How To Get Into Princeton: The Ultimate Guide

man studying to get into princeton
January 10, 2023
Princeton RequirementsTips to Get Into PrincetonHow to Get Into Princeton If…(A Personalized Roadmap)How to Prepare for the Princeton InterviewHow to Apply to PrincetonPrinceton Application Process and DeadlinesPrinceton Acceptance RateShould I Apply to Princeton?FAQs: What Do You Need to Get Into Princeton?


Reviewed by:

Mary Banks

Former Admissions Committee Member, Columbia University

Reviewed: 7/11/22

If Princeton is your dream school, read on to learn more about applying, how to prep for the Princeton interview, and more for your best shot at acceptance.

Princeton University is a prestigious institution, and part of the Ivy League. According to U.S News, it ranks as the #1 best national university, making it an attractive option for prospective applicants. 

Below you will find information like application requirements and how to prepare for the Princeton interview. 

Creating an undergraduate application from scratch can seem intimidating, but we’ll cover everything you need to know how to get into Princeton’s undergrad programs. 

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Princeton Requirements 

Princeton admissions requirements

Princeton asks that prospective students complete all requirements listed in the school’s admissions guide. 

Mid-year Report, School Report, and Official Transcripts 

As part of your Princeton application, you must provide a: 

The mid-year report details your senior grades in the middle of the school year. You need to ask a counselor to submit the form when your grades are available. The school report is a document your guidance counselor completes. The school report is usually sent with your official transcripts. 

Counselor and Teacher Recommendations 

Counselor and teacher recommendations hold significant weight in the application process. Remember to “invite” your guidance counselor to fill in the recommendation form.

Princeton requires two teacher recommendation forms from teachers who have taught you in higher-level courses, including AP, IB Higher/Standard Level, A-levels, or others. Your recommendations should come from teachers who teach in two different areas of study in core areas like: 

What GPA Do You Need to Get Into Princeton? 

Princeton does not explicitly state a required GPA for admission, although you certainly want to do as well as possible in your classes. Achieving a GPA of 4.0 or close to it can improve your chances of admission. 

Princeton SAT Requirements 

Although Princeton currently has a test-optional policy, you can choose to submit SAT scores. However, there is no particular SAT score required to apply. 

According to Princeton’s class profile data, the middle 50% of admitted students scored between 740 and 800 in the SAT’s Math section and between 710 and 770 in the Evidence-based Reading and Writing section. Achieving scores toward the high end of these ranges will improve your chances. 

Princeton ACT Requirements 

There are no ACT cutoffs or requirements at Princeton. However, the middle 50% of students who submitted ACT scores achieved a composite score between 32 and 36. Shooting for the higher end of this range can give you a better shot at admission. 

TOEFL, IELTS, or PTE Academic Scores

You’re required to take one of these tests if English isn’t your first language or you’re attending a school where English isn’t the language of instruction. These tests evaluate your English proficiency. 

Graded Written Paper

Princeton requires a graded written paper. This is a peculiar admissions requirement that you may not see at other universities. If you’ve already graduated, you need to contact your secondary school and obtain one of your graded papers for submission. 

Princeton Essays

Besides your personal statement, you’ll need to complete Princeton supplemental essays. You can check out the prompts here

Application Fee or Fee Waiver 

You must pay an application fee or get approved for a fee waiver. Princeton states that all low-income students are eligible for a fee waiver. 

Additional Materials 

You may choose to submit an Arts Supplement if you’ve excelled in artistic areas like:

This application element is optional, but if you have something you’d like to submit that showcases your talent, it’s likely in your best interest to do it! 

Tips to Get into Princeton

Tips to get into Princeton

Getting into Princeton can seem difficult, especially when acceptance statistics aren't exactly encouraging. Thankfully, there are things you can do to stand out.

Raise Your GPA and Achieve High Test Scores

Because getting into Princeton isn’t easy, you’ll want to ensure that you have the strongest grades and test scores you can manage before applying. If you’re still in high school, take high-level courses and perform well. A high GPA always bolsters your application. 

Regarding test scores, consider taking the SAT or ACT in your junior year or early in your senior year if you want to submit scores. You’ll have more time to retake them if you’re not pleased with your marks the first time. An SAT/ACT tutor can be an invaluable asset and help you boost these scores.

Pick Your Recommenders Wisely

Because you’re not in complete control of what goes in your recommendations, you should pick teachers with whom you’ve formed a meaningful relationship. 

If you’ve had the same teacher for more than one subject, this can add value to their recommendation because they’ve seen more of you, how you handle situations, and perform under pressure. Picking the right teacher can strengthen your candidacy, so ensure you choose those who will represent you well! 

Consider What Princeton Is Looking For 

Although you want to show your character and accomplishments, that doesn’t mean you can’t keep what Princeton is looking for in mind when you complete your application. 

Princeton states that the admissions committee is looking “for students with intellectual curiosity, who have pursued and achieved academic excellence. We also look for students with strong personal and extracurricular accomplishments.”

In your application, ensure you highlight: 

Princeton wants to see your involvement in your school, community, and family because it can help predict your future campus contributions. Remember, universities love when students are engaged and eager to participate in extracurricular activities.

How to Get Into Princeton If…(A Personalized Roadmap) 

If you’re wondering how to boost your profile while addressing specific circumstances, we’ll outline how to remedy living out of state or having a low GPA or test scores. 

You Live Out of State

There is nothing different you have to do to get into Princeton as an out-of-state student. Although Princeton accepts the most students from New Jersey, the admissions committee states that all applications are reviewed similarly. 

Your GPA Is Low

A low GPA can be remedied in numerous ways: 

Your SAT/ACT Scores Are Low

If your SAT or ACT scores are lower than you’d like, you have options: 

Remember, these circumstances don’t mean getting accepted at Princeton isn’t possible!

How to Prepare for the Princeton Interview 

Princeton offers optional alumni interviews but cannot guarantee that every applicant will be invited to participate. You may choose to opt out if you want to, but participating allows you to ask questions about life at Princeton. 

Princeton interviews are reasonably low stakes and are regarded more as a 30 to 45-minute-long informal conversation. Your interview may be conducted in person or virtually. 

Princeton Interview Questions 

Because the Princeton interview is optional and much more conversational than some other university interviews, what you talk about will probably go with the natural flow of the conversation. However, below we list common Princeton interview questions that may come up in your alumni interview and how to answer them. 

1. Tell Me About Yourself 

The all-encompassing “tell me about yourself” question can be challenging. However, this is an excellent opportunity to let your personality shine. While you don’t want to launch into a 10-minute monologue, you can touch on:

Even if your interviewer doesn’t ask this exact question, they’ll likely want to know about you, what you’re passionate about, how you spend your time, and your interests. 

2. Why Princeton? 

You should expect this line of questioning in some capacity. Before your interview, consider all the reasons you applied to Princeton. However, don’t give an answer about the school’s ranking or prestige. Make it more personal! 

Are you excited to join a particular club? Does a research or internship opportunity sound like a dream come true? Be specific here: it shows your interest in the school and that you’ve done your college research

3. Why Did You Select This Major? 

You might be asked this question or one with similar intent: to uncover your interests and educational/professional goals. To answer this question, you can: 

Don’t be afraid to get specific here, but be mindful that you’re not launching into a 20-minute long explanation! 

4. What’s Your Activity/Moment Are You Proudest Of? 

It’s important to have a response ready detailing your proudest achievements. You can answer this question by: 

Focus on the impact here; you need to explain why it was your proudest achievement. While these are common Princeton interview questions, you may or may not be asked them; every interviewer is different. 

Prepare Questions to Ask the Princeton Interviewer

Your Princeton interview is a fantastic opportunity to ask your own questions. Is there anything specific about the school’s culture you want to know? Do you want to know your interviewer’s greatest takeaway from Princeton? 

Feel free to ask questions and actively listen to responses. Ensure that you take advantage of this time and ask questions you can’t find answers to online.

How to Apply to Princeton

These are the five main steps to apply to Princeton: 

  1. Complete the Common Application or Coalition Application
  2. Ensure you fulfill all application requirements and gather all documents 
  3. Submit your application 
  4. Attend the Princeton interview if you receive an invitation 
  5. Wait for your admissions decision. 

Princeton Application Process and Deadlines 

If you’re applying under regular decision, there are some important deadlines you’ll need to know. These deadlines are subject to change, and it’s always in your best interest to double-check.

Table showing the Princeton Application Deadlines 

Princeton Early Decision Dates 

Early Decision, or Single-Choice Early Action as it’s known at Princeton, means you can put your application together earlier and receive an earlier admissions decision. Below are the deadlines you need to know:

Table showing the Princeton Early Decision deadlines

Princeton Acceptance Rate 

Princeton’s reputation makes the school an attractive choice for prospective undergraduate applicants. As such, Princeton’s acceptance rate trends on the lower side: the recent acceptance rate is 4.4%

Princeton Early Decision Acceptance Rate

Princeton’s early decision acceptance rate is 14.7%, which is more than three times higher than regular decision. 

Princeton Yield Rate 

A university’s yield rate refers to the number of admitted students that enroll. According to U.S. News, Princeton made the list of national universities where students were most likely to enroll in 2019.

Looking at Princeton’s recent class profile information, 1,647 applicants were admitted, and 1,345 enrolled. This means that Princeton’s recent yield rate is 81.7%. 

How Hard Is It to Get Into Princeton? 

Given its yield rate, we know that Princeton is a competitive university and that many applicants would happily jump at the opportunity to attend. Princeton’s acceptance rate is approximately 4.4%. 

That statistic can be discouraging to prospective applicants, but it’s important to note that these numbers only attest to the volume of applications, not their quality.

Should I Apply to Princeton? 

Whether or not you apply to Princeton is ultimately up to you, but know that it’s a prestigious school that can offer you an excellent education and undergraduate experience. If Princeton is your dream school, you should certainly apply! 

Sometimes students get hung up on school acceptance rates, and lower numbers can discourage some applicants from applying. We recommend never getting too hung up on admissions statistics.

Instead, consider what you have control over — your own application. If you spend enough time polishing and perfecting your application, you have a better chance of acceptance! 

FAQs: What Do You Need to Get Into Princeton?

If you still have questions about the Princeton application requirements and what you need to do to get in, read on. 

1. What Does Princeton Look For In Applicants? 

Princeton is looking for “students with intellectual curiosity, who have pursued and achieved academic excellence. [They] also look for students with strong personal and extracurricular accomplishments.” 

Emphasize your academic achievements and passions application to boost your chances of acceptance. 

2. Can I Get Into Princeton with a 3.5 GPA?

Although Princeton doesn’t release information on the high school GPAs of admitted students, a higher GPA will always bolster your application. A 3.5 GPA is by no means considered low, but Princeton is the top university in the U.S. 

It’s in your best interest to improve your GPA as much as you can if you’re still in high school. If boosting your GPA isn't possible or if you’ve already graduated, you can still get into Princeton with a 3.5 GPA, depending on the strength of your application. 

3. How Do I Stand Out in the Princeton Application Process?

There are numerous ways to stand out in any university application process. The first thing you could do is challenge yourself with high-level courses, achieve good grades, and earn strong SAT or ACT scores. 

Beyond scores and numbers, remember that the admissions process is holistic. By being authentic, demonstrating your initiative, and being passionate about the things you do, you can stand out.

4. When Should I Prepare for Princeton?

You should start preparing for your Princeton application as soon as possible. Starting early, even before your junior year, can give you time to think about activities and courses that will help you stand out.

Experience and skills can undoubtedly be an asset to you when it’s time to start sending off applications. 

Unlock Your Potential and Get Into Princeton

Applying to Princeton can be intimidating, but the payoff can be huge. Now that you know more about the school and how to apply, you know how to get into Princeton and the steps you can take to strengthen your application. Good luck!

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