Yale is one of the most prestigious, well-known, and oldest colleges in the country (it was founded in 1701). Like its peers in the Ivy League, Yale has a rich history, long-standing traditions, and is a highly sought-after destination for high-achieving high schoolers. It also has an impressive alumni group, which includes everyone from award-winning actresses like Meryl Streep to broadcasters like Anderson Cooper to U.S. Presidents such as William Howard Taft, George H.W. Bush, and George W. Bush, not to mention Gerald Ford and Bill Clinton, both of whom attended Yale Law School.
How Hard Is It to Get Into Yale?
Admission into Yale is extremely challenging and only getting more difficult—the class of 2025 had a mere 4.62% acceptance rate. Yale welcomed just 2,169 students to its class of 2025 from a record-setting 46,905 applicants, a 33% increase over the 35,220 students who applied during the 2019-20 admissions cycle. Yale welcomed 837 students out of a record-high 7,939 applicants through its single-choice early action program (SCEA), a 10.54% SCEA acceptance rate, which is significantly higher than the 3.42% acceptance rate for those applying for regular decision. While the acceptance rates at super-selective schools like Yale are extremely low, your odds may be better or worse depending on the strength of your profile. CollegeVine can help you better understand your chances at Yale with our free admissions calculator. It uses a variety of factors—including grades, test scores, and extracurriculars—to estimate your odds of acceptance and give you tips to improve your profile.
Average Academic Profile of Accepted Yale Students
Yale doesn’t publish the average high school GPA of accepted students; however, know that you will need to earn stellar grades, take rigorous coursework, and graduate at–or near–the top of your class to gain admission. Yale considers GPA, class rank, and course rigor as “very important” when it makes admissions decisions.
Yale’s class of 2025 middle 50% SAT/ACT score is 1470-1560/33-35.
Yale doesn’t publish the average high school class rank of students admitted into its class of 2025, but know that the students accepted are highly qualified academically. 94% of Yale’s class of 2025 graduated in the top 10% of their high school class.
What is Yale Looking for?
Yale estimates that roughly three quarters of their applicants are actually qualified to attend, so candidates have to find other ways to separate themselves from the competitive field. While almost all Yale applicants have strong academic backgrounds, Yale values intense academic focus—even more than Harvard, its rival Ivy League institution. Immersing yourself in an academic topic outside of traditional coursework is a good way to get the attention of admissions officers. An example of a strong applicant is a person who’s actively involved with a BIPOC club and has also published an op-ed for a newspaper on racial inequity at public school or college admissions. Yale is renowned for its Yale School of Music and David Geffen School of Drama at Yale and, among HYPSM, is the most receptive to students with significant achievements in arts. Whether you’ve demonstrated exceptional talent in art, music, dance, or film, consider including an art supplement to boost your odds of admission.
How Yale Evaluates Applications
According to their 2020-2021 Common Data Set, Yale considers the following factors “very important”:
- Course rigor
- Class rank
- Recommendation letters
- Extracurricular activities
- Character personal qualities
These are “considered”:
- Test scores
- First generation
- Geographical residence
- State residence
- Racial/ethnic status
- Volunteer work
- Work experience
And these are “not considered”:
- Religious affiliation
- Applicant interest
How to Improve Your Chances of Getting into Yale
1. Achieve the highest possible GPA while taking the most challenging classes available
The average high school GPA for Yale’s class of 2025 isn’t published, but Yale considers GPA, class rank, and course vigor as “very important” to admissions decisions. 94% of its class of 2025 graduated high school in the top 10% of their class. Students serious about getting into Yale will want to get all, or mostly all, As. Hopeful Yale students will also want to take the most challenging coursework available to them; students admitted to top ten schools like Yale commonly take upward of 12 AP classes. Extremely selective schools such as Yale use a tool known as the Academic Index to filter out candidates who do not meet its academic expectations. Academic Index is a calculation of a student’s academic performance into a single number. Failure to meet Yale’s threshold academic index can prevent an application from getting serious consideration.
2. Cultivate at least one or two Tier 1-2 extracurriculars (find your “spike”)
Yale considers both extracurricular activities and talent/ability “very important” to admissions decisions. Extracurricular activities are important on their own, but they are also an easy avenue to highlight the talents and abilities that set you apart from other candidates. While many college-bound students believe schools are looking for well-rounded students, top ten schools, and Yale in particular, are looking for students with a highly developed interest known as a “spike.” All extracurricular activities help paint a picture of you outside the classroom, but not all extracurricular activities carry the same weight in college admissions. The 4 Tiers of Extracurriculars is an easy way to understand the influence an activity has on your odds of admission.
- Tier 1 are uncommonly encountered and demonstrate exceptional achievement or leadership. Tier 1 activities include everything from earning national recognition in athletics or winning a prestigious academic award to starting a high-profile non-profit.
- Tier 2 are more common than Tier 1 activities, but still show a high level of achievement and leadership. These activities include making an all-state team in athletics, serving as president of a well-known club, or winning a regional competition.
- Tier 3 are more common, show less distinction, and don’t hold the influence over admissions decisions as those in higher tiers. Tier 3 extracurriculars include holding a minor leadership role in a club or making an all-city athletic team.
- Tier 4 are the most common, and least influential, activities. These include participating in a club, playing a sport, and general volunteer work.
3. Write engaging essays
After clearing academic thresholds, essays are one of the best ways to distance yourself from other applicants. Yale considers essays “very important” to the admissions process. Yale applicants have plenty of opportunity to stand out as the college requires them to answer a handful of short-answer questions and essays as part of their application. All applicants must respond to three short-answer questions about their interests and how Yale intersects with them. Applicants applying with the Common Application and Coalition Application must also write two short essays on intellectual interests and personal experiences, as well as answer four additional short-answer questions that provide insight into their character, interests, and beliefs. In general, a smart essay strategy is to write in your own unique voice and to highlight the character and personal qualities—both of which Yale considers “very important”—that set you apart from other applicants and make you a good fit. For Yale-specific essay advice, check out our article, “How to Write the Yale University Essays 2021-2022.”
4. Aim for a 1560 SAT and 35 ACT
Yale reports that standardized test scores are only “considered” in admissions decisions—but don’t get deluded, stellar standardized test scores are key to a strong profile and having a competitive Academic Index. The middle 50% SAT/ACT range of Yale’s class of 2025 is 1470-1560/33-35. There is no minimum score required for admission to Yale and any score in the middle 50% is admirable. The closer your score is to the upper end of the range, however, the better your odds of admission. Yale judges SAT scores by assessing the highest individual section scores from all test dates and will focus on the highest ACT composite score while also considering individual ACT subscores. This makes sitting for the SAT or ACT two or three times a sound strategy and a good tactic for improving your standardized test scores. To improve your SAT/ACT score, check out these free CollegeVine resources:
- How to Get a Perfect 1600 Score on the SAT
- How to Get a Perfect 36 Score on the ACT
- More SAT Info and Tips
- More ACT Info and Tips
Due to COVID-19, Yale instituted a test-optional admissions policy in 2021 and extended that policy for 2021-2022 admissions cycle, but it’s advisable to take either the SAT or ACT if you can do so safely. Applicants who submit test scores are accepted at higher rates than those who do not. CollegeVine recommends you submit test scores if you score in the 25th percentile or above of accepted students. Not sure whether to send your test scores or not? You can get recommendations on whether or not you should apply test-optional using our free chancing engine.
5. Letters of Recommendation
Letters of recommendation are “very important” to Yale’s admissions process. Yale requires students to submit one letter of recommendation from their high school counselor and two letters of recommendation from 11th and 12th grade teachers who know you well and can provide insight into your academic and personal strengths. Because of the high value that Yale places on letters of recommendation, it’s important to take steps to ensure you receive a compelling letter, such as following the nine rules for requesting letters of recommendation from teachers. Remember, teachers don’t get paid to write recommendations, so give them plenty of time, provide them with the resources they need, and make sure to say thank you when you receive your letter.
6. Apply Early Action/Early Decision
The 10.54% single-choice early (SCEA) acceptance rate at Yale is more than double that of its 4.62% overall acceptance rate and triple that of its 3.42% regular decision acceptance rate. Applying via the SCEA process is a sure way to give your admissions odds a boost. SCEA might have a higher acceptance rate than other admissions avenues, but isn’t without its own challenges. SCEA is non-binding and students who apply through it are under no obligation to attend Yale. However, students applying to Yale’s SCEA are restricted (with a few exceptions) from applying for early decision or early action at any other school.
How to Apply to Yale
|Application Timeline||Deadline||Notification Date|
|Early Action||November 1||December 15|
|Regular Decision||January 2||April 1|
Yale accepts the Common Application, Coalition Application, and Questbridge Application. Other requirements include:
- Counselor letter of recommendation
- Teacher letters of recommendation (2)
- School report with transcript
- Mid-year report
- Yale writing supplement
Other optional materials include:
- SAT/ACT test scores
- Art supplement
Learn More About Yale
Interested in learning more about Yale? Check out these other informative articles:
- What is Yale University Known For?
- Yale Diversity Statistics: An In-Depth Look
- A Day in the Life at Yale
Want to know your chances at Yale? Calculate your chances for free right now.
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