Yale, an Ivy League school located in New Haven, Connecticut, is one of the most desirable, but also most competitive colleges in the United States. Students applying to Yale should be prepared to work hard over the course of their time in high school to achieve high grades and test scores, as well as leadership in their extracurricular activities. For high achieving students, getting into Yale can be attainable. Keep reading to find out what Yale looks for and how to refine your application to increase your chances of being admitted.

Yale University Acceptance Rate and Admission Requirements

It’s no secret that Yale is one of the most desirable colleges in the country – and it’s only getting more competitive each year. As with other Ivy League schools, students can expect to face a hyper competitive application pool where acceptance rates generally fall under 10%.

Acceptance Rate in Previous Years

Over the past four years, Yale’s acceptance rate has consistently remained under 7%, and appears to be getting smaller each year. According to U.S. News, Yale had the 11th lowest acceptance rate among all undergraduate institutions in the United States. With such a low acceptance rate, no student can safely assume that Yale is a target school for them, regardless of grades and test scores. Each year, Yale will receive applications from many more qualified students than it can admit. In order to compete among such a competitive group of applicants, students looking to be admitted to Yale should attempt to receive the highest grades and test scores they can, as well as focusing on their extracurriculars and essays.

YearAcceptance Rate
Class of 20254.62%
Class of 20246.54%
Class of 20235.91%
Class of 20226.31%
Yale Admission Statistics

What GPA Do You Need to Get Into Yale

Undeniably, you must have near perfect grades to get admitted into Yale. For the class of 2025, 95% of admitted students were in the top 10% of their class.

While there’s no GPA requirement to be admitted into Yale, we can reasonably expect the average GPA of an admitted Yale student is close to a 4.0, in other words, a high school transcript with straight A’s.

That being said, there’s more to your high school GPA than just the number. Yale wants to see students who pursued high school classes that interest them, even if those classes were difficult. Achieving a 4.0 GPA without taking a single AP or honors class will not look as impressive to a Yale admissions officer as a student who took many science AP classes, simply because they liked science, and in turn had a slightly lower GPA. Of course, maintaining a high GPA is still important. Taking so many AP classes that your GPA suffers is not a good idea, and it’s important to balance your course rigor with what you can handle.

If you feel that your GPA may be a detriment to your application, focus your energy on trying to improve your grades junior and senior year. Also consider other aspects of your application you may be able to improve upon in a relatively shorter timeframe, such as your standardized test scores.

Yale SAT Scores Requirements

Yale has no official cutoff or minimum SAT score that they require from applicants. However, most students who are accepted to Yale have SAT scores above the 95th percentile nationally. A high SAT score can be a valuable asset on your application.

Average SAT Score

According to Yale’s admission page on standardized testing, the middle 50 percent of scores on the SAT Evidence-Based Reading and Writing portion of the exam ranged from 720 to 780, whereas the middle 50 percent of scores on the SAT Math portion ranged from 740 to 800.

If your SAT score falls below this range, there’s no need to fear. This range represents the 25th percentile and 75th percentile scores. This means that 25% of admitted students have submitted an Evidence-Based Reading and Writing score under 720 and a Math score under 740. If you score falls below this range, it is certainly still possible for you to be admitted to Yale.

According to the admissions page, “there is no minimum score required for admission, nor is there a score that will guarantee admission.” For students who are relatively lower scorers, remember that Yale does not admit or reject students solely on the basis of their SAT scores. Yale likes to see passionate students who can demonstrate a strong academic performance. Having a relatively lower score cannot prevent you from being admitted by itself. And for relatively higher-scorers, remember that while having a high score will certainly help your application, a high score can’t save it. Yale wants to see more in their students besides high scores.

Score Choice Policy

If you do not believe your SAT score is an accurate reflection of your abilities, you should consider whether it’s worth sending at all. As of the 2021-2022 admissions cycle, Yale is test optional. This means that you will not be penalized for choosing not to submit a score.

Additionally, if you have taken the SAT multiple times, and you prefer Yale only looks at certain scores, Yale participates in score choice, meaning you can choose which scores you want Yale to consider. Yale also participates in superscoring, meaning they will consider your highest section scores from various test performances.

Average Yale ACT Scores

If you chose to take the ACT in place of the SAT, generally the same policies and standards apply. Accept that, for the most part, students who are accepted to Yale have some of the highest ACT scores nationally.

Average ACT Score

Students who take the ACT test and are admitted to Yale typically also have scores above the 95th percentile. The middle 50 percent of ACT composite scores at Yale fall between 33 and 35, meaning of students who choose to submit scores, 25% submitted a score lower than 33 and 25% submitted a score higher than 35.

Again, like with the SAT, if you have an ACT score under 33 it does not mean you should not submit it or that the score will prevent you from being accepted to Yale. Students who score under a 33 regularly get accepted to Yale, but you should consider whether other aspects of your application can make up for a relatively lower test score.

Score Choice Policy

Since Yale is test optional as of right now, if you do not believe your ACT scores are an accurate reflection of your abilities, you may choose not to submit the score. If you do choose to send scores, like with the SAT, when submitting scores students can choose which ACT scores they want Yale to see. However, Yale’s superscoring policies slightly differ between the ACT and SAT. While Yale will only consider your highest individual test sections on the SAT, with the ACT Yale will primarily focus on your highest composite score from different test dates, it will also consider all individual test sections.

Other Factors Determining The Acceptance Rate

More students will apply to Yale with near perfect grades and test scores than the school can possibly ever admit. Yale will also look towards what are often called the “soft” aspects of a Yale application to inform their admission decision. Yale doesn’t just want academically perfect students. They want students who have demonstrated hobbies, interests, and passions that will help them contribute to the Yale campus. If you have relatively weaker grades and test scores, improving some of the other applications can help you get admitted.

Academic Potential

Students often fear that weak freshmen and sophomore grades can hurt their application. However, colleges often like to see growth in students. If you can improve your grades by junior and senior year, it can demonstrate to Yale that you take academics seriously and are ready for college-level work. Additionally, if you had a personal circumstance that you believe negatively affected your grades during a particular semester or school year, you should mention this on your application.

Another way to show your academic potential to Yale is by taking rigorous classes. Colleges like to see what opportunities and resources students utilize within their high schools. If your school offers a wide variety of AP or IB courses, you should attempt to take as many of these courses as fits your schedule while still achieving high grades (it’s never a good idea to take so many advanced courses that it begins hurting your GPA). Particularly, try to take AP courses that relate to your desired major at Yale. If you hope to be a Foreign Language major at Yale, a great idea would be to take AP Language course to show Yale that you can perform well in hard foreign language classes. If your school doesn’t offer a lot of advanced courses, see if you can take classes elsewhere. Yale and other colleges also like to see if students use other resources available to them, such as taking classes at a local community college over the summer.

English Proficiency Exam

English proficiency exams mainly apply to international students. According to the admissions office, students who are non-native speakers and have not been taught in a setting where English is the primary language of instruction for at least two years should take an English proficiency exam. Yale accepts many exams, including the TOEFL, IELTS, PTE, DET, and InitialView. Admitted students who take these exams typically score at least as high as a: 100 on the internet portion of the TOEFL and a 25 on the three paper-and-pencil portions, a 7 on the IELTS, a 70 on the PTE, and a 120 on the DET. InitialView is unscored.

Letters of Recommendation

Like most other colleges, Yale asks for two recommendation letters from teachers and one letter from your guidance counselor. Recommendation letters are a great way for Yale to learn more about your personality and your academic performance outside of grades.

Make sure to carefully select which teachers you ask for a recommendation. All colleges, including Yale, typically prefer to see recommendation letters from your junior year, as it’s generally considered to be one of the most critical years for college applications. Choosing a teacher from your freshman or sophomore year can suggest you didn’t make a positive impression on your teachers in junior year.

You should pick two teachers who know you well and taught classes that you’ve performed well in. If there’s a teacher who you have had a class with for more than one academic year (for example your sophomore and junior year) this teacher can make a great choice. A good choice could also be a teacher who mentors an extracurricular activity you participate in (although ideally you will have taken a class with them as well so they can speak to your academic performance). While certainly not required, and it’s always better to go with a teacher who knows you better rather, AP teachers can write great recommendations because you’ve learned more difficult material with them. Typically, Yale will want to see you pick one teacher from a more humanities oriented class and one teacher from a more science/math oriented class.

Make sure to ask your teachers to write you recommendations well in advance of the application deadline. Ideally, ask your teachers prior to the summer before your senior year. This gives them plenty of time to speak with you about what you hope they include in the letter and for them to figure out what to write. Remember that many students will ask teachers for recommendations each year. While it is part of their job to write letters, there’s no requirement as to what they put in these letters or how much energy they dedicate to the letters. Be polite to the teachers you ask for a recommendation, and don’t treat it as something they owe you.

Almost every college will ask for a recommendation letter from your guidance counselor. This means that you should begin fostering a relationship with your counselor as early as possible, ideally from freshman year. Make sure your guidance counselor knows about your interests and academic performance. It’s also a good idea to let your guidance counselor know what activities you participate in outside of school. Depending on the size of your school, your guidance counselor likely has to write many recommendation letters each year. You don’t want to have the same generic letter that your guidance counselor uses for all their students. As with teachers, it is essential that your guidance counselor knows enough about you that they can write a personalized letter that will make you stand out.


Extracurriculars are another great way for students to separate themselves from other applicants and demonstrate their interests. Note that colleges value commitment and longevity in extracurriculars. Instead of spending one hour on a different activity each day, focus on dedicating a significant portion of your time to just a few activities, and sticking with those same activities for at least a few months. This doesn’t mean you should feel pressured to continue in an activity you don’t enjoy, but you should focus on finding and maintaining extracurriculars that are right for you.

Many students will try to focus on finding what they think are the “right” extracurriculars. Students often feel that they can’t participate in activities that they are passionate about because it won’t look desirable to admissions officers. This is rarely the case. Admissions officers want to see passion in your activities. Participating in extracurriculars you find no joy in and in turn you can’t write essays about or talk about in an interview will be obvious to an admissions officer.

Students often think that activities they spend a lot of time on can’t be written about on a college application because they don’t fall into what is traditionally considered to be an extracurricular. However, colleges like to have diversity among student experiences, and like to see what students spend their time on. Working a job, caring for a sibling while your parent is working, or time spent on a hobby outside of school are all valuable extracurriculars that you should mention in your application.


By the time you apply to Yale, you likely will have finished about three and a half of your four years in high school. At this point, most aspects of your college application have been solidified. Your grades, test scores, recommendation letters, and extracurriculars are set. The last shot you have to make a positive impression to the admissions officers at Yale is your essays.

The first essay to think about is your personal essay. The prompt will vary depending on what prompt you choose and how you choose to submit your application (Yale accepts applications through the Common Application, the Coalition Application, and QuestBridge). If you choose to apply through the Common or Coalition Application your essay is limited to 650 words, with QuestBridge it is limited to 800 words. On all applications, these essays have very broad prompts that give you freedom in what you choose to write about. These essays should tell Yale something about you. No one can tell you what you should write about in your application, but you might want to build upon an extracurricular you think is important to you, or an experience you didn’t otherwise get to write about in the application. Ultimately, your goal with the essay should be to tell Yale more about yourself.

Regardless of which application type you choose to submit your application, there are a set of supplemental questions all students have to answer. For the 2021-2022 admissions cycle, these questions were as follows:

With these questions, Yale wants to ensure that you have a genuine interest in the school and are not just applying for the sake of applying. These questions help them weed out students who they do not think have an interest in the school and helps the admissions office determine whether the academic interests of the applicants are the right fit for Yale.

If you are applying with the Coalition or Common application, you will have to answer an additional set of short answers and essays.

Responses to the short answer questions are limited to 200 characters. This means that your answer must be well thought out and succinct. All questions must be answered, and the prompts are as follows:

With these questions, Yale wants to ensure that you have a genuine interest in the school and are not just applying for the sake of applying. These questions help them weed out students who they do not think have an interest in the school and helps the admissions office determine whether the academic interests of the applicants are the right fit for Yale.

If you are applying with the Coalition or Common application, you will have to answer an additional set of short answers and essays.

Responses to the short answer questions are limited to 200 characters. This means that your answer must be well thought out and succinct. All questions must be answered, and the prompts are as follows:

Students have up to 250 words to respond to the supplemental essays. While each student’s situation will differ, generally you should write about a different topic than you wrote about in your personal essay on the Common or Coalition application. This allows the admissions office to see another side of your personality and learn more about you. Both essays must be answered, and the prompts are as follows:

If you are submitting the Coalition Application, you must also submit an audio file, video, image, or document that corresponds with your answers to one of the prompts. More information about this submission can be viewed on the admission office’s essays page

Yale University Admission Tips

Keep reading for some tips in the admissions process that can help push your application over the edge to get you admitted to Yale.

Gain More Info On The Selection Process

Especially for first generation students, applying to college, particularly a college as competitive as Yale, is no easy task. Before submitting your application, make sure to ask a guidance counselor if you need any help. Speaking with an older sibling or friend who has been through the college process can also be useful.

If Yale is your dream school, you should pay extra attention to what Yale recommends throughout the application process. With helpful articles like “What Yale Looks For”  and “Advice on Putting Together Your Application”, the Yale admissions office page can be a great resource to start. It’s better to review this information early on in the process, as opposed to the night before your application is due. If you have any additional questions, admissions offices typically are willing to answer questions from students.  

Leadership In Extracurriculars

As mentioned earlier, extracurriculars can be a powerful boost to your application. They help differentiate you from other students and allow you to showcase your personality for colleges.

Besides wanting to see commitment in your extracurriculars, colleges also want to see you obtain positions of leadership. This can mean becoming President of a club, running for student government, or starting your own project. Having a position of leadership of course shows colleges like Yale you can lead a team of others, but also that you’re willing to seek initiative.

Build A Story In Your Application

Many students think the secret to get admitted into a top college is being a well-rounded student. And while it’s true that competitive colleges like Yale want well-rounded students in the sense that students are high performing in many areas, this does not mean that to get admitted into Yale you must be talented in every area, or be a master of every subject.

When putting together the aspects of your application, think of who you are trying to sell yourself as to Yale. Maybe you’re a student with a strong record of high grades in your science classes, you’ve participated in a science research program during high school, and you’re applying to Yale to utilize the top notch research opportunities the school offers. Or, maybe you’re a student who’s really passionate about drama, you’ve taken a lot of acting classes, and now you want to study in Yale’s theater program, which is one of the best in the country. As opposed to trying to do every extracurricular and every class you can, focus on building a niche for yourself. It should be obvious to Yale what you want to do and what you can contribute to the campus through your class choices, essay topics, and extracurricular activities. Having a very strong story or a particular passion in a unique area will make for a better application than a student who’s taken a lot of AP classes simply for the sake of taking AP classes.

Polish and Perfect Your Application

After spending over three years working towards getting the perfect grades, top scores, and leadership in your extracurriculars, don’t risk your chances by putting your application together the night before its due. Ideally, start filling out the application and writing your essays the summer before your senior year.

Have a trusted teacher or adult read over your application to check for coherency and grammatical issues. While you don’t want so many people commenting on your application that your own story and ideas get diluted, you do want to have at least one other knowledgeable person read it over before submitting. However, it’s important to remember that your application must be entirely written in your own words. A teacher can help develop ideas or correct grammar issues, but your writing must be your own. It’s obvious to college admissions officers when a student recycles someone else’s story.

SoFlo Tutors Are Here to Help You

At SoFlo, our team of tutors is made up of students who have attended the best colleges in the country and received top scores on the SAT and ACT. If you’re looking to boost your performance on the SAT and ACT to help ensure you get into selective schools like Yale and Harvard, check out our private tutoring services. Our tutors can work with you one-on-one to bring your scores up to Yale level.

Being admitted to Yale is no easy feat. Students should be prepared to spend their time studying and participating in extracurriculars. By the end of high school, you should begin thinking about your essays and final ways you can polish your application. And when you’re ready to boost your SAT or ACT score, contact SoFlo tutors.

About the Author

Ava Levine

Ava Levine is a junior from New York majoring in International Studies at Johns Hopkins University. When she’s not in class studying various international issues, she enjoys learning about government policy and working with local nonprofits. She scored a 1570 on her SATs, is an avid Crocs-wearer, and loves to craft in her free time!

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