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Thomas Broderick


Hello fellow residents of the Golden State! Hello out-of-state students thinking of moving to California! It’s college application time, and I’m sure your considering the various UCs (University of California), the CSUs (California State University), and CCs (Community College) around California. By clicking on this article, I know you want to learn about how ACT scores affect your chances of admission to UCLA.

For those of you still undecided on where to apply, let me tell you a little about UCLA. Located in western Los Angeles, the university has over 40,000 undergraduate and graduate students. For undergraduates, UCLA offers 125 undergraduate majors in the arts, sciences, engineering, nursing, music, and theater. With such a diverse offering (and competitive tuition to in-state students), nearly 100,000 high school seniors applied in the fall of 2015. That means one thing:

ACT Scores are important to admissions success at UCLA.


What’s the competition?

Let’s crunch the numbers:

  • For the students who applied to UCLA in fall 2014, the overall admit rate was 17.3%.
  • Students who use the ACT to apply to UCLA must also take the ACT Writing Test the same day as the regular ACT.
  • Out of the roughly 40,000 applicants who submitted ACT scores in the Fall of 2014, 14,000 applicants scored a 31 or above.
    • Out of those 14,000 applicants, approximately 5,000 were admitted (34.5%).
  • The median ACT score for students offered admission at UCLA is the same as UC Berkeley.

Those are some intimidating numbers, but not impossible in comparison to other schools a high achiever like yourself might consider. If your heart is set on UCLA, let’s talk about making your score stand out.


So what score do I need?

As we saw in the last section, students who earn a 31 or above double their chances of admission to UCLA. Though a 34.5% chance of admission isn’t a ‘slam dunk’ by any means, it’s something to shoot for.

To earn a 31+ composite score on the ACT, you need to fully understand your strengths and weaknesses. Take a full length, timed practice test to measure your true abilities in English, Math, Reading, and Science.

Here’s where the magic comes in. Let’s say the results of your practice test are 28 for English, 27 for Math, 33 for reading, and 32 for Science. Your study time is now solely for English and Math! If we can get those scores up by just a little, your final composite score will reflect that well needed bump.


What else can I do?

As UCLA is a public university, they take more in-state students. Sorry out-of-state kids. If you are a California resident, make sure you’re taking plenty of a-g courses in high school. The more the merrier.

If you’re out of state, I recommend spending extra time on your admissions essays. After all, admissions counselors are going to need extra reasons why they should admit you over an equally qualified California resident.

Good luck, future Bruins! See you on the quad!


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About Thomas Broderick

Thomas spent four years teaching high school English, social studies, and ACT preparation in Middle Tennessee. Now living in Northern California, he is excited to share his knowledge and experience with Magoosh's readers. In his spare time Thomas enjoys writing short fiction and hiking in the Sonoma foothills.

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