How Hard Is It to Get Into Yale?

By Eric Eng

By Eric Eng

Historical buildings at Yale University at sun down.

How Hard Is It to Get Into Yale?

As one of the top universities in not only the United States, but the entire world, Yale University proudly accepts some of the most accomplished and impressive students every application cycle. For the graduating class of 2025, there are expected to be approximately 1,900 students in the class.

If you hope to one day attend Yale, there is little doubt that you’re asking. “How hard is it to get into Yale?”

Without a doubt, the simple answer to that question is, “Very hard!” Getting into Yale will prove to be a challenge for any student, no matter how strong their grades are, how high their test scores are, and how impressive the rest of their application profile is.

Beautiful fall colors of trees and fallen leaves outside Sterling Memorial Library at Yale University.

At AdmissionSight, we have first-hand experience when it comes to how hard getting into Yale truly is.

We also know that there are some really important things that every single high school student can do in order to improve their chances of getting into this school and all the other top schools across the United States.

For that reason, if you keep asking yourself, “How hard is it to get into Yale?” then you have absolutely come to the right place!

Let’s break down the basic facts about admissions at Yale as well as the ways to get into Yale University so that you can get a head start on improving your chances of getting in.

While there is no clear answer when it comes to how to get into Yale, there are a lot of ways in which you can boost your odds.

So let’s get started!

Yale’s admissions requirements

Just like the rest of the majority of schools in the United States, Yale actually does not have a specific list of courses that students have to take in order to apply to the school.

With that being said, there are some important factors that every student that is interested in getting into Yale should keep in mind.

During your high school years, here are the kinds of classes that you should fill your curriculum with to prove to the admissions officers that you have what it takes to get into the school:

  • English – four years (including writing-intensive courses)
  • Math – four years (including calculus for engineering majors)
  • Lab Science – two years (including physics and chemistry for engineering majors)
  • History – two years
  • Foreign Language – four years of one language
  • Visual or Performing Arts – At least one course is highly recommended

What is perhaps even more important than just filling out your curriculum with these types of courses is that you make it a clear goal of yours to enroll in as many advanced courses as possible in high school. This means taking honors, AP and IB courses, as long as they are offered at your high school.

Yale University – and all of the other Ivy League schools for that matter – love to see that students that apply to the school made a clear attempt to challenge themselves academically throughout high school.

From an admissions officer’s point of view, this is crucial for a couple of reasons. The first reason is because Yale is only looking to accept students who have clear goals ahead of them.

They want students who are not just intelligent, but highly driven and passionate with clear interests and a pronounced desire to accumulate knowledge. A great way to display that you are just that kind of student is to continuously seek challenges in the classroom.

The other reason is a bit more pragmatic. Quite simply, Yale offers one of the most challenging course loads to students in the entire world.

Many of the faculty at the school are world leaders in their respective fields and the students are highly competitive as they look to make it clear that they are the cream of the crop of their graduating classes.

Because of that, admissions officers are always looking for ways to feel confident about whether or not an applying student will actually be able to handle the rigors and pressure of attending Yale.

Succeeding in AP, honors and IB courses in high school goes a long way to proving that you are just the kind of student that they are looking for.

Average GPA and standardized test scores for students that get into Yale

There is much more than just getting great grades and standardized test scores when it comes to the question, “How hard is it to get into Yale?”

With that being said, grades and standardized test scores are a pretty good place to start off. Back in the day, it was a pretty strongly held belief that all students needed to do to get into top schools like Yale was earn top grades in their high school and get great test scores.

Now, the application process considers many more factors and students need to impress in many more ways than just those two variables. Still, top grades and test scores should still be seen as something of a prerequisite when it comes to the ways to get into Yale.

While top grades and standardized test scores may not get a student into Yale on their own, lower grades and standardized test scores can certainly keep a student out of a school like Yale.

That is why AdmissionSight thinks that it is important to – at the very least – break down the average GPA and standardized test scores that high school students that do end up getting into Yale earn.

Average Yale GPA

Last year, the reported average high school GPA for students that ended up being accepted into Yale was an astounding weighted GPA of 4.19.

This tells us a number of important facts. First off, it is a clear sign that the students that got into Yale last year earned essentially straight A’s throughout their high school years.

While it is not impossible to gain admission to Yale without straight A’s in high school, there is no question that it will make the road quite a bit harder for anyone.

The other important thing that the average 4.19 GPA tells us that the vast majority of students were taking advanced courses as mentioned earlier.

Only advanced courses come with a weighted GPA of 5.0 instead of the typical 4.0 scale. Because the average GPA is higher than that unweighted 4.0 scale, we can confidently say that most students that got into Yale were not only taking advanced courses, but also excelling in them!

So if you are looking for ways to get into Yale, you should definitely know by now that taking challenging courses in high school should be considered a top priority.

Average Yale standardized test scores

Though the SAT and ACT have definitely taken a step back in terms of importance for undergraduate admissions, they are still important to keep in mind. Whether you have taken – or plan on taking – the SAT or ACT, it is important that you know what the average scores are for students that get into Yale.

This will help you determine whether your scores are up to snuff or will give you an idea of what kinds of scores you should be aiming for if you have not yet taken the exam. Take a look at the table below to get a better idea of what the ranges of scores are.

Keep in mind, the 25th percentile score is below the average, while the 75th percentile score is above the average. Anywhere within that range between the two scores should offer help when trying to get into Yale.

Table with score information.

Now that you know the average SAT and ACT scores that students that get into Yale earn, it is also important that you are aware of a unique development that is taking place at universities and colleges across the United States.

In response to the unique circumstances related to the COVID-19 pandemic, Yale University – and many other schools – have adopted a test-optional policy in recent years.

Right now, Yale has made it clear that for, at least, the 2021-22 application cycle, standardized test scores will remain optional for students to send in.

Here is what Yale has to say about its policy regarding standardized tests at the moment:

“In response to the extraordinary circumstances associated with the pandemic, Yale is temporarily suspending its requirement that first-year and transfer applicants submit results from the ACT or SAT,” the announcement reads on the school’s site.

“The change will be in effect during the 2020-21 and 2021-22 admissions cycles for applicants who intend to matriculate in fall 2021 or fall 2022. Applicants who are unable to complete an exam or who choose not to report exam scores will not be disadvantaged.

“When reviewing applications in the 2020-21 and 2021-22 admissions cycles, the Admissions Committee will expect that some applicants will have completed one or more exams and received scores they feel reflect their academic strengths and college preparedness.

Others may be disappointed in their performance but face barriers to registering or preparing for an additional exam date. And some students will simply be unable to complete any exam prior to the application deadline. Yale’s policy is designed to accommodate all students with a straightforward option: report ACT or SAT scores if you wish.”

So what does that mean for you? And what should you do when it comes to standardized testing? While it is very clear that if you cannot take either exam safely amidst the pandemic, then you absolutely should not risk your health to do so, students who can take either the SAT or ACT safely should absolutely consider doing so.

In the end, one of the major ways to get into Yale University is to simply separate yourself from the pack as a student and as a young person.

Make it clear that you are so impressive, so driven and so intelligent that the school simply cannot say now. While taking either the SAT or ACT alone will not do that for you, getting a truly impressive score – especially while so many students are opting not to take one of the exams at all – can help make your case for you.

How Yale compares to other Ivies

If you are here to get the answer to the question, “How difficult is it to get into Yale?” you may also be curious about how Yale University stacks up compared to the other seven Ivy League schools.

On the surface, you should probably already know that Yale is one of the harder schools to get into in the ivy League. After all, Yale is one of the schools that is part of the “Big Three” of the Ivies. The other two schools are Harvard and Princeton.

Together, these three schools make up what is widely considered to the three most historic, competitive and selective schools in the United States. While their rankings on that official list do shift somewhat year to year, there is no doubt that they deserve that designation.

For starters, the Yale University acceptance rate for the 2021 application cycle was a shockingly low 6.9 percent. The students that applied to Yale via Regular Decision was just 5.0 percent, while the acceptance rate for students that applied via the school’s non-binding Early Action option was a much higher 17.1 percent.

To get a good idea of how Yale stacks up in terms of difficulty compared to the other Ivies, take a look at the comprehensive breakdown below:

Table with information of different universities.As you can see, Yale is absolutely one of the hardest Ivy League schools to get into. As you can also see from this breakdown, students who are committed to getting into Yale can vastly improve their chances by applying Early Decision.


Early Decision requires students to send in their entire applications, as well as all the related material much earlier in their senior year of high school. However, their odds of acceptance clearly go up quite a lot.

So, if you are asking “How difficult is it to get into Yale?” because the school is your top choice, then applying via Early Decision is absolutely something that you should consider.

How to improve your chances of getting into Yale

For every student, there are things that they can do to improve their chances of getting into schools like Yale. As you can see from the acceptance rate, the chances are quite low for any student. However, they are never impossible.

So, if you are preparing to apply to Yale with the hopes of getting in and attending the highly prestigious school, here are three ways that you can improve your chances of getting in.

Get started early

Whether you plan on applying to Yale via Early Action or Regular Decision, you owe it to yourself to craft the best application possible. Avoiding the urge to procrastinate on your college applications can play a major role in how well you end up filling out your applications from start to finish.

Of course, if you plan on applying via Early Action, you are going to have to get started basically from the moment the applications are available.

But even if you are not, getting started early gives you the time you need to make your application as professional and presentable as possible. After all, the application itself is a reflection on you as a student and person. Remember that when you get started!

Choose the right teachers for your letters of recommendation

At Yale, students need to send in two different letters of recommendation from two different members of their high school’s faculty as part of their application. The two teachers should be ones that taught you core academic subjects.

But that is not all you should consider. Remember, these letters help admissions officers get a better idea of who you are as a student and as a person.

So, whenever possible, students should make it a priority to ask teachers whom they have real relationships with. Ask teachers who you took many classes with.

A person writing on his notebook.

Ask teachers who have watched you succeed and work hard. Ask teachers who have seen you work to improve and overcome obstacles. These are the teachers that will write the most impressive letters.

Speak your truth in your personal essays

Another part of the Yale application is the essay section. While your essays do not have to be long, they do have to be filled with your personality and point of view.

Don’t try to write what you think admissions officers at Yale want to see. Instead, think long and hard about the questions and really come up with a response that you identify and agree with.

A woman sitting by the window writing on her notebook.

Make it personal and unique to you. That way, those reading your essays will get a better sense of who you are, what you hope to accomplish, and why Yale could play a vital role in your next steps as you mature into a young adult.

We’ll teach you how to get into Yale

There are a lot of different ways to get into Yale depending on what your strengths and weaknesses are. After all, the holistic admissions process at Yale makes sure to include students of many different types, interests, passions, and goals.

At AdmissionSight, we have worked with all different kinds of students and have helped many of them achieve their ultimate college admissions goals.

After all, 75 percent of our students end up getting into Ivy League schools or top-10 schools elsewhere in the United States. If you are interested in learning about how we help students achieve those goals, contact us today for a free consultation.



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