UC Berkeley: Acceptance Rate and Admissions Statistics

Le Conte Hall at UC Berkeley
Le Conte Hall at UC Berkeley.

ThoughtCo / Marisa Benjamin

The University of California Berkeley is a large public university with an acceptance rate of 16.8%. This makes the school one of the most selective public institutions in the country. Considering applying to UC Berkley? Here are the admissions statistics you should know, including average SAT/ACT scores and GPAs of admitted students.

Why UC Berkeley?

Acceptance Rate

During the 2018-19 admissions cycle, UC Berkeley had an acceptance rate of 16.8%. This means that for every 100 students who applied, 16 students were accepted, making UC Berkley's admissions process highly competitive.

Admissions Statistics (2018-19)
Number of Applicants 87,289
Percent Admitted 16.8%
Percent Admitted Who Enrolled 45%

SAT Scores and Requirements

All applicants to UC Berkeley must submit scores from either the SAT or ACT. For students entering the university in the 2018-19 academic year, 77% of admitted students submitted SAT scores.

SAT Range (Admitted Students)
Section 25th Percentile 75th Percentile
ERW 640 740
Math 660 790
ERW=Evidence-Based Reading and Writing

If you compare SAT scores for the University of California system, you'll see that Berkeley is the most selective of the nine undergraduate campuses. UCLA comes in a close second. When Berkeley's SAT numbers are compared to national SAT score ranges, you'll find that nearly all admitted students scored in the top 20% of all test-takers. 50% of Berkeley's admitted students scored between a 640 and 740 on the evidence-based reading portion of the exam. This means 25% of admitted students got a 640 or lower, and the top 25% scored a 740 or higher. Scores on the math exam were even higher with the middle 50% scoring between 660 and 790. The bottom 25% got a 660 or lower, while the top quartile scored either a 790 or perfect 800. The most competitive applicants have a combined SAT score of 1450 or higher.

Requirements

The University of California at Berkeley requires students to take the essay component of the exam, and scores on the essay are used for both admissions and advising purposes. SAT Subject Tests are not required, but the university recommends that students applying to the College of Engineering and College of Chemistry submit scores from the Math Level 2 and a science Subject Test. Berkeley does not superscore the SAT exam, so they will consider your highest combined score from a single test date.

ACT Scores and Requirements

All first-year applicants must submit either SAT or ACT scores. Some applicants submit both. The SAT is more popular than the ACT at Berkeley. For the entering class of 2018-19, 47% submitted ACT scores.

ACT Range (Admitted Students)
Section 25th Percentile 75th Percentile
English 28 35
Math 27 35
Composite 30 35

This admissions data tells us that most of UC Berkeley's admitted students fall within the top 7% nationally on the ACT. The middle 50% of students admitted to UC Berkeley received a composite ACT score between 30 and 35, while 25% scored above 35 and 25% scored below 30.

Requirements

Applicants must take the ACT Plus Writing, and the writing portion of the exam is used when evaluating applicants and during the student advising process. Students who take the ACT do not also need to take SAT Subject Tests, but a science and the Math Level 2 exam are recommended for engineering and chemistry applicants. UC Berkeley considers your highest ACT score from a single test date—the university does not superscore exams from multiple test dates.

GPA

In 2019, the middle 50% of UC Berkeley's incoming freshmen class has unweighted GPAs between 3.89 and 4.0. 25% had a GPA above 4.0, and 25% had a GPA below 3.89. These results suggest that most successful applicants to UC Berkeley have primarily A grades.

Self-Reported GPA/SAT/ACT Data

UC Berkeley Applicants' Self-Reported GPA/SAT/ACT Graph.
UC Berkeley Applicants' Self-Reported GPA/SAT/ACT Graph. Data courtesy of Cappex. 

The admissions data in the graph is self-reported by applicants to UC Berkeley. GPAs are unweighted. Find out how you compare to accepted students, see the real-time graph, and calculate your chances of getting in with a free Cappex account.

Admissions Chances

The graph reveals that high scores and a high GPA are no guarantee of admission—some students with excellent scores do not get in. There is quite a bit of red (rejected students) hidden behind the blue and green (admitted students) in the top of the graph. 

Note that the reverse is also true—a few students were accepted with test scores and grades below the norm. Like all of the University of California schools, Berkeley has holistic admissions, so the admissions officers are evaluating students based on more than numerical data. Strong Personal Insight Essays, meaningful extracurricular involvement, and your demonstrated interest in your major can all play a role in the admissions process. Work experiences, community service, and your personal background can also be factors. As the graph shows, however, strengths in these non-academic areas will improve your chances of being admitted, but they won't compensate for grades or standardized test scores that are too far below the norm.

Most important of all for admission to UC Berkeley is your academic performance, but Berkeley is looking at much more than your grades. The university wants to see grades that are trending upwards (or at least not downwards) as well as successful completion of challenging college preparatory classes such as AB, IB, and Honors. The university wants to admit students who show passion for learning and who have pushed themselves in high school.

When applying to Berkeley, you'll be safest if you consider it a reach school even if your grades and SAT/ACT scores are on target for admission.