UC Berkeley: Acceptance Rate and Admissions Statistics

Le Conte Hall at Berkeley
Le Conte Hall at Berkeley ( Explore the UC Berkeley campus in this photo tour). Photo Credit: Marisa Benjamin

The University of California Berkeley is a large public university with an acceptance rate of 15 percent. This makes the school one of the most selective public institutions in the country. If you're thinking of applying, here you'll find important admissions data including the average SAT scores, ACT scores, and GPAs of successful applicants.

Why UC Berkeley?

Acceptance Rate

For students who entered the University of California Berkeley in the 2018-19 academic year, the university had an acceptance rate of 15.1%. For every 15 students who were admitted, 85 students received rejection letters.

Admissions Statistics (2018-19)
Number of Applicants 89,627
Percent Admitted 15.1%
Percent Admitted Who Enrolled 44.3%

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.

UC Berkeley 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.

UC Berkeley ACT Range (Admitted Students)
Section 25th Percentile 75th Percentile
English 28 35
Math 27 35
Composite 28 34

The SAT is more popular than the ACT among Berkeley applicants, but both exams are equally acceptable. In a comparison of ACT scores for the nation's top public universities, you'll see that only Georgia Tech is more selective. Compared to all test-takers nationally, Berkeley students tend to be in the top 5%. The middle 50% of Berkeley's admitted students scored between a 28 and 34 on the exam. This means 25% of applicants scored a 28 or lower, while on the upper end 25% scored a 34 of higher. The most competitive applicants will be in this top quartile.

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 and Class Rank

The average high school GPA of all first-year students who enrolled at Berkeley in the 2018-19 academic year was a 3.89. 97.4% of all admitted students had GPAs of a 3.50 or higher. This suggests that you will be competitive for admission only if most of your grades are in the "A" range. Class rank numbers are also extremely high. 98% of admitted students were in the top 10% of their high school class, and 100% were in the top 25%.

Graph of Self-Reported GPA/SAT/ACT Data

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

The GPA, SAT score, and ACT score data in the graph was 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. 

Sources: Graph courtesy of Cappex; all other data from the National Center for Education Statistics, the UC Berkeley Office of Admissions, and the UC Berkeley Common Data Set.