The Universities of California, a Shift in Admissions Criteria
In Hong Kong, we have noticed a trend in the types of candidates that gain admission into the top three UC universities: Berkeley, San Diego, and, in particular, UCLA. In previous years, it was virtually impossible for any student to enter into Berkeley without an SAT 1500+, UCLA without a 1400+, and UC San Diego without a 1350+.
But over the last two admissions cycles, we have found many students scoring above 1450+ that have been rejected from UCLA, and we have worked with many students scoring 1300-1350 that have gained admission to UCLA. To us, this indicates that the UC system admissions process is maturing beyond computer-based algorithms for admission and placing a heavier emphasis on the narrative aspect. We have also found that essays that commit to a particular academic concentration with a clear definition of potential career pathways are more effective than strictly personal anecdotes.
As with all schools, the UCs are de-emphasizing test scores ever so slightly – a monumental shift given the incredible volume of applications they receive every November.
More information about the SAT and US university admissions can be found here.