Comparison of SAT Scores for the University of California Campuses

A Table of the Middle 50% Scores for Math, Reading Comprehension and Writing

Sproul Hall and Plaza on Campus of University of California, Berkeley
Getty Images / Rick Gerharter

The University of California system includes some of the best public universities in the country. Admissions criteria vary widely, and the table below presents the middle 50% of SAT scores for enrolled students at the 10 University of California schools. If your scores fall within or above the ranges listed below, you're on target for admission to these schools.

Comparing SAT Scores for Admission to University of California Schools

University of California SAT Score Comparison (mid 50%
(Learn what the numbers mean)

Reading 25% Reading 75% Math 25% Math 75%
25% 75% 25% 75%
Berkeley 630 720 630 760
Davis 560 660 570 700
Irvine 580 650 590 700
Los Angeles 620 710 600 740
Merced 500 580 500 590
Riverside 550 640 540 660
San Diego 600 680 610 730
Santa Barbara 600 680 590 720
Santa Cruz 580 660 580 680

*Note: The San Francisco campus is not included in this table because it only offers graduate programs.

View the ACT version of this table

The admissions standards for UC Merced are similar to many of the California State Universities, whereas Berkeley and UCLA are among the most selective public universities in the country. Note that there are some private colleges and universities that are far more selective, and not a single public institution made my list of the country's 20 most selective colleges.

SAT Scores Are Just One Piece of the Application

Realize that SAT scores are just one part of the application, and a strong high school record carries even more weight. The University of California admissions folks are going to want to see that you have done well in a challenging college preparatory curriculum. Success in Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate, Honors and dual enrollment classes can all play a meaningful role in the admissions process.

The University of California universities (unlike the Cal State universities) practice holistic admissions, meaning that they look at more than just grades and SAT/ACT scores. Strong writing skills, a varied academic background, work or volunteer experiences, and a range of extracurricular activities are all factors the school's admissions office will take into account. And remember that 25% of enrolled students had SAT scores lower than the ranges listed here — if your scores are below the ranges shown, you still have a chance of being admitted, provided the rest of your application is strong.

To see a visual of this, click on the "see graph" link at the right of each row in the table above. There, you'll find a graph that shows how other applicants fared at each school — whether they were accepted, waitlisted, or rejected, and what their grades and SAT/ACT scores were. You might find some students with higher scores and grades weren't admitted to a school, but some students with lower grades were admitted. This illustrates the idea of holistic admissions — that SAT scores are just one part of the application process. Special talent in athletics or music, a compelling personal story, and other secondary factors can help make up for SAT scores that are less than ideal. That said, your chances of being admitted will obviously be best if your standardized test scores are on the higher end of the ranges listed in the table.

To see a full profile of each college, click on the names in the table above. There, you can find more information on admissions, enrollment, popular majors, and financial aid. 

More SAT Tables

The University of California is, overall, much more selective than the Cal State system. Check out an SAT score comparison of the Cal State universities for more information.

To see how the University of California compares to other top schools in California, check out an SAT score comparison of California colleges and universities. You'll see that Stanford, Harvey Mudd, CalTech, and Pomona College are more selective than any of the UC schools.

UCLA, Berkeley, and UCSD are among the most selective public universities in the country as you can see in an SAT score comparison of top public universities in the United States.


National Center for Educational Statistics

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Grove, Allen. "Comparison of SAT Scores for the University of California Campuses." ThoughtCo, Apr. 5, 2023, Grove, Allen. (2023, April 5). Comparison of SAT Scores for the University of California Campuses. Retrieved from Grove, Allen. "Comparison of SAT Scores for the University of California Campuses." ThoughtCo. (accessed June 10, 2023).