Learn how to gain admission in UCLA

In California, everyone already gets the idea when they hear “Los Angeles” or even “L.A” right away: it’s the city of angels where Hollywood is. It’s where the celebrities go out and flaunt their riches to the common. It’s where the sun is so bright and high here that going to the beaches is just awesome. And it’s also where you’ll find the University of California, Los Angeles or known popularly as UCLA.

UCLA is the university to go for because it's got great food, an excellent location, spectacular academic offerings, a living museum and notable celebrity alumni. Yep, that’s right. From Mayim Bialik to Ben Stiller, these celebrities studied at this fresh university and began a step for their career after they graduated. They even give thanks to the university by doing some celebrity sightings too. Oh, and did we mention that there's a library collection of stuff that'll delight you so much? You can check for the details here.

With all that said, it makes you wonder if you can even be part of this fabulous UCLA that emits the heart and soul of L.A. The answer? Yes, you can be a part of this place! The guide we’ve got laid out for you below will help you gain admissions into UCLA. Read on and find out what you need to see the place that you were meant to be a part of. 

1. Know what UCLA looks for in its students and their way with the admission review

UCLA doesn't say much on what they're looking, but with their core mission, it gives the hints. As PrepScholar says in their post here, UCLA's core mission is described in three words: education, research and service. You can already see that from these words, they've laid it out subtly what they want from a student. For education, they want students who are academically excellent and got a strong record at school. For research, they want students who've got significant interests beyond the classroom, so they'll have a look at extracurricular activities you've done. Lastly, for service, they want students who can contribute significantly to a community and will be of service to fellow humans. 

When it comes to how they do their admission reviews, UCLA can be very detailed about that here. To sum it up, UCLA goes for a holistic review and gives the lowdown on the page what the factors are when it comes to reviewing a student's application. It's different from other universities who use the holistic review because UCLA explicitly lets everyone know what the factors that drive their holistic review are. Plus, they already admit right from the start they're one of the most selective universities. 

2. Develop your spike

Now that you’re aware of the things UCLA wants from you, you’re going to wonder: what can you do to make yourself unique and diverse so that they’ll take notice of your application without having to think twice? You can go for it and start developing your spike. What's that? According to PrepScholar here, a spike, "is what sets you apart from all other applicants. It goes against the spirit of simply being well rounded. By nature of being unique, you don't fit in with all of the other well-rounded applicants; you do something that truly stands out in a meaningful way." If you need it in simpler terms, it's like what would happen if you decide to go up a level higher than other people who just settle on the current level without rising to a challenge.

Of course, getting your spike developed to the status that'll UCLA notice your prowess will take some time and effort. You might even think about giving up. But breathe for a second and think back to the guys who make tables. Tables are cool, right? They're the things that help us put food on our plates, read our books, and do other stuff. But you have to remember that tables are a result of the guys who created them. After all, it must've taken an immense amount of time to come to a design that would give them away to replicate it for humanity. Just think about the trials, errors and obstacles they had to go through to get it done. If they were able to get it all done with the effort and time they put, then you too can put the same experience in developing your spike to the next level.

3. Plot out a way to develop your spike

When you're finally on the road to getting your spike developed, you'll need to a plot out a way to develop it. First, you need to pick an area of interest that you're already good with. For example, if you got the skills in repairing and tuning bikes, make it your goal to rev up your skills to the next level. It can be daunting where even to start, so here are some ways you can try:

  1. Map out a weekly schedule on when you’ll develop your spike with your chosen area of interest
  2. Choose resources that you feel will help you level up your skills
  3. Consult experts who are a level higher than you and ask for their insights
  4. Go through trial and error in knowing what works and what doesn’t work to get your skills at a higher level

Once you’ve spent the necessary time, you’ll see yourself seeing your spike going higher than it has ever been before.

4. Be part of a research team 

As you learned a while ago, research is one of the factors in UCLA's core mission. That's why if you're going to get a boost, become part of a research team. Whether it's for experimenting on an animal or developing something new in the medical world, it'll rev up your application because it will show UCLA that you hold the factor of research and it'll impress them significantly. 

5. Get it on with the honours classes

Education is another factor that’s important in UCLA’s core mission, so if you want to show them you got what it takes to be academically-strong, get it on with the honours classes. It's where you'll add more workload than other students and get higher grades. It may be exhausting, but for UCLA, it'll sure give them the impression you're the student who works for the grade and will never settle for less. 

6. Be an intern

If you're eager to know how things are in an office, why not become an intern? You'll not only learn the ways of the employee and see the sights and sounds of the office, but you'll also give UCLA something to think about because it'll give them a good idea that you're an applicant who likes to explore beyond the boundaries of the classroom and see what the world is like. 

7. Take summer classes

Want to level up your academics to a whole new level? Skip the beach and take on the summer classes. You'll not only get better academic strength, but you'll be able to let UCLA see you live with education like it's a natural thing for you.

8. Volunteer at your community

Service is the last part of UCLA's core mission, so if you want to live up to that, go for it and volunteer at your community. From being the sweeper to organising events that'll help the less fortunate, it'll boost your application significantly because UCLA will be happy to see you're the applicant who's eager to make others happy and maintain a vibrant community. 

9. Have a tour of UCLA online

It can be hard to try and see UCLA in person because of the pandemic happening worldwide, but don't worry; you can learn about UCLA on their website along with a virtual tour of the campus. It's an excellent way to boost your application because you'll already know what UCLA is all about and what they stand for. It'll even give you ideas on how you can answer the essays they'll be asking you to send responses for especially when they’re asking you why you’ll choose UCLA.

10. Select the course you’re cool with at UCLA

When you've organised yourself and got the things you'll need, you can go ahead and select a course. If you're a bit daunted on which to choose, you can head here to check out the courses along with their descriptions.

11. Collect the requirements you’ll need for applying

When you’ve picked your course, you can get on with it and get the requirements you’ll need for applying with UCLA. The details are all here, but it can be a bit confusing to read through since they're not listed like a checklist. The requirements will even require you to do some logging in but fret not; CollegeVine’s done the work to organise it for you right here

  • $70 application fee or a fee waiver
  • Record your basic demographic information
  • Reply to four of eight Personal Insight Questions
  • Send your transcripts
  • Send your test scores. Include your scores from the ACT with Writing or the SAT Reasoning Test. If you're applying for Fall, sit for standardised tests by December
  • Also, SAT Subject Tests, A.P., I.B., TOEFL, and IELTS scores are accepted

Share tax and I.D. information, including:

  • Your family’s annual income for last year and this year
  • Your social security number, if you have one
  • Your citizenship status. Citizens of other countries will need to state immigration status and visa type
  • For students in California public schools only, supply your California Statewide Student ID

A thing to take note is that the SAT and ACT scores have become optional until Fall 2024. As detailed here, UCLA is going for the test-optional approach so you won’t need to submit them. But for anyone living in California, the test has been suspended for them. Much like how Texans get a shortcut to UT Austin through automatic admission, Californian residents won't need to worry about actually submitting tests because UCLA is making use of the changes to make a new test that'll replace the SAT and ACT hopefully by Fall 2025.

12. Check out the SAT and ACT scores you need to have

UCLA has taken the same approach as most universities and opted to go optional with the SAT and ACT scores as part of the application requirements with the exception that for Californian residents, it's suspended for them, so that means they won't have to worry about getting the scores for a while. But if you're out of state and would like to take the optional step, you’ll need to submit SAT or ACT scores that delights the eyes of UCLA. Here’s what CollegeSimply has here when it comes to the scores: 

UCLA SAT and ACT Scores

As you can see above, your SAT score must be above 1410 and ACT score must be above 32. It’ll be quite a challenge to reach the scores, especially if you’re aiming to get the 75th percentile scores shown here which can give you immense pain in trying to achieve them. Again, it’s still optional but if you’re going to get some boost, might as well take the tests. 

13. Score significantly on the ACT and SATs (optional, but recommended to be taken unless you’re a Californian resident)

As you’ve learned earlier, ACT and SAT score results are currently optional, so there’s no need to get all fired up and submit the scores like they’re mandatory so you can skip this step. But if you want to play it safe, go for the tests and get the scores. But if you're a Californian resident, you can go ahead and skip this step since the results have been suspended. For the rest, it's going to be a challenge, so here are tips and things to remember: 

  • Practice the tests 

You’re going to need to be comfortable with the tests because just going about it without any practice will only mean disaster, so make sure you practice the tests until it’s already cool with you. By doing this, you’ll know the question types, how to answer them and other things that will become a great help to you on the day. 

  • Apply what you’ve learned with the app versions

When practising the tests has helped you hone your skills, you can go right ahead and apply them with the app versions. Unlike the practice tests, the app versions get some updates on previous questions seen in past exams so it'll give you a good idea on what SAT and ACTs may have for you when you tackle the real ones. 

  • Aim for a few to no errors on your practice tests

While the app versions and practice tests can let you have mistakes that won't be too harsh for you, you have to understand that on the real ones, making mistakes can be a significant factor on the scores you'll get it. So whatever quota the practice tests allow you, don't follow them. You must only allow yourself a few to no errors when doing the tests. When you can achieve that, you're damn well ready to take on the real tests without a flinch. 

  • Have an expert teach you

You can also level up your skills by having an expert teach you. You'll not only learn great insights, but you'll also hear how the expert conquered the tests and survived, getting the scores they craved for to get into the university they desired.

  • Tackle the more straightforward questions first before going for, the harder ones

On test day, it's best to go for it and tackle the more straightforward questions before answering the harder questions. Why? Because it'll help you get into the flow of things and you'll be able to recall more of what you've learned from the tests without sweating too hard or being nervous. 

14. View the UCLA acceptance rates

UCLA already admits that they’re one of the most selective universities when it comes to admissions. Even with the SAT and ACT scores made optional (and a chance for them to be replaced by a new test b 2025), acceptance isn’t going to be easy. That’s why it’s best you have a look at the data below:

UCLA Acceptance Rates

The acceptance rate from 2018 was 12.4% and rose to 17.29% in 2019 and 18.04% in 2020, but was able to gain rise to 23.7% in 2020. Sure, the trend might be positive here, but it’s been projected that in 2021 and 2022, the rate will go down until it reaches 14.13%. It’s likely possible the rates are going down like this because it’s attributed to the fact that application submissions have slowly decreased. It was even addressed by Gary Clark, the admissions director at UCLA when the Daily Bruin made a post about it. In the post, Clark believed the applications were reduced because students were getting pickier about how many schools they were going to apply for. He then said "We're not looking for an increase in the volume of applicants. We care more about the richness and diversity of our applicant pool.”

What this means is that the trend will mean more significant challenges for you because UCLA is getting more selective on who they'll admit into their campus so you'd better up your game if you want to be part of the small percentage that gets accepted.

15. Boost up your application  

When you’ve picked up the rest of the requirements, you’re now ready to create your application and profile. But of course, you’re not going for the standard way, right? If you’re up for the game, here are the things you can apply:

  • Answer the essays confidently

Writing answers to the essay questions, UCLA will provide on the application form is going to be very important because your responses will determine your chances of being admitted. When it comes to these essays, make sure you're writing them with confidence and use the strengths you've got to show UCLA who you are while also giving them the factors they've conveyed in their core mission. 

  • Address your strengths with gusto

While you’re at it, don’t be afraid to address your strengths with gusto while making your application. Remember the extracurricular activities we suggested along with the ways of developing your spike? You can now pull together your experiences and create a story that’ll surely delight UCLA’s admissions team. 

  • Chat up with the experts

Once you’re nearing your application’s completion, have a chat with the experts and let them what they think. You'll not only gain insight on what can be added, removed or changed, but you can also see what they can suggest for you and give you the elements for further improvement. You can also consult people you may know who've graduated from UCLA and ask them how they made their application. 

16. Submit everything, cross your fingers and hope for the best

Once you've got it all under wraps, make that submission, cross your fingers, and hope for the best. It's not a guarantee you'll get right in, and you can already see the acceptance rate is quite low that you got to hope. So it's all in the matter of patience.  

Not Accepted? 

You waited for quite some time, and the results are finally with you. The result? Rejection! After all that you’ve done, UCLA decides you just don’t fit the bill. Does this mean all hope is lost? No, not yet because there is still another option to pursue, which isn’t the usual type. It’s no guarantee you'll get in, but you've already tried applying, so trying it out won’t be too much of a hassle. Here it is: 

Alternative Option: Go for another college and transfer to UCLA later

You can try applying for a different college and transferring to UCLA later. The requirements for transferring are here. As for the transfer acceptance rate, you’ll be surprised to know it’s 24.09% according to Campus Reel. The rate is a tad higher than the regular acceptance rates so that it won't be too much of a stretch. But because UCLA has already seen your application, it'll be quite a challenge to convince them you're not the same student they rejected. But by using the time you'll be having at a different college to develop your spike further and do other things that'll boost up your profile with UCLA, you may finally get accepted into the campus. 

Conclusion

UCLA can show the world that a university doesn’t need to have a traditional sense to be a part of the City of Angels. As you’ve learned, it’s got a lot of great things that thrill the students who become part of it. Add to the fact that a celebrity may pop in from time to time plus the food, academic offerings and other cool stuff that you can never get anywhere else. So if you’re eager to gain your admission, just follow our guide and soon enough, you’ll be already sitting in the grass with a smile! 

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