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Nadyja Von Ebers

UCLA Admissions: The SAT Scores, ACT Scores, and GPA You Need to Get in

It’s no secret that one of the greatest appeals to attending UCLA is the amazing Southern California weather and the excitement of living in busy (and sometimes glitzy) Los Angeles.

But UCLA, which stands for the University of California, Los Angeles, is also a very prestigious public research institution and established in 1919, it’s the second oldest in the ten-campus University of California systems.

UCLA was recently ranked 15th in the world for academics, according to Times World University Higher Education World University Rankings, and it offers 337 undergraduate and graduate degree programs in wide range of fields.

UCLA is considered one of the most selective universities in the United States–and it’s getting increasingly difficult to get into each year–but with very good grades and test scores, you may have a good chance of getting accepted.

Before we dive into a deeper look at each of the requirements, here are some quick UCLA admissions statistics to keep in mind (as reported in Fall 2018 Admit Profile included in the most recent UCLA application guide).

Quick UCLA Admissions Statistics

UCLA SAT scores (average composite)1370-1530 (mid 50% composite score on a 1600 scale)
UCLA ACT scores (average composite)31-35 (mid 50% composite score)

UCLA GPA (average of admitted students)
3.92 GPA (unweighted, 4.0 scale)
UCLA acceptance Rate14% (down from 16.1% in fall 2017)

You can read more here about UCLA freshman admissions requirements, but If you’ve got your eye set on UCLA, read on and we’ll tell you exactly how to get into UCLA!

More About UCLA SAT Scores

First and foremost, UCLA does not require both the ACT and the SAT, but you can certainly take and submit scores for both. If you take the SAT, keep in mind that you’ll need to take the Essay section on it as well.
While there is no formal minimum SAT score to apply to UCLA (and no score that guarantees admissions, for that matter!), the average composite score on the SAT is a 1370 out of 1600.

If you’re wondering what scores put you above and below average, the percentiles shake out as follows for UCLA SAT scores:

  • The 25th percentile for the composite SAT score is 1250
  • The 75th percentile for the composite SAT score is 1500
  • So what does this actually mean? It means that a 1500 or higher puts you above the average of accepted applicants while a 1250 puts you below average. So the long and the short of it is: if you want a competitive edge, you want to get a 1500 or higher. You might want to check out this post on the perfect SAT score to increase your chances of getting a strong UCLA SAT score.

    Depending on your personal strengths and on the particular program you’re applying to, you may be interested in the score percentiles by testing section, which are as follows:

    SectionAverage 25th Percentile 75th Percentile
    Math690620770
    Reading343137
    Writing353237
    Composite 137012501500

    So again, if you want to have a good chance of getting into UCLA, keep your eye on the 75% percentile in all sections, especially those most related to the program you’re applying to. For example, if you’re applying as an English major, the higher your Reading and Writing scores, the better!

    Now here’s something super important to keep in mind about UCLA SAT scores: UCLA’s score policy is “all scores,” meaning that each time you take the SAT, your scores are sent to UCLA.

    Does it mean that you shouldn’t take the SAT more than once? The short answer is no, because UCLA’s current policy is that while they can view all scores, they will only take the highest overall scores from an individual sitting into consideration, not an average of all test scores.

    That said, it can reflect poorly if you’ve taken the test too many times, so we recommend a taking the SAT a maximum of six times, which reflects the desire to do well and the ability to do so in a relatively low amount of attempts.

    More About UCLA ACT Scores

    Again, UCLA does not require both the ACT and the SAT, but you’re obviously more than welcome to take and submit both UCLA ACT scores and UCLA SAT scores. If you take the ACT, you are required to complete the Writing section on it as well.

    The perk to submitting ACT scores to UCLA is that only your highest scores will be submitted, so you can take the ACT as many times as necessary to get highly competitive scores.

    The average composite ACT score of admitted students has historically been 28-33, but as of Fall 2017, UCLA reported in their freshman admissions profile that the average composite score was 30-34 and the average English and Language Arts section score was 28-32.

    In terms of coming in above and below average on the ACT, the percentiles are as follows for UCLA ACT scores:

  • The 25th percentile for the composite ACT score is 25
  • The 75t percentile for the composite ACT score is 33
  • So again, what this means for you is that if you score below a 25, your application is likely to be overlooked. On the other hand, if you score a 33 or higher composite ACT score you have a much greater chance of being considered. (Our post on the perfect ACT score can also help you on the path to a competitive UCLA ACT score).

    UCLA Acceptance Rate

    UCLA’s acceptance rate for the fall of 2018 was a record low of 14%, down from 16.1% the previous year; and according to UCLA News, freshman applications for fall of 2018 are record-breaking, coming in at 113,000 prospective Bruins! Interestingly, there was a huge surge this year of applicants from California, jumping 12.5% from last year.

    Historically speaking, UCLA admits about 1 in 6 freshman applicants, but the trajectory of UCLA admissions is greater selectivity, meaning it’s increasingly hard to get into UCLA. While there are certainly schools that are more challenging to get into, UCLA is still considered one of the most selective schools in the country.

    UCLA GPA Average

    You’ll have to have very high grades, reflected by a high GPA, if you want to attend UCLA. Historically, the average GPA of students accepted to UCLA is 4.0 or higher (though it did dip just below 4.0 this year, as reflected in the quick stats provided above).

    What this means is that you’ll more than likely have to be a straight-A student to be considered for UCLA.

    There are a few different ways that high schools calculate GPA (on weighted or unweighted scales), and a B in an honors, AP, or IB class may be weighted the same as an A in a regular-level class.

    Likewise, earning As in honors, AP, or IB classes will help send your GPA over the 4.0 mark, and will make you a much more competitive candidate.

    UCLA Freshman Profile

    UCLA has a super helpful catalog of freshman profiles for every year from 1998 to 2017 and this freshman profile for 2017 (which reflects the most recent comprehensive data available) provides tons of helpful information including academic statistics for both domestic and international students.

    This UCLA undergraduate profile for 2015-2016 also provides a wealth of information about the geographic diversity, living situations, declared majors, and ethnicities of both freshman and transfer students.

    You can also consult this incredibly handy UCLA admissions summary tool which allows you to search and sort academic and demographic data for applicants and admits using various filters and criteria.

    The good news is that UCLA’s incoming classes have become increasingly diverse over the years and that the university has a strong initiative to admit more students from formerly underrepresented demographics.

    According to Youlonda Copeland-Morgan, UCLA’s vice provost for enrollment management, in an article published in UCLA University News, “We are also pleased that through our partnerships with high schools and community-based organizations, we have ensured that students from a wide variety of backgrounds can see themselves at our campus.”

    UCLA Other Admissions Requirements and Information

    Here are some great overviews of UCLA’s admissions requirements and the freshman admissions review process, as well as an awesome guide to applying to UCLA, complete with all high school course requirements, personal insight questions, and admissions tips.

    In terms of your formal UCLA application materials, you will need to provide the following:

    • A University of California online application
    • Test scores (ACT with Writing and/or SAT with Essay)
    • Self reported high school grades (transcripts are required upon acceptance)
    • Completed personal insight questions
    • Your social security number, annual income, citizenship status, and credit card information to pay the application fee

    Now beyond the basics above, UCLA will also take the following strongly into consideration when assessing you as a prospective student:

    • Your personal qualities, as reflected in your personal insight questions
    • The types of classes you’ve taken and their difficulty level
    • Your ability to contribute to “the intellectual and cultural vitality of the campus” (per the admissions requirements linked above); this is also reflected in your personal insight responses.
    • Any extracurricular activities that you participate in
    • Any other evidence of achievement including awards and honors
    • Any challenges, hardships, or unusual circumstances that you have faced and overcome
    • Any other “contextual factors that bear directly on the applicant’s achievement, including linguistic background, parental education level, and other indicators of support available in the home.”

    Transizion expert Ashley C. has some additional advice on how to emphasize your personal qualities and achievements in your UCLA application:

    how to get into ucla admissions ucla sat scores ucla act scores -magoosh

    “Like all UC schools (and many other universities), UCLA uses a holistic review. Every application is read at least twice, and no piece of information is considered more important than any other. However, UCLA does place an emphasis on the opportunities and challenges presented to you and how you have responded to them.

    What does this mean for you? A few things:

    • UCLA values leadership, initiative, and tenacity. If you’ve got a story about using determination and persistence to overcome the odds, share it!
    • If you do tell the admissions team a story about hardship or challenges, make sure the focus is on your response to the obstacle. How did you come up with a solution? What steps did you take? How did you grow from the experience? What lessons did you learn?
    • What if you can’t think of a challenge you’ve overcome? Consider the opportunities that you’ve encountered. How did you make the most of these opportunities? What did you learn? How have your opportunities influenced you? If your story has elements of leadership and initiative, even better!
    • UCLA evaluates your academic achievements in the context of your school community. If your school didn’t offer many AP courses, share this information on your application. Make sure you also share how you responded: Have you managed to extend your learning and challenge yourself outside of school?

    Before beginning your application to UCLA, brainstorm a list of opportunities and challenges you’ve experienced, and find a story worth sharing with the admissions team!”

    Please keep in mind that all of the above information pertains to applying to UCLA as an incoming freshman, from the United States. Here is some excellent information about transferring to UCLA and about applying to UCLA as an international student.

    UCLA FAQs

    You probably have tons of questions about each school you’re applying to, and UCLA has anticipated your needs with this straightforward FAQs from prospective freshman applicants page.

    They also have a nifty UCLA transfer applicant FAQs page for those of you considering making the move to UCLA from another community college or university.

    Here are some other common questions about how just how to get into UCLA:

    Does UCLA interview?

    Nope. There are no interviews required or offered at UCLA in any program. However, if you’re applying to programs in Dance, Ethnomusicology, Music, or Theater, you will need to audition.

    Does UCLA use the common app?

    While the common app has become, well, quite common, UCLA doesn’t use it. Plenty of other schools do use the common app, however, so here’s more information on acing the common app essay if you want it!

    Is UCLA need-blind?

    Yes, UCLA is need-blind, meaning that financial need is not taken into consideration during application review.

    Does UCLA offer financial aid?

    Indeed they do, in the form of grants and scholarships for both need and merit. Here is more information about UCLA financial aid, as well as am ultimate guide to completing your FAFSA application!

    How to Get Into UCLA

    Okay, so if you dream of studying on UCLA’s gorgeous campus and taking day trips to Venice Beach, how can you make this dream a reality?

    To become a highly competitive candidate:

  • Aim for a GPA of 4.0 or higher
  • Aim for a composite ACT score in the 30s
  • Score between 1370 and 1500 (and as close to 1500 as possible) on your SAT
  • Take and excel in complex and challenging courses (Honors, AP, IB, etc.)
  • Participate in extracurricular activities, particularly in leadership roles
  • Write strong and thoughtful responses to the personal insight questions
  • And because high test scores play a huge role in getting into UCLA, it’s important to start prepping for the ACT and SAT as early as possible. Check out this great free 1-week SAT free trial and free 1-week ACT free trial to get you started!

    Happy studying and best of luck!!!

    Improve your SAT or ACT score, guaranteed. Start your 1 Week Free Trial of Magoosh SAT Prep or your 1 Week Free Trial of Magoosh ACT Prep today!

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    About Nadyja Von Ebers

    Nadyja von Ebers holds an MA in English from DePaul University and has been an English instructor at the high school and college levels for the last eleven years. She has extensive experience teaching preparation for various AP exams as well as the ACT, SAT, and GED. Nadyja loves helping students reach their maximum potential and thrives in both literal and virtual classrooms. When she's not teaching, she enjoys reading and writing for pleasure and loves spending time in or near the ocean.


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