Would you like to know how to get into UCLA? You’re in the right place.
At Transizion, we’re devoted to guiding students through the college application process. We research a wide range of schools and give you the highlights so that you can devote more time and energy to living your best life and crafting an extraordinary application.
This post will tell you everything you need to know before you apply to UCLA. We’ll cover academics, essay prompts, and what UCLA is looking for. Let’s dive in.
The University of California is a public university system with ten campuses; nine of these ten campuses are open to undergraduates. Established over a century ago, UC Los Angeles is the second-oldest campus in the University of California system.
Although UC Los Angeles has over thirty thousand undergraduates, two thirds of their classes have less than thirty students. Small seminars and interdisciplinary courses give students the opportunity to delve deeper into subjects that interest them.
UCLA offers 125 majors and 90 minors. Unique programs include Applied Linguistics, Chicana and Chicano Studies, Community Engagement and Social Change, Dental Surgery, Disability Studies, Engineering Geology, Ethnomusicology, Iranian Studies, Music History and Industry, Nordic Studies, and Portuguese and Brazilian Studies.
Between the school’s wide array of courses and the school’s 1000+ student clubs and organizations, there are offerings available on campus that will suit any student. The campus hosts comedy nights, live concerts, and about 400 film screenings each year.
Is it Hard to Get into UCLA?
Considered to be a Public Ivy, UC Los Angeles is frequently ranked among the best universities in the world. In the Fall of 2022, UCLA had an admittance rate of 8.6%. California residents make up approximately seventy percent of each incoming class.
Admittance rates vary from one school to another. The UCLA School of Nursing is extremely competitive, with an acceptance rate of one percent. The College of Letters and Sciences admitted thirteen percent of last year’s applicants, while the school for music admitted twenty percent.
GPA Requirements and Averages
You’ll need nearly straight A’s to get into UCLA. The unweighted GPA for students admitted in Fall 2022 was a 4.0 average. The median weighted GPA was 4.58.
With acceptance rates dropping every year, you’d do well to maintain an unweighted GPA of 4.0 and a weighted GPA of at least 4.6 if you want to attend UCLA.
Standardized Tests: SAT or ACT?
UCLA does not require or consider SAT or ACT scores, making student GPAs more important than ever.
In May 2020, the University of California announced that it would suspend standardized testing score requirements in admissions until 2024. One year later, the University of California announced that this change would be permanent: the University of California does not consider SAT or ACT scores in its admissions or scholarship decisions.
What Does UCLA Look For?
“All UCLA students possess a certain set of traits — among them curiosity, optimism, drive, compassion, creativity and a deep desire to improve the world around them.”
— Gene Block, UCLA Chancellor
Here’s UCLA’s list of the most important criteria they consider:
- Achievement in high school or college coursework
- Personal qualities
- Likely contributions to the intellectual and cultural vitality of our campus
- Achievement in academic enrichment programs
- Other achievements in any field of intellectual or creative endeavor, including the performing arts, athletics, community service, etc.
In addition to maintaining an unweighted GPA of 4.0, students interested in attending UCLA should take the most challenging coursework available to them in their field(s) of interest. The following are the minimum requirements, but remember – a competitive application will go above and beyond the following.
These are the coursework requirements for admission to the University of California:
- 2 years history/social science
- 4 years of college-preparatory English
- 3 years of mathematics (4 years recommended)
- 2 years of laboratory science (3 years recommended)
- 2 years of language other than English (3 years recommended)
- 1 year of visual and performing arts (if available)
- 1 year of college-preparatory elective
Activities and Awards
The University of California is looking for students who demonstrate “academic achievement, personal talent and a drive for discovery and transformation.” In the Activities and Awards section of the University of California application, applicants are given the opportunity to describe their life outside of the classroom.
Each item should fall into one of these six categories:
- Community Service
- Work Experience
- Educational Preparation Programs
- Other Coursework
- Extracurricular Activities
- Awards and Honors
You’ll have more room to expand on some of these in the university’s essay section.
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Personal Insight Questions
The University of California calls their supplemental essay prompts Personal Insight Questions. The university stresses that these questions are your chance to showcase “your personality, background, interests and achievements in your own unique voice.”
Don’t forget to proofread! Write in a genuine tone that’s not stilted or overly formal, and then ensure that there are no errors. It’s always a good idea to get a second (third, forth) pair of eyes to make sure that you haven’t missed anything.
There are eight questions, and applicants must choose exactly four to respond to with short essays of 350 words or less. Consider carefully, and choose the questions that allow you to paint a picture of who you are without repeating yourself between questions. There’s also an additional comments field where you can explain any extenuating circumstances that may have affected your performance in high school.
- Describe an example of your leadership experience in which you have positively influenced others, helped resolve disputes or contributed to group efforts over time.
Even if you’ve never been a team captain or student body president, there may be significant leadership roles in your life that you can draw on for this question. Have you ever organized an important event or community service project? Do you have younger siblings who look up to you? Have you mentored other students and helped them reach their goals?
There are many ways to be a leader, and the ability to listen to other people and work well in a group are some of the most important leadership skills a person can have. This is your chance to explain how taking initiative has helped you to learn and grow as a person and what that experience meant to you.
- 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.
This wide-open question is a great opportunity to showcase something really unique. If you can relate it to your choice of major, do that. Either way, make it memorable.
Even if you don’t think of yourself as an artist, there’s something in your life that you can hold up as an example of original and innovative thinking. Maybe it was a successful business idea or a creative solution to a problem in your community. Whatever you choose to write about, be sure to use plenty of vivid details and describe how this creativity has positively affected your life and the lives of those around you.
- What would you say is your greatest talent or skill? How have you developed and demonstrated that talent over time?
Remember, there’s something more important than the talent you choose to describe, and that’s your ability to describe why it means something to you. What opportunities has your skillset created, and how have you taken advantage of them?
Did you have to work hard to develop this talent? If so,that’s worth a mention. But remember: universities are much more interested in the present and the recent past than they are in something that happened years ago.
- Describe how you have taken advantage of a significant educational opportunity or worked to overcome an educational barrier you have faced.
The University describes an educational opportunity as “anything that has added value to your educational experience and better prepared you for college.” If you listed educational preparation programs or other coursework up above, this is your chance to elaborate on one of those things and explain how it’s prepared you for your chosen field.
If you choose instead to write about any educational barriers you may have faced, write about how you overcame them – or how you’re still striving to overcome them by obtaining a college education. Focus on the skills and character traits that have helped you along the way.
- 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?
This is another opportunity to talk about obstacles you’ve faced and what those experiences have taught you. Focus on the lessons learned and how you’ve grown as a person.
Remember, there’s an additional section in which you can explain how any barriers have affected your application – so don’t waste space on that here. If you choose to write about a barrier, make sure that you end with a description of how these obstacles have helped to shape the person you are today.
- Think about an academic subject that inspires you. Describe how you have furthered this interest inside and/or outside of the classroom.
This is a great place to show that you’re a great fit for your chosen major. You can write about how you first discovered your passion for the subject and how you’ve explored it. Don’t forget to include experiences that you’ve had outside the classroom, like volunteer work or summer programs.
Infuse this section with personality by describing why this subject is so important to you. If you can, include why your passion and aptitude for this subject will help you to excel in college and on your chosen career path.
- What have you done to make your school or your community a better place?
Universities want to know what you’ll add to their communities, and this is your chance to tell them just what you have to offer. You can write about your high school, neighborhood, faith, volunteer organization – whichever community is the most meaningful to you. How have you solved problems and helped those around you?
Once you’ve described your community and what you’ve done to help, go deeper. What inspired you to take action? Did you take initiative on your own or work alongside your friends and neighbors? What did those experiences teach you, and how have you grown as a person?
- Beyond what has already been shared in your application, what do you believe makes you a strong candidate for admissions to the University of California?
This final question gives you the opportunity to describe anything you want them to know about you that you haven’t had the chance to cover elsewhere in your application.
The University of California doesn’t accept letters of recommendation or other supplemental information, so this is your last chance to make a lasting impression. What sets you apart from the crowd? How can you communicate what a good fit you would be for UCLA?
UCLA Supplemental Applications
In addition to the UC Application, the following majors require supplemental materials that you must submit directly to the department.
- Architectural Studies
- Design | Media Arts
- Film and Television
- Global Jazz Studies
- Music Composition
- Music Education
- Music History and Industry
- Music Performance
- World Arts and Cultures
If you intend to select one of these majors as your primary major, click here to learn more about each major’s submission requirements and deadlines.
Should You Apply Early to UCLA?
Application opens for applicants in August and all applications must be submitted by the end of November. There is no advantage to applying early – just make sure to give yourself plenty of time to perfect your responses to the personal insight questions and turn them in before the deadline.
Final Thoughts: How to Get into UCLA
UCLA is a world-renowned and competitive school. You’ll need to excel in and out of school, participating in significant extracurriculars in addition to taking challenging coursework. If you maintain a GPA above 4.5 and write compelling responses to the UC Personal Insight Questions, you have a solid chance at being admitted to UC Los Angeles.