How to Get into University of California-San Diego

This is the go-to guide for getting into University of California-San Diego. We suggest you read until the end... Not only will we layout the exact GPA and test scores you should aim for when applying to UCSD, but we’ll also offer creative ways to help your application stand out from the pack. We breakdown UCSD statistics better than any article out there and show you how these have changed over time. Also, make sure to check out University of California-San Diego on CampusReel to see what it’s really like here. Here’s what we’re about to cover:

What GPA do you need to get into University of California-San Diego?

University of California-San Diego’s average GPA is 4.08. University of California-San Diego does require GPA. This average GPA means University of California-San Diego is brutally selective - the most competitive applicants in the world are already applying to the school, in hopes of taking up residence in La Jolla, and, somehow, you need to be better. Generally speaking, if your GPA is not at least equal to 4.08 then University of California-San Diego may be a reach. However, University of California-San Diego considers the ENTIRE application - we can make up for a weak GPA with more factors that we’ll discuss below. If your GPA is equal to or greater than 4.08, you’re sitting right in the sweetspot.

*BEFORE CONTINUING PLEASE NOTE: GPA and “prestige” DO NOT mean a college is right for you. University of California-San Diego may seem amazing on paper, but you may hate it... That’s why 700,000 students transfer colleges every year - they end up going to the wrong school. It’s crucial to watch the videos on CampusReel and make sure you can envision yourself on UCSD’s campus. These UCSD admission statistics do not sufficiently tell you what a college or university is like.

What is University of California-San Diego’s acceptance rate?

Last year University of California-San Diego’s acceptance rate was 33.74. However, check out how the acceptance rate has changed over time.

2016 2017 2018
Acceptance Rate 36.0 % 34.0 % 33.74 %

As you can see, University of California-San Diego is getting more and more difficult to get into. If this trend continue it’s likely that UCSD will be even more competitive by the time you apply.

Acceptance rate alone does not indicate your likelihood for getting into UCSD - it’s a very high level understanding of the true competition. Use the acceptance rate as a general guide for curating a list of 10-15 schools that fall into different ranges of competitiveness. Then, use the below data to get a deeper understanding of how your application will compare to the rest of the pool.

Does University of California-San Diego Require Test Scores?

University of California-San Diego requires that you either take the SAT or ACT. See the table below for how University of California-San Diego’s accepted students have performed on both tests. You may be wondering how many test scores should you submit. Generally, don’t freak out about taking the test too often. Industry consensus is that you can submit up to 6 tests as a reasonable limit.

University of California-San Diego SAT Requirements

University of California-San Diego’s average SAT score is 1310 - this is the sum of the math and reading portions of the SAT (the 1600 scale). Check out the below table for a deeper look into how students performed - it’s also very interesting to look at the average test score over time. The trend over time helps give insight into whether University of California-San Diego is getting more or less competitive.

25th Percentile 75th Percentile Average
Math 610 770 690
Reading 560 680 620
2019 Total 1170 1450 1310
2018 Total - - -
2017 Total - - -

University of California-San Diego’s average SAT score is 1310. To be a competitive applicant for University of California-San Diego your SAT score should come close to the average. If you’re closer to the 1170, you’re likely going to have a tougher time getting accepted. To consider University of California-San Diego a “target” school (one that you are likely to get into) you should aim for a score of 1450.

University of California-San Diego ACT Requirements

University of California-San Diego’s average ACT score is 73. To be a competitive applicant for University of California-San Diego your ACT score should come close to the average. If you’re closer to the 80, you’re likely going to have a tougher time getting accepted. To consider University of California-San Diego a “target” school (one that you have a good chance of getting into) you should aim for a score of 66.

25th Percentile 75th Percentile Average
Math 27 - 27
Reading 26 33 29
Writing 27 33 30
2019 Total 80 66 73
2018 Total - - -
2017 Total - - -

How hard is it to get into University of California-San Diego?

As you can see from the data above, University of California-San Diego is difficult to get into. Not only should you be aiming for a 4.08 but also SAT scores around 1310.

University of California-San Diego Requirements

Now you know where you need to be for getting into University of California-San Diego from a grade and test score perspective. Let’s quickly outline what else you’ll need to provide for your application to get reviewed, and then we’ll move onto the most important section: differentiating your app.

Recommendations Status
School Rank Neither required nor recommended
GPA Required
School Record Required

How to get into UCSD

Follow these steps to maximize your chances of getting into UCSD. Everything you read above will help prepare you for what you need to achieve to have a shot at UCSD, but these steps will take you even further in applying that knowledge and differentiating your application.

Main Academic Excellence that is in line with UCSD admission standards.

  1. Score at least a 1310 on the SAT or 73 on the ACT.
  2. Maintain a GPA of at least a 4.08.

Join Extracurriculars that Align with UCSD’s Values.

  1. Join your school band, a sports team or another group activity. If University of California-San Diego values music heavily, for example, then try to participate in an organization related to that topic.
  2. Volunteer in your hometown. La Jolla has tons of ways to be involved beyond just the college. University of California-San Diego wants applicants that are also good ambassadors for the school - they want students who will give back to the local community and broader La Jolla area in general.
  3. Spend your summer doing something that speaks to your values, personal growth, leadership qualities and other less quantifiable characteristics. UCSD needs to see past your test scores and grades - they need to know that you will be a valuable and contributing member of their community. You are more than grades and test scores - your experiences should demonstrate that.

Prepare Your Application

  1. Write a stellar essay that shows University of California-San Diego something they can’t figure out from the other parts of your application. For a detailed guide on writing the best college essay, check this out.
  2. Get teacher recs that speak to your character. If you know what you’re majoring in and include that in your UCSD app, try to have at least 1 recommendation from a teacher in that department.
  3. Apply Before the Deadline. Too many students wait until the last minute to submit their application, and too much can go wrong during this precious time window. Since many students are applying on the last day, it’s possible that UCSD’s own system crashes. Don’t risk the added stress this can cause - submit your app a few days early.