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Rachel Kapelke-Dale

UC Davis Admissions: The SAT, ACT Scores and GPA You Need to Get In

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The Nobel Peace Prize, the Pulitzer Prize, MacArthur Fellowships…there’s no guarantee that going to UC Davis will get you one—but you will be in the company of an illustrious group of people with these prizes! Known as a “Public Ivy” (think: Ivy League without the price tag), UC Davis is also one of the crown jewels in the University of California system. Intrigued yet? Here’s what you need to know about UC Davis admissions: UC Davis SAT scores, UC Davis ACT scores, and how to get into UC Davis!

What’s the first thing you need to know about how to get into UC Davis? Take a look.

UC Davis at a Glance

UC Davis SAT Scores (middle 50%)1260-1460
UC Davis ACT Scores (middle 50%)28-33
UC Davis admissions rate41.2%
UC Davis GPA average (unweighted)3.74-3.96

UC Davis SAT Scores

UC Davis SAT scores aren’t for the faint-hearted. As we noted above, the middle 50% of UC Davis SAT scores are in the 1260-1460 range. In other words, 25% of admitted students score below 1260, while 25% score above 1460. Here’s a more specific breakdown by section.

Math 630-780
Evidence-Based Reading and Writing600-700

What does this tell us about the average UC Davis SAT scores? Yes, the math scores are higher, and there’s also a wider range of them (150 points, as opposed to 100 points for reading and writing). The math section of the SAT is clearly important to the UC Davis admission committee. Remember, this is the middle 50th percentile. That means that 25% of admitted students scored between 780 and a perfect 800 on SAT math. (It also means that 25% scored below 630, so don’t panic if you don’t have time to take the test…but do take the opportunity to polish the rest of your application as much as possible!)

The UC Davis SAT scores in evidence-based reading and writing scores are slightly lower at a 50th percentile of between 600 and 700. Still, this is pretty darn high! If your SAT scores fall significantly below the UC Davis SAT scores averages, and you have time to retake the test, it’s a good idea to brush up on your test-taking skills and get back in there.

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UC Davis ACT Scores

UC Davis ACT scores are a little more of a mystery than UC Davis SAT scores are. We do know that the middle 50th percentile of UC Davis ACT scores fall between 28 and 33. This isn’t a huge surprise, as this corresponds pretty closely to the UC Davis SAT score range. However, the school doesn’t release a by-section breakdown as they do for the SAT.

That doesn’t mean that we can’t make inferences, though! Remember, when looking at the UC Davis SAT scores, we realized that the math scores were slightly more competitive than the reading and writing scores. Translating this to the ACT, we can infer that UC Davis ACT scores are more likely higher in math (and probably science, as well) than on the reading and writing sections.

So what should you aim for to be within the UC Davis ACT score range? Try to get your math scores as high to the upper range of the composite scores; over 30 is a great goal. (That’s actually a great goal for all of the sections!) There’s more likely a little more flexibility with UC Davis ACT scores in the verbal sections. In this case, 28+ is a strong goal.

Just as importantly, it’s vital not to have one sectional score significantly lower than others. If you get a 15 on Science and a 36 on every other section (it’s unlikely, but bear with me here!), your composite score will still be around 31…but you’re probably going to confuse the UC Davis admissions committee a fair amount. Try your best to get high scores in every section.

Liam got a 35 on the act. Get a higher act score.

UC Davis Acceptance Rate

UC Davis acceptance rate is 41.2%. In other words, about 2/5 of applicants are accepted.

UC Davis GPA Average

Luckily for us, the UC Davis admissions office provides very specific information about admitted students’ GPAs! The middle 50% of admitted students have GPAs of between 3.74 and 3.96. It’s important to note that this is an unweighted (as opposed to a weighted) GPA average.

What does that mean? Simply put, unweightedGPA calculations use this process. Officials calculate them by awarding 4.0 to an A, 3.0 to a B, and so on. However, many high schools like to reward students for taking harder classes with a boost to their GPAs, by “weighting” them. In this case, an A gets a 5.0, a B 4.0, etc.

But what does the unweighted UC Davis GPA mean if you have a weighted GPA? Don’t worry—UC Davis also provides a weighted GPA average: 3.96-4.25.

So far, we’ve only looked at the numbers involved in UC Davis admissions (UC Davis SAT scores, UC Davis ACT scores, etc.). However, numbers aren’t the only thing that UC Davis looks at! Essays are also important (though UC Davis admissions calls them “Personal Insights”—more on this below). Be sure to follow guidelines for letters of recommendation as well…the UC Davis admissions office is adamant about not receiving extra materials!

UC Davis Freshman Profile

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“Personally I decided to go with UC Davis because of the great Animal Science program they offer at the school along with all the great interning opportunities in my field. I am of the mindset that college is mostly for learning, [so] my decision was heavily weighed on the education opportunities I would receive. I also prefer small towns over large cities and Davis was a perfect size in my opinion especially when compared to Los Angeles, Santa Barbara, Fresno, etc. Finally I felt comfortable on the campus when I went to visit especially because the majority of the people were very friendly and helpful and the school is very pretty and green which I really appreciate.” — Mirella, AdmitSee

UC Davis students are incredibly diverse and come from a wide variety of backgrounds. 33% of students are Asian/Pacific Islander; 25% are white/Caucasian; 21% are Hispanic/Latinx/Chicanx; 16% are international; 4% are African American; and 1% are Native American or Alaskan Native. Of all of these students, 44% are the first in their families to attend college—pretty amazing.

FAQ

Does UC Davis have a wait list?
Yes, it does! And actually, students on the wait list have pretty good odds. In the last reported admissions cycle, 3,112 students accepted their places on the wait list—and of those, 2,571 were eventually accepted.

Is in-state tuition cheaper?
Yes! Good news for Californians (for the rest of us…them’s the breaks).

Wait—”Personal Insight” statements?
That’s right. And guess what? UC Davis admissions does not want to read poems, extended metaphors, your thoughts about inspirational people (who aren’t you), or a variety of other info. So please, please read their instructions very carefully!

How to Get Into UC Davis

How to get into UC Davis? Score as high as you can on standardized tests; aim to score at least in the 50th percentile of UC Davis SAT scores or UC Davis ACT scores. Keep your GPA as high as possible. Follow instructions on the UC Davis admissions application carefully—and let your personality shine through. Good luck!

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About Rachel Kapelke-Dale

Rachel is a High School and Graduate Exams blogger at Magoosh. She has a Bachelor of Arts from Brown University, an MA from the Université de Paris VII, and a PhD from University College London. She has taught test preparation and consulted on admissions practices for over eight years. Currently, Rachel divides her time between the US and London. Follow Rachel on Twitter, or learn more about her writing here!


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