Ranked at #22 among all universities, and #1 among public universities, University of California Berkeley is one of the most highly-rated and prestigious universities in the world. It was founded in 1868, making it the oldest institution in the University of California system. It is a large university with more than 30,845 undergraduates, 150 majors and over 1200 student organizations. There are 14 different schools at Berkeley with 184 academic departments and programs. Despite these huge numbers, UC Berkeley maintains a small student-faculty ratio of 19:1 with over 50% of classes with less than 20 students. Its strengths lie in Chemistry, Environment/Ecology, Economics and Business, Space Science, and Physics.
For the 2019-2020 admissions cycle, Berkeley received 88,066 applications, and it admitted 15,461 of those applicants, for an acceptance rate of 17.6%. This puts it slightly below that of UCLA but still makes their admissions incredibly selective. UC Berkeley, as with all schools under the University of California, follows a single application deadline of November 30. This is unlike many US universities that offer both early and regular admission rounds.
As with any top tier university, to get into UC Berkeley, you will need stellar grades, outstanding SAT/ACT scores, well-written essays and a well-rounded profile.
US universities track high school performance based on a cumulative Grade Point Average (GPA) on a scale of 4. Similar to UCLA, UC Berkeley requires a minimum of 3.4 GPA for non-California residents (and 3.0 GPA for residents) and no grades lower than a C in required high school courses. This translates to 35 IB points, and ABB in A levels.
Of course, to stand a competitive chance of admissions, it is necessary to consider the average GPA instead. For last year’s class, the middle 50 percent of GPA ranges between 3.86 and 4.00. This translates to straight A’s/ 6s and 7s in all your classes. Furthermore, you should be taking hard classes – AP, IB and H2 in A levels – to show that you are ready for challenging college-level academics.
If your GPA is at or below the school average of 3.93, you’ll need a higher SAT or ACT score to compensate. This will help you compete effectively against other applicants who have higher GPAs than you. You can also substitute SAT subject tests for any required courses not taken in high school.
SAT and ACT Requirements
The average SAT score at UC Berkeley is a 1430/1600 SAT scale. However, as an international student, you will need to be at or above the 75th percentile of 1530 to be competitive. UC Berkeley follows a policy of requiring scores from all SAT attempts and will consider the highest scores from a single test date. If your score is currently below a 1530, we strongly recommend that you consider retaking it.
The average ACT score at UC Berkeley is 32/36, with the 75th percentile ACT score being 35. Unlike the SAT score policy, only one ACT score out of all your attempts needs to be sent.
Although the application deadline is November 30th, standardized test scores can be submitted before January 15 of the subsequent year. Although optional, you should consider taking the essay for both ACT and SAT in order to meet entry level writing requirements for certain courses at UC Berkeley.
SAT Subject Tests
Unlike UCLA, UC Berkeley has indicated that SAT subject tests are recommended. We highly encourage students who are able to do so to take these tests to showcase particular strengths. For example, if you’re applying to an engineering school, submitting science and math SAT subject tests will boost your application.
Best Application Practices
Impressive extracurricular experiences and strong essays also make up a substantial component of your UCLA application. When filling out the application, you’ll have to answer four personal insight questions (350 words) out of eight total options. Don’t wait until the last minute to fill out your UC application. Have an idea of what four prompts you would like to write about and create a rough draft of your essays two months in advance.
Don’t let these GPA cutoffs or standardized test scores intimidate you – your application will be reviewed holistically by several readers. Make sure your passion and talents come across through your essays even if their grades and test scores are a bit below the norm.
When choosing extracurricular activities, do note that UC Berkeley places particular emphasis on leadership and innovation. Leadership can be demonstrated through various extracurricular activities and what matters is your commitment to the organization, rather than the number of leadership positions you hold. Berkeley is looking for someone who is heavily invested in and contributes to the success of their club, team or organization.
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