Glimpse Inside the Ivy League’s Academic Index

January 12, 2012

Bill Pennington, of the New York Times wrote a very interesting piece about the Academic Index, a somewhat mysterious tool used by Ivy League institutions (and numerous other colleges and universities) to measure the basic academic qualifications of recruited athletes.


According to the article  formulas,  first created in the 1980s and never disclosed publicly by the institutions themselves,  assign each recruit a number based on his or her standardized tests scores and high school grade point average.   An example of the methodology is provided.


According to Pennington’s research, Ivy League institutions agreed to focus on athletic recruits with an Academic Index of no lower than a 176, which roughly translates to a B average and a combined score of 1140 on the Critical Reading and Math portions of the SAT exam.  While exceptions are occasionally made, they represent a very small number of applicants chosen from preferred recruit lists compiled by hundreds of coaches.   According to the article, the vast majority of recruited athletes have index numbers well above 200 which corresponds to an A-minus average and a combined 1300 score on the Critical Reading and Math SAT.


Learning about the AI can be of interest to athletes and non-athletes applying to the Ivies and other colleges.  The article is available through The New York Times website:


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About Lynn Lubell

Lynn Radlauer Lubell is the Publisher of, an internationally renowned website for college-bound students, parents and guidance counselors, and the Founder of Admission by Design, an educational consultancy.

A graduate of MIT and Harvard Business School, Lynn is a professional member of IECA and a member of HECA.  She has broad expertise in college admission strategy and planning.

Lynn served on the MIT Educational Council for ten years interviewing hundreds of undergraduate applicants.

Based in Boca Raton, Florida, Admission by Design, consults with students and families in South Florida and beyond.

Biography - Lynn Lubell