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Last updated April 27, 2023

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How to Get into Dartmouth

Key Takeaway

To get into Dartmouth, you'll need to be at or near the top of your class. You'll also need to have taken the most challenging coursework available to you. Most importantly, you'll need an application narrative that shows good alignment with Dartmouth's values and offerings.

The smallest in the Ivy League, Dartmouth is home to just under 5,000 undergraduate students. It’s known for its more intimate class sizes and intellectual approach. With an acceptance rate of 6.17%, it sits roughly in the middle of its Ivy League peers.

If you’re applying to Dartmouth, then you’re gonna need the academics, extracurriculars, and application strategy. We have an approach that will help.

In this guide, I answer your most-asked questions about applying to Dartmouth, and I show you how to develop a Dartmouth application strategy that will increase your chances of admission.

Let’s jump right in.

How to Apply to Dartmouth

You can find Dartmouth on…you guessed it—the Common Application. They’re a QuestBridge partner, too.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Your completed Common Application, including your background info, extracurricular activities list, and personal statement
  • Your high school transcript and school report
  • Your counselor letter of recommendation
  • Two teacher recommendations
  • Test scores (optional)
  • A peer recommendation (optional)
  • Your Dartmouth supplement

Once you’ve got your Common App in the works, you’ll need to decide on an application plan.

Dartmouth Application Options

Dartmouth is another Ivy that offers Early Decision and Regular Decision application pathways.

Dartmouth also has a massive jump in the acceptance rate for ED students—a whopping 25.1% of ED applicants were admitted.

While that may seem like the perfect option to get you into Dartmouth, remember that there’s always a catch to those dreamy ED admit rates. Early Decision applications are binding. If you get admitted, you’re contractually obligated (literally) to go (okay, there are a few exceptions, like inadequate financial aid, but you get my point). ED applicants also tend to be great fits for Dartmouth to begin with, so that also accounts for some of the boost in admissions chances.

But if you’re not ready to commit through Early Decision, then Regular Decision will be waiting for you.

Dartmouth Application Deadlines

Early Decision: November 1

Regular Decision: January 3

How hard is it to get into Dartmouth?

Listen. Getting into Dartmouth is no joke. It’s what we like to call a “super-reach” because of its impossibly low acceptance rate. Sure, it’s no MIT 4%. But at 6.17%, there just aren’t enough seats for all the amazing applicants.

If you want to get into Dartmouth, you’re going to need a perfect or near-perfect academic record. You’ll need impressive extracurriculars with notable achievements, glowing recommendations, and essays worthy of The New York Times. You’ll also need a smart application strategy—and that’s what you’ll come away with today.

What does Dartmouth look for in applicants?

As we’ll see in the following sections, Dartmouth looks for students who excel inside and outside the classroom. But that’s a given. Your excellence alone won’t get you in. To get in, you need an application strategy.

At Admit Report, we like to take a values-based approach to applications. That means writing applications around your values and the values of the institutions you’re applying to.

Finding that sweet spot where your values and the institution’s values align can be the difference between a celebratory decision day and a disappointing one.

Thankfully for you, Dartmouth is very clear about their values. Their “We Are What We Do” page lays out important institutional history, and it also lists core institutional guiding principles that you can incorporate into your application.

I’ll draw out just a few for you: independent thought, academic collaboration, diversity, integrity, service, and mutual respect and responsibility.

These values may seem straightforward, but incorporating them into your essays, activities, interview, and more can signal to your Dartmouth admissions officer that you belong there.

So as you begin to craft your application, think about how you live out these values in your own life. How might they authenically appear in your supplemental essays? Where do your extracurriculars demonstrate them? How do they align with your own core values?

It’s a subtle approach, but it can have a huge impact.

Dartmouth GPA requirement

To be blunt: if you have a 2.5 GPA, you’re probably not getting into Dartmouth. But that doesn’t mean they’ll auto-reject your application. If there’s something compelling about what you bring to the table, you may get a closer look. But chances are, a low GPA won’t get you very far in the Dartmouth admissions process.

Why? Because Dartmouth students are academic standouts. As we learned from the Dartmouth Common Data Set, a full 94% of enrolled first-year students were in the top tenth of their high school graduating classes. We can’t know exactly what their grades were, but it’s safe to say that there are a lot of perfect and near-perfect GPAs.

Dartmouth SAT Scores

Dartmouth is remaining test-optional for the time being, so you’ll get to decide whether to submit your scores. We have a whole post that walks you through test-optional strategy, so you should check that out if you’re on the fence.

But the easiest way to know where your scores should be to make you a more competitive applicant is to look at the middle 50%. The most recent testing data Dartmouth reports come from the class of 2024. Here are the ranges:

SAT Reading: 710-770

SAT Math: 730-790

ACT Composite: 32-35

These numbers represent the test scores that the middle half of Dartmouth’s enrolled first-year students earned. So half of the class scored between 32 and 35 on their ACTs. That also means that 25% were at or below a 32, and 25% scored at or above a 35.

To be competitive, you should be in the middle or higher end of these ranges.

Does Dartmouth superscore?

Yep! Dartmouth superscores. “Superscoring” means that Dartmouth will take your best scores in each test section and add them together to make one “superscore.” It’s the best way to get your highest composite SAT or ACT score possible, and it eliminates the pressure to get everything right all in one go.

Let’s say you took the SAT in May and got a 750 in reading and a 700 in math, making your composite score a 1450. Then you took it again October and got a 730 in reading and a 750 in math, making your composite score a 1480. Those scores are both pretty solid, but they won’t move mountains.

With a superscore, however, your SAT score becomes a 1500—much more impressive!

What high school coursework do I need to get into Dartmouth?

Dartmouth doesn’t sugar coat it: you’re expected to have taken the most challenging curriculum your school offers. In most cases, that means loading up on all the AP, IB, and dual-enrollment classes you can.

Here’s what Dartmouth recommends, as a minimum, you take:

  • 4 years of English
  • 4 years of math (through calculus if you want to go into STEM)
  • 3 years of history and social studies
  • 3+ years of lab science
  • 3+ years of foreign language

As you plan your academic path, you should also focus on taking as many core academic classes—English, math, history, science, etc.—as you can instead of filling your schedule with free periods or electives. But some electives, like music or art, can work in your favor as long as you’re meeting your core class goals.

What extracurriculars do I need to get into Dartmouth?

When we do extracurricular strategizing with our early high school clients, we often have to reassure them that admissions officers aren’t looking for any specific extracurriculars. So I’ll reassure you here, too: admissions officers don’t open your extracurricular activities section anticipating that you’ve been involved in particular activities.

Of course, they’ll expect that you’ve spent a good amount of your free time engaging in activities you’re passionate about. But there’s no one activity that will land you a spot in Dartmouth’s first-year class.

So what do you do instead?

You think about your application narrative. What do your extracurriculars say about who you are and who you want to be in college? If you’re still planning out your extracurriculars, what do you want them to say?

Remember that a college application is a sales pitch. You’re showing how your background, interests, and talents align with what Dartmouth looks for in students. One of the best ways to show this alignment is through your extracurriculars and supplemental essays.

Are you a passionate volunteer and community advocate? A problem-solver and thinker? A skilled communicator and people person? An introspective artist?

Whoever you are, write about your activities in a way that highlights your strengths and speaks to the impact you’ve had on those around you. (For more about how to write your extracurricular activities descriptions, see our extracurricular strategy post.)

Final Takeaways + Dartmouth Supplemental Essays

You’ve made it! By this point in the guide, you should know that getting into Dartmouth is an uphill battle. But with the application strategy you’re developing, you’ll have all the tools to make the climb.

Next on your agenda is tackling the Dartmouth supplemental essays. We have a guide for those, too. When you’re ready to dive in, head on over to our Dartmouth Supplemental Essay Guide to get started. See ya.

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