How to Get into UCLA: Ultimate Guide (2024 Undergrad)

So you want to be a Bruin…

We’re not surprised! UCLA is consistently the top-ranked public university in the country seeking intellectually curious students who are ready to both contribute to and benefit from the UCLA community.

This guide aims to clarify the admissions process and offer actionable strategies to enhance your application and chances of acceptance into UCLA.

How Hard Is It To Get Into UCLA?

UCLA is highly selective and very hard to get into. 

UCLA is among the most competitive universities in the country because it receives more applications than any other school.

They are sought after for their academics, diverse student body, desirable location, research opportunities, and campus life.

UCLA’s Acceptance Rate is 9%

The UCLA acceptance rate is 9% 

That’s 1 in every 11 applicants.

145,899 first-year students submitted applications last year.

Out of those applicants, 12,717 were offered acceptance, and 6,673 students enrolled.

What is UCLA Admissions Looking For?

There is no formula for gaining admission to UCLA. 

There is no minimum GPA and no single attribute or characteristic that guarantees the admission of any applicant. 

Students with vastly different credentials come from thousands of high schools across the country and around the world. 

However, according to the data published by UCLA, certain things matter more than others. 

Take a look at the Common Data Set below and we will dive into each category.

‘Very Important’ Criteria

School Rigor

School Rigor helps the admissions committees understand how well you’ve performed in comparison to what’s offered at your school.

They examine factors like the difficulty of your school’s curriculum (such as AP, IB, and honors courses), the distribution of GPAs among students, the number of students heading to college, the kinds of colleges recent graduates attend, and the demographics of your school.

At UCLA the most successful applicants go beyond minimum requirements and seek to challenge themselves to grow both in and outside of the classroom.

The applicant’s full record of achievement in college preparatory work in high school, including the number and rigor of courses taken and grades earned in those courses. 

In assessing achievement levels, consideration is given to individual grades earned, to the pattern of achievement over time, and to an applicant’s achievement relative to that of others in his or her high school.

Academic GPA

There is no minimum GPA to gain acceptance to UCLA, however, the average GPA of accepted students is 3.95

59% of accepted students possess a 4.0 GPA (unweighted).

Some students were accepted with a GPA of 2.49 or less. 

You should note that those are extreme cases and probably not something you should count on!

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Application Essay

UCLA highly values its application essays—students are required to complete ‘Person Insight Questions’ (PIQs)

These personal questions are just that — personal. 

The University’s Personal Insight Questions are about getting to know you better – your life experience, interests, ambitions, and inspirations.

There are eight options to choose between. Because not all questions apply to all applicants you only need to choose four of eight to answer.

All eight PIQs are given equal consideration in the application review process. Responses to each question should be between 250-350 words.

You should select the questions that are most relevant to your experience and that best reflect your circumstances.

To gain admission, an applicant will need four distinct, moving stories..

Here is the list of PIQs below:

Option 1

Describe an example of your leadership experience in which you have positively influenced others, helped resolve disputes or contributed to group efforts over time.

Option 2

Every person has a creative side, and it can be expressed in many ways: problem solving, original and innovative thinking, and artistically, to name a few. Describe how you express your creative side.

Option 3

What would you say is your greatest talent or skill? How have you developed and demonstrated that talent over time?

Option 4

Describe how you have taken advantage of a significant educational opportunity or worked to overcome an educational barrier you have faced.

Option 5

Describe the most significant challenge you have faced and the steps you have taken to overcome this challenge. How has this challenge affected your academic achievement?

Option 6

Think about an academic subject that inspires you. Describe how you have furthered this interest inside and/or outside of the classroom.

Option 7

What have you done to make your school or your community a better place?

Option 8

Beyond what has already been shared in your application, what do you believe makes you stand out as a strong candidate for admissions to the University of California?

PIQs are a great opportunity for students to:

  1. Differentiate from their peers who have similar academic records.
  2. Share insight into your level of achievement – both inside and outside the classroom.
  3. Provide any information that may not be evident in other parts of the application.
  4. Share your true, authentic voice
how to get into ucla

‘Important’ Criteria

Extracurricular Activities

UCLA takes a holistic approach to assessing applications.

This means both academic and non-academic features of an application are important.

UCLA focuses on consistent and ongoing participation in extracurricular activities, community service, special programs, and paid employment, with an emphasis on leadership, initiative, and tenacity. 

They also consider the contributions that students have made to their school or community. 

When completing the UC application, you will have 2 different opportunities to speak to your extracurriculars:

  1. When completing the Awards/Activities section you can include up to 6 extracurriculars
  2. When completing your Personal Insight Questions.


The UCLA criteria for considering Talent/Ability is as follows:

“[We] recognize exemplary, sustained achievement in any field of intellectual or creative endeavor; exceptional performance on AP/IBHL exams, accomplishments in the performing arts and athletics; employment; leadership in school or community organizations or activities; and community service.”

Character/Personal Qualities

Throughout your UC application, you have the opportunity to ‘sell’ who you are as a person.

Use every opportunity you have on the application to best align yourself with the top character traits of a UCLA student: leadership, tenacity, or initiative.

Additional qualities that also rank high include; character, motivation, originality, creativity, intellectual independence, responsibility, maturity, and demonstrated concern for others and the community. 

These qualities may be found throughout the application as positive indicators of the student’s ability to succeed at UCLA and beyond.

Volunteer Work & Work Experience

The same things as extracurricular activities apply here. 

‘Considered’ Criteria

First Generation

UCLA will take into consideration minority racial/ethnic backgrounds and first-generation college applicants to ensure a diverse and equitable student body.

27% of freshmen are first-generation college students.

Geographic Location

There is a strong preference for in-state students, but out-of-state students are welcome to apply and are accepted at UCLA. 

Regardless of where you are located in California, admission preferences do not change


As a public institution, the UC system prioritizes admission for California residents. 

It’s important to note that all UC campuses do offer admission to out-of-state students.

The acceptance rate at UCLA for out-of-state students is slightly lower at

‘Not Considered’ Criteria

Class Rank

Although it’s best to be at the top of your class, this is not part of the selection criteria at UCLA.

Recommendation Letters

UCLA does not require nor consider recommendation letters.


There is no live or video interview required.

Standardized Test Scores

UCLA will not consider SAT or ACT scores for admission or scholarship purposes.

If you choose to submit test scores as part of your application, they may be used as an alternative method of fulfilling minimum requirements for eligibility or for course placement after you enroll.

Alumni/AE Relations

No preference in the admissions process will be given to applicants whose relatives are

alumni of, employees of, or donors to UCLA or the University of California.

Level of Applicant’s Interest

Regardless if UCLA is not selected as your top choice on the UC application, this does not change your likelihood of gaining admission.

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How to Improve Chances of Getting Into UCLA

We have two HUGE suggestions for improving your chances of getting into UCLA.

Make the Most of your PIQs

Here’s 11 tips to make the most of your PIQs

Use Additional Comments Wisely:

Utilize the Additional Comments field to address any issues not covered elsewhere in the application.

Write persuasively:

Lessen the impact of your words by making a list of accomplishments, activities, awards, or work. Expand on a topic by using specific, concrete examples to support the points you want to make.

Use “I” statements:

Get to know your personality, talents, accomplishments, and potential for success on a UC campus by talking about yourself.

Allow ample time:

Enhance overall presentation by allocating enough time for preparation, revisions, and careful composition. While grammar, spelling, and sentence structure aren’t the main focus, they play a role.

Admissions Criteria:

Seek evidence of initiative, service, leadership, cultural engagement, persistence, motivation, and special potential when admissions officers consider your achievements. Contextualize accomplishments within available opportunities.

Handling Hardships:

Focus on how you confronted and overcame hardships. Reflect on the lessons learned to highlight character traits valued by UC UCLA.

Additional Comments Box:

Provide context for achievements, list additional honors, and activities, or share information about a nontraditional school environment using the Additional Comments box. Ensure your personal insight questions reveal who you are.

Equal Consideration:

All questions receive equal consideration during the application review. There’s no advantage or disadvantage in choosing specific questions.

No Right or Wrong:

Showcase your personality, background, interests, and achievements in your unique voice; there’s no prescribed way to answer.

Be Authentic:

Reflect on your true self. Authenticity resonates more than perfection. Use specific examples and anecdotes to illustrate points. Differentiate yourself by presenting your unique experiences.

Seek feedback:

Ensure clarity and impact by having someone you trust review your responses. Constructive feedback can refine your answers.

Develop Large Impact Extracurriculars that Align with UCLA’s Values

UCLA seeks students who embody qualities such as leadership, initiative, and tenacity. 

If you can align these values with high-impact extracurriculars, you are giving yourself the best chance of getting accepted.

Here are a few examples of ‘Large Impact’ extracurriculars:

  • Publishing a research paper
  • Patenting a device
  • Starting a business (and scaling it!)
  • Participating in a prestigious internship
  • Developing an app that solves a common pain point
  • Win a State Championship
  • Earn government funding for a significant project

Unique extracurriculars will help you stand out.

But you still need to carefully craft these into your ‘cohesive brand’ and build a narrative that authentically tells your story.

If this list seems overwhelming or you’re not sure exactly where to get started. Consider enrolling in Youthfully’s Extracurricular program.

Get into the college of your dreams.

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Does UCLA do Early Admission?

UCLA does not participate in early decision.

UCLA Admissions Application & Criteria


UCLA does not use common app. 

Because they are part of the UC system, they use the UC Application portal.

Here are your important dates:

Application available: August 1st

Application filing period opens: October 1st

Application deadline: November 30th

First-year decisions posted: End of March

Deadline to accept offer: May 1st

Here is a quick overview of the application. 

  1. Create an account (use a non-school affiliated email address like gmail or yahoo)

Campuses send important, time-sensitive correspondence to applicants, so you should check your email regularly (including your spam folders).

  1. Selecting term & level

After you create an account, you’ll need to select the term you’re applying for (when you hope to start at UC) and your applicant level (e.g. freshman, transfer, etc.).

  1. About you

This first section has several pages asking for information about you and your family. You can ask your parents or legal guardians for support on this. 

  1. Campuses & majors

Select which campuses you’re applying to and the majors you’re interested in. If you aren’t sure what you want to major in yet, you can choose “Undecided” or “Undeclared.”

  1. Academic history

Enter the courses and grades from all schools you’ve attended while in high school. This includes Middle school if you took high school level courses early. It’s important to report all of your schools, courses and grades exactly as they would appear on official transcripts or academic records.

  1. Test scores

UC will not consider SAT or ACT test scores when making admissions decisions or awarding scholarships. They may be used as an alternative method of fulfilling minimum requirements for eligibility or for course placement after you enroll. 

AP, IB , English proficiency and International exams: You will be asked about each of these exams on separate pages in the test score section. You’ll need to report your scores if you’ve already taken an exam or indicate if you’re planning on taking an exam in the future.

  1. Activities & awards

This is your opportunity to share what you’re most proud of outside the classroom. They’re looking for quality, not quantity—so make sure to focus on the activities and awards that are most important to you.

You’ll need to classify each activity/award as one of six categories: 

  • Award or honor
  • Educational preparation programs (any programs that have enriched your academic experiences or helped you prepare for college)
  • Extracurricular activity
  • Other coursework (courses other than those required for UC admission/courses that do not fit in UC’s A-G subject areas)
  • Volunteering/Community service
  • Work Experience
  1. Scholarships & programs

You should select all scholarship categories that apply to you (there’s no limit on the number of scholarships you can select). You can also indicate if you’re interested in the Educational Opportunity Program (EOP), which provides support services when you’re at UC.

  1. Personal insight

This is the section where you’ll need to answer the PIQs. 

  1. Review & submit

This is the last page you’ll visit before you start applying. If you have remaining items to complete, you will see a “To Do” next to that section. Very few changes can be made after submission. 

Please note that each UC campus evaluates each application without knowing the status of the same application at another campus. 

In making admission decisions, campuses do not consider where you’ve applied or your admission status to other campuses. 

All campuses consider your application simultaneously, yet independently of all other campuses you applied to.

how to get into ucla

Special Admissions

Specific schools and majors at UCLA have additional requirements and specific admission criteria that you must recognize if applying.

For the College of Letters and Science, the applicant’s major is not considered during the review process.

The Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science admits students by declared major, with more emphasis on science and math programs. 

The School of Nursing also places more emphasis on science and math programs and requires the submission of an additional supplemental application.

The School of the Arts and Architecture, Herb Alpert School of Music, and the School of Theater, Film and Television admit students by declared major (within the school) and put more emphasis on special talents through a review of portfolios and/or auditions, which are the most significant admission factors for these schools. 

Some of our majors outside of the College may require applicants to submit a supplemental application directly to that school. 

These supplemental applications and supporting materials help the faculty in those schools to evaluate applicants for admission to their program. Those schools are listed below:

Applicants must list majors in these schools as their first-choice major when completing the UC application. 

Applicants who select programs in these schools as their alternate major will be reviewed for their primary major only.



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