What Is the Academic Index?

July 2, 2024
Expert Reviewed


Reviewed by:

Mary Banks

Former Admissions Committee Member, Columbia University

Reviewed: 7/2/24

If you’ve heard about the Academic Index but don’t know what it means or how it may relevant to you and your education, look no further! This article will answer all your questions and more so that, by the end, you will be fully informed on the Academic Index.

When assessing applicants for admission, college admission teams consider a myriad of factors, including a student’s Academic Index score. But what is the Academic Index? And how does it help or hinder a student’s eligibility when applying to post-secondary schools? 

This article will help you answer these questions and more, so keep reading to learn all about the Academic Index and why it’s important. 

What Is the Academic Index?

The Academic Index, or AI, is a tool used by prestigious universities across the United States, including the Ivy League, to glean the academic standing of their applicants. 

It plays a cruicial role in comparing and evaluating applicants’ competitiveness, academic performance, and potential for future success at the college level. Initially designed for assessing applications from student-athletes, the AI ensures that colleges maintain a balance between athletic recruitment and academic standards.

By considering the AI scores of student-athletes, colleges aim to avoid admitting those with significantly lower academic standing than the general student populace. However, it's important to note that the Academic Index is relevant to all students, not just athletes.

In order to understand what the Academic Index is, students need to first consider the university that they are applying to. Each school has a different ranking system when it comes to the AI, so it is always a good idea to familiarize yourself with the AI criteria for each of the schools on your college list.. 

How Important Is the Academic Index?

Now that we’ve answered the question, “what is the Academic Index?” let’s discuss its importance in the admissions process. Like a GPA, colleges tend to have an average AI score for their student body. This means that your AI score is important and can play a role in determining your eligibility at various schools.

This does not mean, however, that you will be automatically accepted if you have a high AI score. Rather, it means that the admission team will likely view you as a serious candidate and spend more time reviewing your application. That being said, it is still a good idea to try for a high AI score.     

How Is the Academic Index Calculated?

The AI is calculated by looking at a student’s GPA or high school grades, their class rank, and their SAT or ACT scores. 

Each of these determining components are weighted on a scale of 80. Cumulatively, a student’s total AI score is calculated on a scale between 60 and 240. This score is then assigned a rank or a tier, which varies per school, but is usually between 1 (lowest) and 9 (highest). 

The table below shows a fairly typical breakdown of AI scores and their classifications. 

AI Score Classification Rank or Tier
237-240 Exceptionally High 9
234-236 Very High 8
230-233 High 7
225-229 Above Average 6
217-224 Average 5
203-216 Below Average 4
195-205 Low 3
185-194 Very Low 2
184 and below Exceptionally Low 1

Please keep in mind that each college classifies AI scores differently; Yale or Columbia  will likely view an AI score of 210 differently than a non-ivy league university.     

FAQs: What Is the Academic Index?

Now that we’ve covered the basic information regarding the AI, let us help you answer some more common questions student, like what is a good academic index for ivy schools. 

1. How Does the Academic Index Work?

The AI is a system of evalution in which a student’s GPA, SAT or ACT score, and class rank are scored out of 240 as a means of gauging their overall academic standing. 

2. What Is a High Academic Index Score?

Since an AI score between 214 and 224 is considered average, anything over 230 is, therefore, considered high.  

3. What Is a Good Academic Index for Ivy League Schools?

A good Academic Index for Ivy League schools typically falls between 220 and 240, depending on the school in question. It is always a good idea to check your school’s requirements and contact an  admissions officer if you are unsure what your school considers a high AI score. 

4. What Is the Range of Academic Index Score?

The Academic Index is scored between 60 and 240, with 240 being the highest possible score a student can earn. Many schools then rank or tier AI scores, meaning that a score of 240 would be placed in tier 9. 

Please keep in mind that both scores and ranks or tiers vary depending on the school. Be sure to check your college’s admission requirements or speak with a guidance counsellor if you are unsure what qualifies as a good or high AI score for your specific school.   

5. What Is the Harvard Academic Index?

The Harvard Academic Index is approximately 220. This is considered a high AI score and one other ivy leagues also tend to use. 

Final Thoughts

If you’re looking to improve your Academic Index score, consider taking more rigorious courses, like AP or IB classes, improving your overall GPA, or even reaching out to an expert tutor to help you prepare for the SAT or ACT

Admissions committees will look at the classes you took and their difficulty, your exrtacurricululars, letters of recommendations, and supplemental essays, to name a few. It’s important to be well-rounded in your application, including your AI score. 

While the Academic Index is an important part of the college admissions process, it’s not the sole factor universities use to determine your admission status.

Best of luck! 

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