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How To Get Into Yale: Breaking Down Admission Requirements With Our College Admission Experts

11/12/202330 minute read
How To Get Into Yale: Breaking Down Admission Requirements With Our College Admission Experts

Don't let low acceptance rates discourage you from pursuing your dream of attending Yale. In this blog, we’re going to show you how you can get into Yale by breaking down the admissions requirements to find out what Yale is looking for, and providing expert insight to have everything you need to get into the university.

How hard is it to get into Yale?

As one of the most selective colleges in the world, it’s tough to get into Yale. The 2022-2023 admissions cycle proved to be an incredibly competitive cycle, with a record-low acceptance rate of 4.35%.

It’s not a surprise that Yale University has a competitive acceptance rate given that it received 50% more applications than the previous year. Regardless, Yale admitted 2,275 of the 52,250 students who applied for the Class of 2027.

Yale Class of 2027 Acceptance Rates
Number of ApplicationsAccepted StudentsAcceptance Rate
Regular Applications44,5061,433 3.2%
Early Applications7,74477610%

Meeting GPA and SAT/ACT requirements (although these are now optional) will help you get through the first round of filters. If you don’t meet the minimum expectations, your chances of getting past the first selection round are nearly impossible.

While the school is highly selective, your chances of getting in dramatically increase if your tests and grades are at the top of your class and your extracurriculars align with Yale’s values.

The way you answer the essay questions is crucial; it helps Yale admissions get to know you better and it explains why you’re a great fit for their campus.

Yale Rankings 2022

US News & World Report ranked Yale #5 in their Best Colleges 2022 edition. Yale also ranked #14 in the 2022 QS World University Rankings.

Notable Yale Rankings

  • #1 in Best Value Schools
  • #2 in Undergraduate Research/Creative Projects (tie)
  • #3 in Learning Communities
  • #3 in Writing in the Disciplines (tie)
  • #19 in Most Innovative Schools (tie)
  • #20 in Study Abroad (tie)
  • #31 in Best Undergraduate Teaching (tie)

Most Popular Majors at Yale

  • Social Sciences
  • Biological and Biomedical Sciences
  • Mathematics and Statistics
  • Computer and Information Sciences and Support Services
  • History

What is Yale Looking For?

1. Academic Excellence

Yale looks for students who excel in a wide range of challenging courses. Their first consideration is always academics, so your high school transcript is the most crucial part of your application.

2. Leadership

Yale selects students who are leaders in their community and in their particular area of interest. They want students who will make the most of their abundant on-campus resources, stretch the limits of their talents, and use everything they have learned to improve the world around them.

“I am inclined to believe that the person who gives every ounce to do something superbly has an advantage over the person whose capacities may be great but who seems to have no desire to stretch them to their limit”

- Kingman Brewster, 17th President of Yale University

3. Community Involvement

The admissions committee looks for exceptional engagement, ability, and promise. Rather than participating in every available opportunity, focus on the one or two activities that excite you. Utilize the resources available at your school and in your community to stretch yourself in that area. Then show how you will use Yale’s extensive resources to further your passion.

4. A Holistic Application

Yale has a holistic admissions process, meaning they consider every aspect of an applicant's profile. Yale weighs grades and test scores but also values personal qualities such as character, creativity, intellectual curiosity, and growth potential.

Grades and test scores might get you through the door, but they probably won’t help you stand out from the rest of the applicants with equally high numbers. Your application will come to life through your extracurricular activities and essays.

A Day In The Life: Yale Student

What do you need to get into Yale?

Yale’s general application process is similar to the rest of the Ivy League schools. Admissions officers look for applicants with stellar grades, exceptional academic accomplishments, and those who will utilize Yale’s breadth and depth of knowledge and resources to improve the world around them.

To stand out to Yale, your application needs to come to life! Use every part of the application to reveal a piece of yourself. If the admissions committee can picture you on campus, participating in student clubs and organizations, utilizing their extensive resources, and applying what you’ve learned, they’re more likely to admit you.

Below is an overview of the Yale application requirements. Yale offers extensive information about their specific application requirements on their website, even answering the most commonly asked questions from first-year applicants. Visit their application instructions page for specific application requirements.

Yale Application Requirements

The Yale application asks you to provide the following:

  • Application (Coalition/Common/QuestBridge)
  • Yale-Specific Questions (Supplemental Essays)
  • Letters of Recommendation (two academic teachers & one counselor)
  • School Report with Transcript
  • Standardized Test Results (optional)
  • Mid-year Report (when first semester grades are available)

How Crimson Student Bluebelle got into Yale

High School GPA Requirements

Nearly every Yale student was part of the top 10% of their high school graduating class. Since the average GPA for Yale is 4.14, it’s safe to say you’ll need nearly straight A’s to compete with other Yale hopefuls.

In addition to having a high GPA, you should also take advantage of the advanced classes your school offers. Depending on where you live, this means you should take AP or IB courses to show the Yale admissions officers you can handle demanding coursework.

If your GPA is not as high as the average Yale GPA, you may be able to make up for it with high test scores, glowing letters of recommendation, and extracurricular activities that complement Yale’s mission.

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You can receive acceleration credit for scores of 4 or 5 on some AP exams. This credit might give you the option to graduate early, but only if you complete specific courses in specific departments. Most students do not use this credit to graduate early. Click here for more information about Yale’s Acceleration policies.

Standardized Test Scores

Yale has extended its test-optional policy for Class 2027. While submitting your SAT or ACT scores isn’t a requirement anymore, it could help your application stand out.

  • SAT: Students who submit their SAT scores typically score between 1460-1580. Students who choose to submit the SAT subject tests submit two SAT Subject Tests, with only one being the math test.
  • ACT: ACT scores typically range from 33-35.
SAT and ACT Score Ranges of Admitted Yale Students
TestScore Range (25th & 75th Percentile)
SAT Math740 - 800
SAT ERW720 - 780
ACT Math31 - 35
ACT English34 - 36
ACT Composite33 - 35
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While some students might believe the application essays are the least important part of the Yale application, they’re actually extremely important! These essays are one of the best ways students can distinguish themselves from the rest of the highly-qualified applicants. The admissions team encourages students to take these essays seriously.

The broad range of prompts allows students to write about activities, hobbies, and important experiences. They also encourage students to use their voices rather than say what they think the admissions team wants to hear. These are personal statements and are one of the only ways students can explain why they are perfect for Yale.

You can complete the Yale Questions directly on the Common Application or Coalition Application.

Supplemental Essay Topics

The essays vary slightly based on the application platform you choose, but Yale requires nine responses - seven short answer questions and two short essays.

Short Answer Questions
  1. Students at Yale have plenty of time to explore their academic interests before committing to one or more major fields of study. Many students either modify their original academic direction or change their minds entirely. As of this moment, what academic areas seem to fit your interests or goals most comfortably? Please indicate up to three from the list provided.
  2. Why do these areas appeal to you? (125 words or fewer)
  3. What is it about Yale that has led you to apply? (125 words or fewer)
  4. What inspires you? (200 characters or fewer; approx. 35 words)
  5. 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 question would you ask? (200 characters or fewer; approx. 35 words)
  6. You are teaching a Yale course. What is it called? (200 characters or fewer; approx. 35 words)
  7. Yale students embrace the concept of “and” rather than “or,” pursuing arts and sciences, tradition and innovation, defined goals and surprising detours. What is an example of an “and” that you embrace? (200 characters or fewer; approx. 35 words)
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Two Short Essays
  1. Yale’s extensive course offerings and vibrant conversations beyond the classroom encourage students to follow their developing intellectual interests wherever they lead. Tell us about your engagement with a topic or idea that excites you. Why are you drawn to it? (250 words or fewer)
  2. Respond to one of the following prompts: (250 words or fewer)
  • 2A. Reflect on a community to which you feel connected. Why is it meaningful to you? You may define community however you like.
  • 2B. Reflect on something that has given you great satisfaction. Why has it been important to you?

Extracurricular Activities

Yale admissions committee isn't looking to review every single activity you were involved in, they want to know about the extracurriculars that meant the most to you, the ones that are most relevant to your college and career goals, and the ones that best align with Yale’s mission. There are a limited number of spaces for extracurriculars, so only include ones that you’re genuinely passionate about and fit within your with your future goals.

Consider exploring interests and activities that are a bit outside the box to distinguish yourself from the rest of the applicants. Choose extracurricular activities that reflect your goals and involvement in the community. Remember whatever you choose, dive in deep and make the most of it. Yale wants to see that you’re passionate about your chosen activities and interested in serving the greater community.

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Letters of Recommendation

Yale requires three letters of recommendation (two academic teachers and one counselor). These letters don’t necessarily need to come from the class where you received your highest grades. Ask a teacher or counselor who knows you well for a recommendation letter. They should come from someone who know you best and can give Yale the broadest picture of who you are and why you should be part of the Yale community.

The counselor you choose should talk about your leadership positions at the school and how you contributed to the school community as a whole. Your letters of recommendation are another great way to make your application come to life. They should reveal attributes about you not found in any other part of the application.

Applying To Yale As An International Student

International students follow the same application process as all other students, with just a few minor differences. Non-native English-speakers are strongly encouraged to take one of the following proficiency tests:

How to increase your chances of getting into Yale?

1. Apply Early

Yale’s Single-Choice Early Action program allows can give you an edge over other applicants. Early Action applications are non-binding but offer you a higher chance of acceptance. The early action acceptance rate for the Class of 2027 was 10% compared to the regular application acceptance rate of only 3.2%.

Applying early has several benefits:

  • It can help to reduce competition. The early application pool is typically smaller than the regular decision pool, which can increase your chances of acceptance. Additionally, the admissions committee has more time to review each application in the early pool, which can result in a more thorough and nuanced review of your application.
  • It shows the admissions committee that Yale is your top choice and that you are committed to attending if accepted. This can help to demonstrate your level of interest and enthusiasm for the university, which can be a positive factor in the admissions decision.
  • Applying early can help you receive your admissions decision sooner. This can help to reduce the stress and uncertainty of the admissions process and allow you to plan for the future more effectively.

While applying early won’t guarantee admission, it can significantly improve your chances of acceptance.

2. Submit your SAT/ACT Scores

While Yale is test-optional as of 2023, your SAT/ACT scores will be considered if submitted. There are several benefits to submitting your scores, even if they have a test-optional policy.

  • Demonstrates your academic abilities: Submitting strong SAT or ACT scores can demonstrate your intellectual abilities and provide admissions officers with additional evidence of your potential to succeed in college-level coursework.
  • Strengthens your application: If you have strong SAT or ACT scores, submitting them can improve your overall application and make you a more competitive candidate for admission.
  • Demonstrates your commitment: Submitting your test scores, even if it's optional, can demonstrate your commitment to the admissions process and your interest in attending the college or university.

If you decide to submit your SAT/ACT scores, ensure you score higher than the average scores highlighted earlier.

Helpful resources

3. Demonstrate leadership and community involvement

Yale values students who have demonstrated leadership skills and have made a positive impact in their communities. Participate in extracurricular activities, volunteer in your community, and seek leadership positions to showcase your ability to make a difference.

Helpful resources

4. Go Beyond The Grades

Yes, Yale is academically rigorous, and a stellar GPA is a solid foundation. However, it's not just about the grades on paper.

Admissions officers at Yale are keen to see intellectual curiosity and a genuine love for learning. Take challenging courses, explore your academic interests beyond the classroom, and showcase your passion for knowledge in your application.

Engage in extracurricular activities that align with your interests and demonstrate leadership, commitment, and impact. Whether it's captaining the debate team, leading a community service project, or showcasing your artistic talents, make sure your activities reflect your authentic self.

Is Yale Right For You?

Some people apply to Yale only for the name or because it’s an Ivy League school. If that’s you, consider applying to a school (maybe even another Ivy League school) that specializes in your area of interest instead. The admissions committee at Yale can tell if you’re truly passionate about their school or if you’re applying for other reasons.

But, if your grades, extracurriculars, and future goals indeed line up with Yale’s mission and you can’t imagine yourself going to school anywhere else, then you should apply! But remember, some of the smartest and most talented students in the world do not get accepted to Yale. You can apply again! Focus on the weaker aspects of your application so the next time you apply, you’ll shine above the rest!

Life After Yale

Newsweek ranked Yale as the #7 private college whose graduates earn the most money. Additionally, a degree from Yale can open doors to some of the most high-profile global firms in the world.

Yale Class Overview
Knowledge RateSuccess RateMean Starting SalaryTop 5 Industries
91.6% of those graduating between July 1, 2019-June 30, 202091.7% employed or in graduate school within six months of graduation$71,030 among graduates employed in the United States.Financial Services, Education, Consulting, Technology, and Healthcare

Source: Yale University Office of Career Strategies

Some of Yale’s most distinguished alumni include:

  • Meryl Streep: Actress
  • Edward Norton: Actor
  • George H.W. Bush: 41st President of the United States
  • Samuel Morse: Inventor of the single-wire telegraph and co-inventor of Morse Code
  • Chris Cuomo: American Television Journalist
  • Ben Silbermann: Co-founder, Pinterest
  • Bob Woodward: Washington Post Investigative Journalist
  • Sigourney Weaver: Actress
  • Charles Ives: Composer

Final Thoughts

As an Ivy League school, Yale is an ideal place to study and excel.

About three-quarters of students who apply to Yale meet their qualifications. That means you’ll need to stand out in small areas. Every piece of your application matters, so find ways to give each section a little extra boost. When it comes to who gets into Yale, sometimes the subtle differences make all the difference.

Working with an expert strategist increases your chances of admission to your dream school. Students working with our strategists are 4x more likely to be admitted to Ivy League universities like Yale.

Learn more through our Admissions Support program.

What Makes Crimson Different

Frequently Asked Questions

What Application System Does Yale Use?

Yale accepts the following applications:

How much does it cost to go to Yale?

While Yale’s total cost for tuition and fees is around $77,750, the median net price for Yale students receiving financial aid is about $13,000.

What is the retention rate for first-year students at Yale?

Yale has one of the highest freshman retention rates in the US. The freshman retention rate for Yale University is 99%.

What is the average salary for a Yale graduate?

The average salary for a Yale graduate is $70,000 USD per year.