Application Review Process for Freshmen

Each year, UCLA considers more excellent applicants for freshmen admission than it can possibly admit. The goal of the campus’ admissions review process is to single out from a large and growing pool of academically strong applicants those unique individuals who have demonstrated the intellectual curiosity, tenacity, and commitment to community service expected of the UCLA graduate. These select applicants are the ones who would contribute the most to UCLA’s dynamic learning environment; they are also the applicants who would make the most of being immersed in it. Although high school grade point average is an important indicator of academic achievement used in UCLA’s admissions review, it only tells part of the story.

As a public, land grant institution of higher learning, UCLA has a mandate to serve the State of California by educating its future leaders in research, industry, and the arts. California’s future depends heavily on this important charge. For the past 27 years, Proposition 209 has prohibited UCLA from considering gender and/or race conscious measures in individual admission decisions. In light of the Supreme Court’s recent decision to eliminate affirmative action in college admission, UCLA remains committed to reflecting the diversity of the state’s population in its student body. Student diversity is a compelling interest at UCLA and remains a priority for the University of California (UC) system. UC President, Michael Drake, states “Attracting, supporting and retaining a diverse student body leads to better quality instruction and educational outcomes, significant community benefits and overall fairness”. 

Admission Review Process

Selection is based on a comprehensive review of all information—both academic and personal—presented in the application. All applications are read twice, in their entirety, by professionally trained readers. After independently reading and analyzing a file, the reader determines a comprehensive score that is the basis upon which the student is ultimately admitted or denied. In addition, admissions managers conduct multiple checks for consistency and completeness throughout the reading process. While this evaluation process is based on human judgment rather than a system that quantifies factors and incorporates them into a numerical formula, the extensive reader training, comprehensive reading of files, as well as other monitoring procedures, ensure that the process is highly reliable. Formal tests of reliability are conducted regularly to assure quality control.

The admission review reflects the readers’ thoughtful consideration of the full spectrum of the applicant’s qualifications, based on all evidence provided in the application, and viewed in the context of the applicant’s academic and personal circumstances and the overall strength of the UCLA applicant pool. Using a broad concept of merit, readers employ the following criteria which carry no pre-assigned weights:

  • 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. Consideration will be given to completion of courses beyond the University’s a-g minimums; strength of the senior year course load; and performance in honors, college level, Advanced Placement (AP), and International Baccalaureate Higher Level (IBHL) courses to the extent that such courses are available to the applicant. In assessing achievement levels, consideration will be 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, including whether he or she is among those identified as Eligible in the Local Context.
  • Personal qualities of the applicant, including leadership ability, character, motivation, tenacity, initiative, originality, creativity, intellectual independence, responsibility, insight, maturity, and demonstrated concern for others and for the community. These qualities may not be reflected in traditional measures of academic achievement. They may be found elsewhere in the application and judged by the reader as positive indicators of the student’s ability to succeed at UCLA and beyond.
  • Likely contributions to the intellectual and cultural vitality of the campus. In addition to a broad range of intellectual interests and achievements, consideration will be given to evidence of an applicant’s ability and desire to contribute to a campus that values cultural, socioeconomic, and intellectual diversity. This includes the likelihood that the student would make meaningful and unique contributions to intellectual and social interchanges with faculty and fellow students, both inside and outside the classroom.
  • Achievement in academic enrichment programs, including, but not limited to, those sponsored by the University of California. This criterion will be measured by time and depth of participation, by the academic progress made by the applicant during that participation, and by the intellectual rigor of the particular program.
  • Other evidence of achievement. This criterion will 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.
  • Opportunities. All achievements, both academic and non-academic, are considered in the context of the opportunities an applicant has had, and the reader’s assessment is based on how fully the applicant has taken advantage of those opportunities. In evaluating the context in which academic accomplishments have taken place, readers consider the strength of the high school curriculum, including the availability of honors, AP, and IBHL courses, and the total number of college preparatory courses available, among other indicators of the resources available within the school. When appropriate and feasible, readers look comparatively at the achievements of applicants in the same pool who attended the same high school and therefore might be expected to have similar opportunities to achieve.
  • Challenges. For an applicant who has faced any hardships or unusual circumstances, readers consider the maturity, determination, and insight with which he or she has responded to and/or overcome them. Readers also consider other contextual factors that bear directly on the applicant’s achievement, including linguistic background, parental education level, and other indicators of support available in the home.

In applying the criteria above, readers carefully consider evidence provided in the personal insight questions, as well as in the academic record and list of honors and achievements. It is important that the student as an individual comes through in the personal insight questions. 


UCLA is among the most selective universities in the country and is becoming more competitive for freshman applicants each year. This past year UCLA received just under 146,000 applications. Recently, the campus has been able to admit about one in eleven freshman applicants for the fall term.

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. 

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