Comparison of ACT Scores for the University of California Campuses

A Table Comparing the Middle 50% ACT Scores for Composite, Math and English

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The University of California system includes some of the best public universities in the country. Admissions criteria vary widely. The Merced campus admits students with middling standardized test scores whereas UCLA and Berkeley tend to admit students who score well above average. The table below presents the middle 50% of ACT scores for enrolled students at the 10 University of California campuses.

If your ACT scores fall within or above the ranges listed below, you are on track for admission to one of these great schools.

Comparison of ACT Scores Needed for Admission to University of California System

University of California ACT Score Comparison (mid 50%)
(Learn what these numbers mean)
Berkeley303429352835see graph
Davis253223312531see graph
Irvine253223302531see graph
Los Angeles293428352734see graph
Merced202717231924see graph
Riverside232922292228see graph
San Diego273325332733see graph
San FranciscoGraduate Study Only
Santa Barbara283326342632see graph
Santa Cruz263124312530see graph
View the SAT version of this table
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Keep in mind that the University of California will use ACT or SAT scores during the application process, so if your SAT scores are stronger than your ACT scores, you don't need to worry about the ACT.

Also remember that 25% of enrolled students scored below the lower numbers in the table above. You'll be fighting more of an uphill battle with sub-par ACT scores, but don't give up on being admitted if your test scores fall slightly below the 25% numbers.

Other Factors That Affect Admission

Realize that ACT scores are just one part of the application, and your high school record carries even more weight.

The University of California admissions officers will want to see that you challenged yourself with a strong college preparatory curriculum. Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate, Honors, and Dual Enrollment classes can all play an important role in demonstrating that you are ready for the challenges of college.

Also realize that the University of California system uses a holistic admissions process. Admissions decisions are based on more than numerical data. You'll want to put time and care into the Personal Insight Questions, and you'll want to be able to demonstrate meaningful extracurricular involvement in high school. Work or volunteer experience can also strengthen an application. 

To get a visual sense of holistic admissions, click on the "see graph" link to the right of each row in the table above. There, you'll see how other students fared at each school--how many were accepted, rejected, or waitlisted, and how they scored on the SAT/ACT, and their grades. You might find that some students with low grades/scores were accepted, and some with higher grades/scores were rejected or waitlisted. A student with low ACT scores (lower than the ranges listed here) can still be accepted to any of these schools, provided the rest of the application is strong.

Related ACT Articles

If your ACT scores are a bit low for most of the UC schools, be sure to check out this ACT comparison data for the California State University system. The admissions standards for Cal State are generally (with exceptions) lower than the UC system.

If you want to see how the UC system measure up to other top public universities, take a look at this ACT score comparison for top public universities in the nation. You'll see that no public universities are more selective than Berkeley.

If we throw private California colleges and universities into the mix, you'll see that Stanford, Pomona, and a couple other institutions have a higher admissions bar than even the most selective of the University of California schools.

Data from the National Center for Educational Statistics