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%)1150-1420
UC Davis ACT Scores (middle 50%)25-31
UC Davis admissions rate39%
UC Davis GPA average (unweighted)4.00-4.26

Note that UC Davis is test-blind until at least fall 2024, like the rest of the UC system. In the meantime, the A-G requirements still stand.

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 1150-1420 range. In other words, 25% of admitted students score below 1150, while 25% score above 1420. Here’s a more specific breakdown by section.

Math 580-740
Evidence-Based Reading and Writing570-680

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 (160 points, as opposed to 110 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 750 and a perfect 800 on SAT math. (It also means that 25% scored below 620, 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 570 and 680. 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.

Start your sat prep today.

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 25 and 31. This isn’t a huge surprise, as this corresponds pretty closely to the UC Davis SAT score range (although the ACT score range hits slightly lower percentiles than the SAT score range does). 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 28 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, 26+ 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.

Start your act prep today.

UC Davis Acceptance Rate

UC Davis acceptance rate is 39%. 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 4.00 and 4.26. It’s important to note that this is a weighted GPA average.

What does that mean? Simply put, unweighted GPA 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.

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. 32% of students are Asian/Pacific Islander; 23% are white/Caucasian; 23% are Hispanic/Latinx/Chicanx; 17% are international; 4% are African American; and 0.5% are Native American or Alaskan Native.


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, 3,458 students accepted their places on the wait list—and of those, 1,953 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!

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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  • Rachel Kapelke-Dale

    Rachel is a Magoosh Content Creator. 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. As a test-prep instructor for more than five years in there different countries, 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 novel, THE BALLERINAS, is forthcoming in December 2021 from St. Martin's Press, while her memoir, GRADUATES IN WONDERLAND, co-written with Jessica Pan, was published in 2014 by Penguin Random House. 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. Join her on Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook!

By the way, Magoosh can help you study for both the SAT and ACT exams. Click here to learn more!

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

  1. Sean Sedlak July 9, 2020 at 3:21 pm #

    I just saw this box and wanted to say thank you for how informative and helpful this website was. Thank you sincerely, bye!

    • Magoosh Test Prep Expert
      Magoosh Test Prep Expert July 24, 2020 at 10:58 am #

      You’re welcome, Sean! Glad you found it helpful!

Magoosh blog comment policy: To create the best experience for our readers, we will only approve comments that are relevant to the article, general enough to be helpful to other students, concise, and well-written! 😄 Due to the high volume of comments across all of our blogs, we cannot promise that all comments will receive responses from our instructors.

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