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Understanding the MCA plus Calculator

eyemgheyemgh 5785 replies124 threads Senior Member
edited March 2019 in Cal Poly San Luis Obispo
Cal Poly, the best we know, uses an algorithm called Multiple Criteria for Admissions (MCA) to do admissions. I say "the best we know" because the last Cal Poly published anything on the MCA was 2013 and that link has been removed. They will not acknowledge it if asked. That said, in the years I've been tracking it, the results seem to hold. I believe it is still being used.

I dug into this several years ago because posters were claiming that CP passed over highly qualified applicants. I had anecdotal information to refute that (my high stats son got in and averages, particularly for the CENG are too high to not have high stats students. That led to the discovery of the MCA, and algorithm that is far more than just GPA and test scores.

It turns out that there's another reason that high stats students got rejected. Some were leaving off appropriate middle school grades, resulting in a lower MCA than they thought.

THINGS HAVE CHANGED SINCE I ORIGINALLY POSTED THIS.

ED no longer exists and the SAT has changed. I don't know how either impacted the MCA for certain. I left it unchanged, because, for now, what we know is what we had from 2013. That will have to do.


The Academic MCA:

The maximum GPA they will use is 4.2, even though you can have a higher calculated CP GPA. A 4.2 is worth 2250 MCA points. Thus, multiply your CP GPA by 535.7 and you'll get your MCA points for GPA.

The next biggest thing is test scores. The odd thing, likely because they wanted it to total a nice round number, is that the max score is 1650, even though the max SAT score is 1600. Multiply the total of your best SAT CR and your best SAT math by 1.03125 to get your MCA test points. If you took the ACT, they convert and vice versa.

The third largest section is the class rigor score, worth 750 points. In this section you get zero points for meeting the minimum admission requirements and adders for more than the minimum. The bonuses in order of power are (min semesters/max total semesters/bonus per extra semester/total possible bonus): math 6/10/125/500 (note: stats and finite do not count), lab science 4/8/50/200, English 8/10/50/100, foreign language 4/8/25/100, visual performance 2/4/25/50, no bonus points for social sciences or electives. As with GPA, you can actually score higher than the maximum, but 750 is the most they will count.

Finally, work and ECs, worth 350 points. Work (hours per week/bonus): 0/0, 1-5/20, 6-10/40, 11-15/60, 16-20/80, 21+/100, add 50 points if work is major related. ECs (hours per week/bonus): 0/0, 1-5/30, 6-10/60, 11-15/90, 16-20/120, 21+/150, add 60 points for leadership role.

There are also other Non-Academic Bonus Points:

CA vet/701, Hayden Partner School/700, faculty/staff dependent/700, service area of CP/500, either parent with some or no HS, but who DIDN'T GRADUATE FROM HS/300 (per parent).

Lastly,

Cal Poly ACT/SAT Concordance Chart in case you took ACT (use only Math and English and figure out the two equivalent SAT scores)

ACT CR M

36 800 800
35 770 790
34 760 780
33 750 760
32 720 730
31 700 700
30 680 680
29 650 660
28 630 640
27 610 620
26 590 600
25 570 580
24 550 560
23 540 540
22 520 520
21 500 500
20 490 480
19 470 460
18 450 440
17 440 410
16 420 390
15 400 360
14 380 330
13 360 300
12 330 280
11 300 260


Here's how it works. Cal Poly does TWO "READINGS" one of academic only and one after adding additional non-academic bonus adders. The reason I put readings in quotes is that they don't actually READ them. A computer tallies points and then ranks students.

The first "reading" is used to fill approximately 65% of the class. Presumably that is all of ED plus the first half or so of RD.

Then they add the other non-academic bonus points and re-rank MCAs to fill the final half of RD, approximately 35% of the class.

https://mca.netlify.com/

https://rogerhub.com/gpa-calculator-uc/
edited March 2019
75 replies
Post edited by MaineLonghorn on
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Replies to: Understanding the MCA plus Calculator

  • cojagi45cojagi45 38 replies3 threads Junior Member
    I feel like I’m calculating it wrong... I have good EC’s/work experience, a 1290, and a 4.07. It says my MCA is under 4000. Is that accurate?
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  • eyemgheyemgh 5785 replies124 threads Senior Member
    I can't say if it is accurate or not. It seems low, but it really depends on whether or not you have a lot of rigor and whether or not you entered the information correctly.

    BTW, this thread will likely be locked as a reference only thread shortly. If you need more information, start a new thread and tag me or @Gumbymom in it.
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  • WizardAppleWizardApple 7 replies0 threads New Member
    Maker of the calculator here. Let me know if you find any bugs/glitches! Also, @eyemgh, would it be helpful to have the calculator output a purely academic MCA and an MCA with the bonus adders? I feel that adding that would confuse people.
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  • eyemgheyemgh 5785 replies124 threads Senior Member
    @WizardApple, I'd leave it as is, with a single final number. Thanks!
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  • Mom2BoysCAMom2BoysCA 83 replies5 threads Junior Member
    @WizardApple MCA calculator works very nicely. Much better than the spreadsheet I started using a few years ago!
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  • WizardAppleWizardApple 7 replies0 threads New Member
    Thanks for the compliments!
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  • UnknownsUnknowns 5 replies0 threads New Member
    @eyemgh, perhaps I'm not thinking clearly, but I don't understand the "two readings" you mentioned above with respect to your reference of early decision (ED) and regular decision (RD).

    If I take out the ED/RD reference, then it looks like you're saying 65% of the class is admitted based on MCA calculated using "Academic" scores only (GPA/Rigor/Test Scores/Work and Extra Curriculars) and that 35% of the class is admitted after adding in the non-academic "Bonus Points". I suppose this makes sense: 65% of the spots are decided excluding Bonus Points....and 35% of the spots are reserved for decision after adding in Bonus Points.

    Where does ED/RD play into this? When I look at the Cal Poly website, it appears there is one period for submitting applications: 10/1-11/30.

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  • eyemgheyemgh 5785 replies124 threads Senior Member
    @Unknowns, per the post above.
    "THINGS HAVE CHANGED SINCE I ORIGINALLY POSTED THIS.

    ED no longer exists and the SAT has changed. I don't know how either impacted the MCA for certain. I left it unchanged, because, for now, what we know is what we had from 2013. That will have to do."

    ED no longer exists, but because Cal Poly no longer publicly talks about their admissions methodology, I left it as it was last time it was published in 2013.

    You can obviously assume that the ED "reading" no longer happens. It would make sense that they do a purely academic pass followed by a rerank with adders, but again, nothing has been published since 2013, so I don't know that to be fact.

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  • UnknownsUnknowns 5 replies0 threads New Member
    I see...sorry, I missed that at the start.
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  • JWNimbleJWNimble 5 replies0 threads New Member
    Is GPA used weighted, or unweighted?
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  • UnknownsUnknowns 5 replies0 threads New Member
    Weighted capped at 8 semesters of AP bonus and 4.2 GPA
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  • eyemgheyemgh 5785 replies124 threads Senior Member
    The GPA used is what the calculator linked above tells you. Yes, it's weighted, but only as the CSU calculator weights it. The MCA does cap GPA at 4.2, but don't worry about that. The calculator does it. If calculating manually, 4.2 and above all enter as 4.2.
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  • lolpanda11111lolpanda11111 14 replies0 threads New Member
    @eyemgh or others, posting a couple of questions to this thread for potential benefit to future applicants. Are soft sciences such as AP Psych and AP EnvSci excluded from the calculator? If a student took a foreign language placement test prior to high school and scored high enough to only require the latter 4 semesters of a FL series, should only 4 semesters be included? And, do courses in the school's Journalism dept count as EC? If so, then my D knows where her "missing" MCA points are located.
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  • eyemgheyemgh 5785 replies124 threads Senior Member
    Those are all best answered by admissions. My take is that it would have to have an associated lab to be counted. Not certain about the language question. If the journalism classes went on the transcript, no, but if they didn't, then yes.
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  • Distracted42Distracted42 5 replies1 threads New Member
    edited March 2019
    The first post in this thread mentions that Stats does not count in the Class Rigor calculation as a math class (if I'm reading it right.) My son took Honors Statistics, which I see on the a-g course ( https://hs-articulation.ucop.edu/agcourselist/results;searchType=1;query=honors statistics ) list is considered a C (Mathematics) class. We are OOS so the high school data is self reported so far. His (gifted only, private) high school is honors level for all classwork. Would this count toward the Cal Poly MCA?
    edited March 2019
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  • eyemgheyemgh 5785 replies124 threads Senior Member
    @Distracted42, it used to be that the answer to that was a clear no. Then several parents called and reported that Cal Poly said yes. You'd have to call to verify. If your student's application is already in, it's academic and I wouldn't bother. If they'd be applying for the future, call after the admissions cycle slows a bit.
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  • eyemgheyemgh 5785 replies124 threads Senior Member
    @Distracted42,The first post mentions this also:
    THINGS HAVE CHANGED SINCE I ORIGINALLY POSTED THIS.

    ED no longer exists and the SAT has changed. I don't know how either impacted the MCA for certain. I left it unchanged, because, for now, what we know is what we had from 2013. That will have to do.

    The posted info is circa 2013.

    I have no written confirmation of that other that what has been posted here by other parents. If you want to know with certainty, you'll have to call admissions.
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  • bigfandavebigfandave 157 replies6 threads Junior Member
    edited March 2019
    Thanks.
    edited March 2019
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  • NewPoster123NewPoster123 82 replies6 threads Junior Member
    @eyemgh Hi. one last question. What do you mean
    "The bonuses in order of power are (min semesters/max total semesters/bonus per extra semester/total possible bonus): math 6/10/125/500 (note: stats and finite do not count")
    Can you explain what you mean by stats and finite do not count? Do you mean that if a kid took Algebra 1, geo, algebra 2 and finite they only have 3 years of math? Cal poly doesn't count the 4th year of finite? I know it is counted as filling the "c" math requirement for UC/Cal States, so wanted clarification. Thank you?
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  • eyemgheyemgh 5785 replies124 threads Senior Member
    @NewPoster123, yes, with one caveat, AS OF 2013. They don't comment on MCA anymore. Parents have posted that they do now count stats and finite as advanced math.
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