What Yale looks for?

What Yale looks for

In this section:

Applying to Yale

Applications Process

Financial Assistance

Planning Timetable

Useful Links

Students wishing to apply for the Building Bridges Scholarship Programme, must have already applied and been accepted to study at Yale. Students must also be in receipt of a full Yale needs-based scholarship.

Students from outside the US are also required to have a F-1 visa.

Applying to Yale

Yale is above all an academic institution. This means academic strength is Yale’s first consideration in evaluating any candidate. The single most important document in your application is your high school transcript, which reveals a great deal about your academic drive and performance over time. Your high school teachers can provide extremely helpful information in their evaluations. Not only do they discuss your performance in their particular class or classes, but often they write about such things as your intellectual curiosity, energy, relationships with classmates, and impact on the classroom environment. Obviously it is important to ask for recommendations from teachers who know you well.

Just as teacher recommendations are meant to give the admissions committee a glimpse of what you are like in the classroom, the counselor recommendation may provide a picture of your place in your high school class and in the larger school community. Your counselor can help Yale assess the degree of difficulty of your program, explain what a particular leadership position means at your school, provide information on your background, and, in general, provide the sort of textured comments about you that would help your application come to life.

The Yale application tries to get at the personal side of the applicant through the use of two essays whose scope is broad enough to accommodate most writers. Applicants are encouraged to take the writing of the essays seriously and to write openly and honestly about activities, interests or experiences that have been meaningful to you. What is most important is that you write in your own voice.

There are no score cutoffs for standardized tests. During the most recent year, test score ranges (25th to 75th percentiles) for enrolled freshmen were: 

  • SAT-Verbal: 710-800
  • SAT-Math: 710-790
  • SAT-Writing: 720-800
  • ACT: 32-35

 While there is no hard and fast rule, it is safe to say that performance in school is more important than testing. 

Transcripts, test scores, essays,and recommendations help paint a picture not only of a student’s accomplishments to date but also of the ways in which an applicant has taken advantage of the opportunities available to him or her. Again, the admissions committee is looking for students who will make the most of Yale and the most of their talents. Knowing how you’ve engaged in the resources and opportunities at your high school gives the university an expectation of how you might engage the resources at Yale if admitted.

Yale’s Application Deadlines

November 1 for Early Action Single Choice and January 2 for Regular Decision.

Application Process

There are three ways to apply to Yale for freshman admission. Select the option that is right for you. Yale will accept any one of these applications, without preference for one over another. Students should submit one – and only one – application per admissions cycle. 

All applicants for freshman admission must submit one of the following:

  • The Coalition Application with Yale-Specific Questions (A new application platform. Read more at https://admissions.yale.edu/coalition-application)
  • The Common Application with Yale-Specific Questions (An application platform offered by more than 600 diverse colleges and universities around the world, which may mean many students and educators in Northern Ireland may already be familiar with it. Applicants may submit the same Common Application to as many colleges and universities as they like. Note that Yale also requires applicants to complete Yale-specific supplemental questions, including a second essay. Read more at https://admissions.yale.edu/common-application)
  • The QuestBridge National College Match Application (Yale is a partner with QuestBridge, a national non-profit program that links bright, motivated low-income students with educational and scholarship opportunities at some of the nation’s best colleges. Students who wish to apply to QuestBridge Partner Institutions using the QuestBridge National College Match application must first submit their application materials to QuestBridge and be selected as Finalists in the QuestBridge National College Match. Students selected as Finalists have the option to rank Yale and to be considered in the fall QuestBridge National College Match admissions process. Students who do not match with Yale during that process may choose to have their applications considered in the Regular Decision admissions cycle at Yale. The upside of this platform: Applicants do not have to pay the application fee [see below].  Read more at https://admissions.yale.edu/questbridge-application)

 Additional requirements for all freshman applicants:

$80 Application Fee or Fee Waiver

Applicants should pay the $80 application fee via the Common Application or Coalition Application website. The QuestBridge National College Match Application is free, but note that only students named QuestBridge Finalists may apply to Yale with the QuestBridge  National College Match Application. Applicants using the Common Application or Coalition Application may request that the application fee be waived. Qualifications for a fee waiver are as follows:

  • You have received or are eligible to receive an ACT or SAT testing fee waiver.
  • You are enrolled in or eligible to participate in the Federal Free or Reduced Price Lunch program (FRPL).
  • Your annual family income falls within the Income Eligibility Guidelines set by the USDA Food and Nutrition Service.
  • You are enrolled in a federal, state, or local program that aids students from low-income families
  • Your family receives public assistance.
  • You live in a federally subsidized public housing, a foster home or are homeless.
  • You are a ward of the state or an orphan.
  • You can provide a supporting statement from a school official, college access counselor, financial aid officer, or community leader.

Two Teacher Recommendations

Your application must include recommendations from two of your teachers. Your recommendations should come from recent teachers in academic subjects. As with all documents, if the teacher evaluations are not written in English, you must provide Yale with an official English translation.

Recommendations should be submitted electronically through the Common Application or Coalition Application website. For QuestBridge Finalists, recommendations and transcripts are automatically forwarded to Yale with the QuestBridge National College Match Application. If necessary, teachers may also submit their recommendations via mail or fax.

Recommendations may be sent before or after you submit your application; materials that arrive before your application will be kept on file. The admissions office understands that it may not be possible in some cases for teachers and counselors to meet the application deadlines and will make reasonable allowances for late school documents.

Counselor Recommendation and School Report

(including transcript)

Your application must include a letter of recommendation from a counselor and a complete School Report with transcript.

The School Report should include all grades you have received and predicted grades if applicable. If you do not have a counselor, you may ask a tutor, house master, principal, academic advisor, or other comparable school official to complete the recommendation and School Report. If you do not have a GPA or class rank, leave that space blank.

A counselor recommendation and complete secondary school transcript should be submitted electronically through the Common Application or Coalition Application website. For QuestBridge Finalists, recommendations and transcripts are automatically forwarded with the QuestBridge National CollegeMatch Application. If necessary, counselors and/or other school officials may submit recommendations and transcripts via mail or fax.

Recommendations and transcripts may be sent before or after you submit your application; materials that arrive before your application will be kept on file. 

Standardised Testing Requirements: SAT, ACT, TOEFL, IELTS, PTE, Duolingo English Test

All applicants for freshman admission should submit either the SAT or the ACT with Writing. For SATs taken in March 2016 or later, the additional essay is required. Applicants to the Yale Classes of 2021 and 2022 may submit either the old or the new SAT. More information on Yale’s test policies, including Score-Choice and recommended tests, is available on the Standardized Testing page. Standardized tests are just one component of a student’s application and are viewed within the context of the student’s entire file. There is no minimum score required for admission, nor is there  a score that will guarantee admission. The middle 50% of test scores (the 25th to the 75th percentiles) for enrolled freshman are as follows:

SAT-Verbal: 720-800 (Old SAT)

SAT-Math: 710-800 (Old SAT)

SAT-Writing: 710-790 (Old SAT)

ACT Composite: 32-35

 Only students whose home country of schooling (for example, mainland China) do not have an SAT or ACT testing center are exempt from these testing requirements, but must take either the TOEFL, IELTS, or PTE instead. No other substitutions are acceptable.

SAT Subject Tests are not required for admission but are recommended.

It is important to register for tests with the same name and same format that you use on your application. The Admissions Office will not link your record to your test scores if the names do not match. Note that testing done in November (for Single-Choice Early Action) and January (for Regular Decision) may not arrive in time for the committee’s consideration. When reporting scores to Yale, please use Yale’s CEEB code: 3987 for College Board tests (SAT and SAT Subject Tests) or Yale’s ACT code: 0618.

For more information on taking the tests and finding testing centers, please consult the appropriate websites for the College Board (SAT) and ACT.                        

Mid-Year Report

Yale only requires applicants to submit the Mid-Year Report if they receive new grades in the middle of the school year (by February 1). If you do not receive new grades by February 1, or if you have completed secondary school by February 1, you do not need to submit the Mid-Year Report. Many international students do not need to send this form.

Final Report

Only admitted students are required to submit the Final Report, which provides final secondary school grades and examination marks. Admitted students submit the Final Report in the summer before fall matriculation.

Application Acknowledgment, Yale Admissions Status Portal, Checklist, and Admissions Decisions

Beginning in mid-October, a student who has submitted an application will receive a confirmation email that includes a PIN and instructions for activating a Yale Admissions Status Portal account. If you do not receive a confirmation email within two weeks after submitting your application, please check your junk mail folder in case the email has been filtered by mistake. To prevent this add [email protected] to your address book or contact list.

Applicants should use the Yale Admissions Status Portal throughout the admissions cycle to check for the receipt of required application materials. Applicants will use the Yale Admissions Status Portal to view an admissions decision online when it becomes available. Applicants should use one email address throughout the application cycle. If your email address changes, use the Yale Admissions Status Portal to notify the Admissions Office of changes.


Yale encourages applicants to have a conversation with a Yale interviewer if possible, but an interview is not a required part of the application process. Interviews are conducted by volunteer members of the Yale Alumni Schools Committees (ASC), which are based in many locations throughout the world.

Where possible, applicants will be contacted by a volunteer after submitting an application. The Alumni Schools Committee member will ordinarily arrange to meet the applicant at a mutually convenient location, such as your school, a library, or a coffee shop. In some instances, where meeting in person is not convenient, an applicant may be invited to have an online “virtual” interview.

There are some regions without available alumni volunteers or have fewer volunteers than can accommodate all of the applicants. If it is not possible to arrange an interview there will be no negative effect on your chances of admission. In such cases, you may wish to take advantage of technologies that provide opportunities for you to “speak” to the admissions committee through Web-based programs, such as InitialView. InitialView provides live, unscripted video interviews that applicants may submit to colleges for consideration along with other application materials. Interview times must be reserved in advance. InitialView interviews are not scored.

Mailing and Fax Instructions

Applicants should submit all admissions documents online. If you must mail or fax a document, please write “Early Action” or “Regular Decision” on the envelope or cover sheet to speed the filing process. For materials sent via the U.S. Postal Service, use this address:

Office of Undergraduate Admissions

Yale University

P.O. Box 208234

New Haven, Connecticut 06520-8234

 For materials sent via FedEX, UPS, TNT, DHL, or other private delivery services, please use this street address:

Office of Undergraduate Admissions

Yale University

38 Hillhouse Avenue

New Haven, Connecticut 06511

The fax number for application materials is (203) 436-9775.

Please use your full legal name on all admissions documents, including teacher recommendations, the school report, standardized test results, supplementary materials, etc.

Financial Assistance

International students represent 19% of the student body, come from over 100 countries and are eligible for financial aid on the same terms as U.S. students. Yale’s financial aid policies for foreign citizens are exactly the same as those for U.S. citizens. Your application for financial aid will not affect the admissions committee’s decisions and, if you are admitted, Yale will meet 100 percent of your demonstrated financial need with a combination of tuition grants and term-time employment. (Building Bridges note: The Building Bridges Merit-Based Scholarship provides the funds that fulfill the recipient’s term-time employment commitment, meaning that the student would not be obliged to work during the academic year and could instead focus on her/his studies.)

Yale offers need-blind admissions and need-based financial aid to all applicants, international and domestic. Yale admits undergraduate students without regard to their ability to pay, and provides need-based financial aid awards to all admitted students on the basis of individual needs assessments. Financial aid awards for international students are created using a needs analysis that takes into account the relative differences between the US economy and the economy of students’ home countries. Additional information and financial aid application

instructions are available via Yale Student Financial Services.

Yale’s Application Deadlines

November 1 for Early Action Single Choice and January 2 for Regular Decision.

Planning Timeline

Junior Year (Penultimate Year) of Secondary School

Autumn and Winter (September through February)

  • Begin researching colleges in the United States. Make use of the multiple online resources that are available.
  • Begin preparing for standardized tests.

Spring (March through May)

  • Consider taking your first standardized test and register for future test sittings.

Summer (June through August)

  • Begin working on your college essays.

Senior Year (Final Year) of Secondary School

Autumn (September through October)

  • Ask your teachers and counselor to complete the required forms.
  • Take the SAT or ACT for a second time if you feel that you might significantly improve your score.
  • Early Action applicants: October is the last month during which you can take the ACT Plus Writing Test for Yale to consider your results. November 1 is the deadline for an Early Action application.
  • November Early Action applicants: This is the last month during which you can take the SAT Reasoning Test and the  SAT Subject Tests for Yale to consider your results. November 1 is the deadline for an Early Action application.


  • Middle of December: Early Action admissions decisions are available online.


  • January 1 is the deadline for Regular Decision applications.
  • Regular Decision applicants: This is the last month during which you can take the SAT Reasoning Test, the SAT Subject Tests, and the TOEFL for Yale to consider your results.


  • Regular Decision applicants: This is the last month during which you can take the ACT Plus Writing exam for Yale to consider your results.

End of March/Early April

  • Regular Decision admissions decisions are available online.

Useful Links

Yale and the World: http://world.yale.edu/admissions

International Freshman Applicants: https://admissions.yale.edu/international

Applying to Yale as an International Student: https://admissions.yale.edu/applying-yale-international-student

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