How to Get into Yale

If you dream of attending Yale, you will need to achieve great scores on your ACT or SAT, a nearly perfect high school GPA from a curriculum of difficult courses, and participate in the types of extracurricular activities that allow you to demonstrate your interests and leadership potential. The admissions officials will also expect a well-written essay that allows your personality to shine through and communicates exactly why the school should want to have you on its campus.

Founded in 1701 and located in New Haven, Connecticut, Yale is the third-oldest educational institution in the U.S. and is one of the eight colleges and universities that comprise the Ivy League. Yale is among the most prestigious schools in both the U.S. and the world, and its admissions are highly competitive. Yale is famous for its strong theater and music programs, but its numerous degree programs are also very competitive. Yale boasts numerous famous alumni among its ranks, including multiple U.S. presidents, famous actors, and notable journalists.


Yale Facts

Motto: Lux et veritas (Light and truth)
Established: 1701
School Type: Private
Location: New Haven, Connecticut
Athletics: NCAA Division I FCS – Ivy League
Nickname: Bulldogs
Website: yale.edu


To help you determine how you can get into Yale, below are several frequently asked questions that our admissions advisors are asked.

What GPA do I need to get into Yale?

According to the College Board, Yale does not report high school GPA information for its incoming freshmen. However, it does report that 95% of the incoming class of freshmen for the class of 2023 was ranked in the top 10% of their graduating classes, 99% were ranked in the top quarter, and 100% were ranked in the top half. This means that you will need to have the best possible GPA that you can achieve while you are in high school if you want to attend Yale.

If your school does not weight GPAs, try to get as close to a 4.0 as possible in all of your classes and your overall GPA. If your school does weight GPAs, aim for a weighted GPA of 4.13 or higher to place yourself in a competitive spot for admission to Yale. It will also be important for you to get a great GPA in difficult courses. An unweighted GPA of 4.0 from taking easier classes at your high school will not be as impressive as a 4.0 GPA from taking more difficult courses.

If you are taking a difficult course and are struggling, you need to get help from a tutor as soon as possible in the academic term. This can help you to achieve an A and avoid hurting your GPA and your chances of being admitted to Yale.

What SAT or ACT scores do I need to get into Yale?

Yale does not prefer the ACT or the SAT and accepts scores from either test. The school states that it has no score cutoffs and will consider your application as a whole rather than just on your standardized test scores. However, you will need to obtain a very competitive SAT or ACT score if you want to get into Yale. For its most recent class, Yale reports that the entering students achieved the following scores at the 25th and 75th percentiles:

  • SAT EBRW – 720 at the 25th percentile
  • SAT EBRW – 770 at the 75th percentile
  • SAT Math – 740 at the 25th percentile
  • SAT Math – 790 at the 75th percentile
  • ACT composite – 33 at the 25th percentile
  • ACT composite – 35 at the 75th percentile

Your goal should be to achieve a score at the upper end of the range or above it if you want to be admitted to Yale. The highest possible composite score that you can achieve on the SAT is 1600 and 36 on the ACT. The middle percentile range from the most recent class demonstrates the importance of scoring as highly as possible.

It is a good idea for you to begin preparing for the ACT or SAT as early as possible. While some people do about the same on either test, others find that they score better on one test versus the other. You should take the PreACT and the PSAT/NMSQT during your freshman or sophomore year. This will give you an idea of the feel of the ACT and SAT and which test might be a better choice for you. Taking the PSAT/NMSQT during your junior year of high school is also a good idea because it is used to select national merit scholars. If you are named as a national merit scholar, you will be eligible for a scholarship. It also looks good on your college applications.

Once you have determined whether you want to take the ACT or SAT, schedule time for regular practice tests. You should take timed tests without distractions to simulate what you might expect on the actual testing day. When you take practice tests, you will be able to identify the sections on which you are strong and those on which you need more practice. This can help you to concentrate on improving in the weaker areas to raise your score.

You should begin taking actual SAT or ACT tests during your junior year. This will give you more chances to retake the test if you need to improve your score. If you find that your score is below your goal, getting help from an ACT or SAT test prep tutor can help you to learn some tips to improve your scores. A test prep tutor can also help you to identify areas in which you are weaker and provide you with explanations of the problems that you have missed.

What classes do I need to take in high school to get into Yale?

Yale recognizes that high schools differ in their curricular offerings. While many schools offer advanced placement and international baccalaureate courses, many others do not. Yale wants to see that you have demonstrated a trajectory of taking courses of increasing difficulty each year of high school in mathematics, science, social studies, English, and a foreign language. The admissions officials like to see that you have pursued a rigorous course load every year, including during your senior year. Do not give in to the temptation to slack off during your senior year. The admissions officials will check your classes and grades during your senior year when they decide whether to offer you admission.

While Yale does not have a foreign language requirement, it is still a good idea for you to take three or four years in the same foreign language if they are taught at your school. You should also take four years of mathematics courses, four years of science courses, four years of English courses, and four years of social studies courses. If your school has honors classes, AP classes, or IB classes, taking the more difficult versions of the courses that are available at your high school and doing well in them can demonstrate that you are prepared for college-level coursework at Yale. What you choose to take in high school should demonstrate that you have been able to score well in all of your courses as they increase in difficulty.

Do I need to take AP courses to get into Yale?

Yale does not require students to take AP courses to get accepted by the school. However, if your school offers AP courses, you should take them instead of taking the easier versions of the classes. Yale recommends that students take AP classes if they are offered at their high schools. Getting an A in AP chemistry and scoring a five on the AP test is better than getting an A in a regular high school chemistry course, for example. If your school does not offer AP courses but does offer IB classes, choose the IB courses instead of the regular classes.

If your school does not offer either AP or IB classes, that is okay and will not mean that you will not be admitted to Yale. The admissions officials will want to see that you have taken advantage of the resources that are available to you and will not mark your application down because of your school’s curriculum. In that case, take the courses that are listed in your school’s honors curriculum. Many high schools have also paired with area community colleges and four-year colleges to offer dual-credit or dual-enrollment classes. These are college-level courses that you can take while you are in high school and earn both college and high school credit simultaneously. Taking these types of classes can allow you to show that you have already been successful in college-level classes and would likely continue to be successful in your classes at Yale.

Does Yale accept AP credit?

If you have taken several AP exams, IB exams, CLEP exams, or dual enrollment classes, you likely wonder whether Yale will accept these types of credits. Yale does not award credit to students for credit that they earned while they were still in high school. You will still apply as a first-year applicant and will be expected to complete the regular undergraduate courses for your chosen degree program.

While Yale will not grant credit to you for AP exams, IB exams, CLEP exams, or dual enrollment courses for which you earned college credit in high school, that does not mean that you shouldn’t take these courses and exams. Scoring fives on AP exams helps to demonstrate your academic strength and your likely ability to do well in your classes at Yale. However, scoring a three on an AP exam might be enough to get credit in college classes at other institutions, but it will not help your application to Yale very much.

Do I need to take SAT subject tests to get into Yale?

While Yale does not require applicants to take SAT subject tests, it recommends that students take them. When an elite university recommends but doesn’t require applicants to take SAT subject tests or anything else, you should follow the recommendation. The school does state that someone who does not take the subject exams will not be at a disadvantage. However, taking SAT subject tests can allow you to demonstrate your academic prowess if you do well on them.

You might want to take subject tests in the areas that you are most interested in pursuing in your future academic career. Like the ACT or SAT, you can take the SAT subject tests several times.

Does Yale super score SAT or ACT scores?

When the admissions officials at Yale review applications and test scores, they look at the highest score that you achieved on each subsection of either the ACT or SAT. For example, if you took the SAT three times, the admissions officials will consider the highest individual scores that you achieved on the SAT EBRW and the SAT Math subtests across the various testing dates. Similarly, the admissions officials will consider both the highest ACT composite score that you achieved across multiple testing dates as well as the highest individual scores that you received on the individual subtests that make up the ACT.

What should I write about in my personal statement to get into Yale?

First-year applicants to Yale must respond to several short-answer questions that are specific to Yale as well as one or two essays, depending on their intended majors and the application platform that they use. Yale accepts the Coalition Application, the Questbridge Application, and the Common Application. You will respond to the prompts that are provided in 100 or 125 words for each of the questions. The Coalition and Common Applications also have several other questions to answer in 35 words or less. The Coalition and Common Applications will also provide a prompt for students to which you will need to respond in 250 words or less. Finally, if you choose the Common or Coalition Application, you will need to respond to a second essay prompt in 250 words or less.

After responding to your chosen prompts, you will need to upload a document, video, or image, or audio file that complements the response that you have given to your prompt. You will need to include a short description of your uploaded file or document in one sentence. If you intend to pursue a major in engineering and choose the Common Application or the Coalition Application, you will also need to respond to an additional essay prompt in 300 or fewer words.

When you write your essays and respond to the short answer questions, you should pay careful attention to what you write. Your essays and short answer question answers are how you can make your application come alive. While you are not required to submit a single long personal statement, your short answer questions and essays are how you can help your application stand out.

Yale receives tens of thousands of applications from students who have achieved top test scores and GPAs in high school. While everyone who applies will be responding to the same essay prompts, you can still write yours in a way that allows your voice and personality to shine through. Do not treat your answers as a way to list your achievements. The admissions officials will be able to see your accomplishments in other parts of your application. Your short answer questions and essays should not be treated as a resume.

You should write about things that are important to you. There is not a set formula for what to include in your essays. You also should avoid writing one essay and using it for multiple schools. If you are applying to other schools besides Yale, each school’s essays should be tailored to them.

An elite institution like Yale receives thousands of applications from highly qualified students each year that the admissions officials have to evaluate. While it will take a substantial amount of work to write your short answers and essays, this part of your application is crucial. Take the time that you need to write the best answers and essay responses that you can, and provide yourself plenty of time to rewrite them.

After you have written drafts of your essays and short answers, it is a good idea to ask someone to review them for you. Your parents will likely want to read what you wrote, but you should realize that they are biased. You will want to get a critical review from someone you trust and respect such as a teacher or admissions counselor. This can help you to get suggestions about changes that could make your essays and short answers shine. After you have received a critical review, rewrite your essays and short answers as many times as you need to until they are the best that they can be.

Do not allow your parents to write your essays for you. Unfortunately, some students do this, and it will not help them to gain admission to Yale or any other school. Admissions officers can easily spot applications in which the parents have written the essays for their teens. Older adults tend to choose different words and to write differently than younger people. If you chose to write an essay on your SAT or ACT exam, the differences in voice will be readily apparent. Your application essays should be in your voice and be examples of your best writing. If you have someone else write them for you, that is a quick way to receive a denial of your application to Yale.

How selective is Yale?

Yale is ranked in the top three schools in the U.S. This means that the school receives tens of thousands of applications from students from both the U.S. and the world every year and is one of the most selective institutions. For the class of 2023, Yale reports that it received 36,844 first-year applications and enrolled 1,554. Yale reports that its acceptance rate for the year was 6.2%. To put this into perspective, almost 94 out of every 100 applicants were denied.

If you want to attend Yale, it will be important for you to start preparing as early as possible. The school is very selective, and you should do everything that you can to excel during high school and to get the best scores possible on your standardized tests. If you are not admitted to Yale, your hard work preparing to apply to Yale should pay off and allow you to gain admission to another one of your top-choice schools.

What extracurricular activities do I need to get into Yale?

High school students in the U.S. are frequently told that universities want to find the most well-rounded applicants. While this might be true for many public universities and colleges, it is not true for elite colleges and universities like Yale. Students tend to think that they can demonstrate how well-rounded they are by participating in as many extracurricular activities as possible during high school. Yale is less interested in the number of your extracurricular activities than the quality of your participation.

You should choose extracurricular activities in your areas of interest and participate in them wholeheartedly. For example, if you are interested in the dramatic arts and dream of attending Yale for its drama program, participating in your school’s drama club and acting in plays might help your application. If you are interested in pursuing a mathematics degree, participating in your school’s math club and various competitive mathematics events will help. Yale would like to see that you have participated in a limited number of extracurricular activities and have enjoyed increasing success in them throughout your high school years. Choose a couple of extracurricular activities that you enjoy, and try to secure leadership positions in them.

If you are a high school athlete, your participation in athletics will only help your application if you are among the top athletes in your sport in the country. Yale has a recruitment process for the top athletes from high schools across the nation. If you are a top athletic recruit who is sought after by many colleges and universities, you should not rest on your athletic laurels alone. To get into Yale, you will still be expected to have top grades and test scores. This means that you will need to work equally hard both on and off the field to go to Yale.

Other activities that you participate in during high school can also be important. For example, if you have to work a part-time job to help out your family, you should write about that. If you volunteer or have started some type of public interest group, write about it. Your extracurriculars and other outside activities should reflect what you think is important and provide some insight into your character.

What enrichment opportunities will help me get into Yale?

Participating in enrichment activities can allow you to meet other like-minded young people and to forge lasting friendships. Enrichment activities will not help you get into Yale by themselves. However, they can help you to showcase your special skills in your application. When you are choosing enrichment opportunities, choose activities in your interest areas. Participating and placing in national competitions can help. For example, if you are a highly skilled pianist, winning a national piano competition for high school students can certainly help your application.

Yale also offers its own enrichment program on campus called the Yale Young Global Scholars. This is a competitive summer enrichment program for high school students from around the world. The YYGS program offers several two-week sessions during the summer in five different areas, including the following:

  • Biological and biomedical sciences
  • Literature, philosophy, and culture
  • Politics, law, and economics
  • Solving global challenges

If you would like to participate in the YYGS program, the application process mirrors Yale’s first-year application process. There is an early action and regular decision application process for selection to participate in the Yale Young Global Scholars program. If you apply to the program and are selected, you will have the opportunity to spend two weeks on the campus of Yale during the summer while gaining hands-on education at the school.

You can also research enrichment opportunities that are closer to you. For example, if you are interested in science, check with universities and colleges close to your home to inquire about enrichment opportunities that they might offer to high school students during the summer months.

Who should I ask to write my Yale letters of recommendation?

Yale requires applicants to ask for two teacher recommendations. You should ask teachers who know you well and understand your academic and personal strengths to write them for you. You should ask teachers from your junior or senior year of high school to write your letters of recommendation. This allows Yale to learn about you while you are taking more rigorous classes.

You can also submit a supplementary letter of recommendation, but you are not required to do so. If you choose to submit a supplementary letter of recommendation, it should be written by someone who knows you personally or who has mentored you. Yale does not recommend that applicants submit supplementary letters of recommendation, however. This means that you should probably just avoid asking for someone to submit one unless he or she will communicate something extraordinary about you. Do not ask for someone to write a letter of recommendation simply because of their status. For example, it is not a good idea for you to ask your mother’s law partner at a leading law firm to write a letter of recommendation for you. These types of supplementary letters will not help your application and are viewed as name-dropping.

Does Yale require an interview?

Since Yale receives thousands of applications each year, every applicant can’t be interviewed. Yale does not require interviews. If you are not invited to an interview, it does not mean that you will not be accepted.

Yale encourages students to participate in student or alumni interviews. The student interviews are conducted by current Yale seniors, and a limited number of student interviews are scheduled on campus. These student-led interviews are available on a first-come basis and are scheduled from June to August and September to November of each year. These interviews last approximately 30 minutes and are held at the admissions office. To register for an on-campus interview, you must be a high school student who plans to apply as a first-year applicant during the upcoming application year. If you are interviewed on-campus by a Yale student, you will not be given an off-campus interview.

Off-campus interviews may be scheduled by Yale alumni. These interviews are conducted by the Yale Alumni Schools Association in areas where there is a local chapter. Not all areas are covered by ASC chapters, however. Off-campus alumni interviews will not be scheduled until after you have submitted your application to Yale. These interviews also are not scheduled by you. Instead, an alumnus might contact you directly to schedule an interview. You should not contact the local ASC chapter to ask for an interview.

If you are chosen for an off-campus interview, promptly reply to the email or phone call that you receive. These interviews are held in public locations such as libraries or cafes. Make sure to arrive on time. It is never good to leave an interviewer waiting for you to show up. You should dress nicely in a way that is appropriate for the location where you are meeting. You do not need to overdress. At the same time, you should make certain that your appearance is neat.

Some high school students show up at their interviews with their parents. Do not do this. The interviewer will want to get to know you instead of what your parents think about you. Bringing your parents to your Yale interview will make you appear as if you are not prepared to make decisions for yourself. If your parents ask if they can come, tell them no.

It is important to note that both on-campus and off-campus interviews by students or alumni are evaluative. The interviewer will ask you questions that are designed to allow him or her to get more information about you. After your interview, he or she will write and submit an interview report that includes the interviewer’s opinion about the contributions that you might make as a member of the Yale community. The admissions officers will consider the interview report together with the rest of your application materials.

If you are not chosen for an interview, you should not worry. Yale is simply unable to interview everyone, and many students who are not interviewed are accepted.

What does Yale look for in students?

Yale states that it wants to find students who are willing to stretch themselves to the limits of their talents and who will likely become future leaders. The school is interested in students that are strongly motivated to make the world a better place. Yale estimates that approximately 75% of its applicants could handle the classes at Yale. However, Yale’s admissions officials want to find extraordinary students.

Yale uses a holistic process to evaluate applicants. It considers all of the application materials that you submit as a whole to decide whether you should attend Yale. Even though the process is holistic, you still need a great GPA, top test scores, great letters of recommendation, and compelling essays. Adding extracurricular activities in your areas of interest and having leadership positions can also help. Taking the most difficult classes that your school has to offer and doing well in them can add to the strength of your application.

Will visiting Yale help me get in?

It is a good idea for you to schedule a visit to Yale if possible. Visiting Yale will allow you to explore the campus and get a better idea of the college’s feel. When you visit Yale, you can also demonstrate your interest in attending Yale and indirectly improve your chances of admission.

You can register to visit Yale on the school’s website. You can attend an information session and a campus tour. There are also optional tours of Yale’s science and engineering departments. There are also student forums that you can attend. At some times during the year, you can schedule a visit to a class. The admissions office has a list of classes that it recommends people visit. Attending a class can allow you to experience what it is like to be a student at Yale.

If you can’t schedule a visit, you should at least complete a virtual tour of the campus. A virtual tour can allow you to see what the campus looks like and learn about some of Yale’s history.

Does Yale accept the Common Application?

Yale accepts the Common application, the Coalition application, and the QuestBridge application. The school does not have a preference for one application over the others, so you should pick whichever application you want to complete. It might be a good idea to review the short answer questions and essay prompts for each application for Yale to aid in your decision.

The QuestBridge application is a free application that allows students with lower socioeconomic backgrounds to apply to multiple selective colleges simultaneously. To apply to Yale with the QuestBridge application, you must first submit the National College Match application through QuestBridge by the deadline in September. In October, QuestBridge will notify students if they are QuestBridge finalists. If you are selected as a finalist, you can then submit the QuestBridge application and the additional application materials to Yale.

What are Yale’s application deadlines?

Yale’s application deadlines depend on whether you are applying through single-choice early action, the Questbridge National College Match, or regular decision. The deadlines for each method of applying are as follows:

  • Single-choice early action – Nov. 1
  • QuestBridge National College Match – Nov. 1
  • Regular decision – Jan. 2

Yale’s single-choice early action application process is the school’s restrictive process through which you can apply to Yale and receive a decision in the middle of December. If you are accepted, you will not have to make the decision to enroll until May and can apply to other schools during their regular decision application processes. If you apply to Yale through its single-choice early action process, you are not allowed to apply to other colleges through their restrictive early action application processes, however. You can apply to another college’s early decision II program only if the notification will be sent after Jan. 1.

The single-choice early action process is a good choice if you are certain that you want to attend Yale and have already secured the GPA and test scores that you will need. If you need to take the ACT or SAT another time to improve your scores or increase your GPA with your first-semester senior-year courses, the regular decision process might be a better choice.

If you do apply through the single-choice early action program at Yale, three things might occur in December. You could be notified that you have been accepted. If you are, you will be allowed to wait to decide whether to attend until May. You can apply to other colleges through their regular decision application processes.

You might also be notified that your application has been denied. If this happens, apply to the other schools on your list by their regular decision application deadlines. Do not feel bad and remember that Yale is extremely selective. Receiving a denial decision does not mean that you are not a well-qualified student who is prepared for college.

The third possibility is that you will receive notice that your application is being deferred to the regular decision process. If this happens, your application will be reconsidered at the same time as the applications of the regular decision applicants. You will receive notice of whether or not your application for admission to Yale has been accepted by April 1. If you are ultimately accepted, you will need to make your decision on whether to enroll by May 1.

Yale recommends that students submit their financial aid applications by Nov. 10 for the single-choice early action program or March 15 for the regular decision program. There are also deadlines for taking the standardized tests before your application. If you are a single-choice early action applicant, the last possible test dates for the ACT and the SAT are October. If you are a regular decision applicant, the last possible test dates for the ACT and the SAT are February and December. If you are a QuestBridge applicant, the last possible test dates that can be considered are September for the ACT and October for the SAT.

What can I do now to increase my chances of getting into Yale?

What you can do now to increase your chances of getting into Yale depends on your year in school. If you are a freshman or are still in junior high school, you will have much more time to prepare. At these levels, you should start by identifying your areas of weaknesses and strengths. Develop a plan to help to improve your weaker areas and to build upon your strengths.

Take the pre-ACT and the PSAT to get an idea of which test might be better for you. Both of these standardized tests reflect what you should have learned in high school. When you are younger, they might not accurately reflect how you will ultimately score. However, they can still provide you with some information on your stronger areas and your weaker areas so that you can address them.

Strive to make straight As in high school. If you take a class that is difficult for you, get help as early as possible. This can help you to get a great grade and can open you up to a new area of interest. Follow a written schedule, making sure to schedule in time for having fun. Your high school years should not be solely focused on work and studying. You need to make time to enjoy them while you can.

A schedule and a plan can help you to stay on track and to manage your time better. When you have a goal plan with incremental steps, you can also look back to see all of the progress that you have made. High school can be extremely busy, but good planning can help you to fit everything in while you develop good organizational and time management skills.

If you are a sophomore in high school, continue working to secure the highest grades possible in all of your classes. If you have not already done so, now is a good time to take the PSAT and the Pre-ACT to figure out which test will ultimately be better for you and your strengths and weaknesses. Consider getting a test preparation tutor if you need help with improving your scores. If you struggle in one of your courses, a subject matter tutor is also a good idea. If your grades were not their best in your freshman year, you can still improve your chances of being admitted to Yale by demonstrating that you have changed course and are now excelling. Make sure to take the most challenging courses that are available to you. Talk to your guidance counselor for help with choosing the right classes.

If you are a high school junior or senior, you do not have much time left to improve your chances of gaining admission to Yale. Hopefully, you have already achieved top grades in your courses. Take the ACT or SAT. If you need to improve your scores, retake the tests several times until you have obtained the best scores possible or have reached the deadline for the last possible test. Make certain that you get As in all of your classes. Continue taking rigorous courses, including during your senior year. Do not give in to the desire to slack off when you are a senior. If you do, it can harm your chances.

Another important thing that you can do right now to improve your chances of gaining admission to Yale is to work on building your character. Like other elite institutions, Yale wants people who are good citizens. Treat other people with kindness, and volunteer for a cause of your choice. Watch what you post on social media.

Finally, start your application as early as possible. This will give you more time to complete everything and to get your essays written the way that you want. Starting early can also help to decrease your stress levels while you are applying to colleges and universities.

How do I apply to Yale?

To apply to Yale, decide which application you want to use and whether you will apply through the single-choice early action, the QuestBridge National College Match, or the regular decision program. Then, decide whether to complete the Common, Coalition, or QuestBridge application. Once you decide on the application to complete and the application process that you will use, you can then start completing your application. All three of the applications that Yale accepts are completed online. All three applications are free, but you will have to pay the Yale application fee and fees for any other schools that you select with the Common or Coalition applications. However, Yale does offer a fee waiver if you come from a low-income background.

Once you choose your application, you will need to start filling it out. Be very careful when you complete your application. Take all of the time that you need to complete it correctly. Proofread your application carefully. It does not look good to have misspellings or typos on your application to Yale, and it could lead to a fast denial. Pay attention to all of the deadlines. If you submit your application too late, it will not be considered. Choose who to ask to write your recommendations, and ask them to write them in plenty of time. Ask your school to send your official transcript to Yale. Ask for your standardized test scores to be sent to Yale. Finally, after you have submitted everything, continue to work hard throughout your senior year. Yale will check your grades during your senior year. If you have allowed them to fall, it can be detrimental to your application.

Getting admitted to Yale is a dream of many students from around the world. Because of the school’s prestige and selectivity, it is difficult for most people to gain admission to this elite college. By thoroughly preparing and starting as early as possible, you can place yourself on a path for success and may improve your chances of being among the 6% of students who are accepted by Yale.

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