Yale University was founded in 1701 in the heart of New Haven, Connecticut, and it remains one of the oldest and most respected universities in the world. Yale applicants come from all around the world, looking to contribute to the profound academic legacy and excellence that continues to make Yale one of the most respected institutions in the country.
Is your SAT or ACT score competitive enough to get into Yale? What about your high school GPA? The college admissions process at Ivy League schools seems hard to understand. How does Yale choose who to accept? What can I do to improve my chances? Write a stellar Common App essay? What is Yale looking for in its supplemental essays? Should I have more extracurriculars? Apply single-choice early action?
Below, we’ve begun to uncover everything we know about the Yale University admissions process. Read on to find out the exact steps to take to apply to Yale University.
Also, please read this information on how to get into an Ivy League school.
One thing you already know to be true: Yale University is an extremely selective school. In 2023, the overall admissions rate at Yale was only 4%, meaning admissions officers rejected more than 96 out of every 100 students who applied. Moreover, that overall rate includes Yale’s single-choice early action acceptance rate, which is higher than Yale’s regular decision rate. That means that in reality, the regular admission rate at Yale is closer to 3%!
In addition, the college admissions process gets more competitive every year, as more and more qualified students apply. That means you need to really stand out. Once you better understand what Yale is looking for, you can better curate your college preparation and college application to meet both their requirements and expectations.
Let’s start with your grade point average (GPA). Yale admissions officers will calculate this based on your high school transcript, which you’ll submit with your overall application.
It is important to understand that a strong weighted GPA is not nearly as critical as having an equally impressive unweighted GPA. Weighted GPAs are not always as helpful because high schools weight GPAs differently and so sometimes students don’t understand the implications of their weighted GPA. In truth, you need close to a 4.0 unweighted GPA to get into Yale. That means nearly straight As in every class, while also taking the highest rigor classes available to you at your high school, such as taking as many AP classes as your school will allow you to take.
Yale, like the rest of the Ivy League and most other selective colleges, prefers that you have either an SAT score or ACT score for admission. In the past few years, Yale has been test-optional, but Yale certainly prefers applicants that have standardized test scores. Yale has no preference between the SAT and ACT, so make sure to choose the test that’s a better fit for you, thoroughly prepare for it, and plan to take it multiple times.
The range of SAT scores and ACT composite scores for students admitted to Yale varies. The table below shows the 25th through 75th percentile SAT and ACT scores, with the average Yale SAT score being 1530 and the average Yale ACT score being 34. However, keep in mind that unless you fall into certain privileged categories (athletes, legacies, donors, etc.), your SAT score or ACT score should be closer to the top of the listed range to grant you the highest chance of admission.
|Test||Average Admitted Student Score Ranges||Average Score of Admitted Student|
|SAT Total Range||1480-1580||1530|
|ACT Composite Range||33-35||34|
*Note that Yale University “superscores” the SAT, not the ACT. That means Yale will mix and match section scores from different days for the SAT, but only look at composite ACT scores from single test dates.
Those are the overall academic requirements for Yale. But what about everything else? Students who get into to Yale University have a lot more than just high grades and standardized test scores. In addition to evaluating your academics, the college admissions officers at Yale want to hear about all the other parts of your life that make you a uniquely distinguished candidate. In addition to reporting your grades and test scores, there are a few more key aspects of the Yale admissions process:
• Two teacher recommendations and one counselor letter
• A high school transcript
• A mid-year report
• An $80 application fee or fee waiver
• A completed Common Application
• Yale-specific essays
First, to understand who you are as a student beyond your transcripts and test scores, Yale will ask for letters of recommendation from two of your teachers as well as your school counselor. When considering who to ask, don’t focus only on the teachers who graded best, but the people who truly know you well and will write great, personal letters. Please note that, contrary to some other schools, Yale does not encourage or recommend supplemental recommendations!
Second, in addition to your transcript and his/her letter, your school counselor will submit a few additional documents:
• A school report, which includes your school’s demographics and its most prominent features (like if there’s a limit on how many AP classes you can take)
• A mid-year report, which will update Yale on your senior year grades that might not be officially posted when you apply.
These will also help Yale contextualize your application.
Then, you’ll need to submit the Common Application (or Coalition Application). Don’t worry, when you apply to college, you’ll become well-acquainted with this online interface; it’ll be where you go to apply not only to Yale, but to Harvard University, Brown University, and Princeton University, too! Much of the Common Application is standard demographic and educational information. You’ll also fill out an activities section, where you’ll detail all your extracurricular involvement. The activities section of the Common App is an important way that students can demonstrate what they have accomplished outside of the classroom during high school. This is one of several ways that Yale applicants can distinguish themselves from others once grades and scores are considered.
On top of that information, the Common Application asks for a single personal essay that will be submitted to all your schools. This essay, of 650 words or less, is your chance to tell Yale and the rest of your schools about an important moment or theme in your life. A strong Common App essay is key to a competitive application, so plan to work through multiple revisions and drafts before sending it off! The Common App essay is your chance to give Yale an understanding of who you are as a person beyond having achieved a strong academic profile.
Lastly, in addition to the Common App essay, Yale and many other schools require additional, school-specific essays. These essays are one of the most critical components of your application. They allow you to show college admissions officers why Yale is the best-fit school for you and give you the space to clearly communicate how you will contribute to Yale’s community. These essay topics can vary from year to year, but generally they ask about your interest in the school and/or more details about what you’ve accomplished in high school. Last year, Yale University asked various short-answer essay questions. Some of the topics included:
1. You are teaching a new Yale course. What is it called?
2. What inspires you?
3. Yale’s residential colleges regularly host conversations with guests representing a wide range of experiences and accomplishments. What person, past or present, would you invite to speak? What would you ask them to discuss?
Having a strong application strategy to get these essays drafted, revised, and completed, as well as a coherent narrative to present in them, is essential for admission to selective schools like Yale and the rest of the Ivy League.
Finally, you’ll need to pay a $80 application fee to submit your application through these online interfaces. These fees can be waived by showing financial hardship.
As you put together all these materials, keep in mind the eventual deadlines! Everything for Yale must be submitted by:
• November 1 for Single-Choice Early Action
• January 1 for Regular Decision
Single-Choice Early Action decisions are released in mid-December, and Regular Decision applicants will hear online by April. Admitted students must decide by May 1 if they will attend.
Yale University admits students from all over the world and from diverse backgrounds. According to Yale’s class profile for the Yale Class of 2026, the demographic breakdown of students admitted was as follows below. Please note this breakdown may change in the future due to the Supreme Court’s ruling that makes affirmative action illegal, which you can read about here.
The final thing to keep in mind is that Yale University is so selective, that even if you’re a competitive applicant there, it makes sense to apply to similar schools as well, like Harvard University, Princeton University, and Columbia University.
Best of luck! And remember, if you need advice on any of this—how to better understand your GPA, when to take the SAT or ACT, what extracurricular activities to do, how to spend your summers, or what to write all of your college essays about—please contact us to speak to one of our admissions consultants!
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