In the 2010 National University Rankings, Harvard University, a private school in Cambridge, Mass., topped the list. The school is Ivy League with the oldest program and the largest financial support of any school in the country. Because of these qualifications, acceptance into Harvard is competitive and challenging. Students must meet the standards of the school as they will represent the prestige of the university and the distinguished alumni after graduation.

Class Grades

Students hoping to be accepted to Harvard must meet a high standard. Candidates must rank in the top 10 to 15 percent of their high school class at graduation. This infers a majority of A-level grades with very few B's figured into the GPA. Because every school differs in size, standards, and academic programs, Harvard seeks students who followed the highest academic plan possible at their given school.

Test Scores

Harvard has a high expectation for standardized tests. These tests often reflect the student's test-taking abilities as well as their knowledge base. Harvard expects and accepts the SAT Reasoning test or the ACT with writing component. Students must also submit scores from two SAT subject tests. The majority of students accepted score between a 600 and 800 on the SAT tests; however, there is no set minimum for acceptance. All scores are considered with the individual opportunities and grades of the student under review.

Class Expectations

Every student applying to Harvard has experienced certain opportunities. Understanding this, the university looks for students who pursued and mastered the highest level of study at their given school. This includes Advanced Placement courses, accelerated or honors courses or other college preparatory classes. The school is looking for students who took the greatest advantage of their given resources and opportunities.

Other Requirements

Harvard seeks successful, well-rounded students. These students demonstrate their capability to exceed academically in several ways. Some students demonstrate a high level of academic achievement through a research project or well-researched paper. Others show achievement through success in a particular area of study such as chemistry, art or math. Still others demonstrate excellence and ability to perform with multiple, differing activities. The school desires those who demonstrate a certain achievement level and excellence in their activities, both in and out of the classroom.