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Rachel Kapelke-Dale

How to Get into UC Riverside: Admission Requirements, GPA, and More

UC Riverside students common building

Thinking about attending the University of California-Riverside? If you’re looking for a strong public university with a Scottish flavor (all residence halls are named after locations in Scotland, and the school’s team is the Highlanders), it may be the right place for you! If you’re feeling like breaking out your best brogue, read on for a closer look at how to get into UC Riverside: everything from UCR admissions to their SAT and ACT scores policy!


 

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Quick UCR Admissions Statistics

First things first! If you’re wondering how to get into UC Riverside, here is the admissions data you’ll need!
 

UC Riverside Admissions Rate56.3%
UC Riverside SAT scores (middle 50%)1130-1400
UC Riverside ACT scores (middle 50%)21-29
UC Riverside GPA (middle 50%)3.69-4.11

 
Of course, that isn’t the whole picture. For example, average SAT and average ACT scores will be a lot less useful in coming years than your average GPA! Read on to find out why and for more about UCR admissions.
 
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The UC System and Test-Blind Admissions in 2021

Before we dive into UC Riverside test scores, an important note: UC admissions has announced that, beginning with students applying for fall 2021 admission, they will not take SAT or ACT scores into consideration.

This is different from a test-optional policy. With a test-optional policy, you choose whether or not the school will consider your scores. With a test-blind policy, the schools won’t consider them, even if you do send them. However, this is only (definitely) true for the fall 2021 entering class!

This may not be true for future applicants, depending on pending litigation. Legally, a judge has decided that the test-optional policy the UC system had decided to implement first was unfair to applicants with disabilities during the COVID-19 pandemic. This has only been decided with a preliminary injunction, though. This could be overturned later. If the UC system’s lawyers win their case, the schools will become test-optional instead of test-blind for applicants for fall 2022 forward. Watch this space for more news!
 
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More About UC Riverside SAT Scores

Before we dive into UC Riverside SAT scores, a quick reminder: like we said in the last section, UC Riverside admissions has announced that, for students applying for fall 2021 admission, they will not take SAT or ACT scores into consideration.

However, this may change in the future! If you’ve already taken the test and are wondering if your scores are up to scratch, or if you’re considering applying to UCR in a few years and want to make sure you have all of your bases covered, it can be useful to look at records of UC Riverside SAT and ACT scores.

If you’re wondering how these scores came into play historically, though— as you might expect, UCR students tend to receive fairly high scores. This table shows the 25th percentile-75th percentile in each section for the admitted class of 2019.
 

UC Riverside SAT Scores, Composite (middle 50%)1130-1400
UC Riverside SAT Scores, Evidence-Based Reading and Writing (middle 50%)560-670
UC Riverside SAT Scores, Math (middle 50%)570-730

 
The composite score of 1130-1400 is useful to consider, even if you’re applying for admission for fall of 2021. Why? For one, it gives you some measure of where UC Riverside students are academically. These scores place the middle 50% of admitted students between the 64th and 94th percentile of all SAT takers.
 
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More About UC Riverside ACT Scores

Again, just a reminder that UC Riverside will not take ACT scores into consideration starting with students applying for the class of fall 2021. There are no ACT requirements whatsoever.

If you’re trying to figure out your chances of admission, the average ACT score won’t help you. However, there are still reasons to keep this information in mind! Here’s a brief snapshot of the most recent data available for UC Riverside ACT scores:
 

UC Riverside ACT Scores, Composite (middle 50%)21-29
UC Riverside ACT Scores, English Language Arts (middle 50%)22-30

 
Does that mean you shouldn’t take the ACT or SAT if you’re applying to UC Riverside? No! This can be really helpful for getting scholarship money (though not the UC Regents and Chancellor’s scholarships, which are now also test-blind) and class placement. It just means that your high school GPA is more important than before.

Also, remember that even though UC Riverside may not be considering your test scores, this might not be true for other colleges you’re applying to.
 
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UC Riverside Acceptance Rate

UC Riverside’s admission rate was 56.3% in 2019. Out of 49,509 applicants, the school accepted 27,886.
 
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UC Riverside GPA Average

Admitted students to UCR had weighted GPAs of 3.69-4.11 (middle 50%). The fact that this is the middle 50% of GPAs is key, as it means that the upper 25% of students admitted had average GPAs above 4.00 on a weighted scale.

How do schools calculate GPAs? Use this process for an unweighted (out of 4.00) GPA:

  1. Look at your high school transcript.
  2. Give yourself points for each grade:
  3. Assign 4 points for each A.
  4. Assign 3 points for each B.
  5. Assign 2 points for each C.
  6. Assign 1 point for each D.
  7. Divide the total by the number of graded courses.

But it’s the weighted GPAs at UC Riverside that ranged from 3.69-4.11. This happens when schools give additional points for honors or AP courses by assigning 5 points for each A, 4 for each B, and so on.

As UC Riverside admissions moves away from using standardized test scores, grades will likely become even more important in the admissions process.
 
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UC Riverside Freshman Profile

UC Riverside has a diverse student body in a number of ways. First of all, ethnicity. By their own categorizations, undergraduate UCR students have the following ethnicities: 41.5% Hispanic or Latino; 33.8% Asian; 11.0% White; 5.6% two or more races; 3.4% International; 3.3% Black or African American; 1.1% unknown, less than 0.2% Native Hawaiian, Pacific Islander, Native American, or Alaskan.

54.6% of undergraduates at Riverside identify as female, while 45.4% identify as male.

90% of UC Riverside students come from California, while 3.4% come from abroad. The remaining 6.6% come from other states.
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Other UCR Admissions Requirements and Information

To be considered for UC Riverside admission, you’ll need to meet the requirements for the UC system overall. One key requirement is the subject requirement (A-G). This means taking 15 year-long courses in high school, getting a minimum grade of a C. 11 must be completed before your final year.

You can also meet some of these UCR requirements through testing, by the way—so don’t write off those standardized exams just yet!

Important! The letter grade requirement for A-G courses completed in winter, spring, or summer 2020 is temporarily dropped. Pass/Credit grades meet the requirement, but will NOT be part of the GPA calculation (so GPA requirements for A-G classes still apply).

These subject requirements include:
A) History: 2 years, including specific requirements;
B) English: 4 years, including specific requirements;
C) Mathematics: 3 years, including specific requirements;
D) Science: 2 years, including specific requirements;
E) Language other than English: 2 years, including specific requirements;
F) Visual and performing arts: 1 year, including specific requirements;
G) College-preparatory elective: 1 year, including specific requirements.

In addition to taking these courses, there is also a UC Riverside GPA requirement: to be considered for admission, you need a 3.0 GPA in A-G courses taken in the 10th and 11th grade years if you are a California resident. Non-residents, you’ll need a 3.4 GPA in those subjects.
 
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UCR Admissions FAQs

Is it hard to get into UC Riverside?

UC Riverside has an overall undergraduate admissions rate of 56.3%, which the U.S. News and World Report classifies as “more selective.”

In terms of the larger UC system, however, Riverside is easier to get into than some of the other schools. It has a far higher acceptance rate than either UCLA or UC Berkeley, both of which accept fewer than 20% of applicants. Similarly, its acceptance rate is higher than that of UC Santa Barbara or UC Irvine, which each admit around 30% of applicants. It is slightly easier to get into than UC Santa Cruz, as well.

Does UC Riverside use the Common App?

Nope! None of the UC schools use the Common Application, actually. They use their very own University of California application, instead, as all the UC campuses do.

What do you need to get into UC Riverside?

You’ll need to tick a few boxes to get into UC Riverside! Here are the most important.

  1. Meet the UC system’s overall coursework (A-G) requirements, described above.
  2. Take the TOEFL (minimum 80) or IELTS (minimum 6.5) if you are from an international student from a non-native-English-speaking country.
  3. Complete the application. This involves answering 4 of the 8 “personal insight” (essay) questions UC Riverside asks.
  4. Unlike a lot of other college applications, UC Riverside doesn’t require letters of recommendation when you apply. They may ask for one or more recommendations later as part of a “supplemental review” process, but they aren’t a standard requirement.

Does UC Riverside offer financial aid?

Yes! 72% of UC Riverside students received need-based aid last year. First year students had an average need-based self-help aid award of 59%, while the average freshman received an additional $4,949 in merit scholarships or grants.
 
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A Final Word: How to Get Into UC Riverside

If UC Riverside is your dream school, what should you do to present the best application possible?

UC Riverside admissions officers review the following characteristics when going over your application.

  • Difficulty of courses taken in high school and grades received in those courses
  • Your personal qualities, such as leadership, motivation, and passion for helping the community
  • Your extracurricular activities
  • Performance in outside of school academic enrichment programs

With all of that said, though, UCR admissions does use a holistic review process: they look at how the aspects of your application combine to show off who you are, not just what your grades have to say about you.

If you’re a junior or senior, focus on what you can control now: your current grades and activities, and emphasizing your personal qualities and performance in various activities on your application. Successful applicants will show off who they are and why they’re a good fit for UC Riverside! Good luck!

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About Rachel Kapelke-Dale

Rachel is one of Magoosh’s Content Creators. She writes and updates content on our High School and GRE Blogs to ensure students are equipped with the best information during their test prep journey. Rachel has helped students around the world prepare for various standardized tests, including the SAT, ACT, TOEFL, GRE, and GMAT, and she is one of the authors of our Magoosh ACT Prep Book. Rachel has a Bachelor of Arts in Comparative Literature from Brown University, an MA in Cinematography from the Université de Paris VII, and a Ph.D. in Film Studies from University College London. For over a decade, Rachel has honed her craft as a fiction and memoir writer and public speaker. Her work has appeared in over a dozen online and print publications, including Vanity Fair Hollywood. When she isn't strategically stringing words together at Magoosh, you can find Rachel riding horses or with her nose in a book. LinkedIn


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