2020-21 Yale Supplemental Essay Prompts:

Interesting minds. That’s what Yale is looking for with their unusual essay prompts. Yale’s many short answer questions are in addition to the — choose one — Common Application Essay (650 words) or the Coalition for Access Essay or the Questbridge Application.

Their questions may require “short answers,” but there is nothing simple or easy about them. They are designed to find out more about who you are, what you care about, and what you think about. Do these questions excite you and set your neural synapses firing?

Your answers need to be specific, detailed, and to the point, because they don’t give you much room. Specific to your experience and specific to Yale–any special programs that appeal to you, the courses you want to take, the professors you want to study with. Go for a conversational tone rather than a formal tone. Reveal what subjects and issues you care about, perhaps how you’ve come to care about them, and where your ambitions lie right now. It’s OK if you’re not sure, but indicate a possible direction. 

Short Answer Questions

This information comes from the YALE WEBSITE.

Applicants submitting the Coalition ApplicationCommon Application, or QuestBridge Application will respond to the following short answer questions:

  • Students at Yale have plenty of time to explore their academic interests before committing to one or more major fields of study. Many students either modify their original academic direction or change their minds entirely. As of this moment, what academic areas seem to fit your interests or goals most comfortably? Please indicate up to three from the list provided.
  • Why do these areas appeal to you? (125 words or fewer)
  • What is it about Yale that has led you to apply? (125 words or fewer)

Applicants applying with the QuestBridge Application will complete the questions above via the Yale QuestBridge Questionnaire, available on the Yale Admissions Status Portal after an application has been received.

Applicants submitting the Coalition Application or Common Application will also respond to the following short answer questions, in no more than 200 characters (approximately 35 words):

  • What inspires you?
  • Yale’s residential colleges regularly host conversations with guests representing a wide range of experiences and accomplishments. What person, past or present, would you invite to speak? What question would you ask?
  • You are teaching a Yale course. What is it called?
  • Most first-year Yale students live in suites of four to six students. What do you hope to add to your suitemates’ experience? What do you hope they will add to yours?


Applicants submitting the Coalition Application or Common Application: use the two short essays (250 words or fewer) below to reflect on topics and personal experiences that will help the Admissions Committee learn more about you. 

1. Yale’s extensive course offerings and vibrant conversations beyond the classroom encourage students to follow their developing intellectual interests wherever they lead. Tell us about your engagement with a topic or idea that excites you. Why are you drawn to it?

2.  Respond to one of the following prompts:

  • 2A. Reflect on your membership in a community. Why is your involvement important to you? How has it shaped you?  You may define community however you like.
  • 2B. Yale students, faculty, and alumni engage issues of local, national, and international significance. Discuss an issue that is important to you and how your college experience could help you address it.
  • 2C. Tell us about your relationship with a role model or mentor who has been influential in your life. How has their guidance been instrumental to your growth?

Applicants submitting the Coalition Application: In addition to responding to the prompts above, upload an audio file, video, image, or document you have created. The upload should complement your response to one of the prompts. Above your response, include a one-sentence description of your upload. Please limit uploads to the following file types: mp3, mov, jpeg, word, pdf. Advanced editing is not necessary. Uploads provided via the Coalition Application will be reviewed by the Admissions Office only. Review the Supplementary Material instructions for material that may be evaluated by Yale faculty. 

Engineering Essay

Applicants submitting the Coalition Application or Common Application who select one of Yale’s engineering majors will also respond to the prompt below in 250 words or fewer:

  • Please tell us more about what has led you to an interest in this field of study, what experiences (if any) you have had in engineering, and what it is about Yale’s engineering program that appeals to you. 

I have worked with many students on the Yale application, and in some cases, families have hired me specifically to work with their kids on the Common Application essay and the Yale supplements.

Please shoot me an email if this or any of my other services might be of interest to you. Liz@DontSweatTheEssay.com Or call me – East Coast time zone – at 1-855-99-ESSAY.