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How to Write the Yale University Supplemental Essay 2023-24
  • Nov 2022
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How to Write the Yale University Supplemental Essay 2023-24

17th November 2022

Every year, Yale admits slightly more than 4% of its overall candidate pool. If you want to be one of those accepted students, you must submit outstanding Yale essays as part of your Yale University application.

The Yale supplement essays provide a unique opportunity for applicants to showcase their personality and passion for the university. If you are applying to Yale University and are looking for examples of successful supplemental essays, search for "yale supplemental essays examples" to find inspiration for your own application.

In this post, we'll go over the many types of essays you'll need to write for your Yale University application, as well as how to create a Yale supplement essay that will set you apart from the hundreds of other applicants.

What Are the Yale Essay Prompts?

Depending on whether you submit the Common Application, QuestBridge Application, or Coalition Application, Yale University requires you to submit many short answer questions and one essay.

For the longer Yale supplement essay questions, you will select from a list of possible subjects.

The prompts are the same for both the Common and Coalition applications, however, the amount of prompts you choose to answer varies based on which program you choose.

Regardless of which program you choose, you will also complete short answer questions.

It is crucial to note that while all Common, Coalition and QuestBridge applications involve short answer questions, only the Common and Coalition applications require a second set of short answer questions as well as an additional essay.

The word limit for the Yale essays' short answer questions ranges from 35 to 250 words. These essays are unique to the Yale application and will not be seen on any other institution or university's application.

The Yale supplement essays, despite their brief length, are just as important as the lengthier articles.

The Yale additional essay questions provide numerous opportunities to demonstrate your qualifications as an applicant and impress the admissions committee.

2022-2023 Yale Essay Questions

Applicants who complete the Common Application or the Coalition Application will respond to one of two prompts:

Essay Prompt #1: Yale fulfills its objective "through the open exchange of ideas in an ethical, interdependent, and diverse community."

Consider a time when you discussed an important issue with someone who held an opposing viewpoint.

How did the event cause you to reconsider your position or sharpen your reasons for maintaining it? (400 words)

Essay Prompt #2: Think of a time when you worked to improve a community to which you feel attached.

Why have their efforts meant so much to you? You can define community in any way you like. (400 words)

Yale Supplement Essay Prompts Analyzed

Now that you've read over the Yale extra essay prompts, let's look at how to respond to them.

Essay Prompt #1

Consider a time when you discussed an important issue with someone who held an opposite viewpoint. Yale fulfills its objective "through the open exchange of ideas in an ethical, interdependent, and diverse community."

How did the event cause you to reconsider your position or sharpen your reasons for maintaining it? (400 words)

This essay urges you to consider your abilities to engage with competing ideas and adjust your own—or, if necessary, to stand firm! It's a large order, but it's a crucial issue.

Yale admissions officers want to know that you can engage in a healthy exchange of ideas with others without sacrificing yourself or closing the conversation down. This is critical because it is such an integral component of collegiate life!

You'll need to come up with a really precise situation for this essay. Maybe you had a class discussion about a contentious subject, or maybe you discussed it with a parent, family, or acquaintance.

Did you know you'd disagree before you started talking? How did that influence your speech? What was the tone of your discussion?

How did it end (or did it end)? Most importantly, what did you learn from the experience, and how has it influenced both your ideas and your interactions with others who do not share them?

Essay Prompt #2

Consider a period when you worked to improve a community to which you feel linked. Why have their efforts meant so much to you? You can define community in any way you like. (no more than 400 words)

This essay is an excellent opportunity to show the committee a part of yourself that has nothing to do with academics. There are numerous conceivable replies here, including family, sports teams, religious schools, AV clubs, and even virtual groups.

Whatever community you choose, make it one that has left an imprint on you and to which you have made significant contributions.

Have a good time with this Yale essay. Don't feel obligated to discuss how much charitable work you perform—many applicants will do so, and it will appear inauthentic. (Unless charitable work is your thing; in that case, go for it!)

You can define "community" on your criteria here as well. If you have a unique experience with a group of people who may not appear to outsiders to be a traditional community, writing about it can help you stand out in the admissions process.

For example, if your football team collaborated with a rival team to provide storm aid and bonded as a result, that would be an unusual take on community connection to emphasize in your essay.

Allow your personality to shine through with this one, and don't be scared to be inventive. You may show off your prosaic skills now that you have a bigger word limit. But don't try too hard! Be yourself, and the committee will appreciate it.

2022-2023 Yale Short Answer Questions

Three Yale quick-answer questions are required. Every student applying to Yale must respond to the following three prompts:

i) Before committing to one or more major fields of study, Yale students have the opportunity to explore their academic interests. Many students either shift their intended academic path or completely change their thoughts. What academic subjects appear to meet your interests or aspirations the best right now? Please select up to three options from the list provided. What draws you to these areas? (No more than 125 words)

ii) Tell us about a topic or idea that piques your interest and is relevant to one or more of the academic areas you choose above. What draws you to it? (No more than 200 words)

iii) What about Yale compelled you to apply? (No more than 125 words)

Yale Short Answer Questions Analyzed

All applicants must complete the longer short answer prompts described above. Both programs use the same prompts. Keep in mind that all three instructions are essential.

Next, we'll go over how to react to each Yale short answer prompt.

Yale Short Answer Question 1

Students at Yale have plenty of opportunity to pursue their academic interests before committing to one or more major disciplines of study.

Many students either shift their original academic route or completely change their thoughts.

What academic subjects currently seem to meet your interests or aspirations the best? Please select up to three options from the available list.

Why are these areas of interest to you? (125 words or less)

First and foremost, strictly adhere to the instructions provided here. Only employ areas of study from the list provided in the preceding link, and limit yourself to three.

Yale is offering you the opportunity to demonstrate a variety of interests, but keeping your writing brief and honest is essential.

Less is more in this case—don't be afraid to specify only one hobby. Although choosing a major before entering college may be impossible, there is no harm in expressing what intrigues you right now.

You are not required to continue with this major throughout your Yale career unless you desire to. Just keep in mind that 100 words aren't much room, so you might be able to explain more if you choose one subject rather than three.

Yale Short Answer Question 2

Tell us about a topic or idea that piques your interest and is relevant to one or more of the academic areas you choose above. What draws you to it? (No more than 200 words)

This prompt requires you to demonstrate that you have independent intellectual interests and that you take the initiative to tie them to your academic ambitions.

Your response to this question should demonstrate the interest, enthusiasm, and drive that you will bring to the Yale community!

A good response to this question will have the following elements: 1) a topic or idea in which you are interested, 2) how you engage with that topic or idea, and 3) which major(s) you believe will best assist you to explore your topic or idea.

Begin by discussing your topic of interest or concept. Assume you're curious about how tabletop games like Dungeons and Dragons foster important educational abilities like literacy and mental math.

Consider what most excites you about your topic or idea and explain why in your response.

You should also explain briefly how you engage with your topic or notion. For example, suppose you play Dungeons and Dragons every weekend at a local gaming store and notice that many middle schoolers are dropped off by their parents to play games.

These observations may have piqued your interest in literacy learning and tabletop gaming! Include some background to help root your response in a scenario that admissions counselors can relate to.

You should also describe why you're interested in your idea or topic. If you're talking about tabletop gaming, perhaps you'll mention how you struggled with reading as a young student and how playing tabletop games helped you enhance your skills.

Include a description of why you're drawn to your topic or idea as part of your response.

Finally, ensure that everything is linked back to Yale. How would Yale support your desire to study tabletop gaming and literacy? Which major(s) or minor(s) would best complement your academic pursuit?

How will your inquisitiveness help you make an impact as a Yale student? And why is Yale the only school that can nurture your creativity and helps you succeed?

At the end of the day, admissions officers want to know why Yale is the ideal place for you to pursue your interests!

Yale Short Answer Question 3

What is it about Yale that has led you to apply? (125 words or fewer)

This short answer question appears simple at first glance—and it may be if you know how to hack it!

The question above, known as the "Why Yale?" essay, asks you to show Yale admissions why you're a perfect fit for their school. This is essentially Yale's version of a "Why This College?" essay!

So, in 125 words or less, how do you persuade Yale that you certainly belong there? You conduct research, consider your future aspirations, and utilize your finest writing skills to demonstrate that your values coincide with Yale's principles.

To prepare a good response to the question "Why Yale?" begin by knowing everything you can about Yale. You should concentrate your research on learning about Yale that piques your interest and feels truly meaningful to you.

Researching Yale's identity and traditions will assist you in explaining why you belong there!

After you've completed your research, consider where your values connect with those of Yale.

Your response should demonstrate that you and Yale are a perfect match—that you'll complement each other's strengths and that you'll bring the missing piece that Yale requires to be complete.

While you should be honest and authentic in this essay, the goal is to persuade Yale admissions that you are ready to support Yale's mission and that Yale is the ideal environment for you to grow and flourish.

So, in this short answer response, choose a couple of distinct, unique-to-you reasons why you want to go to Yale and express them in your best, error-free language. This is your big chance to demonstrate why Yale is the only school for you!

2022-2023 Yale Short Answer Questions (Common and Coalition Applications

If you use the Coalition or Common App, you must respond to four Yale-specific short responses.

The Yale quick answer questions are exactly that: brief. Some simply demand 35-word responses. We'll speak about how to respond to these queries later. For the time being, let's look at the prompts themselves:

a.) What motivates you? (35 words or less)

b.) Conversations with guests from a diverse variety of experiences and accomplishments are held regularly at Yale's residential colleges. Who would you invite to speak, past or present? What would you like them to talk about? (35 words or less)

c.) You are a new Yale professor. What is its name? (35 words or less)

d.) What is something unique about you that you haven't included elsewhere in your application? (35 words or less)

All of these short takes must be 35 words or less and 200 characters or less (letters, spaces, symbols/numbers). That means you'll need to think hard—and edit even harder! —to maximize word count.

2022-2023 Yale Short Answer Questions Analyzed (Common and Coalition) 

This section will go over the short answer Yale supplement essays in detail.

Remember that every Coalition or Common Application applicant must respond to all essay prompts, so you do not get to pick which essay you will write.

It is critical that you respond enthusiastically to each of the Yale essays prompts since they are all equally significant.

Let's go over each Yale short essay question and see how we can create something significant for each one.

Yale Short Answer Question 1

What inspires you? (35 words or fewer)

Caution! Because of the limited word count, you may be tempted to be humorous or cynical in your response. Resist the temptation! Again, choose genuineness over cleverness.

If anything delightful or humorous organically emerges from your answer, consult with your guidance counselor, English teacher, or another trusted editor before submitting it.

Humor can come across as casual, leading the application committee to believe you are not taking your application seriously.

Inspiring people, breathtaking landscapes, and exquisite meals are all good responses to this question. There is no right or wrong answer, so have fun with it!

Consider the question posed by this prompt: what inspires you? What motivates and excites you? Avoid cliche responses at all costs. Don't express your admiration for "the world in all its immensity."

Instead, look inward and recall times when you felt the greatest about yourself and the most energized to perform the things you enjoy. What caused you to feel that way? Who? And how did you put that inspiration into action?

Yale Short Answer Question 2

Conversations with guests from a diverse variety of experiences and accomplishments are held regularly at Yale's residential colleges. Who would you invite to speak, past or present? What would you like them to talk about? (35 words or less)

Here's another one for you to play with. Avoid cliches once more! Don't mention "Gandhi" or "MLK" because those are obvious and impossible replies.

Choose someone who has inspired you rather than someone who you believe will impress the admissions committee. They don't have to be famous, wealthy, or successful. They should, however, have affected your life.

Yale Short Answer Question 3

You are teaching a new Yale course. What is it called?

Another entertaining one! Please, no cliches, no obvious responses, and no comedy.

This is your moment to demonstrate your mastery of something. Instead of imagining yourself as a famous playwright with the skills to give a class on amazing realism in current theater, choose something you know about right now.

Perhaps you have a second language. Maybe you collect insects or make flower presses. Perhaps you are an expert in self-care for stressed-out students. This inquiry is not intended to elicit a better understanding of your aims or goals. The committee is interested in learning about your existing strengths and passions.

Yale Short Answer Question 4

What is something about you that is not included anywhere else in your application? (35 words or fewer)

This question allows you to (briefly!) share a side of yourself that you wish had been included in your application.

Perhaps it's an event you organized that didn't quite fit into any of the app's categories, or perhaps it's something you're extremely enthusiastic about.

Instead of saying something silly or lightening the mood, dig deep to think of an example that makes you uniquely you. Check out our website for some great Yale supplement essay examples and tips on how to write a standout essay for your Yale application.

How to Write a Great Yale Essay

Whatever Yale short response question you are replying to, keep the following suggestions in mind for writing a superb Yale essay in mind.

#1: Use Your Voice

The purpose of a college essay is to allow the admissions committee to get to know you beyond your test scores, grades, and awards.

Your admissions essays are your chance to bring yourself to life for the essay readers and present yourself as a fully developed individual.

Then, in your college essays, be sure that the person you're presenting is yourself. Don't try to imitate what you believe the committee wants to hear or pretend to be someone you're not.

If you lie or exaggerate, your essay will appear genuine, reducing its effectiveness. Stick to delivering true tales about the person you are, not the person Yale wants you to be.

#2: Avoid Cliches and Overused Phrases

Avoid using cliches or overused quotes or phrases when writing your Yale essays.

Quotes that have been cited to death, as well as phrases or idioms that are overused in everyday life, are examples.

The college admissions committee has most likely seen countless essays in which the writer states, "Be the change you wish to see in the world." Strive for uniqueness.

Avoid utilizing cliches, which detract from the strength and sincerity of your work.

#3: Check Your Work

It should almost go without saying, but you want to make sure your Yale essays are the best possible representation of your work. Make sure to edit and check your essays before submitting your Yale application.

Your work should be error-free in terms of spelling and grammar. Before submitting your essays, run them through a spell and grammar check.

It is also advisable to have someone else read your Yale essays. A parent, instructor, or friend can provide you with a second opinion on your work. Inquire whether your work accurately represents you as a student and person.

Check with them to ensure you haven't missed any minor writing errors. Getting a second opinion will help your work to be the best it can be.

Check out our top tips for crafting standout Yale University supplemental essays to improve your chances of admission.

Recap: The Key to Yale Essays That Work

The subjects covered in the Yale essays are diverse. Whatever question you're answering, keep these basic dos and don'ts in mind while you write:


  • Be genuine and truthful.

  • When mentioning persons, locations, or objects, be explicit.

  • Strive for simplicity and brevity; less is more!

  • Be yourself, and do your homework—both will show in your writing!


  • Based on what you believe the Yale application committee wants to hear, write your essays accordingly.

  • Use cliches or broad generalizations.

  • Try not to be overly funny or original—be real, and the committee will notice your great qualities.



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