UC Berkeley Requirements for Admission

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

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

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

School location: Berkeley, CA

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


Admissions Rate: 11.4%

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

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

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

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


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UC Berkeley GPA Requirements

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

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

Average GPA: 3.9

The average GPA at UC Berkeley is 3.9.

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

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

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


SAT and ACT Requirements

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

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

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

UC Berkeley SAT Requirements

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

Average SAT: 1415

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

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

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UC Berkeley SAT Score Analysis (New 1600 SAT)

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

Here's the breakdown of SAT scores by section:

SectionAverage25th Percentile75th Percentile
Math725660790
Reading + Writing690640740
Composite141513001530

SAT Score Choice Policy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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UC Berkeley ACT Requirements

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

Average ACT: 31

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

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

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

ACT Score Sending Policy

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

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

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

ACT Superscore Policy

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

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


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SAT/ACT Writing Section Requirements

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

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



Final Admissions Verdict

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

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

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

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


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

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Admissions Calculator

What are your chances of admission at University of California, Berkeley?
Chances of admission with these scores:

Here's our custom admissions calculator. Plug in your numbers to see what your chances of getting in are.

Pick your test: SAT ACT

ACT Score
Your GPA

Note: Your admission decision relies not only on your GPA and SAT/ACT scores, but also on your coursework difficulty, extracurriculars, letters of recommendation, and personal statements. This tool provides only a simplistic estimate of your chances of admission. Instead of treating this tool as a crystal ball, we recommend you consider the big picture of what your chance means:
  • 80-100%: Safety school: Strong chance of getting in
  • 50-80%: More likely than not getting in
  • 20-50%: Lower but still good chance of getting in
  • 5-20%: Reach school: Unlikely to get in, but still have a shot
  • 0-5%: Hard reach school: Very difficult to get in
We recommend you apply to schools across a range of chances. Applying to some safety schools will guarantee you have a college to go to, while applying to some reach schools will give you a shot at getting into the school at the top of your range.

How would your chances improve with a better score?

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

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

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

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Application Requirements

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

Application Requirements Overview

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

Testing Requirements

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

Coursework Requirements

  • Subject Required Years
  • English 4
  • Math 3
  • Science 2
  • Foreign Language 2
  • Social Studies
  • History 2
  • Electives 1

Deadlines and Early Admissions

  •  
    • Offered? Deadline Notification
  • Regular Admission
    • Yes November 30 March 31
  • Early Action
    • No
  • Early Decision
    • No

Admissions Office Information

Our Expert's Notes

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

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

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

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

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

Source


Other Schools For You

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


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Reach Schools: Harder to Get Into

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

School Name Location SAT Avg ACT Avg
Dartmouth College Hanover, NH 1500 34
University of Notre Dame Notre Dame, IN 1475 34
Villanova University Villanova, PA 1395 33
University of Michigan Ann Arbor, MI 1435 33
Emory University Atlanta, GA 1484 33
Georgetown University Washington, DC 1450 33
University of Virginia Charlottesville, VA 1445 33

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Same Level: Equally Hard to Get Into

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

School Name Location SAT Avg ACT Avg
Boston University Boston, MA 1418 32
Binghamton University Binghamton, NY 1375 31
Stony Brook University Stony Brook, NY 1396 31
Rochester Institute of Technology Rochester, NY 1352 31
Seton Hall University South Orange, NJ 1310 30
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Troy, NY 1393 30
United States Military Academy West Point, NY 1331 30

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Safety Schools: Easier to Get Into

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

School Name Location SAT Avg ACT Avg
Syracuse University Syracuse, NY 1310 29
University of Connecticut Storrs, CT 1315 29
Penn State University Park University Park, PA 1265 28
Temple University Philadelphia, PA 1241 28
University of Texas at Dallas Richardson, TX 1291 28
Drexel University Philadelphia, PA 1290 28
Hofstra University Hempstead, NY 1246 27

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


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Want to build the best possible college application?

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

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

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

Get Into Your Top Choice School

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