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Rita Kreig

Yale SAT Scores

Update: This post contains data based on Yale’s Class of 2019. Good luck Class of 2020 applicants! (October 27, 2015)

If you’re thinking about applying to Yale, you probably already know that your admissions journey is going to be a competitive one. But I’m guessing that competitive academics is sort of your thing, so … congrats! You’re already on the right track.

Right about now, you’re probably in one of two situations:

  • You haven’t taken the SAT yet and you’re just beginning to plan your college application strategy for next year, or even two years down the line.
  • You took the SAT once already, and you’re wondering if your score is good enough to get into Yale.

Either way, you’ve come to the right place!


What You Need to Get Into Yale

Yale is the third oldest university in the United States, and a prestigious member of the Ivy League. Admission into Yale isn’t for your average student. Yale adcoms carefully sift through thousands of undergrad applications each year (30,932 in 2014 alone), and almost every student that applies is academically stellar.

Think of it this way: Yale adcoms need ways to narrow down a pool of over 30,000 applicants to form a freshman class of fewer than 1,500 students (1,361 for the 2014/2015 freshman class – only 4.4% of applicants). They have to be picky! (And let’s be honest – they love the exclusivity.)

So, not only are Yale adcoms looking for students at the top of their high school class, with excellent extracurricular activities, top-notch leadership skills, demonstrated social-mindedness, and a unique point of view – they’re also looking for students with exceptional SAT scores.


Average SAT Score

Each year, Yale releases interesting facts about its incoming freshman class. This includes the SAT scores of the Yale’s Class of 2019. Let’s take a look:

Critical Reading Math Writing
760-800 50.80% 49.90% 49.40%
700-750 29.20% 32.30% 31.40%
600-690 16.80% 16.70% 16.90%
below 600 3.20% 1.20% 2.40%


Here’s another way to think about this information. During the most recent year, enrolled freshmen at Yale (in the 25th-75th percentile of the incoming class) scored:

SAT Section Score Range
Verbal 720-800
Math 710-800
Writing 710-790


For comparison, here are the SAT score ranges for the Yale class of 2018:

Critical Reading Math Writing
760-800 48.30% 47.80% 53.50%
700-750 30.20% 31.40% 27.30%
600-690 19.20% 19.60% 17.00%
below 600 2.20% 1.20% 2.10%


As you can see from the chart, there isn’t one magical, super-specific score that Yale is looking for. But, you can also see that approximately 50% of the incoming freshman class scored above a 760 on each section of the SAT. And another 30% scored between 700 and 750 on each section. That leaves about 20% of the class who scored below 750, and only 1-2% of those incoming Yalies scored below a 600 on any section of the SAT.

Those are some impressive scores!


Some Needed Perspective

Don’t freak out. If your SAT score is in the lower range, all is not lost. Yale doesn’t only look at the numbers on your application to determine whether or not to admit you. You’re not just a number on a page, and there is no required score that you must earn in order to be admitted into Yale. Your score is just one piece of the puzzle.

Actually, instead of a puzzle, think of your application as a pie chart: 1/3 is your GPA and the difficulty of the academic courses you took in high school, 1/3 is your extracurricular activities, personal statements, and unique persona, and the final 1/3 is made up of your standardized test scores. (This is approximate.) When Yale looks at your application, your test scores are only 1/3 or less of what they are interested in. This has pros and cons.

One pro is that your SAT scores aren’t the end-all-be-all of your application! Maybe you aren’t a great standardized test taker (trust me – this is a learned skill), but you did very well in school, were the captain of the soccer team, and volunteer on the weekends. You’re still looking good to the admissions committee!

However, one con is that that SAT is still approximately 1/3 of your application. Which means that all the time you studied for the SAT, plus the 4 hours of your life you spent taking the SAT, determines quite a sizable chunk of your application. You spent four whole years improving your GPA and developing your interests outside of the classroom, but your SAT score was determined in one measly morning.


What You Can Do

Prepare, prepare, prepare! If you haven’t taken your SAT yet, or you have time to retake it before applying to Yale next fall, then you have plenty of time to study and ready yourself for the SAT. Test taking is a skill that can be learned over time and with practice, just like playing Ping-Pong or leaning the ukulele.

The best thing you can do right now is create a reasonable SAT study schedule for yourself that you’ll be able to stick to consistently between now and test day. Study a little every day until a day before the test … then relax!

One way to fit SAT studying into your busy schedule is to download a Free SAT Flashcard App and start quizzing yourself on the most common SAT vocab words. You can do this while waiting in line at the grocery store, during commercial breaks of your favorite TV shows, in between classes – basically any time you have a spare 5 minutes or so. Making time that is normally unproductive and boring into SAT study time is an incredibly valuable way to sneak in quick study sessions without drastically changing your life. Little bits here and there really add up!

Another very important step in the SAT study process is to find a prep program that works for you. Look for a program that mimics the types of questions that you’ll find on the SAT, and stick to it. Magoosh offers a 1-Week Free Trial of our SAT program – check it out!



About Rita Kreig

Rita helps high schoolers find Magoosh, improve their SAT/ACT scores, and get into their dream schools. She earned both her BA and Master of Pacific International Affairs from UC San Diego, where she also studied Spanish, French, and Portuguese. Rita loves education and marketing, just as much as she loves vinyasa yoga and baking chocolate chip cookies.

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