UC Berkeley: Acceptance Rate and Admissions Statistics

ThoughtCo / Marisa Benjamin

  • College Profiles
  • College Admissions Process
  • College Rankings
  • Choosing A College
  • Application Tips
  • Essay Samples & Tips
  • Testing Graphs
  • College Financial Aid
  • Advanced Placement
  • Homework Help
  • Private School
  • College Life
  • Graduate School
  • Business School
  • Distance Learning
  • Ph.D., English, University of Pennsylvania
  • M.A., English, University of Pennsylvania
  • B.S., Materials Science & Engineering and Literature, MIT

The University of California Berkeley is a large public university with an acceptance rate of 16.8%. This makes the school one of the most selective public institutions in the country. Considering applying to UC Berkley? Here are the admissions statistics you should know, including average SAT/ACT scores and GPAs of admitted students.

Why UC Berkeley?

  • Location: Berkeley, California
  • Campus Features: Berkeley's attractive 1,232-acre campus occupies enviable real estate in the San Francisco Bay area. Iconic Sather Tower dominates the skyline of the main campus, and other features include an ecological reserve and botanical garden.
  • Student/Faculty Ratio: 19:1
  • Athletics: The California Golden Bears compete in the NCAA Division I Pacific-12 Conference (Pac-12) .
  • Highlights: For its many strengths, Berkeley often ranks near the top of the nation's best public universities . It is also one of the nation's top engineering schools and top business schools .

Acceptance Rate

During the 2018-19 admissions cycle, UC Berkeley had an acceptance rate of 16.8%. This means that for every 100 students who applied, 16 students were accepted, making UC Berkley's admissions process highly competitive.

SAT Scores and Requirements

Beginning with the 2020-21 admissions cycle, all of the UC schools will offer test-optional admissions. Applicants may submit SAT or ACT scores, but they are not required. University of California will institute a test-blind policy for in-state applicants beginning with the 2022-23 admissions cycle. Out-of- state applicants will still have the option of submitting test scores during this period. During the 2018-19 admissions cycle, 81% of UC Berkeley's admitted students submitted SAT scores.

This admissions data tells us that most of UC Berkeley's admitted students fall within the  top 20% nationally  on the SAT. For the evidence-based reading and writing section, 50% of students admitted to Berkeley scored between 640 and 740, while 25% score below 640 and 25% scored above 740. On the math section, 50% of admitted students scored between 670 and 790, while 25% scored below 670 and 25% scored above 790. While SAT scores are no longer required, an SAT score of 1530 or higher is considered competitive for UC Berkeley.

Requirements

Beginning with the 2020-21 admissions cycle, all of the UC schools, including UC Berkeley, will no longer require SAT scores for admission. For applicants who submit scores, note that Berkeley does not consider the optional SAT essay section. UC Berkeley does not superscore SAT results; your highest combined score from a single test date will be considered. Subject tests are not required, but are recommended for students with an interest in chemistry and engineering majors.

ACT Scores and Requirements

Beginning with the 2020-21 admissions cycle, all of the UC schools will offer test-optional admissions. Applicants may submit SAT or ACT scores, but they are not required. University of California will institute a test-blind policy for in-state applicants beginning with the 2022-23 admissions cycle. Out-of- state applicants will still have the option of submitting test scores during this period. During the 2018-19 admissions cycle, 41% of Berkeley's admitted students submitted ACT scores.

This admissions data tells us that most of UC Berkeley's admitted students fall within the top 12% nationally on the ACT. The middle 50% of students admitted to UC Berkeley received a composite ACT score between 28 and 34, while 25% scored above 34 and 25% scored below 28.

Beginning with the 2020-21 admissions cycle, all of the UC schools, including UC Berkeley, will no longer require ACT scores for admission. For applicants who submit scores, note that UC Berkeley does not consider the optional ACT writing section. Berkeley does not superscore ACT results; your highest combined score from a single test administration will be considered.

In 2019, the middle 50% of UC Berkeley's incoming freshmen class had unweighted GPAs between 3.89 and 4.0. 25% had a GPA above 4.0, and 25% had a GPA below 3.89. These results suggest that most successful applicants to UC Berkeley have primarily A grades.

Self-Reported GPA/SAT/ACT Graph

The admissions data in the graph is self-reported by applicants to UC Berkeley. GPAs are unweighted. Find out how you compare to accepted students, see the real-time graph, and calculate your chances of getting in with a free Cappex account.

Admissions Chances

University of California, Berkeley, which accepts fewer than 20% of applicants, has a highly selective admissions process with above average grades and standardized test scores. However, Berkeley, like all of the University of California schools, has  holistic admissions  and is test-optional, so the admissions officers are evaluating students on more than numerical data. As part of the application, students are required to write four short  personal insight essays . Since UC Berkeley is a part of the  University of California system , students can easily apply to multiple schools in that system with one application. Students who show special talent or have a compelling story to tell will often get a close look even if their grades and test scores are a bit below the norm. Impressive  extracurricular activities  and  strong essays  are all important parts of a successful application to Berkeley.

Keep in mind that California residents who apply must have a GPA of 3.0 or better with no grade lower than a C in 15 college preparatory  "a-g" courses . For non-residents, your GPA must be 3.4 or better. Local students from participating high schools may also qualify if they are in the top 9% of their class.

Most important for admission to UC Berkeley is your academic performance, but Berkeley is looking at much more than your grades. The university wants to see grades that are trending upwards (or at least not downwards) as well as successful completion of challenging college preparatory classes such as AB, IB, and Honors. The university wants to admit students who show passion for learning and who have pushed themselves in high school.

The graph reveals that high scores and a high GPA are no guarantee of admission—some students with excellent scores do not get in. There is quite a bit of red (rejected students) hidden behind the blue and green (admitted students) in the top of the graph. When applying to Berkeley, you'll be safest if you consider it a reach school even if your grades and SAT/ACT scores are on target for admission. 

All admissions data has been sourced from the National Center for Education Statistics and UC Berkeley Undergraduate Admissions Office .

  • UC Davis: Acceptance Rate and Admissions Statistics
  • UC Merced: Acceptance Rate and Admissions Statistics
  • UC Irvine: Acceptance Rate and Admissions Statistics
  • UC Riverside: Acceptance Rate and Admissions Statistics
  • UC San Diego: Acceptance Rate and Admissions Statistics
  • UC Santa Cruz: Acceptance Rate and Admissions Statistics
  • UC Santa Barbara: Acceptance Rate and Admissions Statistics
  • UCLA: Acceptance Rate and Admissions Statistics
  • Seattle University: Acceptance Rate and Admissions Statistics
  • Suffolk University: Acceptance Rate and Admissions Statistics
  • Northern Illinois University: Acceptance Rate and Admissions Statistics
  • Oregon State University: Acceptance Rate and Admissions Statistics
  • University of Oregon: Acceptance Rate and Admissions Statistics
  • St. Olaf College: Acceptance Rate and Admissions Statistics
  • Haverford College: Acceptance Rate and Admissions Statistics
  • Scripps College: Acceptance Rate and Admissions Statistics

You are using an outdated browser. Please upgrade your browser or activate Google Chrome Frame to improve your experience.

PrepScholar SAT

UC Berkeley Requirements for Admission

Choose your test.

What are UC Berkeley's admission requirements? While there are a lot of pieces that go into a college application, you should focus on only a few critical things:

  • GPA requirements
  • Testing requirements, including SAT and ACT requirements
  • Application requirements

In this guide we'll cover what you need to get into UC Berkeley and build a strong application.

School location: Berkeley, CA

This school is also known as: University of California, Berkeley, Berkeley, UC Berkeley

Admissions Rate: 11.4%

If you want to get in, the first thing to look at is the acceptance rate. This tells you how competitive the school is and how serious their requirements are.

The acceptance rate at UC Berkeley is 11.4% . For every 100 applicants, only 11 are admitted.

image description

This means the school is extremely selective . Meeting their GPA requirements and SAT/ACT requirements is very important to getting past their first round of filters and proving your academic preparation. If you don't meet their expectations, your chance of getting in is nearly zero.

After crossing this hurdle, you'll need to impress UC Berkeley application readers through their other application requirements, including extracurriculars, essays, and letters of recommendation. We'll cover more below.

image description

We can help. PrepScholar Admissions is the world's best admissions consulting service. We combine world-class admissions counselors with our data-driven, proprietary admissions strategies . We've overseen thousands of students get into their top choice schools , from state colleges to the Ivy League.

We know what kinds of students colleges want to admit. We want to get you admitted to your dream schools.

Learn more about PrepScholar Admissions to maximize your chance of getting in.

Get Into Your Top Choice School

UC Berkeley GPA Requirements

Many schools specify a minimum GPA requirement, but this is often just the bare minimum to submit an application without immediately getting rejected.

The GPA requirement that really matters is the GPA you need for a real chance of getting in. For this, we look at the school's average GPA for its current students.

Average GPA: 3.9

The average GPA at UC Berkeley is 3.9 .

(Most schools use a weighted GPA out of 4.0, though some report an unweighted GPA.

With a GPA of 3.9, UC Berkeley requires you to be at the top of your class . You'll need nearly straight A's in all your classes to compete with other applicants. Furthermore, you should be taking hard classes - AP or IB courses - to show that college-level academics is a breeze.

If you're currently a junior or senior, your GPA is hard to change in time for college applications. If your GPA is at or below the school average of 3.9, you'll need a higher SAT or ACT score to compensate . This will help you compete effectively against other applicants who have higher GPAs than you.

SAT and ACT Requirements

Each school has different requirements for standardized testing. Only a few schools require the SAT or ACT, but many consider your scores if you choose to submit them.

UC Berkeley hasn't explicitly named a policy on SAT/ACT requirements, but because it's published average SAT or ACT scores (we'll cover this next), it's likely test flexible. Typically, these schools say, "if you feel your SAT or ACT score represents you well as a student, submit them. Otherwise, don't."

Despite this policy, the truth is that most students still take the SAT or ACT, and most applicants to UC Berkeley will submit their scores. If you don't submit scores, you'll have one fewer dimension to show that you're worthy of being admitted, compared to other students. We therefore recommend that you consider taking the SAT or ACT, and doing well.

UC Berkeley SAT Requirements

Many schools say they have no SAT score cutoff, but the truth is that there is a hidden SAT requirement. This is based on the school's average score.

Average SAT: 1415

The average SAT score composite at UC Berkeley is a 1415 on the 1600 SAT scale.

This score makes UC Berkeley Strongly Competitive for SAT test scores.

image description

UC Berkeley SAT Score Analysis (New 1600 SAT)

The 25th percentile SAT score is 1300, and the 75th percentile SAT score is 1530. In other words, a 1300 on the SAT places you below average, while a 1530 will move you up to above average .

Here's the breakdown of SAT scores by section:

SAT Score Choice Policy

The Score Choice policy at your school is an important part of your testing strategy.

UC Berkeley has the Score Choice policy of "All Scores."

This means that UC Berkeley requires you to send all SAT scores you've ever taken to their office.

This sounds daunting, but most schools don't actually consider all your scores equally. For example, if you scored an 1300 on one test and a 1500 on another, they won't actually average the two tests.

More commonly, the school will take your highest score on a single test date. Even better, some schools form a Superscore - that is, they take your highest section score across all your test dates and combine them.

Some students are still worried about submitting too many test scores. They're afraid that UC Berkeley will look down on too many attempts to raise your score. But how many is too many?

From our research and talking to admissions officers, we've learned that 4-6 tests is a safe number to submit . The college understands that you want to have the best chance of admission, and retaking the test is a good way to do this. Within a reasonable number of tests, they honestly don't care how many times you've taken it. They'll just focus on your score.

If you take it more than 6 times, colleges start wondering why you're not improving with each test. They'll question your study skills and ability to improve.

But below 6 tests, we strongly encourage retaking the test to maximize your chances. If your SAT score is currently below a 1530, we strongly recommend that you consider prepping for the SAT and retaking it . You don't have much to lose, and you can potentially raise your score and significantly boost your chances of getting in.

image description

Download our free guide on the top 5 strategies you must be using to improve your score. This guide was written by Harvard graduates and SAT perfect scorers. If you apply the strategies in this guide, you'll study smarter and make huge score improvements.

Get eBook: 5 Tips for 160+ Points

UC Berkeley ACT Requirements

Just like for the SAT, UC Berkeley likely doesn't have a hard ACT cutoff, but if you score too low, your application will get tossed in the trash.

Average ACT: 31

The average ACT score at UC Berkeley is 31. This score makes UC Berkeley Strongly Competitive for ACT scores.

The 25th percentile ACT score is 28, and the 75th percentile ACT score is 34.

Even though UC Berkeley likely says they have no minimum ACT requirement, if you apply with a 28 or below, you'll have a very hard time getting in, unless you have something else very impressive in your application. There are so many applicants scoring 31 and above that a 28 will look academically weak.

ACT Score Sending Policy

If you're taking the ACT as opposed to the SAT, you have a huge advantage in how you send scores, and this dramatically affects your testing strategy.

Here it is: when you send ACT scores to colleges, you have absolute control over which tests you send. You could take 10 tests, and only send your highest one. This is unlike the SAT, where many schools require you to send all your tests ever taken.

This means that you have more chances than you think to improve your ACT score. To try to aim for the school's ACT requirement of 34 and above, you should try to take the ACT as many times as you can. When you have the final score that you're happy with, you can then send only that score to all your schools.

ACT Superscore Policy

By and large, most colleges do not superscore the ACT. (Superscore means that the school takes your best section scores from all the test dates you submit, and then combines them into the best possible composite score). Thus, most schools will just take your highest ACT score from a single sitting.

We weren't able to find the school's exact ACT policy, which most likely means that it does not Superscore. Regardless, you can choose your single best ACT score to send in to UC Berkeley, so you should prep until you reach our recommended target ACT score of 34.

image description

Download our free guide on the top 5 strategies you must be using to improve your score. This guide was written by Harvard graduates and ACT perfect scorers. If you apply the strategies in this guide, you'll study smarter and make huge score improvements.

Free eBook: 5 Tips to 4+ Points on the ACT

SAT/ACT Writing Section Requirements

Currently, only the ACT has an optional essay section that all students can take. The SAT used to also have an optional Essay section, but since June 2021, this has been discontinued unless you are taking the test as part of school-day testing in a few states. Because of this, no school requires the SAT Essay or ACT Writing section, but some schools do recommend certain students submit their results if they have them.

UC Berkeley considers the SAT Essay/ACT Writing section optional and may not include it as part of their admissions consideration. You don't need to worry too much about Writing for this school, but other schools you're applying to may require it.

Final Admissions Verdict

Because this school is extremely selective, getting a high SAT/ACT score and GPA is vital to having a chance at getting in . If you don't pass their SAT/ACT and GPA requirements, they'll likely reject you without much consideration.

To have the best shot of getting in, you should aim for the 75th percentile, with a 1530 SAT or a 34 ACT . You should also have a 3.9 GPA or higher. If your GPA is lower than this, you need to compensate with a higher SAT/ACT score.

For a school as selective as UC Berkeley, you'll also need to impress them with the rest of your application. We'll cover those details next.

But if you apply with a score below a 1530 SAT or a 34 ACT, you unfortunately start out with the odds against you and have a tiny chance of getting in. There are just too many students with high SAT/ACT scores and strong applications, and you need to compete against them.

Admissions Calculator

Here's our custom admissions calculator. Plug in your numbers to see what your chances of getting in are. Pick your test: SAT ACT

  • 80-100%: Safety school: Strong chance of getting in
  • 50-80%: More likely than not getting in
  • 20-50%: Lower but still good chance of getting in
  • 5-20%: Reach school: Unlikely to get in, but still have a shot
  • 0-5%: Hard reach school: Very difficult to get in

How would your chances improve with a better score?

Take your current SAT score and add 160 points (or take your ACT score and add 4 points) to the calculator above. See how much your chances improve?

At PrepScholar, we've created the leading online SAT/ACT prep program . We guarantee an improvement of 160 SAT points or 4 ACT points on your score, or your money back.

Here's a summary of why we're so much more effective than other prep programs:

  • PrepScholar customizes your prep to your strengths and weaknesses . You don't waste time working on areas you already know, so you get more results in less time.
  • We guide you through your program step-by-step so that you're never confused about what you should be studying. Focus all your time learning, not worrying about what to learn.
  • Our team is made of national SAT/ACT experts . PrepScholar's founders are Harvard graduates and SAT perfect scorers . You'll be studying using the strategies that actually worked for them.
  • We've gotten tremendous results with thousands of students across the country. Read about our score results and reviews from our happy customers .

There's a lot more to PrepScholar that makes it the best SAT/ACT prep program. Click to learn more about our program , or sign up for our 5-day free trial to check out PrepScholar for yourself:

SAT Free Signup

Application Requirements

Every school requires an application with the bare essentials - high school transcript and GPA, application form, and other core information. Many schools, as explained above, also require SAT and ACT scores, as well as letters of recommendation, application essays, and interviews. We'll cover the exact requirements of UC Berkeley here.

Application Requirements Overview

  • Common Application Not accepted
  • Electronic Application None
  • Essay or Personal Statement Required for all freshmen
  • Letters of Recommendation
  • Interview Not required
  • Application Fee $70
  • Fee Waiver Available? Available
  • Other Notes

Testing Requirements

  • SAT or ACT Not used if submitted
  • SAT Essay or ACT Writing Optional
  • SAT Subject Tests Optional
  • Scores Due in Office None

Coursework Requirements

  • Subject Required Years
  • Foreign Language 2
  • Social Studies
  • Electives 1

Deadlines and Early Admissions

  • Offered? Deadline Notification
  • Yes November 30 March 31

Admissions Office Information

  • Address: 110 Berkeley, CA 94720
  • Phone: (510) 642-6000 x6000
  • Fax: (510) 642-7333

Our Expert's Notes

We did more detailed research into this school's admissions process and found the following information:

You will submit a University of California application, which opens in August but can only be submitted during the month of November. The application consists of the online form, including your personal statement, and sending your ACT/SAT scores. Berkeley (and the other UC schools) have an interesting poilcy about letters of recommendation, transcripts and portfolios:

"As part of the UC application process, UC Berkeley and other UC campuses do not ask applicants for transcripts, portfolios, letters of recommendation, or other supporting documents. Applicants are expected to self-report their grades from their own transcripts, honestly and accurately. If a student is admitted and enrolled, the official transcripts are checked against what the student reported in the application. Any discrepancies can result in cancellation of enrollment.

When it comes to other supporting materials - such as art portfolios, letters of recommendations, resumes, etc. - UC Berkeley does not consider these during the application review. We expect the reported grades, test scores, extracurricular activities, personal statements, and additional comments to give us the full picture of a student's experience and aspirations. This is why it is so important to answer each section of the application thoughtfully and thoroughly.

Sometimes, during the application reading process, we do select a very small number of applicants to answer supplemental questionnaires. These questionnaires are designed to add clarity to information or answer questions that may arise during our application reading. Being selected - or not selected - for these questionnaires does not reflect a student's admissions status. The questionnaires are optional, but they do allow for Letters of Recommendation to be sent on the student's behalf. This is the only time we ask for Letters of Recommendation. Applicants are not able to request to be sent a questionnaire."

Other Schools For You

If you're interested in UC Berkeley, you'll probably be interested in these schools as well. We've divided them into 3 categories depending on how hard they are to get into, relative to UC Berkeley.

image description

Reach Schools: Harder to Get Into

These schools are have higher average SAT scores than UC Berkeley. If you improve your SAT score, you'll be competitive for these schools.

image description

Same Level: Equally Hard to Get Into

If you're competitive for UC Berkeley, these schools will offer you a similar chance of admission.

image description

Safety Schools: Easier to Get Into

If you're currently competitive for UC Berkeley, you should have no problem getting into these schools. If UC Berkeley is currently out of your reach, you might already be competitive for these schools.

Data on this page is sourced from Peterson's Databases © 2023 (Peterson's LLC. All rights reserved.) as well as additional publicly available sources.

If You Liked Our Advice...

Our experts have written hundreds of useful articles on improving your SAT score and getting into college. You'll definitely find something useful here.

Subscribe to our newsletter to get FREE strategies and guides sent to your email. Learn how to ace the SAT with exclusive tips and insights that we share with our private newsletter subscribers.

You should definitely follow us on social media . You'll get updates on our latest articles right on your feed. Follow us on all of our social networks:

The Magoosh logo is the word Magoosh spelled with each letter o replaced with a check mark in a circle.

How to Get into UC Berkeley: Admission Requirements, SAT and ACT Scores, GPA and More

a uc berkeley building with a tower shrouded by trees - image by Magoosh

So you want to go to Berkeley—go you! Come join us in the beautiful Bay Area. Ranked #2 among U.S. public universities by U.S. News & World Report , Berkeley (also affectionately known as “Cal”) features an idyllic campus, world-class professors, and a famously activist student body. The opportunities are endless—if you’re ready to explore them, read on for a closer look at how to get into UC Berkeley: everything from UC Berkeley admissions to UC Berkeley SAT scores and UC Berkeley ACT scores!

Table of Contents

Quick uc berkeley admissions statistics, more about uc berkeley sat scores, more about uc berkeley act scores, uc berkeley acceptance rate, uc berkeley gpa average, uc berkeley freshman profile, other berkeley admissions requirements and information, berkeley admissions faqs, a final word: how to get into berkeley.

Let’s start out with the basics. Wondering how to get into UC Berkeley? Here are the facts you’ll need!  

  Of course, that isn’t the whole picture. Read on for more about UC Berkeley admissions.

back to top

If you have awesome SAT or ACT scores, that’s great—they can definitely still help you with things like course placement and even scholarships (though not the UC Regents and Chancellor’s scholarships , also now test-blind). However, they will not be an admissions factor in 2020 .

If you’re wondering how these scores came into play historically, though— as you might expect, Berkeley students tend to receive fairly high scores. This table shows the 25th-75th percentiles in each section for the admitted class of 2020.  

Again, just a reminder that UC Berkeley will not take ACT scores into consideration starting with students applying for the class of fall 2021 . 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 Berkeley ACT scores:  

UC Berkeley’s acceptance rate shows that it truly deserves the “most selective” label that U.S. News & World Report has given it. For freshman admission in 2020, the school received 88,066 applications and accepted 15,461 students, yielding an overall admissions rate of 17.6%.

Admitted students to UC Berkeley had unweighted GPAs of 3.86-4.00 (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 perfect 4.00s.

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

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

Weighted GPAs at UC Berkeley ranged from 4.27-4.62. This happens when schools weight honors or AP courses by assigning 5 points for each A, 4 for each B, and so on.

Although data from the 2020 admissions cycle is just beginning to come in, the school has already provided some key statistics about their latest group of incoming freshmen. 76.5% of admitted students attended public schools. 5.25% come from rural areas, while 26.6% are in the first generation in their family to attend college.

The 2019-2020 admitted class provides even more info about the kinds of students that UC Berkeley admits. In short? They come from all over and have all different kinds of backgrounds. Undergraduates came from 52 U.S. states and territories, as well as 74 countries. Combined, admitted students spoke 20+ languages!

Age isn’t a barrier to admission at Berkeley, either. The oldest undergraduate admitted was 28; the youngest was 15.

The 2019-2020 freshman also included 200+ more underrepresented minority students (Native Americans, African Americans, and Chicanx/Latinx) than the previous year, for a total of 2,934 students.

To be considered for UC Berkeley 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 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 during the 2020 winter, spring or summer terms has been 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.

Is it harder to get into UCLA or Berkeley?

The short answer is UCLA—but the longer answer is that it will be easier for some students to get into UCLA and some to get into Berkeley.

Recent admissions data shows that UCLA is slightly more competitive, with a 14% acceptance rate in 2019-2020 (last year’s admission rate was 16.8% for Berkeley). This is a very small difference, though!

Meanwhile, UCLA had average SAT scores of 1365, while Berkeley’s ranged slightly higher, 1330-1530 (implying an average SAT score of 1430). Similarly, UCLA’s average composite ACT score was 29, while this is the bottom of the 50% range for Berkeley. UCLA’s average weighted GPA was 4.31, while this is at the lower end of Berkeley’s middle 50% range of 4.27-4.62.

What does this tell us? UCLA lets in a smaller percentage of its applicants, but Berkeley’s have higher stats. In other words, the UC Berkeley applications pool is likely more competitive.

Because of this, it’s not really “easier” or “harder” to get into one school over the other. Instead, focus on boosting your GPA as high as possible, showing off your extracurriculars, and writing stellar essays that explain why each school is right for you!

Does UC Berkeley 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. This is true of all of the UCs, such as UC Riverside and UC Santa Cruz .

Does UC Berkeley offer financial aid?

Yes, it does— and it tends to be pretty generous. Entering freshmen receive an average of $23,767 in aid.

There are two different kinds of financial aid : need-based and merit-based. Need-based aid includes scholarships, federal loans and work-study programs. Last year, 41% of Berkeley students received some kind of need-based financial aid overall.

Merit-based aid is based on academic achievements, athletics, or other accomplishments. Average Berkeley freshmen received almost $8,000 in merit-based aid.

Does UC Berkeley require the SAT Subject Tests?

According to the University of California system website, the answer is “it’s recommended.” Don’t be fooled though. ‘Recommended,’ in this case, would be like your doctor telling you that, “I recommend that you get that mole removed as soon as possible.” They aren’t required, but most competitive students are going to submit them.

I really hate to make light of a difficult (and immensely frustrating) situation, but consider a few facts. In the fall of 2015, 78,918 students applied to UC Berkeley. The average unweighted GPA of accepted students was 3.91. To say the least, it’s a tall order for anyone to receive the ‘fat envelope’ from UC Berkeley.

Because of the deluge of applicants, SAT Subject Tests play an important role in college admissions. For example, if your application is going up against a near-identical student, it may all come down to how you performed on your Subject Tests. Though you’ll never know either way if Subject Test scores tipped the balance, they are a powerful tool in the ultra-competitive world of college admissions.

Okay, which SAT Subjects Tests should I take?

Again, let’s go back to the source: the official UC website. In short, if you want to apply to either the College of Chemistry and/or the College of Engineering, they ‘recommend’ Math Level 2 and a science test that matches your intended major.

Yet if you’re not a future engineer or scientist, you have more options. For what it’s worth, here’s my advice on which three SAT Subject Tests to take:

  • English Literature
  • Mathematics Level 1 or 2 (2 is preferable as long as you can get a higher score here than on 1)
  • Your Choice (consider one that is related to the major you want to pursue, but most importantly one you can get a high score on)

If Berkeley’s your dream school, you’re in good company! So how do you get the edge in applying?

UC Berkeley 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, Cal 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. Show off who you are and why you’re a good fit for Berkeley! Good luck!

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 !

View all posts

More from Magoosh

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

Leave a Reply Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

University of California Counselors

Freshman requirements

UC's minimum admission requirements are comprised of a subject and a GPA requirement, and they represent the minimum academic standards students must attain to be considered for admission as a freshman.

Applicants should be reminded that admission to the University of California is competitive, and most applicants present more than the minimum requirements when applying for admission.

Please be aware that only the math and language other than English requirements may be met with coursework completed in 7th and/or 8th grade. All other subject requirements must be completed during 9th-12th grade.

Subject requirement

Freshman applicants are required to complete a minimum of 15 yearlong A-G courses with a letter grade of C or better in grades 9-12. Seven of these courses must be taken in the last two years of high school. Students must complete:

Eleven A-G courses must be completed prior to the 12th grade/last year of high school/secondary school. No particular course pattern is required for this review.

A specific 11-course pattern is required for consideration in UC's Eligibility in the Local Context (ELC) program and must be completed prior to the beginning of 12th grade. Courses completed during summer after 11th grade will be considered. Although a minimum of 11 courses are required for admissions consideration, completion of at least the full 15 yearlong college-preparatory required courses will be expected of all students by the end of their senior year.

Learn more about UC's Subject Requirements

GPA requirement

In order to be considered for admission, applicants must have earned a minimum GPA of 3.0 (3.4 for nonresidents) in all A-G courses completed in grades 10 and 11, with no grade lower than a C. We award extra grade points for grades received in approved honors-level courses to a maximum of eight semesters, including no more than four semesters taken in the 10th grade.

Standardized tests (not required)

UC eliminated its standardized test requirement in 2020.

UC no longer considers SAT or ACT test scores when making admissions decisions or awarding scholarships. Test scores submitted as part of the application may be used as an alternate method of fulfilling minimum requirements for eligibility or for course placement after matriculation at UC.

Students who plan to use test scores to meet a minimum subject requirement or for course placement should take their tests no later than December of the senior year/last year prior to high school/secondary school graduation.

Students can self-report ACT and/or SAT scores in the admission application, but they must first submit the application without scores. Once the application has been submitted, the student can log back into the application to report ACT or SAT scores. If a student self-reports a test score, they should provide the official score report when they receive an offer of admission from UC.

International students

Applicants who have completed all of their secondary/high school education in a country where English is not the language of instruction must take the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL), the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) examination (academic modules), or the Duolingo English Test (DET). Review the English proficiency requirement for international students »

Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate, Advanced level and SAT Subject Tests

We recommend that students who complete Advanced Placement courses complete the related AP examination to demonstrate subject mastery. Similarly, International Baccalaureate scores and A level exam scores can be used to showcase academic mastery. In order to receive unit credit toward the baccalaureate degree, students must submit an official copy of their AP or IB scores or A level Statement of Results directly from the testing agency or exam board. This must be done in the summer prior to enrolling at a specific UC campus.

SAT Subject Tests were discontinued in 2021. Students who may have scores from before 2021 can submit them to meet subject requirements, but they must first submit the application without scores. Once the application has been submitted, the student can log back into the application to report SAT Subject Test scores. No UC campus or program requires SAT Subject Tests for admission selection.

High school proficiency exam

All students admitted as freshmen are required to earn a valid high school diploma or secondary school leaving certificate. If students do not have a high school diploma, we will accept the Certificate of Proficiency awarded by the State Board of Education upon successful completion of the California High School Proficiency Examination (CHSPE). We'll also accept proficiency examinations from other states, and the General Education Development (GED) Certificate, in place of a diploma. UC will not accept a GED from another country.

Students presenting a CHSPE or GED certificate must still meet UC's subject and GPA requirements.

PrepScholar

Choose Your Test

Sat / act prep online guides and tips, which colleges require the sat essay complete list.

SAT Logistics , SAT Essay

body_satkeyboard.png

Planning to take the SAT? Before you sign up, you need to decide whether you're going to take the test with or without the optional Essay . How should you pick? Well, some colleges require that you apply with the SAT with Essay; others don't care whether you submit an SAT score with or without the Essay.

In this article, I'll provide you with a complete list of colleges that require or recommend taking the SAT with the Essay .

UPDATE: SAT Essay No Longer Offered

In January 2021, the College Board announced that after June 2021, it would no longer offer the Essay portion of the SAT (except at schools who opt in during School Day Testing). It is now no longer possible to take the SAT Essay, unless your school is one of the small number who choose to offer it during SAT School Day Testing.

While most colleges had already made SAT Essay scores optional, this move by the College Board means no colleges now require the SAT Essay. It will also likely lead to additional college application changes such not looking at essay scores at all for the SAT or ACT, as well as potentially requiring additional writing samples for placement.

What does the end of the SAT Essay mean for your college applications? Check out our article on the College Board's SAT Essay decision for everything you need to know.

What Is the Optional SAT Essay?

The redesigned SAT debuted in March 2016 with a now-optional Essay section. For the Essay, you have 50 minutes to read a passage (similar to those you see on the Reading section ) and write an essay dissecting how the author made the argument . Did the author use evidence to support the main claim? Appeals to emotion? Specific word choice?

If you take the SAT without Essay, the test length is three hours . However, if you take the SAT with Essay, the optional Essay adds 50 minutes . It also costs more to take the SAT with Essay : $64.50 vs $49.50 without the Essay.

Don't automatically assume you must take the Essay. Whether it's important for you depends on which schools (and scholarships) you're applying to and what the rest of your application looks like. I'll go into more depth later about how to decide which version of the SAT to take.

body_collegebuilding.jpg

List of Schools That Require the SAT With Essay

Below, I've compiled a list of colleges that require or recommend taking the SAT with Essay. All data comes from the College Board and some individual schools we consulted separately.

Note: This list is subject to change, so make sure to double-check with each school you're applying to.

Surprisingly (and in contrast to how it's been in the past), top schools mostly do not require the SAT essay . Currently, no Ivy League School requires students to take the SAT with Essay; the same is true for Stanford, Caltech, Duke, Georgetown, Johns Hopkins, MIT, Northwestern, NYU, and UChicago. Many of these schools no longer even recommend students to take the SAT with Essay, which is a huge turnaround from just a couple of years ago.

Similarly, most liberal arts colleges do not require or recommend the SAT with Essay ; however, there are some exceptions, such as Soka University, which does require it.

In general, most state schools also do not require the SAT with Essay, though there's still a significant portion that do. There tends to be some weird variance even within states. For example, all University of California schools require the SAT with Essay, but most of the California State University schools do not.

Regardless of the types of schools you're applying to, don't assume that they all ask for the SAT with Essay . Check with every school to make sure you understand their testing requirements.

body_essaywriting.jpg

How to Decide Whether to Take the SAT Essay: 4 Questions

When making your decision about whether to take the SAT with Essay or the SAT without Essay, you'll need to consider the following four questions.

#1: Do Any Schools I Want to Apply to Require the SAT Essay?

If you're applying to any school that requires the Essay, then you must take the SAT with Essay . If you take the SAT without Essay, your application will be incomplete and you won't get admitted. By contrast, if you apply to any schools that don't require the SAT Essay, you can still take the SAT with Essay since these schools will accept both types of SAT scores (with or without Essay).

To reiterate, colleges that require the SAT Essay won't consider your score if you took the SAT without the Essay . The last thing you want to do is take the SAT without the Essay and get a good score—but then find out that one of your target schools requires you to take the SAT with Essay.

Remember that some colleges change their application policies from year to year, so make sure to double-check the testing policies of the schools you're applying to .

#2: Do Any Schools I Want to Apply to Recommend the SAT Essay?

If you're not applying to any schools that require the SAT Essay section but are applying to some that recommend it, then I'd still suggest taking it . This gives you another dimension schools can use to evaluate your application; however, there are some cases in which you shouldn't take the SAT with Essay.

If, for some reason, you do not qualify for SAT fee waivers and paying the extra cost to take the SAT with Essay would be a financial burden to you , then please don't feel as if you have to take it. In this case, it's fine to take the SAT without Essay instead.

In addition, if you really struggle to write essays under time constraints (due to anxiety), you might want to opt out of the Essay . That said, I only recommend this for students who normally have strong English and writing skills but struggle to write coherent essays when there's the added pressure of a time constraint.

For example, do you get As on essays you can work on at home but Cs on in-class essays because you get easily nervous? If that's the case, taking the SAT with Essay might not be a good idea.

#3: Am I Applying to Any Scholarships That Require an SAT With Essay Score?

Many scholarships (such as National Merit ) require you to submit SAT scores , and some specifically want SAT with Essay scores.

Therefore, be sure to check the requirements of each scholarship you're planning on applying for . While scholarships that don't require or recommend the SAT Essay should still accept your SAT with Essay score, scholarships that require the Essay section will not consider your SAT score if you took the no-essay version .

#4: Will the SAT Essay Enhance My Application in Other Ways?

Generally speaking, taking the SAT Essay if it's not required won't add a lot to your application. In truth, colleges that don't recommend or require the Essay really don't pay much attention to it.

Nevertheless, the Essay might be helpful for international students who want to prove they have strong English skills and who think they'll do especially well on it. If you fall into this category and feel confident you'll get a high score on it ( after doing practice essays , for example), definitely consider taking the SAT with Essay.

On the other hand, if you don't think you'll do well on the Essay, I recommend against taking it.

What's Next?

Need help preparing for the SAT? Read our ultimate study guide to get expert tips on prep and access to the best free online resources. If you're taking the test soon, learn how to cram for the SAT .

Want to learn more about the SAT Essay? Check out our step-by-step guide to writing a great essay .

Not sure where you want to go to college? Learn how to do college research right and figure out your SAT target score .

Ready to go beyond just reading about the SAT? Then you'll love the free five-day trial for our SAT Complete Prep program . Designed and written by PrepScholar SAT experts , our SAT program customizes to your skill level in over 40 subskills so that you can focus your studying on what will get you the biggest score gains.

Click on the button below to try it out!

Sign Up!

As an SAT/ACT tutor, Dora has guided many students to test prep success. She loves watching students succeed and is committed to helping you get there. Dora received a full-tuition merit based scholarship to University of Southern California. She graduated magna cum laude and scored in the 99th percentile on the ACT. She is also passionate about acting, writing, and photography.

Student and Parent Forum

Our new student and parent forum, at ExpertHub.PrepScholar.com , allow you to interact with your peers and the PrepScholar staff. See how other students and parents are navigating high school, college, and the college admissions process. Ask questions; get answers.

Join the Conversation

Ask a Question Below

Have any questions about this article or other topics? Ask below and we'll reply!

Improve With Our Famous Guides

  • For All Students

The 5 Strategies You Must Be Using to Improve 160+ SAT Points

How to Get a Perfect 1600, by a Perfect Scorer

Series: How to Get 800 on Each SAT Section:

Score 800 on SAT Math

Score 800 on SAT Reading

Score 800 on SAT Writing

Series: How to Get to 600 on Each SAT Section:

Score 600 on SAT Math

Score 600 on SAT Reading

Score 600 on SAT Writing

Free Complete Official SAT Practice Tests

What SAT Target Score Should You Be Aiming For?

15 Strategies to Improve Your SAT Essay

The 5 Strategies You Must Be Using to Improve 4+ ACT Points

How to Get a Perfect 36 ACT, by a Perfect Scorer

Series: How to Get 36 on Each ACT Section:

36 on ACT English

36 on ACT Math

36 on ACT Reading

36 on ACT Science

Series: How to Get to 24 on Each ACT Section:

24 on ACT English

24 on ACT Math

24 on ACT Reading

24 on ACT Science

What ACT target score should you be aiming for?

ACT Vocabulary You Must Know

ACT Writing: 15 Tips to Raise Your Essay Score

How to Get Into Harvard and the Ivy League

How to Get a Perfect 4.0 GPA

How to Write an Amazing College Essay

What Exactly Are Colleges Looking For?

Is the ACT easier than the SAT? A Comprehensive Guide

Should you retake your SAT or ACT?

When should you take the SAT or ACT?

Stay Informed

does uc berkeley require sat essay 2020

Get the latest articles and test prep tips!

Looking for Graduate School Test Prep?

Check out our top-rated graduate blogs here:

GRE Online Prep Blog

GMAT Online Prep Blog

TOEFL Online Prep Blog

Holly R. "I am absolutely overjoyed and cannot thank you enough for helping me!”

The University of California Versus the SAT: A Brief History and Contemporary Critique, by John Aubrey Douglass, CSHE 8.20 (June 2020)

On May 21, 2020, the University of California (UC) Board of Regents unanimously approved the suspension of the standardized test requirement (ACT/SAT) for all California freshman applicants until fall 2024. UC plans to create a new test that better aligns with the content the University expects students to have mastered for college readiness. However, if a new test does not meet specified criteria in time for fall 2025 admission, UC will eliminate the standardized testing requirement for California students. The Board’s decision is the seeming culmination of a 19 year debate over the role of standardized test scores at UC. Opponents of the widespread use of the SAT have long claimed that the SAT promotes needless socioeconomic stratification: The test favors students from upper income families and communities, in part because they can afford a growing range of expensive commercially available test preparation courses and counseling. The Regent’s 2020 decision echoes this view. Yet UC has an even longer history of concern with the standardized testing. In fact, and as discussed in this essay, UC was relatively slow in adopting the SAT as a requirement in admissions when compared to other selective universities, public or private. This provides the basis for a brief discussion of the current politics related to admissions at UC. Setting admission policy is not simply the result of rational policy solutions; they are, in some form, a reflection of the internal and external politics that shape the policy behaviors of a university – particularly at highly selective public institutions with greater levels of expected accountability and expectations than their private counterparts. Another axiom that is largely lost in the debates over the usage of test scores and a growing array of admissions requirements: selective public universities may attempt to create relatively transparent admissions criteria, but in the end much of the decision-making is arbitrary when choosing among a large pool of highly qualified candidates. I then offer a number of observations: First, that changes in admissions policies focused, to some extent, on equity and greater access to underrepresented groups means redistribution of what is essential a zero sum, access to a selective public university. Second, that the path to the Regent’s 2020 vote ignored the recommendations of UC’s Academic Senate, designated by the Regents to set admissions policies. The Senate, UC’s representative body of the faculty, recommended retaining the SAT and ACT in setting UC eligibility policies and for campus selection of students for admission. This raises internal questions of the purpose and future of shared governance.

PDF icon

  • ROPS 2020 topic page

Calculate for all schools

Your chance of acceptance, your chancing factors, extracurriculars, berkeley sat requirements in application process.

Hey all, just wondering if anyone has information on the SAT requirements for UC Berkeley. Do they have a minimum score needed for admission, or is the score just one part of the larger admissions process? Also, have the requirements changed due to test-optional policies? Thanks in advance.

UC Berkeley, like all other University of California schools, has adopted a test-blind policy, which means that they will not review SAT or ACT scores at all during the admission process. As a result, there are no SAT requirements for UC Berkeley's application process, and you don't need to worry about meeting a minimum score.

SAT scores were always just one part of the holistic admissions process, but now the emphasis has shifted towards factors like grades, course rigor, extracurricular activities, essays, and other elements of the application. Since SAT scores are no longer considered, it's crucial to demonstrate your academic potential and personal qualities through these other components.

In summary, you don't need to submit SAT scores or meet any minimum requirements when applying to UC Berkeley. Instead, focus on your grades, taking challenging courses, and showcasing your strengths through your extracurricular involvement and essays. If you're looking for guidance on how to demonstrate your strengths in these other areas, check out this blog post from CollegeVine, which breaks down how to tackle UC Berkeley's application essays: https://blog.collegevine.com/how-to-write-the-university-of-california-essays/.

Good luck with your application!

About CollegeVine’s Expert FAQ

CollegeVine’s Q&A seeks to offer informed perspectives on commonly asked admissions questions. Every answer is refined and validated by our team of admissions experts to ensure it resonates with trusted knowledge in the field.

University of California Board of Regents unanimously approved changes to standardized testing requirement for undergraduates

Nov. 24, 2020 update to May 21, 2020 release : Subsequent events have changed how the University of California will evaluate applications for Fall 2021 admissions. UC will not consider SAT or ACT test scores when making admissions decisions or awarding Regents and Chancellor’s scholarships. For students who choose to submit standardized test scores as part of their applications, the University may use them to determine eligibility for the California statewide admissions guarantee, as an alternative method of fulfilling minimum requirements for eligibility, or for course placement after they enroll.

The University of California Board of Regents today (May 21) unanimously approved the suspension of the standardized test requirement (ACT/SAT) for all California freshman applicants until fall 2024. The suspension will allow the University to create a new test that better aligns with the content the University expects students to have mastered for college readiness. However, if a new test does not meet specified criteria in time for fall 2025 admission, UC will eliminate the standardized testing requirement for California students.

“Today’s decision by the Board marks a significant change for the University’s undergraduate admissions,” said UC President Janet Napolitano. “We are removing the ACT/SAT requirement for California students and developing a new test that more closely aligns with what we expect incoming students to know to demonstrate their preparedness for UC.”

“I think this is an incredible step in the right direction toward aligning our admissions policy with the broad-based values of the University,” UC Board of Regents Chair John A. Pérez said before the vote. “I see our role as fiduciaries and stewards of the public good and this proposal before us is an incredible step in the right direction.”

The following outlines the Regents’ actions:

  • Test-optional for fall 2021 and fall 2022: Campuses will have the option to use ACT/SAT test scores in selection consideration if applicants choose to submit them, and will develop appropriate policies and procedures to implement the Board’s decision.
  • Test-blind for fall 2023 and fall 2024: Campuses will not consider test scores for California public and independent high school applicants in admissions selection, a practice known as “test-blind” admissions. Test scores could still be considered for other purposes such as course placement, certain scholarships and eligibility for the statewide admissions guarantee.
  • New standardized test: Starting in summer 2020 and ending by January 2021, UC will undertake a process to identify or create a new test that aligns with the content UC expects students to have mastered to demonstrate college readiness for California freshmen.
  • Elimination of the ACT/SAT test requirement: By 2025, any use of the ACT/SAT would be eliminated for California students and a new UC-endorsed test to measure UC-readiness would be required. However, if by 2025 the new test is either unfeasible or not ready, consideration of the ACT/SAT for freshman admissions would still be eliminated for California students.
  • Elimination of writing test: The University will eliminate altogether the SAT Essay/ACT Writing Test as a requirement for UC undergraduate admissions, and these scores will not be used at all effective for fall 2021 admissions.

Meanwhile, President Napolitano will ask the Academic Senate to work with University administration to determine the appropriate approach for out-of-state and international students beginning in 2025. While nonresident students are expected to complete comparable coursework, their high school courses are not pre-approved by UC in the same way as California high school courses. Assessing nonresident students without a standardized test presents challenges in terms of fairness and practicality. Several possible options for nonresidents that may be considered include extending the new content-based test required of California students to out-of-state applicants as well, or requiring scores from the ACT, SAT or other approved standardized test(s).

In March, UC temporarily suspended the current standardized test requirement for fall 2021 applicants to mitigate impacts of COVID-19 on students and schools, effectively making UC “test-optional” for that year. UC will now keep tests optional for an additional year through 2022. For 2023 and 2024, UC will be test-blind, which means students will still have the option of submitting a test score, but that score can only be considered for purposes such as course placement, certain scholarships and eligibility for the statewide admissions guarantee. 

The University’s response to the pandemic has provided an opportunity in the coming years for UC to pause and analyze additional, real-time data on the impacts of test-optional and test-blind admissions. The suspension allows UC to address concerns about equitable treatment for all students regardless of whether they submit a standardized test score. The Regents’ vote also acknowledges the likely ongoing impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on students, families and schools.

Today’s decision marks the culmination of a two-year, research-based effort by UC to evaluate the value and use of standardized tests in admissions. That process began in July 2018 when President Napolitano asked the Academic Senate to evaluate whether the University and its students are best served by current standardized testing practices. The Academic Senate convened the Standardized Testing Task Force (STTF) in January 2019 and their findings were finalized and presented to the president in April 2020.

The changes are aimed at making available a properly designed and administered test that adds value to the admissions decision process and improves educational quality and equity in California, even in these challenging times. During this period, UC will learn what it can about how its policies affect student achievement and access.

In the coming months, President Napolitano will request that the Academic Senate further review UC’s current admissions guarantees, including the statewide eligibility pathway and Eligibility in the Local Context (ELC), which offers an admissions guarantee to the top students in California high schools. Students meeting the statewide index or designated as ELC who are not admitted to any of the UC campuses to which they apply are offered a spot at another UC campus if space is available. The president will also ask the Academic Senate to conduct additional analysis and a review of factors relating to representation of California’s diverse high school student population, including A-G course access, student outreach, recruitment and support services.

See the timeline below for the future of standardized testing at UC:

Media Contacts

For media inquiries (reporters only), please email [email protected]

For Health-related media inquiries, please email [email protected]

UC makes landmark decision to drop ACT and SAT requirement for admission

  • Show more sharing options
  • Copy Link URL Copied!

In a decision that could reshape the nation’s college admissions process, University of California regents unanimously voted Thursday to suspend SAT and ACT testing requirements through 2024 and eliminate them for California students by 2025.

The action by the nation’s premier public university system could mark a turning point in the long-running debate over whether the standardized tests unfairly discriminate against disadvantaged students or provide a useful tool to evaluate college applicants.

Some hailed the vote as a bold and visionary move to expand access and equity. But others expressed concern that dumping the tests would lead to grade inflation, admission of less-prepared students and backlash over different entry standards for different classes.

“It’s an incredible step in the right direction,” said John A. Pérez, chair of the UC Board of Regents.

Lt. Gov. Eleni Kounalakis, an ex officio regent, called the vote “the beginning of the end” for the SAT. “We really are the first body to tackle this head-on and say enough is enough.”

After conflicting presentations by experts and lengthy debate, regents approved UC President Janet Napolitano’s five-year plan to ease out the SAT and ACT tests and develop the university system’s own assessment.

FILE - In this Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2018 photo, Assemblyman Tony Thurmond, D-Richmond, a candidate for Superintendent of Public Instruction, appears at a candidates debate hosted by the Sacramento Press Club in Sacramento, Calif. Thurmond is running against Marshall Tuck, a former charter schools executive. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli, File)

Proposed budget cuts threaten safe opening of California schools, leaders say

coronavirus: Officials doubt schools can reopen safely if they must cut budgets

May 21, 2020

Under the plan, standardized test results will be optional on applications for the next two years and then eliminated for California students in Years 3 and 4. By fall 2025, the UC system is aiming to have its own assessment. If none is developed by then, the university will drop the SAT and ACT tests entirely for California students and evaluate them using high school grades and a dozen other factors in its comprehensive review system.

Applicants from other states and countries could continue to use those tests, or possibly a new UC assessment.

UC has already suspended the SAT and ACT testing requirement for fall 2021 due to test cancellations triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The debate featured divergent views among regents, researchers and campus officials. UC Berkeley Chancellor Carol Christ and Youlonda Copeland-Morgan, UCLA vice provost for enrollment management, criticized the tests as barriers to less-advantaged students.

But UC Riverside Chancellor Kim A. Wilcox said his campus — the most diverse in the UC system after Merced — has prospered using the current admissions process, winning top rankings for helping low-income, first-generation and underrepresented students succeed.

Some regents suggested that the UC system make the tests optional for a few years then pause to study the effects on students rather than approve a five-year plan. Regent William Um called for a vote to immediately eliminate or keep the tests rather than “kick the can down the road.”

A view of the Palazzo and a CDC announcement on the Las Vegas Strip

World & Nation

CDC issues reopening guidelines for schools, transit and businesses after weeks of delay

The CDC laid out detailed guidelines for reopening schools, restaurants, transit systems and other businesses.

But Napolitano told regents that her plan would serve as a bridge to a new test or no test. “We need to move in a careful and studied way to a new future,” she said.

Though it is unclear whether other universities will follow UC’s action, the university’s size and status have long made it a central player in the standardized testing landscape. The 10-campus system is the largest single university source of customers for the College Board, which owns the test.

Four-fifths of freshman UC applicants — who numbered 172,000 last year — take the SAT. The six universities that receive the most applications in the nation are UC campuses in Los Angeles, San Diego, Irvine, Berkeley, Santa Barbara and Davis.

UC’s decision to require the SAT half a century ago catapulted the test to a place of national prominence, and its threat to drop it in the early 1990s prompted the College Board to revise the test.

Throughout the years, arguments over the value of the tests have intensified.

Critics say the SAT and ACT are heavily influenced by race, income and parental education levels; question the exams’ value in predicting college success; and express concern about inequitable access to test prep. Those concerns have prompted more than 1,000 colleges and universities to drop the testing requirement. A lawsuit against the UC system also calls for the requirement to be dropped.

FULLERTON-CA-APRIL 21, 2020: Cal State University Fullerton student Linh Trinh, 21, right, and her boyfriend Tan Nguyen, 21, walk around a deserted CSUF campus on Tuesday, April 21, 2020. The school is planning to begin Fall semester with online classes, one of the first universities in the nation to make that move as campuses throughout the country grapple with how long to stay closed to most students amid the coronavirus pandemic. (Christina House / Los Angeles Times)

CSU plans to cancel most in-person classes and go online this fall, chancellor says

CSU plans to cancel most in-person classes this fall and rely mainly on virtual instruction amid the coronavirus crisis, the chancellor announced Tuesday.

May 12, 2020

But the College Board and ACT strongly assert that their tests are not biased and that they reflect existing inequities in access to quality education. They also say that standardized tests offer a uniform and helpful yardstick for use, in tandem with grades, in assessing students in high schools across the country.

The College Board said that the UC action will compel many California students to take multiple tests to graduate from high school and apply to college —the future UC exam, the SAT and or the ACT, and the state’s K-12 assessment, known as Smarter Balanced. That will likely limit their options for college, the board said in a statement.

“Regardless of what happens with such policies, our mission remains the same: to give all students, and especially low-income and first generation students, opportunities to show their strength,” the testing nonprofit said. “We must also address the disparities in coursework and classrooms that the evidence shows most drive inequity in California.”

Marten Roorda, ACT chief executive, told regents in a letter this week that suspending the test requirement would exacerbate student anxieties, strain admissions offices and squeeze state and school budgets.

Several regents praised Napolitano for striking a compromise between the factions.

“She did an excellent job threading the needle,” said Vice Chair Cecilia Estolano, who called the SAT a “racist test.”

But some members of the powerful UC Academic Senate, which sets admission standards, said they were disheartened by what they saw as disregard of their research report on standardized testing, which Napolitano requested in 2018.

In what researchers called surprising findings, the Academic Senate’s review found that the SAT helps disadvantaged students gain entry to the selective UC system. That’s because the way UC uses standardized test scores substantially corrects for bias by weighting them less heavily than grades and considering them as only one of many factors in the review process. Campuses adjust for socioeconomic differences and admit disadvantaged students with lower test scores compared with more advantaged peers.

The task force recommended that the university system keep the SAT and ACT for now while researching alternatives, such as going test-optional or developing UC’s own assessment. That report was backed by the Senate assembly, made up of faculty leaders and campus representatives, on a 51-0 vote, with one abstention.

Other researchers, however, have criticized the task force’s findings as erroneous and ill-founded in rejecting proposals to replace the SAT and ACT with the K-12 assessment.

Eddie Comeaux, a UC Riverside professor who heads the Senate’s committee on admission standards and co-chaired the testing task force, said politics and public perceptions more than data appeared to drive the decision to a preordained conclusion.

But, he said, “The ship has sailed. Now UC needs to figure out how to advance equity without tests.”

Campus officials will be left with the task of figuring out how to apply the shifting admission requirements and evaluate tens of thousands of applicants without test scores.

Comeaux said those adjustments will be easier for six of nine undergraduate campuses that consider test scores as one of a dozen factors with no fixed weight assigned to any one of them. But it will take “heavy lifting,” he said, to make the transition at Santa Barbara, Riverside and Merced, which use fixed weights for test scores. All application readers will need training on how to avoid implicit bias against applicants who don’t submit scores, he added.

UC experts will launch a feasibility study this summer to identify a new test that assesses what the university expects students to master to demonstrate readiness for college.

More to Read

FILE - In this photo taken Jan. 17, 2016, a student looks at questions during a college test preparation class at Holton Arms School in Bethesda, Md. The SAT exam will move from paper and pencil to a digital format, administrators announced Tuesday, Jan. 25, 2022, saying the shift will boost its relevancy as more colleges make standardized tests optional for admission. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Letters to the Editor: If the inequitable SAT is back, bring test prep to all high schools

March 21, 2024

San Gabriel, CA, Wednesday, March 13, 2024 - San Gabriel High School teacher Leah Ruiz teaches a statistics lesson determining the likelihood men or women will be victims in horror movies. The University of California is weighing what kind of data science classes can count as math for admission, a controversial issues many STEM faculty who want rigorous standards against equity advocates who say alternative pathways to the algebra-calculus track such as data science will benefit more diverse students. (Robert Gauthier/Los Angeles Times)

UC stirs furious debate over what high school math skills are needed to succeed in college

March 19, 2024

Editorial: Why it’s smart for universities to bring back the SAT requirement

March 17, 2024

Start your day right

Sign up for Essential California for news, features and recommendations from the L.A. Times and beyond in your inbox six days a week.

You may occasionally receive promotional content from the Los Angeles Times.

does uc berkeley require sat essay 2020

Teresa Watanabe covers education for the Los Angeles Times. Since joining the Times in 1989, she has covered immigration, ethnic communities, religion, Pacific Rim business and served as Tokyo correspondent and bureau chief. She also covered Asia, national affairs and state government for the San Jose Mercury News and wrote editorials for the Los Angeles Herald Examiner. A Seattle native, she graduated from USC in journalism and in East Asian languages and culture.

More From the Los Angeles Times

Screenshot from video of the Poway Unified School District Special BOE Meeting - Report out of Closed Session - April 30, 2024.

Superintendent fired after allegedly investigating students for not applauding her daughter enough

May 4, 2024

LOS ANGELES, CA - MAY 02: The Gaza Solidarity Encampment was created on the campus of Cal State University Los Angeles. A student spokesperson (who did not want to give her name) said the group wants to end the attacks in Gaza; end the occupation of Palestine and called for the school to divest from military industrial companies like Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman and Boeing because they don't want their tuitions going to these companies. The encampment went up May 1 and the spokesperson said they will stay until their demands are met. (Myung J. Chun / Los Angeles Times)

Encampments spread across California universities. Are they living on borrowed time?

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - May 1: Pro-Palestinian protestors defend themselves against a pro-Israeli supporter at an encampment at UCLA early Wednesday morning. (Wally Skalij/Los Angeles Times)

UCLA’s top cop, accused of security lapse, faces calls to step aside. He defends his actions

Los Angeles, CA - May 02: Demonstrators occupy a Pro-Palestinian encampment at UCLA as authorities breach and break up the encampment on Thursday, May 2, 2024 in Los Angeles, CA. (Jason Armond / Los Angeles Times)

Police report no serious injuries. But scenes from inside UCLA camp, protesters tell a different story

May 3, 2024

COMMENTS

  1. First-Year Requirements

    Students who apply to Berkeley should meet the following minimum requirements: Meet the A-G subject course requirements. (Review the A-G Policy Resource Guide) Have a 3.0 GPA in A-G courses taken in the 10th and 11th grade years. (3.4 GPA for non-residents) *These minimum requirements follow the University of California (UC) minimum requirements.

  2. UC Berkeley: Acceptance Rate, SAT/ACT Scores, GPA

    Requirements . Beginning with the 2020-21 admissions cycle, all of the UC schools, including UC Berkeley, will no longer require SAT scores for admission. For applicants who submit scores, note that Berkeley does not consider the optional SAT essay section. UC Berkeley does not superscore SAT results; your highest combined score from a single ...

  3. How to Get In: UC Berkeley Admission Requirements

    UC Berkeley SAT Requirements. Many schools say they have no SAT score cutoff, but the truth is that there is a hidden SAT requirement. This is based on the school's average score. Average SAT: 1415. ... The SAT used to also have an optional Essay section, but since June 2021, this has been discontinued unless you are taking the test as part of ...

  4. Application FAQs

    From Nov. 30 - Dec. 31: Questions regarding the University of California application should be handled through: UC Application. In December, UC Berkeley will notify applicants, via email, that we've received your application. Here are the next steps you need to take: First-year applicant checklist. Transfer applicant checklist.

  5. PDF APPROVED Berkeley Division of the Academic Senate

    In 2020, UC Berkeley is experiencing significant changes in its admission process. In May, the UC Board of Regents unanimously approved suspending the standardized testing requirement (SAT/ACT) for all California freshman applicants. Under the Board of Regents decision, for Fall 2021, campuses have the option to use SAT/ACT test scores in ...

  6. Apply to Berkeley

    Apply to Berkeley by filling out the UC application. You can begin working on the application as early as August 1, and must submit the application October 1 - November 30. You can apply to as many UC campuses as you like with one application, and each campus will receive your application and official test scores.

  7. How to Get into UC Berkeley: Admission Requirements, SAT and ...

    More About UC Berkeley SAT Scores. If you have awesome SAT or ACT scores, that's great—they can definitely still help you with things like course placement and even scholarships (though not the UC Regents and Chancellor's scholarships, also now test-blind).However, they will not be an admissions factor in 2020.. If you're wondering how these scores came into play historically, though ...

  8. PDF UC Berkeley Guide To Admissions 2023

    Applicants must have a minimum 60 UC transferable semester units (90 UC transferable quarter units) by the end of the spring prior to fall matriculation. Applicants must also have a minimum GPA of 3.0 in all transferable college-level coursework for most majors. Some majors (e.g. engineering) require higher GPAs in major preparation coursework.

  9. SAT / ACT Prep Online Guides and Tips

    UC Berkeley is part of the UC system, which means Berkeley will be dropping the SAT/ACT as an admissions requirement, too. ... And finally, UC schools now no longer require SAT Essay and ACT Writing portions. These scores will not be used as a part of the admissions process in any way beginning in Fall 2020. So, even if you take the essay ...

  10. Freshman requirements

    UC eliminated its standardized test requirement in 2020. UC no longer considers SAT or ACT test scores when making admissions decisions or awarding scholarships. Test scores submitted as part of the application may be used as an alternate method of fulfilling minimum requirements for eligibility or for course placement after matriculation at UC.

  11. Which Colleges Require the SAT Essay? Complete List

    Surprisingly (and in contrast to how it's been in the past), top schools mostly do not require the SAT essay.Currently, no Ivy League School requires students to take the SAT with Essay; the same is true for Stanford, Caltech, Duke, Georgetown, Johns Hopkins, MIT, Northwestern, NYU, and UChicago. Many of these schools no longer even recommend students to take the SAT with Essay, which is a ...

  12. PDF Research & Occasional Paper Series: CSHE.8.2020 THE UNIVERSITY OF

    2001, UC President Richard Atkinson, a psychom etrician, asked why California's premier multi -campus research university should require the SAT for freshman admissions. The SAT dominates the market and its purveyor s, the Educational Testing Service (ETS)

  13. UC Berkeley SAT Requirements

    Hello! The University of California system, including UC Berkeley, has actually gone test-blind for admissions. This means that they will not be considering SAT or ACT scores at all in the admissions process, so there isn't a minimum score or range you should be aiming for. Instead, the university will evaluate applicants based on other factors, such as GPA, course rigor, extracurricular ...

  14. PDF APPROVED Berkeley Division of the Academic Senate AEPE

    In 2020, UC Berkeley again made significant changes in its admissions process after the UC Board of Regents unanimously approved suspending the standardized testing requirement (SAT/ACT) for all California freshman applicants. Beginning in the Fall 2021 admissions cycle, UC Berkeley discontinued the use of general SAT/ACT test scores in any ...

  15. The University of California Versus the SAT: A Brief History and

    The Regent's 2020 decision echoes this view. Yet UC has an even longer history of concern with the standardized testing. In fact, and as discussed in this essay, UC was relatively slow in adopting the SAT as a requirement in admissions when compared to other selective universities, public or private.

  16. Berkeley SAT requirements in application process?

    UC Berkeley, like all other University of California schools, has adopted a test-blind policy, which means that they will not review SAT or ACT scores at all during the admission process. As a result, there are no SAT requirements for UC Berkeley's application process, and you don't need to worry about meeting a minimum score. SAT scores were always just one part of the holistic admissions ...

  17. University of California Board of Regents unanimously approved changes

    The University of California Board of Regents today (May 21) unanimously approved the suspension of the standardized test requirement (ACT/SAT) for all California freshman applicants until fall 2024. The suspension will allow the University to create a new test that better aligns with the content the University expects students to have mastered for college readiness. However, if a new test ...

  18. UC drops SAT, but competitive students are still taking test

    June 3, 2020 6:57 AM PT. Marcy Zaldana, a college counselor at Washington Preparatory High School, had big news for her 11th-graders during a Zoom meeting last week: The University of California ...

  19. UC Berkeley Fall 2020 admit profile (ranges for GPA, test scores)

    A subreddit for the community of UC Berkeley as well as the surrounding City of Berkeley, California. Members Online • UCdata2017 . UC Berkeley Fall 2020 admit profile (ranges for GPA, test scores) GPA and test scores of middle 25%-75% students. Metric ... SAT English 670-760 650-750 640-730 SAT Math 680-790 ...

  20. UC drops SAT and ACT test requirement for admission

    UC's decision to require the SAT half a century ago catapulted the test to a place of national prominence, and its threat to drop it in the early 1990s prompted the College Board to revise the test.