What Does UCLA Really Want From Its Applicants?

Your GPA is 3.9, your SATs are over 1800 and you want to go to UCLA.   Easy, right?  Not exactly. That’s because you are similar to almost half of UCLA’s 57,000 plus applicants this year.  So how do you distinguish yourself from the multitude?   According to the UCLA admissions department, one way to stand out is in the personal essay.

On a recent tour of UCLA’s campus, I learned firsthand from admissions what they’re looking for in an essay.  It all boils down to the L.I.D.  In this third and final blog in a series we’ll be talking about the importance of L.I.D. in the UCLA essays.

First up is the L word (not what you think!).  L is for LEADERSHIP.  UCLA wants to see that you’ve held leadership position(s) and they want you to talk about them.  This pertains to more than just the class presidents.  Leadership can involve Sports, Scouting, Clubs – even jobs.  Any place in which you were organizing  or leading others.  A note of warning though: be honest about your leadership positions.  Don’t pretend that you were president when you weren’t.  That could cost you.

Next is the I word.  I is for IMPROVEMENT.  Just like your parents and teachers, UCLA likes to see improvement.  Whether it’s improving a tennis game or a swim time.  It can also be improving your grades or improving the lives of those less fortunate through your community service work.

D is DEDICATION.  This is where you let UCLA know how you weren’t a fly by night soccer player.  You stuck with the team even when you got injured.  Or you worked with the drama department for four years even when you weren’t the lead.  Or you’ve dedicated yourself to a cause.  You don’t have to save the world but it couldn’t hurt!

UCLA admissions stresses the importance of having more than one person read your essay.  Why not let that person be us?  Give us a call today.

Juliet Giglio
Educational Consultant in California

Published by Mark Montgomery

Mark is a leading educational consultant. His experience as a professor, college administrator, and youth mentor help him guide students from around the country and around the world.

Join the Conversation


  1. I have wanted to go to ucla for years I am in the 10th grade and am going to be a docter, what else do they want from you other than just a perfect essay?

  2. Hi, Michaela. Thanks for your question. Have you visited the UC application website? That will give you some ideas. Print out the various instructions and checklists so you know what the minimum requirements are. If you do not live in California, I’d say the other think you’ll need to attend UCLA is money: don’t plan on getting any financial aid to attend. You’ll be expected to pay the full cost of out-of-state tuition. So I’d talk to your parents now to determine whether your family can afford the price.

    Finally, keep in mind that UCLA will not make you a doctor. You have to do undergraduate school and then apply all over again to medical school. And every college in the US can prepare you for medical school.

    Good luck to you!

  3. From the start of freshman year i had a 3.5. Sophmore year, it improved to a 3.65. Junior year, it reahed a 4.0. Do i have a chance to get in although my grades werent high 9th and 10th grade?

  4. Hi, I’m going to be a senior next year and I am extremely nervous as to whether I will get into UCLA or not. The people in my class are extremely competitive and smart and I’d like to know my chances of getting into UCLA. I’m currently ranked #8 in my class with a uc weighted GPA of 4.23. I got a 1940 on my SAT (bad i know) a 680 in math level 2 and 650 in history subject test. Although, my scores are quite terrible, I am involved in several extra-currics. I have been in the Make-a-Wish club and OCC club at my school since freshmen year and I have been officers for those clubs for since my sophomore year. I will be president for both next year. I also used to me a tutor at my local library and now i am a hospital volunteer. I have also been on the swim team (jv) since sophomore year and im going to do it next year as well (hopefully varsity). Does UCLA care about the extracurrics that i have done or have i just been putting my priorities in the wrong thing. Im really trying to bring my sat score up, but its extremely difficult. Im going to take it one more time in October. Anyways, I feel like im rambling. Im sorry. What are my chances of getting into UCLA?

  5. Hello Lillian,

    It is difficult for us to assess your chances of being admitted to a school without reviewing your entire profile. It does sound like you are working hard and doing everything you can to reach your goals. You definitely need extracurriculars, so it is not like you would give those up!

    Good luck!

    Katherine Price
    Senior Associate

  6. Hi
    I’m going to be a junior in high school this year and I have a gpa of 3.3 (terrible). I’m taking really hard classes and I think I will get A’s in all of my classes. The reason my gpa is so terrible right now was because of family issues and sickness. If I receive good grades as a junior do you think my chances if getting into UCLA will increase. What is the gpa and SAT score UCLA wants in their applicants


  7. Hello, Monica. Thanks for your question. It’s hard to answer, as I don’t know the exact make-up of your GPA. I’d need to see a complete transcript to understand the context of your grades. I’d also need to know whether you live in California or not.G GPA is a very complicated factor in admissions. What might be more helpful is to consider your class rank: are you in the top 10% of your class? 25%? Where do you fit within your school on a relative scale? With regard to the SAT scores required,I can only give you the averages and the middle 50%.
    SAT Math: Average is 655, Mid-50% is 590-720
    SAT CR: Average is 620 and Mid 50% is 560-680
    SAT Writing: Average is 640, Mid-50% is 580-700

    I wish I could be more helpful in gauging your exact chances. You might talk to your school counselor, who may be better able to help you understand your chances, as your school counselors have data and experience that will help put your grades into a useful context for you.

    Good luck, and keep studying!

  8. Hi, my name is Maria and i am currently studing in Portugal. I am going to my last year of high school and i wanted to go to UCLA. Is the fact that i’m from another country, and that this country is in Europe, going to be a deal breaker or an adventage for me ?

  9. Hello, Maria,
    Your nationality is a fact, not an accomplishment–though I note that you do not specify your nationality, only that you are “studying in Portugal”. That said, all universities are looking for international students to diversify their student bodies. UCLA, in particular, also likes international students who are willing to pay the full cost of tuition for out of state students.

    If you are an American citizen, you will be considered American for the purposes of admission and financial aid. If you are European, you will be considered an international applicant. If you are Portuguese, you may have something of an advantage, since so few Portuguese have the desire (or the money) to study in the US. However, if you are seeking financial support from UCLA, I’m afraid your chances of admission (or aid) will be very slim to none, as the State of California is under very heavy financial pressure, and will only discount tuition for California residents/citizens.

    I hope this helps!


  10. Hi, I’m Sophia and I am currently a sophomore in high school. I am in a California charter school, and I have an unweighted GPA of 3.5 (it’s 4.0 when weighted, and I am almost positive that it will be higher than 4.0 at the end of the semester). I’m in 2 AP classes (AP Biology and AP World History), 2 honors (Honors English and Honors Math Analysis/Pre-Calculus), and am currently enrolled in French 1 and an art class. I also am in my school’s Speech and Debate team (which I am fairly good at) and Key club (a volunteering club). UCLA has been my dream school for over 6 years, so I am wondering what the chances of me being accepted are and any tips that could be offered.

  11. Hi, Sophia,
    The entrance requirements for UCLA are pretty clear, and you have to make sure you have all those requirements under your belt. Beyond that, you have to as well as you can in school. In addition, you have to choose the program or programs within UCLA that interest you most, and you have to distinguish yourself in some extracurricular activities. It sounds like you’re on the right track as a sophomore, so just keep doing what you’re doing and you should be fine.
    Best of luck.

  12. Hi, I’m Jaslyn and I’m intending to apply to both UCLA and UCB.
    I’m not really sure about my chances though, as I’m an international student from a really competitive school in my country (top 3% of the country’s cohort end up in my school). I’m not considered top in my school, but should be around the upper 40%.
    Since my school’s curriculum follows the Cambridge A Levels syllabus, it’s kind of hard to convert it to AP format or anything. Anyway, my predicted grades should consist of 3 H2 A’s and 1 B and 1 H1 A. The B seems quite ugly on my report but I met with some family situations right before my exams so I don’t know if admissions will factor that in when they read my application. My SAT 1 score was 2330, SAT 2 subject tests were 800 and 790. I’m extremely involved in my extracurricular activity (Red Crosser), doing weekly community service, initiating community projects to tutor low-income single-parent kids, and volunteering for community First Aid. I’m also the class representative. I don’t know if a single extracurricular “club” and a self-initiated project are sufficient commitments. I think I also need some tips on what the UC schools look for in a potential applicant (in their personal statements). Thanks for your help!

  13. Hi, Jaslyn,
    It sounds like you’ll be a competitive applicant to UCLA and UCB. But it’s always hard to predict one’s chances at very selective schools. With regard to the personal statements, I think the UC website is pretty clear about what it wants. However, you may want to look at a series of posts I wrote on how to write the perfect college essay. You can check out these posts on the Cardinal Rule, Grabbing Some Attention, Telling a Good Story, and Painting a Picture.

  14. Hi, I’m George and I really want to go to UCLA. It always has been a dream of mine, however, I just started the eleventh grade 3 months ago or so. So far I have a 3.4 unweighted gpa in it, while I had 3.0 in freshman and a 3.8 in sophmore. I have been taking all honors and 2 APs in math and science, where I also am going to end up with 8 years of math when I finish HS. I am the current JV captain of my school’s golf team, which I have been a part of throughout my sophmore, junior and going to be in senior as well. I do not go to multiple clubs in my school, just the ones that are actually making a difference in the world unlike ones whom just talk about doing so. I have taken the PSAT in both my sophmore and junior, and I will take my first SAT in January followed by another in june, and one more in fall of my senior year if I am still not pleased with my results.
    What I am wondering is how are my chances of getting accept to UCLA so far? Any suggestions of what more I can do?
    Thanks in advance!

  15. Hi, George,
    I wish you every success in your bid to get into UCLA. You seem to be doing many things right. You do not say whether you are a California resident: if you are, the odds are somewhat different than if you are from another state. Much also depends on your test scores, which you apparently do not have yet. Anyone would have a hard time making a prediction of your chances without at least knowing your scores. Your grades this year are vey important, as you want to continue the upward trend in your grades.
    All in all, it seems that you are doing a good job preparing to reach your dream. Keep up the good work, especially in the realm of academics.
    Best of luck,

  16. Hi, I’ve heard many stories about freshman applying to ucla and getting in with a 3.2 and not a 4.0 achiever. What are my chances of getting in if i have a 3.1 with around 60-70 hours of community service and a heart warming personal statement? Also, I’m thinking in majoring in nursing. Could my chances of getting in be higher if I choose a major that isnt well known and not as popular to be able to get in, and if I do get in, change it to be nursing as how I originally wanted it to be?

  17. Hi, Kyra,
    I wish I had a crystal ball and could definitively calculate your chances for admission at UCLA. So many things come into play. For example, you didn’t mention whether you are a California resident–that little fact can make a big difference. And it is true that the major you choose can be a factor: popular majors are often the most competitive. And nursing is often a popular (competitive) major at selective universities like UCLA. Then you raise the issue of transferring into nursing from another major: I urge you to research this possibility VERY carefully before accepting an offer of admission to a program that is not your first choice. Sometimes it is possible to move. But sometimes–and this is often the case with nursing that has a very proscribed set of courses–it is nearly impossible to make the move. So you are asking the right questions!
    Best of luck.

  18. Hi, i’m a portuguese student and just recently i’ve been wating to go to ucla to attend the arts program but my average is 2.8 and i’m really concerned wether i should give up or not since i’m in my second year and i still have one year ahead. If so, what other colleges should i look for that have an arts program?

  19. Hello, Andreia,
    Thanks or writing. With a 2.8 GPA as a foreign student, UCLA is going to be a very, very big reach for you. Your concern is well-founded. However, your desire to study arts in the US is quite reasonable, and there are a great many alternatives for you. You can certainly use the various search tools to see what other colleges have arts degrees (BFA, BA, etc.). But I’m not able to give you any specific recommendations without having a longer talk with you. I’d need to know more about your personal and professional priorities, your test scores, your artistic abilities, and also some basic financial information (as it is harder for international students to receive need-based financial aid–but they sometimes can receive merit-based scholarships). I work with students from Europe, so if you’d like to consider getting some professional advice, please don’t hesitate to fill out my initial meeting form (http://greatcollegeadvice.com/initial-meeting-form/ ), and we can set up a time to talk.
    Best wishes,

  20. Hello, I am a freshman at whale branch early college high school, of Beaufort SC. I have a current gpa of a 2.84 and I’m afraid that if I don’t have a 4.0 gpa, by senior year then I won’t be able to attend UCLA. Yes I know I’m only a freshman, but I’m really concerned. I’ve been wanting to attend UCLA since what college was. I am in band and I do play sports, I would really just like to know what I can do before senior year. Thank you and I really would appreciate the help

  21. Hi,
    Thanks for your comment. Your GPA is a very important part of the admissions process at the University of California schools, including UCLA. Your test scores also will be important. So your fears are well-placed. Without a great GPA, you will not likely be accepted. It’s time to hit the books a bit harder. An upward trend in your grades from 10th grade onwards could help you. But also keep in mind that UCLA does not provide much in the way of scholarships to non-residents of California. These schools charge a lot more to out-of-state students, so while you are working on your grades, keep an eye on the family resources to ensure your dream is attainable both academically and financially. Fortunately, you life in a state with a great honors program at the flagship public university. University of South Carolina-Columbia has an outstanding honors program…one of the best in the nation by far. So as you work on realizing your dream of UCLA, realize that there are many of attaining your lifetime dreams of success and happiness. Best of luck!

  22. Hi I’m a freshman at a Texas High School and I really really want to go to UCLA. My school goes by a 6.0 GPA Scale so I don’t know how that will affect my transfer over. I plan on going to UCLA to eventually go to the UCLA Anderson school of business. I don’t think my school has the courses required by the UCLA Admission Requirement and that worries me because I might no longer be able to go to my dream school. So Please any helpful advice would be much appreciated. Thank you for reading and Please the sooner I get the information the better.

  23. Thomy,
    Thanks for your question. Your ability to get into UCLA will depend not at all on the difference between the 6.0 and 4.0 scales, but rather on your performance. You will need good grades–full stop. Do the best you can to be prepared for any and all colleges to which you may apply.
    However, I want to make two other points. First, do keep in mind that UCLA offers next to nothing in scholarships or discounts for students from outside California. Look at the price tag of UCLA and make sure you can afford it before you fall in love with the place. The UC schools tend to prefer to admit out-of-state students who can pay full price.
    Second, going to UCLA as an undergrad does not necessarily help you to get into UCLA graduate schools. In fact, if you really want to go to Anderson, you might want to save some money and set your sights on UT-Austin as an undergrad (great education, great price) and then pay for your MBA at Anderson (again, MBA programs offer little in the way of financial aid).
    To summarize, get the best grades possible in whatever grading system your school uses, think about money starting now, and think about the long term plan, not just the short and medium-term.
    Best of luck, and thanks for writing in.

  24. Hi, I’m a sophomore in high school in a school in Southern California, and currently my unweighted GPA is a 4.0 and my weighted GPA is a 4.2. During my freshman year I took 3 honors classes and Algebra 2 (I am a year ahead in math, but I only took regular) and this year I am only taking 1 honors class (pre-calculus honors), so my cumulative GPA took a bit of a dip from a 4.33 to a 4.2. So far I’ve had all A’s my entire high school career, and next year I will be taking 3 AP classes (Calculus, Psychology, and Biology). I am not in any sports or any clubs, but I plan on playing a sport next year and hopefully join a club, and I will try to apply for a job this summer. I am Egyptian (but an American citizen), so I don’t know if that will increase my chances of getting into UCLA. I know you cannot predict my chances, but is it still possible for me to get in even if I do not overwhelm myself by taking all AP classes and whatnot? Thanks.

  25. Hello, I just finished my junior year of high school (rising senior) and it’s my dream to go to UCLA. I’m leaning toward a Computer Science major. How will that affect my chances? I have a weighted GPA of 3.63, I’m in the top 25% of my class, and I am from Georgia. I had a 3.31 at the end of Freshman year, then a 3.39 at the end of sophomore year. And then it jumped to 3.63 (I got a 4.0 this year.) I’ve taken 4 APs (AP Human Geo, AP Stat, AP US History, and AP Physics) so far and I’m taking 3 more next year. Other than my AP classes, I only have Gifted classes and one honors (Spanish). I’m taking a 3rd of of Spanish next year. So I’m not too concerned about the rigor of my courses. I’ve been in a few clubs but I’m joining 5 senior year. Will that make a difference? I’ve been a little behind the ball on the clubs. I’ve been in orchestra all of high school as well. I’ve played rec basketball and softball every year of high school so far and one year if swimming. I’m also in Girl Scouts and am about to earn my Gold Award (the top award). I have a lot of leadership roles related to this. I haven’t taken my SATs yet (I’m about to) but I’m expecting at least an 1800 for my first time. Then it’ll raise, hopefully, to 1950-2050 when I take it again. What are some other things I can do between now and when I apply (November) to raise my chances of getting in? I’m willing to do just about anything. And I believe I can write a good-excellent personal essay. Based on this information, what are my chances? And what can I do now to raise my chances?! (I’m kind of stressing out.) And if I don’t get accepted to UCLA, what other schools in that area would you recommend? And what are my chances if I transfer into UCLA for my sophomore year of college with a 3.9 GPA or higher from my freshman year of college? I don’t plan on letting my GPA drop in college. Sorry I have a lot of questions. I’m just trying to find all of my options. Thank you in advance for reading this and answering all of my questions!

  26. Hi, I’m a soon to be junior and im really scared because my freshman year and sophomore year were absolutely terrible as much as I tried I just simply couldn’t get my grades up and sadly enough I ended both my freshman and sophmore year with less than a 3.0 and I sat in my room devastated and saying my life was over and I wasn’t going to be able to go to a university im taking summer school to re-do my math class ( Geometry ) which I got a D in first semester second semester I got a C but I talked to my counselor and asked her if there was anything I do she said if I do my absolute best and dont get anything less than a 3.7 and do great on my SAT’S then I could still go to a university I just want to know if what she said is true or not my dream has always been to become a Doctor because I love helping people especially when they’re sick but I don’t know if thats possible because of my freshman and sophmore year if you could please tell me if its still possible to go to UCLA which is my first choice

  27. Im jist going to edit I little of I had previously posted I am a California resident another reason why I ask if its possible to still be able to go to UCLA is I heard of a story of another kid with the same problem as me but he had it worse he had only D’s and F’s both freshman and sophomore year but he stepped it up and got a 3.8 his junior year both semester’s and a 4.0 senior year both semesters he was in sports and ASB and he got accepted into UCLA I as well intend to join ASB and also join soccer but I don’t know even with that if its still enough to get accepted if you could please help me I would really appreciate it

  28. Hi Mark!
    I’m currently on my way to sophomore year of high school here in SoCal. I finished my freshman year with a 4.5 GPA taking English 1 Honors, Spanish 2, Biology Honors, Algebra 2 Honors, and World History Honors. I also was a part of my school’s tennis, swim, and basketball teams in addition to participating in Mock Trial.
    In the next several years I hope to join several clubs and get into cabinet for at least one. I’m also very interested in joining the debate team and being a part of the IB program available here. This would require me to take plenty AP classes.
    My question is, is it better to take many AP classes with fair grades or take honors/regulars and ace them? I’ve heard both sides from my school counselors and am interested in finding out what will be the best route for me to take. Also, I really want to volunteer for a local hospital as a sophomore, and I know it’ll be a very time-demanding process. Is this looked at by colleges as well? Thanks!

  29. Hi Mark,

    You seem to be giving some really helpful advice on here, so I thought you could address my situation as well.

    I moved to the US a year ago and worked for a year in order to obtain CA in-state residency (I was lucky to be born a US citizen). Now I am going to start in Santa Monica College and hoping to transfer to UCLA in the business economics major. Back in Bulgaria (where I come from) I was a volunteer in children shelters, in the red cross, boy/girl scouts leading instructor and president of the photography club in my high school with GPA 3.8. During my year in CA I started out as a receptionist but within 6 months was promoted to HR due to very hard work. I know that as a white instate girl my chances for UCLA are not extremely high (by that I mean “not high at all”) so I was wondering, apart from great grades in SMC obviously, are there any other activities that I should undertake in order to better my chance for acceptance in UCLA with one of the most competitive majors there is?

  30. Hi,
    I’m from Honolulu and I’m currently attending a private high school. I’m going into my sophomore year and Ucla has always been my top choice school. Currently from my freshmen year my GPA is a 3.8, unweighted. I know I need to bring that up. I plan to take honors classes this coming school year and I’ve won a lot of academic awards, many having to do with dedication and leadership. I’m also on student council, I was captain of the volleyball team, MVP for the varsity girls basketball team and I play in a club league all year round. I have 35 community service hours at the moment, I hope to get many more before I graduate. I was just wondering if you could just give me your input about if I continue this path I will have a fighting chance to attend Ucla? Thanks

  31. Hello :),
    Okay currently I’m studying in Singapore in an International school (and I’m a Singaporean) doing my IBDP. I have done my Olevels with 8 subjects and got straight As (7A*s). I’m on my last year of IB graduating next year. I’ve 150+ hours of CAS in and my average IB grade ranges from 32-33 (it’s going to get higher from the start of my final year). For my HL subjects I get 5s above (HL Math, HL Physics and HL English Lang&Lit). For HL Math my grades weren’t that flash last year ranging at 4s. But I’m going to push that ATLEAST to a 5, and I know I can. I have achieved an Internationalism Award, excellence in Leadership award and excellence in Peer Tutoring award, all last year. I really always wanted to get into UCLA and all praises to God I’m financially able to get in. I’m aware I will need to my SAT reasoning tests and that will be done by early next year or this year end, I’m aiming for at least 2000 or more marks. But given my current track record how good do you think are my chances of getting in and how else can I improve my chances of getting in?
    Thanks Loads 🙂

  32. Hi, Vanina,
    I think you are doing all the right things. You will have to be at SMC for two full years before you can apply for transfer. So your grades there will matter a lot. Are you planning to continue your job as a receptionist, at least part time? As you enter SMC, consider the activities and leadership potential you might be able to exercise as a member of something like AIESEC or a business education association. Also talk with faculty about opportunities. It seems to me that you are on track, but you should always be on the lookout for other opportunities to deepen your interest and accomplishments in areas related to your preferred major.
    Good luck!

  33. Hello, Tia.
    Where do you attend school? MPI or Punahou, perhaps? Thanks for writing in.
    Suffice it to say that you are doing a good job and that you are “on track” for admission to UCLA. However, it is a very competitive school, as you are well aware, so you will want to consider other UCs or other universities, too. Don’t throw all your (emotional) eggs in a single basket, as there are other excellent schools out there that will love to have you on their campus. That said, you have a goal, and you seem to be headed toward it. Keep up the good work.

  34. Clairetta,
    Thanks for writing. I have worked with several Singaporeans in the past, and have a lot of experience with the IBDP. The world average on the IBDP is 31. My sense is that you will definitely need to pull up your HL grades to be competitive at UCLA: 6s are much preferable to 4s, and you’ll be competing against other international students with straight 7s at HL. It sounds like you’re doing all other things right, but it also may be that you are putting a disproportionate amount of energy into CAS at the cost of your IBDP grades. Of course, I have no way of knowing this, and I’d be happy to provide you more personal, tailored advice to help you reach your dreams. But the bottom line is this: there is no “something else”. You need to bring up your IBDP scores.
    I hope this is helpful, and please do let me know if I can provide you more customized advice.

  35. Hi, Christian,
    I can’t say for certain whether you’ll be able to go to UCLA. It’s not clear if the other kid you mentioned was a recruited athlete or not, but if so, that would explain a lot. The fundamental answer is this: your school counselor is right. Get a high GPA in the future and study like crazy for the ACT and/or SAT exams. Keep your nose to the grindstone and do well. And then yes, a four-year university will likely want you. Which one will want you, it’s hard to say at this point, as you still have miles to go to get that great GPA and good test scores. Further, if you have great teacher recommendations and a great counselor recommendation (“Christian Lopez really turned his life around after sophomore year…and now he is one of our superstars”), then you may be able to really soar. Don’t give up on yourself. But also keep your focus squarely on your studies.

    Best of luck.

  36. Hi,
    My name is Shahzaib Shaikh and I am going to be a sophomore this upcoming fall. For freshman year, my GPA unweighted was 3.6 but I took all honors classes including Geometry Honors.For sophomore year I am taking honors classes again, including AP World History, and I intend to earn all A’s hopefully. I am wondering, what GPA and SAT score will I need to be accepted into UCLA? Thanks so much for your time

  37. Also I was a part of Student Council my freshman year and I plan to play Varsity Tennis this upcoming school year as a sophomore. I currently attend Liberty High School in Nevada.

  38. Hello, Shahzaib,
    Thanks for writing in. First of all, you need to understand that as a nonresident of California, you will be held to higher standards than residents of California. Second, it seems that you are doing everything right: you are taking difficult courses, you are performing well, and you are getting involved in school activities. Third, you understand that high scores on the SAT or ACT will be important. The problem is that there are no precise GPA or test scores that will automatically get you into UCLA. So you should do two things: First, continue doing what you are doing, which is to take difficult courses earn high grades and study for the SAT. Second, you should continue to explore other educational options so as not to place all of your eggs in a single basket. Since you will be going to 10th grade, you have plenty of time to continue along both of these paths. We do not have to give up on your dream of UCLA at all. Rather, you just need to keep playing the game, and hedge your bets. Best of luck to you!

  39. I live in Dubai and am currently in year 10 (freshman in high school, 9th grade) studying under the british curriculum and I really would like to go to ucla to study film as that is what I love to do. I am still young but want to start bettering my chances from now on as it is my dream school. Any ideas on what I can do to try make that happen? I am extremely worried as I know the international acceptance rate is quite low, I think about 20%. Do I need to take media studies as a gcse or a level? Will it help? I have heard that it is more important to do subjects like history and languages instead to get into ucla first before tft, is this true? Please help

  40. Hi,
    My name is Maya and I’m going to be a senior this fall. I live in California and UCLA is my dream school. I want to pursue biomedical engineering, but I hear that it is very tough to get in because it’s an impacted major. I’ve been told to pursue the biopsychology major instead but I don’t want to. I drafted two essays where I talk about an event that has changed life for me and how I respond to it. Both of them talk about how I have become more open to new things and I give everything a chance. One of them talks a little bit about leadership in a paragraph and how I started something and I’ve committed to it every month. However, that is not the focus of the essay. So what should I do? Rewrite my essay to address the L.I.D? I got a 2200 on the SATs and my weighted GPA is barely over a 4. What do I do?

  41. Hello Mr. Montgomery.

    I’m currently taking a gap year and only now applying to some colleges I wish to attend. I am unhappy with my score of 1650 on my SAT (horrible but I have my reason. still those are reasons) and I want to take it again. I found out that the UCLA specifically says:

    “All requirements for freshman admission, including the examination requirement, must be completed prior to high school graduation.”

    I’m just asking if I do take the SAT again will they accept my new score? or am I stuck with that blasted 1650?

    I know they said it very clearly in their website but I’ve heard of other students who had taken the SAT/ACT again after HS and they were still accepted.

    I have an unweighted GPA of 3.8. I finished my senior year here in america (TX) about a year ago. I came from the Philippines and I am still waiting for my green card. I am willing to pay full tuition. My EC’s include being a member of the GCE (an international club). SIP regional champion and other various awards and leadership positions (one of them becoming editor in chief during my freshman year). I fear I might not show any dedication in my clubs because I moved every year in high school.

    I know that I am wasting away precious time of yours with my questions so I hope you’ll forgive. thank you in advance kind sir.

  42. Hi, Katelyn,
    Take the test again, and apply. It is possible that they will enforce this rule, but also possible that as an out-of-state, international student may get in under the radar. At the same time, hedge your bets and apply to UT-Austin or TAMU. And maybe broaden your options with private schools that are much less bureaucratic than the UC system (world’s largest university system has to be bureaucratic to survive).

  43. Hi, Maya,
    If you’re really more open to new things and give everything a chance, why the stubbornness about biomedical engineering? You can still be a “biomedical engineer” in the long term, even if you don’t major in that as an undergrad. You could take mechanical or electrical and still be able to get into the field later (through graduate school). Take the long view. Biomedical engineering majors are brand new, and super popular. But it’s not clear that only kids who major in boomed engineering are getting jobs in that field (in fact, my guess would be that there are plenty of biomedical engineering majors who end up doing something else…). Take the long view, be open to other possibilities.
    With regard to the essays, I can’t really say much with out reviewing them. If you’d like me to have a look, I’m happy to consult on those, if you think I can be helpful.
    Best regards,

  44. Hi,
    Entry to film school depends a lot on your experience with film. So GCSE media studies is a good thought. But there are other ways to get prepared. Obviously for UCLA or NYU, you still have to have the academic chops to get in to the university. This is a very specific sort of preparation you are proposing, and we do have a lot of experience working with students aiming for film school. I think it might be best to consider contacting us to discuss the consulting possibilities. Beyond that, consider summer film-making programs, make your own films as often as you can (teach yourself!), and watch films of all sorts.
    I hope this helps a bit!

  45. Hi! My name is Joy and im currently taking my GCE A levels. Im intending to study in the states ( UCLA ) and hence took the SATs but got a score of 1850. Should i retake the test? Or should i enroll into the school with the help of my future (hopefully good) A level score? Please advice mark!! Thankyouuu 🙂

  46. Should I let money get in the way of my dreams? I come from a family that makes a portion under the average middle-class family and so the sight of the tuition was like a hit in the head by reality. I’m a non-resident of California, so that doesn’t make anything easier. (But will they still count the fact that I am an ex-resident of Cali, was born there and also have family there, too?) On the other hand, I’m pretty aware of my chances of getting in. First of all, I’m NOT in the top of my class, I have a 3.4 GPA and have improved tremendously in mathematics (my worst subject). I want to pursue a Computer Science degree because my during all these years of my conscious life, I was on computers and it’s something I will NEVER let go of. I taught myself everything and anything about it, from the coding to the mechanics and hardware. Though the backlash to spending my every second on a computer is that I never did any extracurricular activities or any community service and all that jazz. I have a debilitating mental disorder that always kept me locked up inside, so I honestly don’t know where to start on the subject of leadership; I have ZERO leadership! Mr. Montgomery, any help?

  47. Hi, Joy.
    For students not from the state of California, the UC system is very competitive. Your SAT score is not really up to the standard of UCLA, so you should consider retaking. Your A-level scores are, of course, very important, too, and they will be duly considered in the process. But given the very competitive nature of UCLA, a higher SAT score will give you a better chance.
    Of course, UCLA is not the only good university in the US, or even in California. You have other options, regardless of your SAT score. Have you considered other schools and their requirements?
    Best of luck.

  48. Hi
    I have studied in India from 2 nd to the 9 th grade and have moved back to the US last year for my sophomore year. I am a California resident so I believe I am eligible for in-state tuition. I currently have around a 3.8 ( unweighted) and around a 4.1 or 4.2 (weighted) GPA. In the 9th grade in India I participated in a MUN in my school and my country won best delegation. I also participated in many music fests where i played guitar for my school. When I came here for sophomore year I did not do many extracurriculars except for playing table tennis and badminton ( at school). By the end of the year I took up a leadership role in a big cultural event at San Jose CA. People from around the world attended. Over the summer i have also been taking sat prep classes. I am not happy with my practice test score of 1800. This year i will be in HOSA and key club. What would you think are my chances are of admission into UCLA?

  49. Respected Sir,

    Im finding that you’re being very helpful satisfying queries and i also wish to get into UCLA so would request for your opinion.

    Im currently in grade 12 final year and an international student from INDIA. I visited UCLA this year and fell in love with it and here forth would request you to rate my chances or tell me how to improve them.

    I gave my SAT exam in July this year and got this score:-
    CR: 550
    WRITING: 660
    MATH: 720
    COMPOSITE: 1930

    i gave TOEFL in April and got a score of 109

    Im applying to Cognitive Science Major and if you could please also tell me how is the acceptance rate and SAT scores for this major.

    I have a pretty strong essay about my cultures which was appreciated by my friends and family.

    Im also preparing for my SAT subject tests in MATH LEVEL 2 and PHYSICS for October and believe that will be able to get between 750 – 800 in both the subjects.

    It is my only wish to get into UCLA and i am willing to work as hard as possible to achieve it.

    Warm Regards

  50. Hello, Ishaan,
    I wish you luck in getting into UCLA. Ido not have a crystal ball, but I want to give you a few pieces of advice. First off, how did you take your SAT in July? Did you mean June? Your critical reading score is the bugbear, but that score is somewhat outweighed by your 109 TOEFL score. I’m not sure about the relative difficulty of the particular major you have chosen, but my guess is that it is relatively competitive, So your math score might need to be a bit higher, too. And I hope you do get the predicted score on the SAT2 subject tests, as predicted. UCLA in general is very competitive for students from India and China, because there are so many students applying from those two countries. Perhaps you would prefer to be a citizen of Malawi or Paraguay? (just kidding…). Finally, I urge you to have a second, third, and fourth choices. There are many fine universities–even in the State of California system–where you can get an outstanding education in your chosen major and go on to have a distinguished career. Beware of falling head-over-heels in love with a damsel who may decide she doesn’t love you as much as you love her…! “Play the field,” as they say, and look around for other interesting beauties to court. Let me know if I can be of help.
    Best regards,

  51. Hi, Akhil,
    Getting into UCLA as an in-state student is easier than for a non-resident. That said, it isn’t easy to get in with an 1800 SAT. So three pieces of advice. First, study hard to raise your SAT score by the November test. Second, consult with your school guidance counselor with regard to your admissibility, as California counselors have a better idea of how students similar to you have fared from your particular high school. Third, you’d better be looking around at other options, just in case your objective is out of reach.
    I wish you the best of luck!

  52. Hi, Jenny.
    Thanks for your email. I’m not sure how to advise you. There are many bits of information in your note that indicate that you have some ideas about how things will shake out. You mention that money is a problem, your lack of extracurriculars, as well as a mental disorder. I think your inquiry is beyond my expertise. I recommend that you seek advice from your school guidance counselor. That person will be more immediately able to answer your questions and in a better position to provide substantive help.
    I wish you all the best,

  53. Hi! Is it true that the UC’s will ONLY accept the new SAT for the graduating students at 2017? I also had no idea that the UC’s would not look at freshman GPA. My gpa at freshman year was a 3.8 and now I’m a sophmore. However, I’m not sure I have a feeling that my sophmore GPA will not be better than my freshman GPA. Is there a way to compensate that?

  54. Hi.
    You can’t change your previous GPA. You can always “compensate” by doing better in subsequent years. You can also aim for a high SAT or ACT score. But hey…what’s so bad about a 3.8 GPA your freshman year?
    Good luck with sophomore year!

  55. Karas,
    You seem to have a good idea of what is necessary for admission to top universities like UCLA. Since you live in California, I suggest that you have a good talk with your school guidance counselor to find out whether you are on track. Sometimes counselors in the school can have a better idea of the odds of acceptance to UCs. You do need to get involved at school, but you also need to keep up your grades.
    Best wishes,

  56. Hi! I have a 3.6 GPA and a 5.0 unweighted and I’ve improved my grades throughout high-school I played basketball for two years but then got bored and went on to lifting and track, will it look bad that I switched? I also went to the Dominican with an Interact Club from another high-school then came back and started an interact club at my school and now we have over 90 members. Is that good? Oh and it is my senior year
    Thank you! This helped me understand more

  57. Hello. I’m currently a junior. How important are grades and SAT scores compared to other things such as leadership, extracurriculars, and improvement? My overall GPA is a 3.5 unweighted and a 4.1 weighted. But you can see that my grades have improved drastically over the years. Will I have a really hard time getting accepted even if I am stellar in the other categories?

  58. Sonia,
    The number one most important credential in college admission is your grades. It seems with your grades you have done pretty well in HS, and I see no reason why you would not be accepted to college. Which college? Hard to say without more info. But if you have taken challenging courses, done well, and also performed reasonably well on the ACT/SAT tests, you should have no problem.
    Best of luck.

  59. Hi!
    I have found this site very helpful, and I just wanted to ask a question regarding my application.
    I am currently a senior studying in an international school with an IB curriculum in Hong Kong, and am applying to the UC’s. I am predicted as a 36 for IB, and am quite involved within the community. (e.g: 2 leadership roles, 1 sport, 4 activities/community service) However, my SAT score is 1830.
    What would you think are my chances are of admission into UCLA?

    Thank you

  60. Hello, I’m a senior currently doing college apps at the moment and my dream school is UCLA. Now, my GPA isn’t the best (in my eyes for a uc especially for UCLA) but I have really been dedicated to my church choir since 8th grade year. Would my community service and personal statements make or break it? Plus I’m first generation Nigerian.

  61. This helped a lot. Junior is hard for me right now, but I’m getting through it. I go to a science and engineering school. UCLA is the school I’ve been aiming for, for a few years now, however I don’t mind going somewhere else in California.

  62. And really, it doesn’t have to be in California, but I would love to go to school there. I am from Texas, so I know it will be harder to get into a college out-of-state. I would love to study forensics so I can major in that field. Also my aunt and uncle live in LA. My uncle inspires me to want to become an actress. He is an actor, plus it has been my dream for a long time! The other night I went to a college night and they mentioned many other colleges across the states that offer great performing arts programs including the University of new Orleans.

  63. Hi, Erika,
    Grades matter a lot in the process. Your community service and personal statements will make a difference, but your intuition that grades matter more is probably correct, especially at a very competitive place like UCLA. You also don’t mention whether you are a California resident, which will make a difference, too.
    So in the absence of complete information and due to the fact that I can’t really make predictions, all I can do is wish you the best of luck in the process!

  64. Hi, Evelyn,
    It seems that you are interested in a great many things, which is terrific. Switching states is not only more difficult in terms of admissions, sometimes, but the cost of attending out of state can be significantly more, too. I hope you are able to figure out your plan. Let me know if you think I can help.

  65. Hi!
    Im an out of state resident and a sophomore. I own a charity and I have several extracurriculars, mock trial, dance, volleyball, laccrosse. My gpa last year was a 4.1 weighted and a 3.8 un weighted. I havent taken the SAT or ACT though I plan too. But do I seem like a good candidate for UCLA to accept?

  66. Hi,
    Im a California resident, I come from a blue collar household, and went through adversity when my grandmother passed away, as it has effected my mother and our family in general. I let my grades slip down to a 3.4 this last semester and a 4.0 unweighted, but overall four the previous four semesters I had an avg. 4.3. I am heavily involved within my community. I do expect to bring my gpa up the following semester, but my question is if, you suggest I write my personal statement about this or about my passion to teach and the experience I have tutoring and mentoring fellow peers?
    Thank you, in advance.

  67. Hi. Currently I am a sophomore in the state of North Carolina and I was looking around at future opportunities when I came across UCLA. First, it is my understanding that the school is extremely difficult to be accepted to if one is applying from out of state. Is this true? Also, what would be the best course of action to take throughout the rest of my high school years to garuntee my best chance of being accepted when the time comes?

  68. Hello! I am a junior at a small public school in Texas. I want to go to UCLA terribly. My current GPA is 4.12 weighted, and I am currently ranked first out of sixty-three students. That could change, however. I am involved in theatre, speech and debate, competitive academics (UIL), student council, and national honor society. However, I made my first B on a report card ever last six weeks with an 88 and I am currently making a B in my dual credit college class. What are my chances of being accepted? I can write a really great essay, if that helps.

  69. Hi. My name is Heaven and I’m currently a junior in high school. I am having trouble on getting a good score on the SAT’s and ACT. I tried practice exams but I always get the same score around 1123 on the SAT. On the ACT, I got a 18. I really want to go to UCLA with all my heart. Is there anything that I should do to make it better?

  70. Hi! i’ve noticed that the following who have written to you are mostly high school students, and unlike myself i am not a high school student, i graduated in 2010, and only went for 1 semester in a community college, i want to get into a UC school (USC or UCLA) but want to know what you would suggest in order for me to get back on track and continue to follow my dreams. In high school i wanted to apply to USC but my counselor told me that i wouldn’t get accepted, and that i shouldn’t have reached too high due to dyslexia, and was shut down.

  71. Hi! I know that it’s silly, but I’m in 8th grade and I’m already thinking about college. I’ve wanted to get into UCLA for as long as I can remember. Is there anythinf I can do throughout highschool regarding extracurricular activities, clubs, or classes that I can take that will increase my chances of getting into UCLA? I’m from Texas, but my dad was born and raised in LA. He attended UCLA, so that makes me a legacy, correct? Are my chances increased just by being a legacy, or is it not even relevant?

  72. Hi Mr.Montgomery,
    I am really interested in going to UCLA but I don’t know if I can get in because a large amount of the college admittance process is through gpa and scores, from what I’ve heard. I have a 3.8 unweighted gpa and have a 2190 on the SAT but, my in my area, these scores are just slightly above average. How can I stand out more in my application and, based on my scores, do you think I am a good candidate for UCLA?
    Thanks so much!

  73. I am an international student and I will be applying for UCLA soon with financial aid.
    I want to know if the financial aid requirement may hinder my acceptance.

  74. Hi,
    I recently moved from India, where I did 9th and 10th grade. My CGPA was 9.4 (the highest possible score being 10.0) at a school ranked in the top 10 in the country regularly. I took the PSAT and scored 201 (I’ve heard that the PSAT is a good indicator of how you’ll perform in the SAT).
    About a month back, my Dad got a job transfer to California. I’ll be attending a public high school (it’s highly ranked though) for junior and senior year. I plan to take 2 honors classes and 3 AP classes this year.
    Having transferred from one school to another, I doubt any leadership opportunities will be open to me. However, I think I can show improvement and diligence in hobbies that I’ve taken part in for at least two years.
    Assuming I continue in the same way, do I have a good chance of getting into UCLA? If not, what can I do to improve my chances?

  75. Hi! I’m a US citizen currently studying in a British Curriculum school in the Middle East. I will graduate in June 2019, and will take my ACT next year, and I am expected to get between a 29 and 33 on the test. My GPA is roughly around a 4.0, and I am a California born US citizen. Will I be able to get into UCLA? And when should I apply?

  76. Do you think I’ll get into UCLA? I’m a senior now.
    GPA: 4.7 W / 4.0 UW
    Total of 11 AP classes and 7 honors classes throughout all of high school.
    I’m still on track to be a valedictorian (just can’t screw up in AP Physics) and am in the top .5% of my class.
    SAT: 2300 (750 Reading, 800 Math, 750 Writing)
    ACT: 35
    SAT subject tests:
    Biology: 800, Chemistry: 780, Math 2: 800
    My Extracurricular activities are pretty weak though:
    Speech and Debate for 3 years: President my senior year and have competed at state for multiple events
    Robotics for 3 years: Our team won world’s one year
    Community Service: 500 hours at Valley Children’s Hospital. About 150 hours with my school’s Key Club
    Guitar: I’ve played for almost 3 years. I started the Guitar Club at my school and I play guitar for my school’s jazz band. Also, I play lead guitar in a band with my friends and we gig every other weekend.
    Church: Have been a leader at VBS and help set up many events
    Also, I’m an instate student and UCLA is my first choice.

    Please give me a yes or no. I completely realize that you’re not some kind of genie or anything and can’t for sure say but please give me your best guess… Thank you

  77. Hi I’m from California, and am a sophomore at a charter high school. My GPA right now is a 3.4, and I know for a fact that I can do better, but I’ve been going through some family problems. Next year I’m planning on taking english 2, algebra 2 trig., US history, honors chemistry, AP spanish 4, and ASB leadership.
    My senior year is going to be AP English lit., honors physics, honors pre calculus, AP art history, AP U.S. Gov and politics, and ASB leadership again. I would also be doing the medical academy and ASB for the first time starting junior year, and be the president of the Make A Wish Club for those two years. This year I started the interact club at my school and we basically help the community and volunteer to help people who need it ( I’ve done about 57 hours so far). I’m also the team captain for my soccer team, and planning on doing track this year. UCLA is my dream school and I know for a fact that I can follow up and accomplish all I need to! Please write me back if you recommend doing something more or different! Thank you!!

  78. Hello! I’m currently a senior in high school. Even though I’m Egyptian, I was born and lived my whole life in the United Arab Emirates. My GPA is a 4.0 and I got a score of 1110 on my SATs. Note that I was my high school’s student council president during my junior year, have been playing basketball for the past 6 years, and I grew a passion for drawing during my junior year-which is something I’m trying to improve by time.
    What are my chances of getting accepted in UCLA?
    And what are some tips you would give me to strengthen my application?

  79. Hello im a UCLA student who graduated with a 3.5 GPA and 1580 SAT score, let me just tell you perfect 4.0 and great grades isnt important to UCLA they want to see a well rounded student who is participating in school sports,clubs, volunteering, and joining organizations to make a difference and obviously having good grades.

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