How to Increase Your Chances of Getting into UCLA

Thursday, November 30, 2023
How To Increase Chances Of Getting Into Ucla

The University of California, Los Angeles, commonly called UCLA, is the second oldest university in the University of California system, established in 1919. It is also one of the most prestigious, and many students set their sights on becoming a Bruin each year.

Though UCLA is a public research institution, it is well known for its low acceptance rates and high standards for prospective students. Like any prestigious university, getting into UCLA requires a certain level of academic success, an impressive resume, high standardized test scores, and a solid personal essay.

If UCLA is your dream school, you'll want to understand the specific landscape of the school and its admissions standards. This will help you tailor your application for the best chance of following in the footsteps of other UCLA students.

UCLA Stats

Anytime you are interested in a specific college or university, you should consider the average statistics of the previous year’s accepted students and any other information associated with that campus.

UCLA is a highly selective university, so if you want to apply, you should set yourself up for success by understanding how selective it is and preparing yourself accordingly. 

Acceptance Rates

UCLA has notoriously low acceptance rates. In fact, as of 2023, the UCLA acceptance rate was 9%, which is lower than in previous years.

Average Test Scores

Like most colleges and universities, UCLA looks at applicants’ standardized test scores as part of their admissions considerations. 

In the incoming 2019 class, average test scores had this breakdown:

  • The average SAT score (on a scale of 1600) is 1360 to 1550. The average score on the essay section is 16 to 19. This represents the middle 50% of students.

  • The average composite ACT score is 29 to 32 for the same 50% of students.

This means that getting in with a lower score than these is possible, but your best chance will be scoring higher. Consider enrolling in a test preparation course for the ACT and SAT or taking practice exams to earn the highest score possible. Remember, you can take each test multiple times and submit only the test with the best score. 

Average GPA

A grade point average is a way for university admissions officers to gauge your level of academic commitment in high school, so work to raise your GPA as high as possible before applying. You can do this by performing well in your classes and taking Advanced Placement courses when available. 

The GPA average for UCLA's 2019 admitted students was between 4.18 and 4.32, representing the middle 50% of students. This is a 3.92 when the UCLA average GPA is unweighted.

Application Tips

When considering how to get into UCLA, it’s essential to use standard college application best practices when applying. However, since UCLA reportedly had 111,000 applicants in the fall of 2019, high test scores and a high GPA alone will not be enough to stand out. You'll need to show the admissions office how you are a unique fit for the school and will contribute to the campus positively. 

One of the best ways to demonstrate this is through your statement. This lets you showcase your skills, high school journey, and aspirations. 

When writing, consider your leadership skills, how you have improved throughout high school, and your goals as a UCLA student. How will you contribute to UCLA in a way that will make admissions officers want to accept you to the school?

Of course, showcase yourself rather than trying to be what you think UCLA’s admissions officers want to see. While you should show yourself in the best light, UCLA admissions officers want to get to know you, and usually, your true stories of growth are more impressive and intriguing than anything you could invent.

Tips From a UCLA Student

You should also listen to advice from students who have been in your shoes and succeeded in being admitted to UCLA. These students can reflect on the college admissions process and locate methods and practices that worked for them. Seeing that other students have been where you are will give you perspective and inspire you!

For example, Shanaya Sidhu, a student at UCLA, advises future applicants to work hard but focus on classes and activities that interest them rather than pleasing the admissions officers.

She says, “While taking as many AP courses as possible to challenge yourself, it is also essential to take AP courses in the subject matter you are truly interested in, especially that which you are interested in pursuing in college. You will excel particularly in subject matter you are passionate about and driven by.”

The same is true for activities. According to Shanaya, “It is better to keep yourself busy during high school with activities that interest you and help you make an impact on your community; you should always involve yourself in activities that benefit and interest you, rather than activities you think will interest colleges on your college resume. Colleges can see when you are just trying too hard to impress them, so you should showcase your passions through activities you were dedicated to and make a difference.”

You can read more of Shanaya’s tips and other student success stories in the book College Admission—How to Get Into Your Dream School: Real Students, Real Stories by James W. Lewis.

As you continue your college search and prepare to apply to UCLA and other dream schools, remember there are plenty of resources to utilize during this process.

Mentors, online communities, books, blogs, counselors, and test prep advisors are there to help you, so make sure you take good notes and start building the application you need to get into the school of your dreams. Enjoy the process, and good luck!