How to Get Into UC Berkeley: Admissions Stats + Tips
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- How Hard Is It to Get Into UC Berkeley?
- Average Academic Profile of Accepted UC Berkeley Students
- What is UC Berkeley Looking for?
- How to Improve Your Chances of Getting into UC Berkeley
The first University of California school, UC Berkeley, was founded in 1868. A number of things have changed since UC Berkeley fielded its first class of 38 students (and just ten faculty members) 150+ years ago—today, the UC System has grown to ten campuses, including many of the best public universities in the nation, and boasts upward of 280,000 students and more than 227,000 faculty and staff.
Of the UC System’s schools, UC Berkeley remains a sought-after destination for high-achieving high school students and is commonly thought of as the gold standard of the UC system.
How Hard Is It to Get Into UC Berkeley?
UC Berkeley had 88,076 applicants for its class of 2025 and admitted just 15,448 students, giving the university an acceptance rate of just 17.53%.
While UC Berkeley’s acceptance rate is extremely low, your personal chances of acceptance are potentially higher, or lower, depending on the strength of your profile. Our free admissions calculator can help you to better understand your chances at UC Berkeley. Taking factors like your grades, test scores, and extracurriculars into consideration, we’ll estimate your odds of admission and provide you with tips to improve your profile!
Average Academic Profile of Accepted UC Berkeley Students
The average high school GPA of UC Berkeley’s class of 2025 is 3.86, and 31.5% of the class of 2025 graduated with a 4.0.
The middle 50% SAT score of UC Berkeley’s class of 2025 is 1300-1520. Their middle 50% ACT score is 27-35.
UC Berkeley didn’t publish the average high school class rank for its class of 2025, however, 96% of them graduated in the top 10% of their high school class and 100% graduated in the top 25%.
What is UC Berkeley Looking for?
UC Berkeley applicants must meet a specific set of academic requirements that apply to all the UC System schools to qualify for admission. Most high schoolers graduating from public school will satisfy these requirements, but applicants from private schools or who are homeschooled will want to keep a close eye on their coursework to ensure they’re fulfilled.
To qualify for admission to UC Berkeley, an applicant needs to complete—and not earn a grade lower than a C in—a group of 15 courses known as the “A to G subject requirements.” The A to G courses are:
Language other than English
2 years (or the equivalent to the second level of high school instruction)
Visual and performing arts
UC Berkeley applicants are also required to meet a UC System-specific GPA requirement for admission. In-state students need to earn at least a 3.0 GPA, while out-of-state applicants must earn a 3.4 GPA or higher.
STEM skills are highly valued at UC Berkeley and applicants to STEM programs face requirements comparable to lower-ranked Ivy League schools. UC Berkeley looks for students with research experience, which makes it a good avenue for STEM students to bolster their odds of admission.
Essays play a considerable role in admissions decisions at UC Berkeley and are an area where competitive candidates can separate themselves from the competition. Attention-grabbing essays highlight the qualities UC Berkeley values that a candidate possesses—UC Berkeley is interested in students who demonstrate initiative, motivation, leadership, persistence, service to others, special potential, and substantial experience with other cultures.
How UC Berkeley Evaluates Applications
According to their 2020-2021 Common Data Set, UC Berkeley considers the following factors “very important”:
- Course rigor
These factors are “important”:
- Extracurricular activities
- Character/personal qualities
- Volunteer work
- Work experience
These are “considered”:
- Test scores
- First generation
- State residency
And these are “not considered”:
- Class rank
- Geographical residence
- Religious affiliation/commitment
- Racial/ethnic status
- Applicant interest
How to Improve Your Chances of Getting into UC Berkeley
1. Achieve at least a 3.86 GPA while taking the most challenging classes available
Possessing a strong GPA is a very important factor in gaining admission to UC Berkeley—it’s one of just three factors the university labels “very important.” The average high school GPA of the university’s class of 2025 was 3.86; every student graduated in the top quarter of their class and a whopping 96% graduated in the top 10%. Good grades are often not enough at competitive colleges like UC Berkeley, they must come in the most rigorous coursework available. Applicants to top 30 schools like UC Berkeley will commonly have completed more than 12 AP courses.
Highly selective schools like UC Berkeley use a tool known as the Academic Index to consolidate an applicant’s academic record into a single number and expedite the admissions process. Applicants who do not meet UC Berkeley’s Academic Index threshold are at risk of being dismissed as academically unqualified early in the admissions process and not having their entire application read.
If your GPA is lower but you’re earlier on in your high school career, check out our tips for increasing your GPA. If you’re a junior or senior, it will be harder to increase your GPA, so the easiest way to increase your Academic Index is to get a higher test score.
2. Write engaging essays
After GPA and course rigor, essays are the only other factor UC Berkeley considers “very important” when making admissions decisions. All of the UC System schools, including UC Berkeley, require applicants to answer four essay questions from a collection of eight prompts:
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.
2. Every person has a creative side, and it can be expressed in many ways: problem-solving, original and innovative thinking, and artistically, to name a few. Describe how you express your creative side.
3. What would you say is your greatest talent or skill? How have you developed and demonstrated that talent over time?
4. Describe how you have taken advantage of a significant educational opportunity or worked to overcome an educational barrier you have faced.
5. Describe the most significant challenge you have faced and the steps you have taken to overcome this challenge. How has this challenge affected your academic achievement?
6. Think about an academic subject that inspires you. Describe how you have furthered this interest inside and/or outside of the classroom.
7. What have you done to make your school or your community a better place?
8. Beyond what has already been shared in your application, what do you believe makes you stand out as a strong candidate for admissions to the University of California?
Nearly every applicant at UC Berkeley will have an astounding academic record, which, for applicants looking to stand out, places a lot of weight on the essay. In general, a smart essay strategy is to write in your unique voice, highlight the characteristics that aren’t shown in the other parts of your application, and demonstrate how you’ll benefit UC Berkeley by being on campus. For more advice on how to ace UC Berkeley essays, check out our article, “How to Write the University of California Essays 2021-2022.”
3. Cultivate at least one or two Tier 1-2 extracurriculars (find your “spike”)
Extracurricular activities, along with volunteer work and work experience, are “important” to admissions decisions at UC Berkeley. Competitive applicants at top-tier schools like UC Berkeley generally have a “spike”—a highly developed interest with a few impressive, connected extracurriculars—rather than a collection of unrelated interests.
All extracurricular activities aren’t equal; the more prestigious and rare the pursuit or achievement, the greater influence it will have on admissions officers. A good way to understand the value of extracurricular activities is with the four tiers of extracurriculars, which rank them according to their impact on college admissions.
- Tier 1 includes the most impressive, rare, and influential activities. These range from being a nationally recognized musician or ranked athlete to winning a distinguished award like the Ayn Rand “The Fountainhead” Essay Contest.
- Tier 2 is home to activities that demonstrate high levels of achievement or leadership, but are more frequently seen than those of Tier 1—for example, being class president, winning a notable regional award, or gaining state-level recognition in athletics.
- Tier 3 encompasses more commonly seen activities that show what you’re like outside of the classroom but don’t reverberate the way those in the higher tiers do. Tier 3 activities include playing a varsity sport and holding a leadership position in a club.
- Tier 4 activities are the most common and least influential, including participation in a sport, club, or general volunteer work.
Keep in mind, UC Berkeley considers both volunteer work and work experience “important” to admissions decisions, and an extracurricular activity that ties in with your spike and demonstrates a high level of achievement or leadership could push you past other candidates.
4. Aim for a 1520 SAT score and a 35 ACT score
The middle 50% range of UC Berkeley’s class of 2025 is 1300-1520 on the SAT and 27-35 on the ACT. While strong standardized test scores are shared by the majority of students admitted to UC Berkeley—nearly 60% of the class of 2025 scored above either 1400 on the SAT or 30 on the ACT—they’re not necessary for admission.
Although UC Berkeley states standardized test scores are “considered” on the common data set, it, along with all of the UC System schools, does not consider SAT or ACT scores when making admissions decisions. Applicants are allowed to submit scores, but not required. If an applicant chooses to submit test scores, they’re used to determine eligibility for the California statewide admissions guarantee, as an alternative method of fulfilling minimum requirements for eligibility, or for course placement after you enroll.
Standardized test scores hold minimal value at UC Berkeley, but they play an important part in admissions decisions at other schools. To improve your SAT/ACT score, check out these free CollegeVine resources:
- How to Get a Perfect 1600 Score on the SAT
- How to Get a Perfect 36 Score on the ACT
- More SAT Info and Tips
- More ACT Info and Tips
How to Apply to UC Berkeley
UC Berkeley, like the other schools in the UC system, uses the UC application. The deadline to submit your UC application is November 30 and decision notifications are sent on March 31.
UC Berkeley only accepts the UC application for admissions and the UC application along with its four personal insight questions are the primary requirements for consideration. Standardized test scores are optional and are not used to make admissions decisions. You only need to submit a transcript after you’ve been admitted to UC Berkeley.
Learn more about UC Berkeley
Interested in learning more about UC Berkeley? Check out these other informative articles:
- What is UC Berkeley Known For?
- The Ultimate Guide to UC Berkeley
- UC Berkeley vs. Stanford: Which College is Right for You?
- USC vs. UC Berkeley: Which College is Right for You?
- UCLA vs. UC Berkeley: Which College is Right for You?
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