Is UCB EECS impossible now?

Despite best efforts, DS has ended up with an unfortunate B & C grade in AP Cal BC 1st & 2nd Sem respectively in Junior Yr. Rest of the subjects are As.

As per Rogerhub GPA Calculator, UW GPA=3.86 | W GPA=4.68 | W & Capped GPA=4.23.

Is UCB EECS even possible now? What is the impact for admission to other UC schools?

Thank you!

No, EECS is not impossible since his fully weighted UC GPA is still within range based on the COE GPA distribution that I have linked below. UC’s will consider all 3 UC GPA’s in their application review along with 12 other areas of criteria so GPA alone will not make or break an applicant.

EECS is a Reach for all applicants with around a 3% acceptance rate so he needs to apply widely to the UC’s including identifying some solid Safety and Match schools he would be willing to attend.

Best of luck to him.

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Thank you so much @Gumbymom! Appreciate your encouraging words!
Can you please clarify if the GPA used in the distribution chart is weighted, unweighted or weighted capped?
Would you recommend devoting some essay to explain this anomaly?
DS is wondering if he should apply to CS now instead although EECS is definitely the dream…

The grade distribution chart is based on the fully weighted UC GPA with a maximum of 5.0. With how competitive EECS and the rest of the UC’s for CS, the 2nd semester C will not do him any favors and although GPA is Very important, the UC’s take all 13 factors into consideration. For CS at UCB, please be aware that admissions is leaning towards a direct admit policy which will make it more competitive. See the information link below which was posted by another CC poster on the UCB discussion thread.

I would not try to explain less that optimal grades unless there is a compelling reason such as a Health/Medical issue, extreme hardship to family issues etc… which then could be explained in one of the PIQ’s.

I would start forming the college list from the bottom up and identify at least 2 safety schools in which he would be willing to attend, no matter what. CS is one of the most competitive majors at all the UC’s however, it is also a highly employable major so CS at any number of less prestigious schools (non-UC) will yield a similar post graduation result.

Did he get A’s in math prior to junior year?

This probably shouldn’t change your son’s application strategy, although in terms of outcomes, it’s possible that it could tip some decisions that could have gone either way.

Possibly a more impactful question, though, is what he’s going to do next, math-wise.

If he ends up scoring well on the AP test in spite of the grade, then maybe he gained a good foundation by the time of the test, and just couldn’t salvage his grade. But in the more likely event that his test score validates the same weaknesses suggested by his grade, what is the plan?

If he were starting college next year, he’d probably have to start in either Calc 1 or Calc 2, depending on his AB subscore. Trying to take a math class next year that has Calc BC as a prereq doesn’t seem like a good strategy at all. He could sidestep the whole issue by taking Stats, and then start over with Calc in college. Retaking calc could be wise learning-wise, but a lot of schools doesn’t allow retakes unless a D or F was received. What’s his plan?

The way your question is phrased makes it sound as if you may have your heart set on Berkeley. I’d encourage you to learn more about other schools and broaden the range of acceptances you’d be happy with. In addition to the other UC’s, there are OOS flagship universities in the WUE network that have excellent CS programs and, with the WUE discount, similar costs to a UC school, but are much easier to get into. (U of Utah and U of Nevada Reno are two examples.) There are also Cal States with excellent CS programs - Cal Poly is a tough admit for CS but many others are more accessible. Your son needs a list that covers a range of competitiveness, and he needs to learn enough about his match and safety schools to see their virtues and to be able to picture himself being happy and successful at those schools, and to not feel like a failure if Berkeley doesn’t end up being an option.

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Summary of admission rates by fully weighted HS GPA. EECS is probably the most selective CoE major (so expect admission to be more difficult than suggested by CoE admission rates), but is also the largest.

From OPA – University of California Berkeley , choose the Academic Indicators tab. “Last updated on October 22, 2021” for the “last 3 complete application cycles”.

GPA appears to be weighted, not capped. Calculate using GPA Calculator for the University of California – RogerHub

Admission rates only:

3.800-4.000 6.3% 2.7% 4.5% 11.5% 8.7%
4.001-4.199 10.6% 3.9% 8.2% 23.7% 14.7%
4.200-4.399 21.8% 8.8% 17.5% 38.9% 29.1%
4.400-4.599 34.8% 16.4% 33.3% 53.0% 39.5%
4.600-4.799 40.9% 21.4% 39.6% 52.4% 49.4%
4.800-5.000 41.5% 20.7% 36.2% 46.1% 43.0%

Probably the plan needs to be contingent on the AP score, although a 5 or even a 4 would be a surprise after a B and C in the class.

rurciii7 may help him determine how well he knows the calculus 1 and 2 (BC) material in preparation for calculus 3. rurcii6 and rurci3 are quizzes for readiness for calculus 2 and 1 respectively.

He can also try old calculus 1 and 2 final exams from colleges to check his knowledge. For example, UCB Math 1A and 1B are calculus 1 and 2 with exams available at Mathematics Courses - Tau Beta Pi, California Alpha Chapter . UCB’s math department has AP score placement recommendations at High School Exam Credits | Department of Mathematics at University of California Berkeley .

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@Gumbymom, thank you!

@aquapt - yes, he has had As in accelerated Math prior to Junior yr.
As far as plan, he is considering enrolling for summer course at UCB in Multi Var Calculus. I am not sure how this works but looks like it is completely separate from High School GPA. Is there any risk in taking this course in case he does poorly (worst case speculation)?
2022 Summer Session C 8 weeks, June 21 - August 12
MATH W53 001 - WBL 001 offered through Mathematics

@ucbalumnus - thank you for pointing me to the quizzes. That will be a great way to assess if he is even ready for the summer course. Please share your thoughts on whether there is any risk iin taking the summer course


Any college class that is UC transferable will be part of his permanent college record and would have to be disclosed if applying to graduate/professional schools along with listing it on his UC application. Also it will be calculated into the UC GPA (summer after 9th to the summer after 11th).

Hopefully others will chime in, because obviously this is just one person’s opinion… but I’m going to weigh in on the side of “This is a terrible idea.”

  1. If he earned a C in the second half of Calc BC (a.k.a. Calc II in college), he is not well-prepared for the next course in the sequence, which builds on the same material.
  2. Not only is he proposing to move on to the next class; he’s proposing to do so in a summer session which is accelerated relative to taking the same class during the semester. (Covering the material in 8 weeks vs. 15 - almost double the pace.) And at UCB, which is known for rigor and grade deflation.
  3. As Gumbymom already pointed out, if this doesn’t go well, it will count in every conceivable way. It will count toward his HS GPA , and his college GPA. It will remain on both transcripts, whether he’s pleased with the outcome or not.
  4. Also, why? What will he do for math during the school year, after that?

By doubling down and leaping ahead to something even more daunting than the class he just struggled in, he’s only setting himself up for more struggle.

As an alternative, he might consider retaking Calc through AoPS, which takes a deeper approach to teaching than most high school math classes. Or, he could take a self-paced college calculus class and move quickly through the parts he already understands, focusing on the parts where he needs to shore up his understanding: Calculus I | Independent Learning

If he cannot be dissuaded from taking a higher-level college math class, he might at least consider Linear Algebra which is not so directly dependent on Calc II. But in general, the answer to struggle is not to overcompensate with an even more daunting challenge.


For clarification, note that a high school C is unlikely to mean the same thing as a college C. While a C in a college course is supposed to be the minimum grade that indicates passing well enough to be ready for the next course at the same college, remember that high school A and B students go to college and earn grades across the entire range (A, B, C, D, F) in college. So a high school C likely corresponds to something lower than a college C.

In the absence of other indicators to the contrary (like a 5 score on the BC exam that is what the UCB math department suggests is needed to skip Math 1B, or at least trying the old UCB Math 1A and 1B exams and doing well on them), taking UCB Math W53 in the summer seems like a bad idea.


I agree with you.

I think that the student needs to figure out why they suddenly got a B and a C in math. Calculus is something that depends a great deal on the prerequisites. With A’s in the prerequisites is is hard to know quite what happened.

Calculus is also something that is useful in many ways. I at least used it in many classes after taking calculus my freshman year of university, and also have used calculus several times on the job. Admittedly since I was a math major I did end up with some jobs that used quite a bit of math.

I agree with this also. There are a lot of universities with very good CS programs (and also very good math programs).

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Thank you all for the feedback - it is so valuable!

DS strongly believes that he could have done better and it was just an unfortunate combination of an exceedingly tough teacher (he has a reputation ) and one bad test that he just could not recover in time from. He feels he could have made B. Net net DS is very keen on compensating for the C and proving that the C grade is not representative of his capability.

@aquapt - if I am not mistaken, the AoPs course and online / independent learning courses wont be recognized by UC. While it will definitely help him in college, first hurdle is to get admitted to the college or minimize the damaging effect of the C in the eyes of the admissions. Will these courses help in that?

What are the practical options for DS to be able to compensate for the C grade / minimize its negative impact and demonstrate that that was just an anomaly and that he is better than C?

Thank you all again for sharing your thoughts and helping us navigate this!

Other than a 5 on the AP exam, not much. A 4 or 3 score would also be better than a high school C grade, but may not be competitive against what other applicants to highly selective colleges have.

More practical advice would be to ensure that the college application list has likely and safety schools that he likes. UCB EECS would be difficult to get admitted to even if he had all A grades.

Again, what math is he planning to take as a senior?

The purpose of a non-credit option like AoPS would be to backfill his foundation in Calculus so that he can do well in the subsequent classes.

The downside of their calendar is that it isn’t self-paced, so he wouldn’t be done with it before the fall semester starts. That’s where the UWisconsin self-paced classes might be better. Those would also give him a grade that colleges would see, although it would be up to his school whether the grades might replace his BC grades. The other self-paced option, for high school credit, would be BYU Online. Many/most CA high schools accept BYU for credit recovery, and the classes are UC approved.

The problem here is that he won’t know his AP scores until after the summer class starts. In my opinion, the lowest score that would prove him qualified for the summer class would be a 4 on BC with a 5 AB subscore. Anything below that substantiates that he’s not ready, especially for an accelerated class at UCB. And in fact, even a 4 on BC is questionable. Almost 40% of high school students who take the Calc BC exam get 5’s, so while a 4 is passing, it definitely doesn’t show strong comprehension relative to the overall cohort.

Can he not take multivariable during the year next year, and use the summer to bolster his single-variable calc skills (with or without credit or a grade)? UC’s will get a mid-year report before they make decisions, even though they don’t recompute the GPA with senior fall grades.

I think the self-tests recommended upthread are a good place to start. He really needs to get some objective feedback about his level of mastery before trying to forge ahead.

UC’s will get a mid-year report before they make decisions, even though they don’t recompute the GPA with senior fall grades.

The UC’s do not normally ask for a Mid-year Senior report unless the applicant is selected for an augmented review so chances are low that Senior grades will impact the UC decisions. Some UC’s allow waitlisted applicants to submit Mid-year grades as part of their waitlist option.

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Fair enough. I understand the concern about having to prove something quickly. I would just be worried that a high-stakes attempt to achieve the appearance of mastery, rather than a diligent effort to achieve actual mastery, could end up backfiring in a big way.

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The high percentage of 5 scores on BC is due to a self-selected cohort of the strongest-in-math high school students taking that course and AP test.

However, the UCB math department says that students should have a 5 on BC to skip Math 1B and go directly to Math 53: High School Exam Credits | Department of Mathematics at University of California Berkeley . So going directly into Math 53 with anything less than a 5 on BC would be risky.

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