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Thomas Broderick


Hello, fellow residents of the Golden State and out-of-state students thinking of moving to California! If you’re a fan of great education in great weather, I’m not surprised that you’re considering the various UCs (University of California), CSUs (California State University), and/or CCs (Community College) around California. In this post, we’ll be taking a look at how your ACT scores will affect your chances of admission to UCLA, in particular.

If you’re still not sure where to apply, here’s 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 and sciences, including engineering, nursing, music, and theater. With such diverse offerings (and competitive tuition for in-state students), nearly 100,000 high school seniors applied to UCLA in the fall of 2015. That means one thing (well, it means a lot of things, but for the moment, let’s focus on this one):

ACT scores are important to UCLA admissions.

UCLA ACT Scores Range

Let’s crunch the numbers and look at some facts:

  • The overall admissions rate for UCLA’s class of 2019 was 17.3%.
  • Students who use the ACT to apply to UCLA must also take the ACT Writing Test (that’s the essay) 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 that of UC Berkeley.

While those are some intimidating numbers, they’re not impossible to achieve! If your heart is set on UCLA, let’s talk about making your score stand out.

So What Score Do I Need?

As we’ve seen, 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 get a sense of what your current scores would be on ACT 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 in-section scores up by just a little, your final composite score will benefit.

What Else Can I Do to Help My UCLA Application?

As UCLA is a public university, it accepts more in-state students than out-of state students (sorry). 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 from out of state, I recommend spending extra time on your admissions essays. After all, admissions counselors look at a variety of factors when making their decisions.

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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