Jul 26

Getting into UCLA: Strategies

UCLA Campus

UCLA admissions rates have dropped significantly over the last few decades. The University of Southern California Los Angeles accepted nearly 75 percent of its applicants in 1980. By 1990, this figure had fallen to the low 40s. The acceptances dropped even further into the 20s by the year 2000, and proceeded into the low 20s by 2010. Today, UCLA carries an acceptance rate of just 11 percent.


Only 36% of applicants with a GPA of 4.39 or higher got accepted. Only 27% of students who took 22 or more honors/AP classes in high school achieved admission. Given that UCLA is now even more selective than Berkeley, while sharing a similar admission rate with schools like Georgetown and Carnegie Mellon, it begs the question, “What is the secret to getting in?”


Although there aren’t many “secrets” in the world of college admissions, a study of statistics, demographic data, and current trends might shed light on the procedure at top tier colleges. To that end, we’ll be taking a look at the following subjects in this article:


  • Class of 2026 acceptance rates at UCLA

  • UCLA’s SAT/ACT rules and candidate GPAs

  • Admissions trends

  • Current UCLA undergraduate demographics

  • Admissions yield

  • How UCLA admissions personnel assess potential students

  • Application advice for UCLA

  • A strategy for writing the UC Personal Insight essays

  • Deciding whether or not the $70 application cost is really worth applying to UCLA (for you)

Do you want to improve your chances of getting into a top-tier university? Schedule your consultation with Tokyo Academics today!

 Class of 2026 acceptance rates at UCLA

Although the data for the Class of 2026 have not yet been made public, we do know that there were 149,779 applicants for the 2022–2023 freshman class. We can predict that the acceptance rate will likely be lower than it was the prior year based just on this number.


Out of the 139,490 freshmen that applied for admission to the Class of 2025, UCLA only accepted 15,028. This translates to an acceptance rate of 11%. Californians were accepted at a 14 percent rate while out-of-state students were accepted at 21 percent compared to the previous year (most recent statistics available), when the overall acceptance rate was a more favorable 14 percent. To enter as a non-resident, however, is actually far more challenging as you will see in the following section.


UCLA’s SAT/ACT rules and candidate GPAs


The mid-50 percent unweighted GPA range for members of the Class of 2025 was 3.92-4.0, and the weighted GPA range was 4.36-4.68.


In general, in-state applicants are less qualified than their out-of-state counterparts while having a greater acceptance rate. California citizens had a mid-50 percent unweighted GPA of 4.30–4.60, SAT scores of 1250–1500, and ACT composites of 26–34 in one recent cycle (when test scores were taken into account when applying). The GPA range for out-of-state applicants was 4.35–4.80, the SAT range was 1390–1530, and the ACT range was 31–34. In high school, admitted students typically took 17 to 25 honors or advanced courses.


Note: UCLA is a test-blind institution, therefore test results are not taken into account.


Admissions Trends & Notes


The majority of UCLA students were from California and paid in-state tuition. The following is the geographic breakdown


  • Residents of California: 75%

  • Non-residents of other U.S. States: 47%

  • Non-residents, foreign countries: 84%

  • Southern Californians: 46%

  • Percentage compared to the rest of California: 29%


The composition of the Class of 2025, when broken down by ethnicity, is as follows:


  • Asian Americans: 38%

  • Hispanics:22%.

  • African Americans: 7%

  • Other: 10%

  • White Caucasians: 28%

There are significantly more women than men among all students. The gender breakdown is as follows


  • Male: 41%

  • Female: 59%


Students admitted by school district:


  • Los Angeles County Public: 21%

  • Other CA Public: 40%

  • Los Angeles County Private: 3%

  • Other CA Private: 6%

  • Outside California (Public/Private): 30%


Yield Rate at UCLA


The yield rate at UCLA, which is calculated as the percentage of accepted students who choose to enroll, divided by the total number of admitted students, was 44%. When compared to other elite public institutions, UT-Austin has a 46% yield, UNC-Chapel Hill has a 44% yield, and UGA has a 41% yield.


The UCLA Admissions Process

Only three factors—the rigor of secondary school curriculum, GPA, and application essays—are deemed by UCLA to be “extremely essential” to their admissions process. Talent/ability, character/personal traits, extracurricular activities, volunteer experience, and work experience are all considered to be “essential” factors. First-generation status, place of residence, and state of domicile are all considered variables.


Beginning with the Class of 2025, UCLA and all other campuses of the University of California stopped using any form of standardized testing (those applying in the 2020-21 admissions cycle). This highlights UCLA’s customary comprehensive screening procedure even further.


According to the admissions department, “selection is based on a thorough evaluation of all information—both academic and personal—presented in the application. Every application is thoroughly read twice by readers who have received professional reading instruction. The reader generates a thorough score after independently reading and evaluating a file, which serves as the foundation for the final decision of whether to admit or reject the student.


It certainly helps if you are recruited as an athlete to join one of UCLA’s 25 Division I sports teams, as the school has one of the top athletic programs in the nation. Every year, many new students are classified as “recruited athletes,” including (according to the most recent data available) 85% of the football squad. Athletes that were recruited had GPAs that were much lower than the average.

Guidelines for UCLA Applicants

If you’re one of the more than 130,000 prospective Bruins for the upcoming admissions cycle, you should be aware of the following:


  • UCLA does not conduct interviews despite being a comprehensive procedure.

  • In the admissions process, UCLA does not take “demonstrated interest” into account.


Make sure to give the UCLA-required extra essays the time and attention they need. There were a total of eight prompts for the 2021–22 cycle, and candidates had to reply to four of them. There is a 350 word cap for each response.


UC Essays


  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?

The ideal strategy in this situation is to choose the four questions that best meet your needs and elicit the most interesting and individualized responses.

Should I Apply to UCLA?

The requirement for near-perfect (or flawless) grades in 20+ honors/AP/IB classes means that getting into UCLA is now one of the most difficult tasks one can do. Even applicants from the same state must have stellar academic records and other distinguishing qualities. UCLA is a remarkable, top-tier university with many highly esteemed academic programs. Naturally, you must be aware that, in the end, about 90% of candidates will be rejected. As a result, every student needs to make sure that they create a list of suitable colleges that includes both “goal” and “safety” schools. You should do this in consultation with an admissions expert who is knowledgeable about the most recent trends and tactics utilized by your target universities.


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