were in the top tenth.

Since most students in the top tenth of their class have near-perfect GPAs, you can assume that you’ll need a near-perfect GPA, too.

Dartmouth Acceptance Rate

Of the 28,356 applications Dartmouth received, 1,750 students were admitted. That makes for an acceptance rate of 6.17%—a modest acceptance rate, for sure, but not among the lowest in the Ivy League. Of the 1,750 students admitted, 1,228 students enrolled as first-year students.

Dartmouth Early Decision Acceptance Rate

Dartmouth allows you to apply with a binding Early Decision agreement. Doing so may slightly boost your chances of admission: 2,665 students applied ED, and Dartmouth admitted 669 of them. That’s a 25.1% acceptance rate, which is almost 19% higher than the Regular Decision and Early Action rate. Compared to Brown’s 10% acceptance rate increase between Regular and Early Decision, a 19% bump is huge!

What’s the right application option for you?

Don’t let the higher Early Decision acceptance rate lull you into a false sense of safety with Dartmouth. A 25.1% acceptance rate is still very competitive. Combine that with the fact that most ED applicants to Dartmouth are probably standout candidates to begin with, and you still have your work cut out for you as an Early Decision applicant.

So your choice to ED to Dartmouth shouldn’t just be about the higher Early Decision acceptance rate. It should also be about your fit for the academic climate and campus culture at the school. If your credentials don’t hold up against the application evaluation—that is, if your GPA, course rigor, and extracurriculars aren’t at the level Dartmouth admissions officers are expecting—then you don’t want to waste your one ED application on a school you’re unlikely to be admitted to.

On the flip side, if you have an exceptional application but aren’t ready to commit to Dartmouth if you’re admitted, then an ED application isn’t the right choice for you. (Still not sure what the best ED option for you is? See our Early Decision strategy guide for more advice.)

Most popular majors at Dartmouth

Learning what majors are most popular at a school can help you build a school list that fits your academic needs. The Dartmouth Common Data Set doesn’t tell us what majors are most popular directly, but we can get to that information by looking at how many degrees are awarded and in which fields.

As you can see in the chart below, the most popular majors at Dartmouth are those in the social sciences, which account for 32% of degrees conferred. Other popular majors are those in the biological and life sciences and computer science. Also notice that engineering makes up only 8% of degrees awarded.

Major Percent of Degrees Conferred
Social sciences 32
Biological/life sciences 10
Computer and information sciences 8
Engineering 8
Mathematics and statistics 7
Area, ethnic, and gender studies 6
English 4
Psychology 4
Visual and performing arts 4
History 4

This data can help you determine whether Dartmouth is a good fit for you, and it can also help you assess how much competition you can expect given the academic areas you’re interested in. Someone applying to a social sciences or biological sciences major, for example, may have more competition than someone applying for a history major.

Having more competition doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t apply to Dartmouth if you’re interested in one of the more popular majors, but it’s good to be aware of as you think about your application strategy.

What should you do with all this information?

Dartmouth’s 6.17% acceptance rate may seem like a piece of cake compared to MIT’s 4.1%, but it’s anything but. Your application will need to be airtight.

Since Dartmouth has an ED option, you’ll need to choose the right application plan for you. Being thoughtful about how popular your intended major is should also inform your application strategy.

And just as with any highly selective school, your academic and extracurricular achievement should be exceptional. Those extra factors—your talent, admission interview, and background—can also work to set you apart. And again, I can’t overstate the importance of your essays.

Taken together, these factors make up what we at Admit Report call your “application strategy.”

If you’re ready to get started devising your own strategy, hop on over to our How to Get into Dartmouth next.

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