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Molly Kiefer

Yale Admissions: The SAT, ACT Scores, and GPA You Need to Get In

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Applying to Yale?

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. Just like this baby.

yale admissions -magoosh

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

  • You haven’t taken the SAT or ACT 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 or ACT once already, and you’re wondering if your score is good enough to be considered a Yale score.

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

How 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 (35,306 in 2018 alone), and almost every student that applies is academically stellar.

Think of it this way: the Yale admissions committee need ways to narrow down a pool of over 35,000 applicants to form a freshman class of fewer than 2,500 students (2,229 for the 2018-2019 freshman class – only 6.3% of applicants were admitted). They have to be picky! (And let’s be honest – they love the exclusivity.)

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Once you’re admitted, Yale will give you your own set of fancy pants–for now you just need to focus on keeping your smarty pants in good shape: The more of these bullet points that describe you, the better chances of being accepted to Yale.

  • You’re at or near the top of your high school class.
  • You have extracurricular activities that demonstrate your leadership skills and social-mindedness.
  • You have a unique background or point of view.
  • You’re SAT/ACT scores are exceptional.
  • You have a very high GPA.

Not all of these characteristics are under your control…

yale admissions -magoosh

…but some of them can be! Starting with your test scores.

Yale SAT Scores

Each year, Yale releases interesting facts about its incoming freshman class. While the Yale admissions details of the Class of 2022 have not yet been made publicly available, the 2021 freshman profile still has a lot of interesting and relevant information about where current Yale students have been scoring.

Here are the Yale SAT scores of the Class of 2021:

SAT Score RangeEvidence-Based
Reading & Writing
below 6001.1%1.8%

Yale is still allowing applicants to submit scores from the pre-2016 version of the SAT. Here’s how Yale’s Class of 2021 scored on the old test:

SAT Score RangeCritical ReadingMathWriting
760-80047.7% 55.4%51.6%
below 6003.9%2.9%3.8%

As you can see, there isn’t one magical, super-specific Yale SAT score that the adcoms are looking for. But, you can also see that approximately 75% of the incoming freshman class scored above a 700 on each section of the new SAT. Out of the students who submitted scores from the old SAT, about 50% scored higher than 760 on each section.

It’s generally a good idea to aim for the 75th percentile of whatever school you’re applying to–so in this case you’d want to set your goal score around 780 for each section.

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Yale ACT Scores

Taking the ACT? Don’t worry, we haven’t forgotten you!

ACT ScoreAdmission Rate
below 271.1%

For students who submitted ACT scores and were admitted to Yale in 2017, the 83.6% (so about 4 out of every 5 admitted students) scored a 32 or above on the ACT. So to make your application competitive you definitely don’t want to go below a 32, and should probably think about setting your Yale ACT goal score around a 34 or 35.

Liam got a 35 on the act. Get a higher act score.

Yale GPA Average

Yale actually doesn’t officially report the GPAs of its admitted students–but based on data from more than 1,000 schools, the average GPA of a freshman at Yale is 4.19.

As you probably are aware, high schools generally use a weighted GPA out of 4.0, meaning you would have to be taking plenty of AP or IB classes (and racking up A’s across the board) to be averaging a 4.19. (Learn how to calculate your GPA here.)

Yale doesn’t set a minimum GPA, nor do they re-weight GPA’s to any standard other than what a school provides. However, the admissions committee does understand that every school and every grading system is different, so they’ll do their best to evaluate your scores fairly!

Yale Acceptance Rate

As we mentioned at the beginning of this post, the 2018 Yale admissions rate was 6.3%. But that’s not enough for you is it…you want a full breakdown of who these people are–any scrap of information that might explain why they got into Yale.

This calls for the Freshman Profile!

yale admissions -magoosh

Yale Freshmen Profile (2017-2018)

Ready to go all the way down the rabbit hole? If I remember anything about applying to college, it’s that I was obsessed with any and all information about which students were getting into my school of choice. And now it’s your turn.

Let’s take a look:

Yale 2021 Freshman Profile

90th Percentile High School Rank96%
Attended Public High School 63.4%
Attended Private Day High School21.8%
Attended Private Boarding High School7.7%
Attended Religious High School7.0%
African American11.7%
Asian American25.4%
Native American2.9%
Enrolled first-years1,579 students
First-generation students16.6%
Legacy affiliation11.9%
Admitted students
postponing Yale
52 students
Receiving need-based financial aid52%
Average need-based scholarship $50,042

Some Needed Perspective

If your test scores are in the lower range, all is not lost. Yale looks at more than the numbers on your application to determine whether or not to admit you. You’re not just a number on a page. 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:

Yale SAT Scores Pie Chart-magoosh

When Yale looks at your application, your test scores are only 1/3 or less of what they are interested in. Your GPA and difficulty of your high school classes, along with your personal statements, extracurriculars, and unique persona also play a part. This has its pros and cons.

One pro is that your Yale SAT scores aren’t the be-all-end-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. As a result of your hard work in the other areas of your application, you’re still looking good to the admissions committee!

However, one con is that the SAT/ACT is still approximately 1/3 of your application. As a result, all the time you studied for the exam, plus the 4 hours of your life you spent taking the test itself, 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 or ACT score was determined in one measly morning.

Yale Admissions: The Takeaway

Thanks for reading this far!

If there’s anything to take away from this post, let it be these two things:

1. Scores aren’t everything—you need a well-rounded application!

2. Yale admissions are competitive enough that your well-rounded application needs to include good standardized test scores.

So how do you get those high scores? Lucky for you, that’s our area of expertise:

  • First, decide whether you’re taking the SAT or ACT (we have a handy quiz that can help you with this task)
  • Set a goal score your goal score at the 75th percentile of what Yale admitted students have been scoring.
  • Make friends with some high quality test prep. (Obviously I recommend checking out the Free 1-Week SAT Trial or the Free 1-Week ACT Trial from Magoosh).
  • If you don’t get the scores you were hoping for, think about retaking the exam—or switching tests!
  • It’ll be a lot of work. But if you follow these steps, you can be confident that you’ve done everything you can to get into the school of your dreams! 🙂

    Improve your SAT or ACT score, guaranteed. Start your 1 Week Free Trial of Magoosh SAT Prep or your 1 Week Free Trial of Magoosh ACT Prep today!

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    About Molly Kiefer

    Molly completed her undergraduate degree in Philosophy at Lewis & Clark College in Portland, Oregon. She has been tutoring the SAT, GRE, and LSAT since 2014, and loves supporting her students as they work towards their academic goals. When she’s not tutoring or blogging, Molly takes long walks, makes art, and studies ethics. Molly currently lives in Northern California with her cat, who is more popular on Instagram than she is.

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