There aren't as many perfect scores as you might think, though the number of perfect scores has increased over the years. College Board hasn't been great about releasing useful data in the past two decades. ACT is a bit better about the data: In 2017, 2706 students had a 36 composite score. In 2018, that number jumped to 3741 (surprisingly large jump). I understand that 20 years ago the number of perfect scorers was under 2000, though there were fewer test takers.

Of course, with the ACT, the four sections are averaged and the composite is rounded up - so a 35.5 average gets you a 36, just like someone who scored 36 on all four sections. I suspect that there are more 36s on the ACT than 1600s on the SAT, because of the rounding up.

In a 2018 article, Harvard reported for a recent admissions cycle, there were 3400+ perfect SAT math score, 2700+ perfect verbal. 1600s were not reported, though clearly something under 2700 applicants.

IB diploma alone won't do it. My kids knew that a good GPA, good test scores and some "nice" ECs probably wouldn't do it, and as expected, they didn't get in anywhere selective. If your son has found his passion - and especially if it is unusual or quirky - that is the best path for admissions. Unless he is a URM or you live in North Dakota (or some similar hook), he'll likely need something unique. Head over to College Confidential for countless discussions on disappointing college admissions outcomes.

When you complain about admissions, most on College Confidential will tell you that it is just "sour grapes" or your kid just isn't interesting enough for the elites. However, I think schools are missing out on the kid who is well-rounded and hasn't found his passion, but wants to be surrounded by intellectual types. I don't think most of these kids end up just staring at each other.

The other thing is determining what an Ivy considers a "qualified" applicant. Yale has said something like 80 percent of applicants are "qualified". Do not confuse "qualified" with "top scoring" student. Once kids get into an Ivy, the college does everything to make sure that kid graduates.

There are easy paths to graduate, and rigorous paths. The school will guide you in the right direction. I personally know a kid who scored 1200 on the SAT, and had no trouble making it through an Ivy in four years. My eldest knows some Ivy grads who have confirmed the saying, "It is tough to get an A, but tougher to get a C."