ACT Score Comparison for Admission to California Colleges

A Side-by-Side Comparison of ACT Admissions Data for 32 Schools

Royce Hall at UCLA
Royce Hall at UCLA. Photo Credit: Marisa Benjamin

What ACT scores do you need to get into one of the top California colleges or universities? This side-by-side comparison of scores shows the middle 50 percent of enrolled students. If your scores fall within or above these ranges, you're on target for admission to one of these top California colleges.

California Colleges ACT Score Comparison

 ACT Scores
California Lutheran222722282227
Cal Poly San Luis Obispo263125332632
Chapman University253025312429
Claremont McKenna College313330332833
Harvey Mudd College323532353235
Loyola Marymount University263025322529
Mills College2329----
Occidental College283128342631
Pepperdine University263125332529
Pitzer Collegetest optional
Point Loma Nazarene232823302328
Pomona College313431352834
Saint Mary's College222822282027
Santa Clara University2832----
Scripps College283230342631
Soka University263026332429
Stanford University313532353035
Thomas Aquinas College253027342527
UC Davis253124322431
UC Irvine243023312531
UC Santa Barbara273226332632
UC Santa Cruz253024312429
University of the Pacific233022312329
University of Redlands222722272026
University of San Diego263025322529
University of San Francisco232823302328
University of Southern California303330352834
Westmont College232924322328
SAT version of this table
Tables for Cal State and the University of California

The ACT and Your Admission

Even though the SAT is far more popular than the ACT in California, the colleges and universities in the table above will accept either exam. If the ACT is your better test, don't hesitate to use your ACT scores for your application.

Note that there is a wide range of variation among the different schools. You can be above the 75th percentile for Westmont College but that score would place you at or below the 25th percentile for USC, Berkeley, or CalTech. This would mean the rest of your application would really need to shine if you wanted to attend those schools.

If your ACT scores aren't what you had hoped for, don't forget that 25 percent of applicants have scores below the lower number shown as the 25th percentile and that the ACT is just one piece of your college application. Most of these colleges and universities will want to see other strong measures such as a strong academic record, a winning essay, meaningful extracurricular activities and good letters of recommendation.

What Percentiles Mean

Percentiles tell how many of the admitted students fall within different ranges. The middle 50 percent of admitted students are between the 25th and 75 percentile.

If your score is at the 25th percentile, it means that three-quarters of the students scored better than you did. If your score is at the 75th percentile, you scored better than three-quarters of admitted students.

This would clearly strengthen your application measurably.

Data Source: National Center for Education Statistics