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- How Hard Is It to Get Into UCLA?
- Average Academic Profile of Accepted UCLA Students
- What is UCLA Looking for?
- How to Improve Your Chances of Getting into UCLA
The crown jewel of the UC System, UCLA is one of the most well-regarded public universities in the country and counts itself among CollegeVine’s top 15 public universities in the U.S. In addition to excellent academics, UCLA is home to a historic athletic program and provides students with a rich and exciting campus life in Los Angeles—at the base of the Santa Monica Mountains and just five miles from the Pacific Ocean. It’s no wonder UCLA receives more applications than any other U.S. college.
How Hard Is It to Get Into UCLA?
A whopping 108,877 students applied to UCLA’s class of 2025 and just 15,602 were accepted for a 14.3% acceptance rate. UCLA doesn’t offer early action or early decision to applicants.
UCLA’s acceptance rate is incredibly low, but your personal chances of acceptance are possibly higher or lower, depending on your profile strength. CollegeVine’s free admissions calculator can help you to better understand your chances at UCLA—it uses factors like your grades, test scores, and extracurriculars to estimate your odds of acceptance and give you tips to improve your profile!
Average Academic Profile of Accepted UCLA Students
The average high school GPA of UCLA’s class of 2025 is 3.9—47.3% had a 4.0 and 42.2% had a GPA between 3.75 and 3.99.
The middle 50% SAT and ACT scores for UCLA’s class of 2025 are 1290-1510 and 29-34.
UCLA doesn’t publish the high school class rank of students admitted to its class of 2025, but know you’ll need great grades for consideration. An overwhelming number of the class of 2025 had a high school GPA better than 3.75—47.3% had a 4.0 and 42.2% had a GPA between 3.75 and 3.99.
What is UCLA Looking for?
UCLA, and the UC System as a whole, have a specific set of academic requirements an applicant must meet for consideration as a candidate. In general, students attending public school will satisfy these requirements, but students from private schools or who are homeschooled should pay particular attention to them to ensure they’re fulfilled.
For admission to the UC System, an applicant is required to complete a collection of 15 courses known as the “A to G subject requirements.” Students cannot earn a grade lower than a C in their A to G subject requirements. The A to G courses are:
Language other than English
2 years (or the equivalent to the second level of high school instruction)
Visual and performing arts
UCLA applicants are also required to meet a UC System-specific GPA requirement for admission—in-state students must earn a minimum 3.0 GPA, while out-of-state students are required to earn a 3.4 GPA or higher.
UCLA places a great deal of weight on essays in the admissions process. Competitive candidates will need four distinct stories that convey their intellectual curiosity and interest in personal development, as well as show how they will contribute to the intellectual vitality, cultural life, and diversity of UCLA.
UCLA also highly values STEM skills and STEM students with research on their resumes will have an advantage in the admissions process.
How UCLA Evaluates Applications
According to their 2020-2021 Common Data Set, UCLA considers the following factors “very important”:
- Course rigor
- Test Scores
These factors are “important”:
- Extracurricular activities
- Character/personal qualities
- Volunteer work
- Work experience
These are “considered”:
- First generation
- Geographic residence
- State residency
And these are “not considered”:
- Class rank
- Religious affiliation/commitment
- Racial/ethnic status
- Applicant interest
How to Improve Your Chances of Getting into UCLA
1. Achieve at least a 3.9 GPA while taking the most challenging classes available.
The average high school GPA of UCLA’s class of 2025 was 3.9 and 47.3% had a 4.0. Simply put, good grades are a necessity to gain admission to UCLA—the university considers them “very important” when making admissions decisions. Furthermore, you’ll need good grades to both satisfy the school’s academic prerequisites and meet its Academic Index threshold.
Academic Index is a tool used by extremely selective schools that receive large numbers of applicants. Academic Index consolidates an applicant’s entire academic record into a single number, which makes it easy for admissions officials to screen out applicants who don’t meet a college’s academic qualifications.
Good grades alone are often not enough on their own to impress a top school like UCLA; you’ll also need to have earned them in the most challenging coursework available. Competitive applicants at top ten schools like UCLA will often have completed upward of 12 AP classes.
2. Write engaging essays
Once you clear UCLA’s academic thresholds, essays are the best way for you to set yourself apart from other applicants. UCLA considers essays “very important” to the admissions process and places a great deal of weight on them.
Applicants at UCLA are presented with eight questions and are required to answer four of them. The eight essay prompts are:
1.. Describe an example of your leadership experience in which you have positively influenced others, helped resolve disputes, or contributed to group efforts over time.
2. Every person has a creative side, and it can be expressed in many ways: problem-solving, original and innovative thinking, and artistically, to name a few. Describe how you express your creative side.
3. What would you say is your greatest talent or skill? How have you developed and demonstrated that talent over time?
4. Describe how you have taken advantage of a significant educational opportunity or worked to overcome an educational barrier you have faced.
5. Describe the most significant challenge you have faced and the steps you have taken to overcome this challenge. How has this challenge affected your academic achievement?
6. Think about an academic subject that inspires you. Describe how you have furthered this interest inside and/or outside of the classroom.
7. What have you done to make your school or your community a better place?
8. Beyond what has already been shared in your application, what do you believe makes you stand out as a strong candidate for admissions to the University of California?
UCLA considers character/personal qualities “important” when making admissions decisions and essays are a perfect place to spotlight them. Remember to write in an authentic voice and to highlight why you’re a great fit at UCLA. Check out our article, “How to Write the University of California Essays 2021-2022,” for specific advice on how to ace UCLA’s essays.
3. Cultivate one or two Tier 1-2 extracurriculars (find your “spike”)
UCLA views extracurricular activities as an “important” factor in admissions decisions and they present an excellent opportunity for candidates to stand out. Many college-bound students hold the belief that schools are looking for well-rounded applicants, but the best colleges are really looking for students with one or two well-developed interests and demonstrated achievement or leadership in them. A highly-developed interest, known as a “spike,” is another great way to grab the attention of admissions officials.
While top schools like UCLA are looking for candidates with one or two well-developed interests, all extracurricular activities are not equal. The “four tiers of extracurriculars” is an easy way to understand how a college values a particular activity:
- Tier 1 contains the most influential activities—these are rare and demonstrate excellence, achievement, and leadership. Tier 1 activities include winning a national award or participation in a prestigious merit-based summer program.
- Tier 2 activities demonstrate excellence, achievement, and leadership but are more common and less impactful than those of Tier 1—these include state-level recognition in athletics or music, serving as student body president, or winning a regional award.
- Tier 3 extracurriculars are commonly seen on applications and lack the distinction of activities found in the higher tiers. Tier 3 activities include holding a leadership position in a well-known club or serving as captain of a varsity sport.
- Tier 4 activities hold the least weight and are the most commonly seen by admissions officials. Tier 4 activities encompass everything from participation in a sport or club to general volunteer work.
Keep in mind that along with extracurricular activities, UCLA also considers talent/ability an “important” part of the admissions process. From leading a team to a state championship to winning a prestigious award like the Regeneron Science Talent Search, extracurricular activities are an excellent avenue to demonstrate your strengths and how they separate you from other applicants.
4. Aim for a 1510 SAT and 34 ACT
The middle 50% SAT at UCLA for the class of 2025 was 1290-1510 and the middle 50% composite ACT score was 29-34. In general, any score in the middle 50% is good, but the closer you score to the higher end of the range, the better your odds of admission become.
Although UCLA lists standardized tests as “very important” on the Common Data Set, they (and all of the UC System) will use a test-blind approach through fall 2024. UCLA will accept standardized test scores as part of an application and use them to determine eligibility for the California statewide admissions guarantee, as an alternative method of fulfilling minimum requirements for eligibility, or for course placement after you enroll. UCLA will not use standardized test scores to make admissions decisions.
The value of standardized test scores is minimal at UCLA, but they play a substantial role at other schools. To improve your SAT/ACT score, check out these free CollegeVine resources:
- How to Get a Perfect 1600 Score on the SAT
- How to Get a Perfect 36 Score on the ACT
- More SAT Info and Tips
- More ACT Info and Tips
How to Apply to UCLA
The deadline to submit your UC application is November 30 and decision notifications are sent March 31.
UCLA, like the other colleges in the UC System, only accepts the UC application which includes the four personal insight questions. The UC application doesn’t require a transcript; rather, transcripts are only needed once you’re admitted to UCLA, after which you must submit your ﬁnal transcripts to the campus admissions ofﬁce. Sending standardized test scores is also optional and they’re not used in admissions decisions.
Learn more about UCLA
Interested in learning more about UCLA? Check out these other informative articles:
- What is UCLA Known For?
- How I Got Into UCLA
- What is UCLA Student Life Like?
- USC vs. UCLA: Which College is Right for You?
- UCLA vs. UC Berkeley: Which College is Right for You?
- The Ultimate Guide to UCLA
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