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Is Berkeley Test Optional?

By Eric Eng

By Eric Eng

Unidentified student writing in a desk.

Is Berkeley Test Optional?

Is Berkeley test optional? The University of California, Berkeley does not require applicants to submit scores from the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) or the American College Testing Program (ACT).

Whether or not Berkeley adopts a test-optional policy, a holistic review has always been the approach used in its admissions, and this will continue. This means that no single factor on an application determines a student’s admission status. Historically, scores on the SAT or ACT were not the sole academic indicators available on applications to assess applicants’ knowledge and skills.

Other academic indicators, such as grades, the rigor of a student’s courses, and scores from non-required tests like SAT subject tests, AP exams, and IB exams, have also been integral to the review process. Even if Berkeley chooses not to adopt a test-optional stance, scores from standardized tests like the SAT and ACT will not be a primary consideration during admissions. However, should students choose to submit their scores, they may be used for placement or to grant subject credits should the student be admitted to Berkeley.

What is the Current UC Berkeley Acceptance Rate?

While UC Berkeley is not test-optional and has always employed a holistic review process, let’s further examine its acceptance rate. UC Berkeley reported a record-low acceptance rate of 14 percent for the Class of 2025. For the Class of 2026, the university received a total of 128,196 applications. Although the official admission figures for this class have not been released yet, it is estimated that approximately 15,000 people were accepted, which translates to an acceptance rate of 11.7 percent.

Female student typing using a laptop.

What are the Admission Requirements for Berkeley?

One of the most prestigious educational institutions in the United States is the University of California at Berkeley, also referred to simply as Cal. Regarding narrowing down its pool of applicants, UC Berkeley uses a comprehensive screening process. As a result, you have much more to concentrate on besides your grades. If you are interested in being admitted, the acceptance rate is the most important factor.

As Berkeley is not test optional or does not require to present standardized test scores, being admitted demonstrates the level of competition at the school and its commitment to the requirements it has set. Check whether they require a certain grade point average, SAT, or ACT score to move on to the next round and demonstrate that you are academically prepared. You will unlikely ever join the Berkeley community if you do not satisfy their prerequisites.

GPA Requirements

According to Cal’s requirements, you must have a cumulative grade point average of 3.0 in grades 11 and 12. Every applicant must satisfy all primary requirements, including this particular one.

Based on the GPA scores submitted the year before, the minimum required average GPA for admission to UC Berkeley is 3.89. To be a competitive applicant to the University of California, Berkeley, you must earn a grade point average of at least 3.8 while enrolled in high school.

Group of students holding their things while talking.

Because a 3.8 grade point average is considered to be the norm at all reputable American universities, UC Berkeley’s SAT score is consistently ranked as one of the most competitive and selective educational institutions in the entire world.

If you want to attend UC Berkeley, you need a 3.89 grade point average, which means you need to be at the top of your class and significantly better than average. Additionally, the majority of the grades on your transcripts should be A’s.

In addition, to demonstrate that you are capable of successfully navigating the academic rigors of college, you should sign up for as many IB and AP classes as possible. If you can do all of these things, then you have a chance of being accepted.

SAT Requirements

Although many schools claim that they do not have a minimum acceptable SAT score, the reality is that they all do. This is determined by considering the school’s average score. On a scale of 1600 points, the average SAT composite score required for admission to UC Berkeley is 1415. The University of California, Berkeley is a formidable competitor in SAT scores at this level.

A score of 1300 on the New SAT places a student in the 25th percentile, while a score of 1530 places a student in the 75th percentile. In other words, if you get a score of 1300 on the New SAT, you will be placed in the category of having below-average skills. However, if you get a score of 1530, you will be placed above average.

The following is a section-by-section breakdown of the newly released SAT scores:

Section Average 25th Percentile 75th Percentile
Math 725 660 790
Composite 1415 1300 1530
Reading + Writing 690 640 740

At the University of California, Berkeley, the Score Choice policy is “All Scores.” This suggests that UC Berkeley will demand you deliver your SAT results to their office if you wish to apply there. This may overwhelm you, but most colleges do not place equal weight on your grades. By the policies of the University of California, all scores are considered to fall under the requirements of Berkeley, and the highest results from a single administration will be used.

ACT Requirements

The requirements for the UC ACT Berkeley campus do not have a strict cutoff. Candidates should have little trouble meeting the threshold if they make adequate preparations. On the other hand, the application might be thrown out of consideration by the university if the score is too low. In most cases, the general requirement is equal to 31. Because of this score, the University of California at Berkeley is in the thick of the competition regarding ACT scores.

A score of 28 on the ACT corresponds to the 25th percentile, while a score of 34 corresponds to the 75th percentile. Even though UC Berkeley may claim that there is no minimum ACT score, if you apply to the school with a score of 28 or lower, you may have a difficult time getting accepted, unless you have something else in your application that is particularly impressive. Because there are so many students who score 31 or higher, a score of 28 will look intellectually insufficient because there are so many students who score 31 or higher.

Male student using a laptop for college application in a libaray.

If you choose to take the ACT instead of the SAT, you will have a significant advantage when it comes to sending your scores, which will have a significant impact on the testing procedure that you will undergo. Even though your ACT scores are being sent to the college, you still have control over the scores. You can take as many examinations as you like, and the one with the highest score will be considered. On the other hand, in contrast to the SAT, which requires students to submit all of their previous test scores, the ACT does not require this information.

This indicates that you have the ability to raise your ACT score at your own discretion. If you need to get a score of at least 34 on the ACT to get into the school of your choice, you can take the test as many times as you like. The higher the score, the more likely you will win! You will then be able to send only that result to any and all of the schools with which you are the most content.

What are the Application Requirements for Berkeley?

Suppose you are considering enrolling at UC Berkeley as either an incoming first-year student or a transfer student. In that case, you should give careful consideration to how well you are preparing yourself in reading, writing, mathematics, and any other subject areas that are relevant to the major you wish to pursue. You will be better prepared for work at Berkeley if the curriculum you follow in high school or college is more rigorous and comprehensive.

Application

UC Berkeley is one of the few colleges not accepting applications through the Common Application or the Coalition App. You must create a UC application account before you can submit an application for any course offered by UB. Visit this page to create an account.

Application Fee or Waiver

When you apply, you must pay an application fee of seventy dollars. The application fee is non-refundable; even if you decide to cancel your participation at a later date, you will not receive a refund of the fee. You have the option of sending your application fee payment in the mail or paying with a credit card.

If it will be difficult for you to pay the application fee, you have the option of submitting a request for a fee waiver. Your application fee will be waived up to four times by UC Berkeley. If you wish to apply to more than four campuses, you will be required to pay an application fee of $70 for each additional campus to which you wish to apply.

Please take note that the fee waiver is only available to permanent residents, citizens of the United States, and applicants who are qualified to receive AB540 benefits. International students are not eligible for fee waivers from UC Berkeley.

A-G subject course requirements

It is necessary for you to finish the A-G subject course requirements. Please refer to the A-G course requirement guide for further information and specifics.

Transcript

Your academic performance during high school will be detailed on the transcript. After you have been accepted, you will be required to hand in your transcript. It is imperative that you do not send a transcript along with your application because it will not be processed.

Test scores

Because of the widespread COVID-19 pandemic, UC Berkeley will not consider SAT or ACT scores when determining admissions. However, you certainly can if you still want to send in your SAT scores.

Writing in a notebook in a white table.

If you submit the score, whether Berkeley is test optional or not, it will be evaluated to determine whether or not you are eligible for the statewide admissions guarantee in California. Although Berkeley has opted out of the test optional policy, it’s possible that they’ll use it as an alternative means to satisfy the eligibility prerequisites.

Annual Income

You must provide your income if you are independent or your parent’s annual income if you are dependent. If you are submitting an application for a fee waiver, then it is mandatory for you to do so; otherwise, it is voluntary.

Social Security Number

If you have a social security number, you are required to provide it in this application.

Citizenship Status

You will be required to enter the country in which you were born. If you are not a native of the United States, you must also specify the visa type and immigration status.

California Statewide Student ID

Please present a California Statewide Student ID if you are a resident of the state of California. It is distributed to each and every student attending a K–12 public school in the state of California. But, it’s an optional requirement.

Personal Insight Questions

The College will present you with 8 questions to answer during the application process, but you must only respond to 4. You are limited to no more than 350 words for your response. It is entirely up to you how you choose to respond to the question. UC advises you to select the appropriate question for your level of experience.

The following are some of the reasons why UC Berkeley uses personal insight questions:

  • Finding and weighing the differences between candidates whose academic records are typically very comparable to make selections
  • Understand your achievements in personal, academic, and extracurricular life.
  • We ask that you kindly supply us with information that might not be readily apparent in various parts of the application.

Letters of Recommendation

The University of California, Berkeley encourages applicants to submit two letters of recommendation. The submission of work is entirely optional and will not prevent an application from being fully considered for admission.

When asked to include a letter as part of the application process, Berkeley asks that those who write letters consider the following concepts because the university believes there is value in conducting holistic reviews.

  • The applicant’s overall academic performance and academic potential (considered in the context of their high school class).
  • A passion for education
  • The ability to lead (in school, family, or community)
  • The ability to persevere in the face of adversity
  • Cross-cultural engagement
  • Originality/Creativity
  • An obvious concern for the welfare of other people

If a student is allowed to submit up to two letters of recommendation, they must submit them electronically. In addition, there should be at least one letter that has been written by a professor or instructor from one of the fundamental academic fields.

When is the Application Deadline for Berkeley?

Applications for admission to UC Berkeley can be submitted beginning in October of the year before the year in which the student intends to enroll at the university. The application period runs from the 1st to the 30th of November. The deadline for submission of all applications is November 30. Early admission and early decision applications are unavailable through the University of California, Berkeley.

Application available August 1
Apply for financial aid October 1
Application filing period November 1-30
Application deadline November 30
Berkeley notifies applicants of receipt of the application Early December
Online UC Transfer Application Update (TAU) deadline January 31 (priority)
UC Berkeley mandatory forms deadline January 31
FAFSA and CA Dream Act March 2
Freshman decisions posted End of March
Transfer decisions posted End of April
Freshman deadline to accept the offer of admission May 1
Transfer deadline to accept the offer of admission June 1

If you need help putting the finishing touches on your early applications or want some advice on whether or not applying Early Decision or an Early Action is a good option for you, at AdmissionSight, we have over 10 years of experience guiding students through the competitive admissions process, including our athletic recruitment program.

AdmissionSight can help you put your best foot forward when applying to college this fall. Contact us today for more information on our services.

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