UC GPA’s and Out of State Admission Questions

Perhaps I am misinterpreting it, but I see the stats for UCLA and think their “holistic” application process is prioritizing grades above everything else combined. They have enough applicants that even with top grades you have less than a 1/3 chance, but the distribution suggestions that everything else combined (amazing EC’s and accomplishment, etc.) doesn’t compensate for even only pretty good grades.

Do you think UCB and UCLA look at the capped weighted or mostly uncapped weighted?

UCB and UCLA specifically state they look at the Uncapped Weighted GPA but for statistical purposes all the UC’s post their Capped weighted UC GPA for comparison.

UCLA Types of GPAs

All GPAs are calculated from courses completed in grades 10 and 11.

  • The fully weighted GPA includes an extra grade point for all UC-approved honors courses (which include AP, IB, school-based honors and transferable college courses) in which a grade of C or higher is earned. The maximum value possible is 5.00.
  • The unweighted GPA does not include any extra grade points for honors courses. The maximum value possible is 4.00.

Academic Performance

GPA statistics for admitted freshman students

GPA Median Middle 25% - 75%
Weighted GPA 4.54 4.35-4.72
Unweighted GPA 4.00 3.94-4.00

UCB Freshman Student Profile


Unweighted GPA 3.86-4.00
Weighted GPA 4.25-4.61

Data points reflect the middle 50% of students in our 2021 admitted class.

Yes, having top-end grades is important at any highly selective college. Non-academic factors should not be expected to compensate for a weaker academic record. This should be expected to be true for any highly selective college.

UC admission readers see all variants of recalculated GPA (unweighted, weighted capped, fully weighted) and the actual courses and grades entered into the application.

I assume there’s no breakdown of this based on OOS? Seems like their rules would cause most OOS uncapped weighted to be lower than in-state equivalents since they exclude all honors, accel, advanced, G&T, etc. courses from the calculation for OOS – everything except AP, IB and college credit – whereas in-state has a broader list of honors course that would get the extra point?

Yes, there is no breakdown for IS vs OOS or International on the GPA ranges I posted for UCLA and UCB.

Yes logically, the Uncapped Weighted UC GPA for OOS/International students would probably be lower than IS due to the Honors points course restrictions but if you look at the 2019 admitted student GPA data for UCLA, the data does not show this on the link but test scores were also a consideration in 2019:

Interesting link, thanks.

I find their table raises more questions than it answers. They show for example that OOS Admit at 75% had 36 semesters of honors courses. Given they don’t count honors at all for OOS, that seems odd, but even if they are using that term to refer to AP, IP and college credit, given that they only count 2 years of courses that implies the 75% candidate was taking the equivalent of 9 full-year courses a year that are AP, IB or college credit. I’ve never heard of a school that has 9 classes at a time, but even if they are out thereI am skeptical that enough do to make it that common. Plus if a school did have that many courses, they presumably have p.e. and other electives that aren’t eligible. Put another way, their 75% student took 18 full-year AP, IB or college credit courses sophomore and junior year.

Similarly the 4.86 weighted OSS uncapped GPA at 75% seems like it would be almost impossible to do without counting any non-AP/IB courses.

Edited: The # of Honors courses in the table covers 10-12th grades although the GPA calculation only uses 10-11th grades.

I also believe there is self selection when it comes to OOS and International applicants that apply to both these schools mainly due to costs but also many of these applicants are applying to these schools based on rankings. The OOS and International applicants pools historically been highly competitive.

Thanks. That’s a weird choice but at least explains it.

Even counting all 4 years, this data suggests the 25% OOS admit took 11.5 full-year AP courses (or IB or college credit equivalents), and the 75% applicant took 18 AP’s. The 75% student took 7 UC GPA-counted courses a year sophomore and junior years, of which 6 were AP’s each of those years. Which means they were taking an AP for each of the four core academic subjects, plus likely foreign language one year plus at least 3 second science, math, social studies or foreign language AP’s the same years as their primary AP’s in those years. And they were avoiding more than one non-AP elective a year as not to let it down skew their weighted GPA (regardless of their grade). And did all of this with perfect grades. Then they squeezed another 6 AP’s in their other years, which is impressive too since most schools (at least public ones) would make it extremely hard or impossible to take that many AP’s and many don’t even offer than many. Which suggests they may skew heavily toward private, magnet or charter schools for their OOS admits given the need for access to so many AP/IB’s and the need for flexibility to double up on many subjects the same year).

Agree based on that data, UCLA is significantly harder for OOS. To do 36 honors courses in 4 years and still be 75% percentile is no easy task. On top of that the GPA needs to be 4.86! and you have to pay $70K!

Honor Courses are 10-12 grades as mentioned in the link.

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Which means the 75% student had to average at least 6 full-year AP courses a year 10th-12th, with 18 total, intentionally limiting their non-AP courses to eligible GPA courses to 1 per year. And the 25% student had to average 4 full-year a year each of those years.

Most schools don’t have that many AP courses. Of those that have AP’s at all, the average offered is 8. So it’s surprising that even the bottom 25% cohort took 12 AP and/or DE college courses. It’s also surprising that all OSS cohorts took far more AP/IB/CC courses that IS students took of those plus all the California A-E honors courses. The latter would have had a much broader range of course they could count for the credit.

Does this mean that OOS biases significantly toward private, magnet, select charter and particularly prosperous public schools that collectively are far out of the average in their AP/IB offerings?

EDIT: A couple other pieces of info I found just now. Less than 1% of schools offer enough AP courses to equal the # taken by the 75% cohort and <9% of schools offer enough for the 25% cohort.

As of 2009 (so granted a bit dated), the average # of course credits in AP/IB/DE combined for the subset of students who take any was 1.39, meaning even the 25% cohort at UCLA took over 8x the # of such courses as the average.

I wasn’t talking about “weak academic records.” What the data suggests is you could be the top student with a perfect GPA at a very good school with great EC’s and you likely won’t get in unless you happened to be at a school with an exceptional # of AP/IB/DE opportunities and consciously limited the # of electives you dedicated ton non-AP courses (so you skipped drama, music, computers, etc., in favor of second science, math, social studies or foreign language AP’s per year).

The UC to its credit is more transparent with its data than most, so it’s a supposition, but my point is that it appears UCLA and Berkeley weigh pure AP/IB/DE GPA’s more heavily than even their other T25 peers, at least for OOS applicants. It’s true at all the top schools of course that you could have great grades and test scores and still not get admitted. But there’s not much room in the OOS UCLA and UCB stats for someone who had high grades and was a nationally recognized musician or did amazing research, etc. but who didn’t load up on an exceptional # of AP courses.

It is reasonable to conclude from the number of honors courses and the cost of UC education that these OOS students would be well off financially.

Even in-state this will be hard to do at high school. My guess is these students enroll in a lot of college courses in addition to maxing out AP at their high school.

I wonder how common it is to even have the opportunity to enroll in DE college courses? The 2009 data suggested <250K students did at the time, out of >3.4M HS students. I know my kids’ school has an extremely narrow program that prevents most from doing so (and even if they meet eligibility and are accepted into the program it’s common that there is no room for them in the limited range of eligible classes as the last priority on admission). And that’s a prosperous, well-ranked high school. There was no such option in my HS, though that was some time ago.

It’s interesting how narrow the viable pool of schools they must draw from for OOS for the majority of their admits to hit their stats. There are students from my kids’ HS who go to these two universities each year, but they must be bringing down the average since it would be technically impossible for them to meet the average uncapped weighted GPA based on their rules for the distribution of AP and DE courses. And the top 25% of OOS enrollees must be taking even more than 6 AP/IB/DE a year all three years.

I think DE college courses do play a part in this, because it is much easier to “load up” on weighted courses when 1 college class you take (that is a quarter long) counts for the same as a semester of an AP class. Speaking from my own experience.

Edit: it may be of note that my school is a neighborhood non magnet public school that sends 5kids/year to T20s

My son goes to a private school and most of his classes are dual enrollment, at least 10th grade up. It can be done.

Interesting point. How common are quarter term colleges outside of California (since the stat is only applicable to OOS)? I found a site that listed 27 outside of CA, but I’m not allowed to link it here and assume it’s not comprehensive. But it suggested quarters were less common than semesters.

Of the many dozens of peers of my kids going to college outside of CA now, I can think of 2 of them going to colleges on quarters outside of CA. (I know this because it always is a topic of conversation during breaks when the odd kid out isn’t around because they are on the quarter system). I’m sure it’s more common, I just wonder how common.

That’s very interesting – and something I hadn’t considered. In my corner of the country, I can only name one school (4-year or 2-year) that runs on semesters and not quarters.

I’m certain it can be (and is). (And that sounds like a great opportunity where you live , BTW – that’s awesome.)

It just statistically is a rarified subset of mostly privileged schools. Which is a bit off-brand for the UC’s, though perhaps their OOS brand is considered a totally different category where they encourage privilege. They are not only biasing for privilege but a narrow definition within that subset. I know of very privileged schools (both public and private) without either an AP or DE programs (by intent).

Where is that (regionally, not locally), if you do’t mind me asking?