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

Composite 25% Composite 75% English 25% English 75% Math 25% Math 75%
Berkeley 31 34 31 35 29 35
California Lutheran 22 27 22 28 22 27
Cal Poly San Luis Obispo 26 31 25 33 26 32
Caltech 34 36 34 36 35 36
Chapman University 25 30 25 31 24 29
Claremont McKenna College 31 33 30 33 28 33
Harvey Mudd College 32 35 32 35 32 35
Loyola Marymount University 26 30 25 32 25 29
Mills College 23 29 - - - -
Occidental College 28 31 28 34 26 31
Pepperdine University 26 31 25 33 25 29
Point Loma Nazarene 23 28 23 30 23 28
Pomona College 31 34 31 35 28 34
Saint Mary's College 22 28 22 28 20 27
Santa Clara University 28 32 - - - -
Scripps College 28 32 30 34 26 31
Soka University 26 30 26 33 24 29
Stanford University 31 35 32 35 30 35
Thomas Aquinas College 25 30 27 34 25 27
UC Davis 25 31 24 32 24 31
UC Irvine 24 30 23 31 25 31
UCLA 28 33 28 35 27 34
UCSD 27 33 26 33 27 33
UC Santa Barbara 27 32 26 33 26 32
UC Santa Cruz 25 30 24 31 24 29
University of the Pacific 23 30 22 31 23 29
University of Redlands 22 27 22 27 20 26
University of San Diego 26 30 25 32 25 29
University of San Francisco 23 28 23 30 23 28
University of Southern California 30 33 30 35 28 34
Westmont College 23 29 24 32 23 28

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