How To Get Into UCLA: A Complete Undergrad Guide

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December 5, 2022
About UCLAUCLA RequirementsUCLA Acceptance RateTips to Get Into UCLAUCLA Class ProfileUCLA Personal Insight Essays How to Prepare for the UCLA InterviewHow to Apply to UCLAUCLA Application Process and DeadlinesShould I Apply to UCLA?FAQs: How To Get Into UCLA

”Rohan

Reviewed by:

Rohan Jotwani

Former Admissions Committee Member, Columbia University

Reviewed: 5/4/22

If you’re wondering how you can get into one of the top-ranking schools in the country, look no further! This article will cover everything you need to know about getting into UCLA, from undergraduate requirements, stats, and application, to frequently asked questions.

The University of California, Los Angeles, is a public research university located in the vibrant city of Los Angeles. The school is one of the most respected and competitive universities in the US, informally known as a "Public Ivy" school. 

With an undergraduate student population of 31,543, UCLA prides itself as a pioneer, persevering through difficulties and turning the impossible into the attainable for over a hundred years. The school promotes a community spirit and looks for academically outstanding candidates and individuals with a drive to make a positive change in the world. 

In this complete undergraduate guide, we'll go through everything you need to know about getting into UCLA and being a strong and competitive candidate.

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About UCLA

UCLA is a public land-grant research university that traces its early origins back to 1892 as the southern branch of the California State Normal School. It offers a wide range of undergraduate majors and minors, with the top six most popular majors being biology, business economics, political science, psychology, psychobiology, and economics. 

As a public research university, UCLA's primary purpose is to better our society through the creation, perseveration, and application of knowledge. UCLA's fundamental values are respect, freedom, and open access to information.

The university prides itself in being a community of scholars dedicated to providing the best education. The school's priorities include academic excellence, civic engagement, diversity, and financial security. It strives to integrate education, research, and service to enrich society as a whole.

UCLA's core mission can be expressed in three words: “education, research, and service.” The campus is a community that's committed to innovation and discovery, debate, and collaborative achievements, all in an inclusive environment that promotes the growth of faculty, students, and staff.

The school stands by “The Principles of Community,” essential to ensuring a welcoming, inclusive, and positive environment for all members of the campus community:

UCLA Requirements

Applying to college is exciting, but there are general and specific requirements for every school that you should consider. You must ensure you are aware of them so that you can produce a complete and well-constructed application.

If you're currently in high school or have already graduated but have not yet attended any college or university, you may apply for admission as a freshman. 

UCLA is a competitive school, so ensuring you secure all the required materials ahead of time will give you an advantage and the opportunity to focus on the parts of the application that will help you stand out in the eyes of the admissions committee.

The UCLA admissions committee takes a lot of things into consideration when making decisions about prospective students. They seek good grades, students with rich experience, and solid personal stories with leadership skills and perspective. Showcasing your intellect and being curious are key to gaining admission. 

While UCLA considers your accomplishments inside and outside the classroom, they also evaluate your performance in the following: 

We will go over these factors in more depth below. 

GPA 

Since they know that every student's potential goes beyond their grade point average, there's no GPA requirement for admission. However, the average unweighted GPA is 3.93, which is a number that needs to be taken into account. The average admission GPA is between 3.92 and 4.00, so It's essential to make sure you maintain a strong GPA throughout high school.

Test scores 

Like GPA, there's no absolute SAT requirement at UCLA, but it's essential to try your best and achieve the best score that you can. Average standardized test scores of admitted students are as follows:

For the ACT, the average scores are as follows: 

If you’re looking to gain admission into UCLA, make sure you’re able to meet the standard SAT or ACT scores required for admission. Remember that aiming higher than average will always make you a more competitive candidate. 

Required Courses

There is no specific academic path that students are expected to follow, but UCLA expects candidates to achieve high grades in the most rigorous curriculum available to them. 

Prospective students must complete 15 A-G courses, with at least 11 of them finished before starting their last year of high school. The list of A-G requirements includes the following: 

While the admissions committee uses a comprehensive or holistic review method to gain a complete sense of every candidate, meeting these standard requirements is still necessary if you’re looking to set yourself up for success!

UCLA Acceptance Rate

The recent admission rate for first-year college students is 14%, with 15,644 admitted students out of 108,877 applicants. For transfer students, the acceptance rate is a bit higher, at 24%. The freshmen enrollment rate or yield rate is 41%, and the transfer enrollment rate is 60%. 

As we've seen, UCLA is a pretty competitive school, with only a 14% acceptance rate, meaning that they only accept 14 out of every 100 students that apply. For this reason, neither a perfect GPA nor outstanding test scores will get you accepted; you'll have to work hard to stand out from the crowd. 

Thousands of candidates with various profiles apply every year. Your goal is to create a well-rounded application that highlights your abilities, achievements, resilience, and leadership capabilities so that the admission committee gets an accurate idea of who you are as a person, not just who you are in the classroom.

Tips to Get Into UCLA

For tips on how to get into UCLA, we first need a clear understanding of the admission review process, what the admissions committee considers for acceptance, and what they look for in prospective students.

UCLA focuses on “successful applicants who demonstrate intellectual curiosity, leadership, initiative and tenacity.” As a well-renowned institution, UCLA seeks students who can contribute diverse perspectives to the student body. 

UCLA uses faculty-approved criteria when reviewing every single application. The criteria are not in order, and none is more important than the other. 

As we've already seen, having an excellent academic record and high test scores will not be enough to get into UCLA; however, it doesn't mean that these are not important. Considering the criteria taken into account when making an admission decision, let's take a look at some pro tips that will help you ace your application. 

Prioritize Your Coursework and Grades

To get into UCLA, you need to be a high achiever. If you’re still a sophomore or even a junior in high school, plan to upgrade your coursework game if you haven’t done so!

Take Advanced Classes and Raise Your GPA

A perfect grade point average is not enough for this competitive school- your classes need to be challenging as well. Show them that you're not afraid of rigorous coursework and that you're willing to take challenges and succeed. 

Ace Your Standardized Tests 

Good grades and high test scores will certainly strengthen your application. It's essential that you do well on your SAT or ACT; otherwise, your application may not be at the top of the list for consideration. However, this doesn’t mean that grades are all that matter; they are just a starting point. 

Write Exceptional Essays

GPA and test scores are crucial and necessary, but they won't get you accepted by themselves. To stand out and get into UCLA, you'll need to show your uniqueness; your personal statement and supplementary essays are the perfect space to do that, as we'll discuss later.
Take advantage of the specific prompts to demonstrate how you positively impact your community and how you make a difference. Focus on your leadership skills, how they have improved throughout high school, and how you show them daily. 

Show That You Genuinely Want To Attend UCLA 

Colleges want you to attend if you get accepted, so if UCLA is your first option or your dream school, don't forget to mention it somewhere in your application or your essays. Schools try to accept students that will likely accept an offer of admission. If you demonstrate that you specifically want to attend UCLA, the odds might be more in your favor. 

Focus On A Few Key Strengths.

When writing college applications, it's tempting to show the admission committees how you excel and are interested in everything. If you fill out every single extracurricular entry on the application with mediocre activities, chances are you won't stand out from the crowd. 

Instead, focus on quality; what is that one thing that you do remarkably well? Stand out in what makes you you. Don't try to do "just fine" in everything or be like everyone else. 

Getting into UCLA is difficult, but not impossible. To get accepted, you'll need not only to be an exceptional student with good grades and test scores but to show how you're outstanding outside the classroom as well.

UCLA Class Profile

The UCLA class is diverse as well as intellectual and driven. The middle 50% range of freshman unweighted GPA is 3.92-400, and 3.70-3-95 for transfer college GPA. At 33%, over a third of undergraduate students are first-generation college students, and 50% of undergraduates receive need-based financial aid. 

Demographics

As far as their respective backgrounds, the student body is very culturally diverse. Undergraduates represent a wide variety of cultural backgrounds representing 62 countries. Cultural and ethnic representation within UCLA’s student body is as follows:

class demographics UCLA
Source: UCLA

With 30% of entering students coming from under-represented backgrounds, UCLA ranks #15 on USA Today’s most inclusive colleges in the United States. 

UCLA Student to Faculty Ratio

The student-to-faculty ratio at UCLA is 18:1, and the school has 50% of its classes with fewer than 20 students. With this ratio, students are certain to get an intensive and focused educational experience.

UCLA Personal Insight Essays 

UCLA’s personal insight essays give you the opportunity to show the admissions committee who you are beyond the numbers. The personal insight questions can be the most time-consuming yet the most exciting part of your application. 

First-year applicants will have eight questions to choose from, four out of which they must respond. Transfer applicants will have a required question, plus three out of seven additional questions–so choose wisely!

UCLA recommends that applicants select the most relevant questions to their experience and best reflect their circumstances. Each response is limited to a maximum of 350 words, so you'll have to be clear, concise, and straight to the point. 

The questions are pretty personal, so not going over the word count limit might be a challenge for many; brainstorming and outlining will help you create the perfect essays. 

The University of California has a joint application for every one of its schools, including UCLA. This means that regardless of how many universities in the UC system you apply to, you won't need to write additional essays. 

Here are the UCLA Essay Prompts for first-year applicants and some things you might want to consider as you answer them.  

Essay Prompt 1

“Describe an example of your leadership experience in which you have positively influenced others, helped resolve disputes, or contributed to group efforts over time.”

For this prompt, you want to think about when you have acted as a leader–the UCLA admissions team wants you to demonstrate your ability to lead a team beyond a fancy title. They ask that you reflect on your experience as a leader, whether it be in school, at work, or even just at home. 

Essay Prompt 2

“Every person has a creative side, and it can be expressed in many ways: problem-solving, original and innovative thinking, and artistic, to name a few. Describe how you express your creative side.”

Here, think about your creativity and what that means to you. Mention any special skills, talents, or creative accomplishments and expand on them. You can also think about times when you have solved a problem or made important decisions using your creativity.

Essay Prompt 3

“What would you say is your most remarkable talent or skill? How have you developed and demonstrated that talent over time?” 

Similar to the last prompt, you can answer this question by highlighting a skill or talent that you have and are proud of. Let the admissions team know whether this skill is something that came naturally to you or if it’s something that you’ve worked hard to accomplish and the opportunities that have arisen because of it. 

Essay Prompt 4

“Describe how you have taken advantage of a significant educational opportunity or worked to overcome an educational barrier you have faced.”

For this prompt, think about any opportunities you’ve had throughout your education. This can be something like a specialized academic program or a co-op, among many others. You can write about any challenges you may have faced within this opportunity or the things you have learned from it. Ultimately, you’ll want to show how this experience has shaped you. 

Essay Prompt 5

“Describe the most significant challenge you've faced and the steps you have taken to overcome this challenge. How has this challenge affected your academic achievement?” 

This prompt can reference any part of your life, whether it be personal, academic, or something within your community. Reflect deeply on an experience that has prevented you from accomplishing something with ease and how it impacted you.

Talk about how you overcame this challenge–did you have a great support system? Did you handle it alone? Remember to share how this experience has shaped you or how it continues to do so.  

Essay Prompt 6

“Think about an academic subject that inspires you. Describe how you have furthered this interest inside and outside of the classroom.” 
If you are passionate about any particular subject, this might be a good choice for you. Here, you can discuss this subject and explain why it excites you. Talk about how your experiences surround it. This can be anything from volunteering and work experience, to extracurriculars. 

Explain how your interest might have influenced your academic and non-academic choices. Ask yourself whether this has influenced your choice in applying for UCLA or certain programs and even your future career path.

Essay Prompt 7

“What have you done to make your school or your community a better place?”

You can direct your answer towards a particular community that you’re a part of–this can be a sports team, an organization, or even your hometown. Explain how you might have been involved with solving problems within this community or how you’ve strengthened the community. If you have planned events or activities, this is a great place to mention that!

Essay Prompt 8

“Beyond what has already been shared in your application, what do you believe makes you stand out as a strong candidate for admission to the University of California?”

This prompt allows you to show why you’re the best candidate for UCLA. This is a great place to write about anything you might want to mention that you haven’t already in your application. If you want to flex any accomplishments or strengths that you have, this is the place to do it!

How to Write the UCLA Essays

As you can see, the UC application essay prompts are very personal and require time, preparation, and focus. Here are some tips to help you write an outstanding personal insight essay.

Tip 1: Start Early 

It may seem obvious, but many students underestimate how long it will take them to write the essays, and they focus on other aspects of the application before they even start them. Don't make this mistake; give yourself plenty of time to prepare, brainstorm, outline, write and revise. 

Tip 2: Write In First-person 

Using "I" and "my" statements in your essays will help the admissions committee get to know you and your personality, and it will give the responses a unique and personal insight into your character. 

Tip 3: Revise and Proofread 

We can't stress this enough, revise, revise, and revise again. In the UCLA essays, you will not be evaluated on grammar, spelling, or sentence structure. However, it's essential to make sure that everything makes sense and is clear; the reader will appreciate it. 

In doing this, you will present yourself as a more serious, intellectual, and professional candidate. If the admission committee sees grammar or spelling errors in your essays, they will take it as a sign that maybe you didn’t spend enough time proofreading and polishing your writing. Don’t let that happen! 

Tip 5: Get Feedback 

Although the answers to the prompts are very personal, others can offer precious feedback and suggestions. You can either seek professional help or solicit input from loved ones such as family and friends; it's up to you, your needs, and what you think will help you the most. Just don't stay away from feedback because of fear of what they will think!

Tip 6: Relax and Take Your Time 

One of the reasons why starting early is so important is because answering such personal prompts can be mentally and emotionally exhausting. Don't try to get everything done in one night; plan and take breaks. 

Remember that you’ll have to write four out of eight articles for your application. Expect to spend a lot of time and energy on these essays, and make sure you prepare accordingly.

How to Prepare for the UCLA Interview

Unlike other institutions, UCLA doesn't offer undergraduate admission interviews. If you're a shy person, this can work to your advantage, but it can also be a significant disadvantage. 

Interviews are more common for graduate programs and usually serve as a way for the school's admission committees to know the person behind an application; it can genuinely make a big difference. Being able to talk face to face can help your interviewer get a sense of who you are. 

Since interviews are not an option for UCLA undergraduate admission, you'll need to present yourself authentically and be genuine in the essays. You'll rely solely on them for admission, so make sure to shine in them!

How to Apply to UCLA

To apply to UCLA, you'll need to use the University of California's online application. This is a standard application system for all nine University of California system universities, which allows you to apply to several of them without redoing the whole application. 

However, something to consider is that you'll need to pay a separate application fee for every institution you decide to apply to, even though it's through the same application system. 

So, how do you get started? Applying to UCLA is not as complicated as it may seem, but you'll need to be prepared and gather some documents before you start your application. You'll need the following documents and information: 

Once you have these materials, you'll be ready to get started on your application. You'll need to create an account in the University of California's application system if you don't have one already, and you'll be all set. 

The layout of the site is pretty straightforward and organized into different sections. Take a look at how the application is laid out:

It's important to mention that you'll be able to start the application, save it, and continue at any time from the time the system opens until the deadline. So, don't worry, your changes and progress will be saved, and if you start early, you'll have plenty of time to complete the application successfully.

UCLA Application Process and Deadlines

To start your application, you first need to consider all the requirements and expectations mentioned in the previous sections. You can start working on your application in your senior year as soon as the application portal opens on Aug. 1. 

The completed application can be submitted no earlier than Nov. 1 and not later than Nov. 30. After that date, the application portal will be closed, and you won't be able to edit or submit your application anymore. 

Here are the key dates and deadlines to save in your calendar:

UCLA application deadlines
Source: UCLA

Unlike many other universities, UCLA does not offer early decisions or early action. All applications are only accepted for the fall term.

Should I Apply to UCLA?

Applying to college can be a time-consuming and tiring process but also an exciting one. We know that doubts may arise before, during, and even after applying. Whether or not to apply to UCLA is a common concern for many potential students. 

Before choosing to apply, take a deep breath and carefully examine all the requirements, class profiles, and what the school looks for in their candidates. If you're early, you'll have plenty of time to work on the possible gaps and considerations you may have and polish a well-rounded application; it just takes a little effort and time! 

It's also wise to apply to take advantage of the University of California application portal. You can apply to several UC universities with the same application. Do your research and consider other University of California options: location, courses, major, and scholarships offered. You may be able to make all your applications in one fell swoop!

FAQs: How To Get Into UCLA

Here are our answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about how to get into UCLA.

1. What Does UCLA Look For in Applicants?

UCLA describes its core mission in three words: education, research, and service. These three words can give you a hint of what they specifically look for in candidates. UCLA looks for students with stellar academic records. 

2. Does UCLA Accept Transfer Credits?

Yes, UCLA does accept transfer credits from other accredited colleges or universities. Coursework credits completed at other institutions are determined by the UCLA Registrar's Office and Undergraduate Admission, both of which follow UC-wide transfer guidelines.

All transfer coursework is carefully reviewed and applied to the degree audit in time for the first quarter enrollment, provided that all admission transcript deadlines are met. 

3. Is UCLA an Ivy League School?

UCLA is not an official Ivy League school. Despite this, it's considered to be a prestigious and academically rigorous school with an excellent reputation. 

UCLA is usually informally referred to as one of the country's Public Ivies. US News & World Report ranked the university 1st among public schools and 20th overall among national universities. UCLA has also been named among the nation’s top research universities. 

4. Can I Get into UCLA With a 3.5 GPA?

Only 2% of admitted students have a GPA of 3.52 or less, whereas 30% have a GPA between 3.54 and 3.94. This information can give you a pretty clear idea of how hard it is to get into the school with a GPA of 3.5 or below. 

While UCLA doesn't state a minimum GPA for admission, data speaks for itself. If you have a lower GPA, focus on improving it. If you have a 3.5 GPA, even only 0.2 points can make a big difference in your chances of getting accepted. 

Excellent grades are not everything considered for admission; in fact, you won't stand out as a candidate just by having a perfect 4.0 GPA. However, for your application to be considered before others, you should strive for more than even good grades. In other words, better grades will bolster your overall application. 

5. How Do You Stand Out in the UCLA Application Process?

Standing out in the application process is critical if you want to get into UCLA. To do so, you first need to have a clear idea of what the school is looking for in its candidates. You'll need to show how you are a perfect fit for UCLA and the candidate they're looking for in your application. 

If you want to stand out, you need to be academically exceptional while being committed to your community and possess a strong drive to make a change. The most important part of the application to show these strengths are the personal insight questions. You'll be able to choose four out of eight prompts; choose them wisely.

Talk about what truly describes you and better showcases your achievements and how you've overcome difficulties in the past. 

6. When Should You Prepare for UCLA?

The application portal opens on August 1, and the deadline for submitting your application is November 30 of your senior year in high school. It is wise to start planning and preparing right after finishing your junior year, if not earlier. 

You'll have plenty of time to fill out your application, but it is wise to use the summer as a time to gather all documents and be ready to start as soon as the portal opens. You can even start thinking about what prompts you'll choose for your personal insight questions and start brainstorming and outlining your essays. 

By doing this, you won't need to hurry or stress about it as much during your senior year. If UCLA is your first option, make it known, prepare accordingly. Be confident and don't take the process lightly. 

7. What Should You Do If You Get Rejected From UCLA?

Getting rejected from your top-choice school is a hard pill to swallow. You may think, “after all the effort made and I still got rejected?” It happens, but it doesn't mean that your application is weak; sometimes, small things can make a huge difference. 

One thing you can do is send in a rejection appeal. UCLA reviews rejection appeals on a case-by-case basis. However, the school does not set aside space in their class for individuals who appeal an admission decision, and the number of decisions reversed on appeal is deficient and limited to sporadic and exceptional cases.

The deadline to submit an appeal is usually mid-April. For an appeal to have merit to UCLA, it needs to provide important new academic or personal information. This includes information not presented in the original application and clearly shows how the applicant is now stronger than they had earlier been. 

Another option to consider is to take a gap year or take college courses, improve your profile, strengthen your overall application, and wait for the next application year. The downside is that UCLA only accepts students in the fall, meaning you'd have to wait a whole year. It's up to you to determine if it's worth it.

Final Thoughts

UCLA is a prestigious and well-respected university that can open your doors to a very bright future. With only a 14% acceptance rate and admitted students boasting a very high average GPA and test scores, being an exceptional candidate is crucial if you want to get accepted to UCLA. 

Its students are academically exceptional, and you'll need to stand out as well if you want to be part of the community. Focusing on activities outside the classroom, apart from achieving an outstanding academic profile, is also a critical part of the UCLA admission process. 

Well-rounded and motivated applicants are the ones that will most likely make the positive change in the world they are looking for in their candidates. Now that you know everything about UCLA, the admission process, and what the school is looking for, it’s your turn to start the process of getting accepted to your dream school.

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