What Happens after UC Admissions Readers Grade Your Application?

I’ve heard that there are 2-3 people that view it individually and give each portion of the application a grade and then it gets sent to a bunch of directors. Do those directors read your application too or do they just go off of the scores the readers give?

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I am not a UC essay reader and I am hoping some UC essay readers chime in here.

This is what I know: Edited for update.
The number of times the PIQ essays are read are now at the discretion of each UC campus. Outside readers are not given access to the whole UC application. The UC uses a consistent system, so all campuses grade on the same scale.

UC admissions officers have access to the whole application.

Based on the Hout report, after the scoring by the 2-3 readers, applications are ranked by score within admission buckets (division or major where admission to division or major is used). For each bucket, a cutoff is set to target a matriculating class size based on estimated yield (which is presumably lower for the top-scoring applicants and higher for those scoring not as well). If the cutoff is within a given score level, a tie-breaking process is used within that score level.


Funny thing is actually my application was only read by 1 reader!

I’m a current UCSB College of Engineering student, and I reviewed my application with the Office of Admissions.

But yeah @Gumbymom only ONE reader read my application; I was surprised too and when I asked the UCSB admissions officer for a reason, they said that apparently it’s because they get too many applications, and students that are considered to be “extremely strong candidates” aren’t assigned a second reader.

For reference, I scored a 9 out of 9 on the index used to evaluate your ECs and Essays.

In the words of the admissions officer, a second reader probably would not have changed anything; essentially I was an auto-admit.

I got the impression that the 1 reader policy at UCSB for strong applicants is a relatively new policy.

There’s a lot more info, feel free to ask more questions if anybody has them.


Great information and very interesting that all the UC Counselor conference sessions state the essays are read by 2 readers.

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The admissions officer was a little non-responsive when I asked them about this, since it’s pretty common knowledge that supposedly the UCs employ two readers for all applications. She talked about how last year UCSB received over 100,000 applications and this was a way for them to get to every application.

But hey, I can’t complain, I did get in!

They did confirm what I expected – UCSB admissions (and probably other UCs) are point based. In essence, the admissions officer told me that they admit from the top downwards – they admit a certain percentage who have scores above a cutoff that they determine, and they determine bounds for waitlists, and a bound for denials/rejections.

Oh yeah for reference, here are my college results for anybody wondering:

UC Berkeley - EECS, Rejected
UCLA - Electrical Engineering, Rejected
UC San Diego - Computer Engineering, Waitlisted->Rejected
UC Santa Barbara - Computer Engineering, Accepted
UC Santa Cruz - Computer Engineering, Accepted with Honors College and Regents Scholarship
UC Riverside - Computer Engineering, Accepted
UC Merced - Computer Science and Engineering, Accepted
UC Irvine - Computer Engineering, Waitlisted → Rejected

a few OOS schools:

UIUC → Computer Engineering → Accepted
Georgia Tech → Computer Engineering, Waitlisted → Rejected
Purdue → First Year Engineering, Accepted
UW Madison → Computer Engineering, Accepted

If anybody’s interested, I can go into how UCSB determined the academic strength of each applicant.


Thanks for sharing. I’m interested in how the academic strength is determined.

Edit: Were you offered Regents or Honors at UCSB?


I’ve heard that there are 2-3 people that view it individually and give each portion of the application a grade and then it gets sent to a bunch of directors. Do those directors read your application too or do they just go off of the scores the readers give?

Nope, the admissions officers don’t seem to hold admissions committees like they do at some private universities. With 110k+ applications every year, most of the work is done with hired admissions readers and a computer algorithm. The AOs only determine cutoffs.

^^ at UCSB


@Edward_Ding truly appreciate this valuable info! For a high stat candidate, I don’t understand how it can be fair to have only 1 reader. What if the high stat candidate has the unfortunate luck of having that one reader score your PIQs low (i.e., Monday morning reader, bad mood, etc.). It’s almost as if, he/she would be in a better position to have a slightly lower stat with 2 readers to ensure PIQs are scored fairly.

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Looks like it is not high stat applicants, but those who get the top score from the first reader who get a bye on the second reader.


Ah okay, that makes better sense. Thanks!

In this case, I believe your academic index plays into whether they give you a second reader as well. @gumbymom

For example, UCSB essentially uses 3 indexes to grade applicants.

These are all my nicknames, I forgot what the internal term was.

  1. Academic Index – essentially the academic strength of the applicant, calculated from GPA, courseload, AP scores, community college classes, rigor, etc.
  2. Engineering Academic Index – considered for admissions to the College of Engineering, essentially a modified version of the Academic Index weighted heavily towards engineering, science and math classes, etc.
  3. “EC+Essays” Index – essentially everything else on the application. This includes your ECs, essays, your personal circumstances, everything that’s read by a reader.

The first two are calculated via computer algorithms, the third one is calculated via a score from 1-3 readers.

I received 18/18 on my academic index, a full score.
I received an 16/18 on my engineering academic index.
I received a 9/9 on my ECs+Essays index.

According to the admissions officer, they made the decision to forgo a second reader on my application because I had very high academic scores in addition to extremely strong ECs and Essays. In essence, I was “high stat” enough to be an auto-admit without a second reader.

I hope this clarifies some things.

For reference, my UC Capped GPA was a 4.27, uncapped GPA was 4.55.


Just posted a response.

And nope, I was only offered Regents/Honors College at UC Santa Cruz.

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Great information @Edward_Ding and to all CC posters/followers, just want to emphasize that is information is specific to UCSB. All UC’s will use the 13 areas of application criteria but each campus is given free rein on how they actually weight these items in their application review.

Hopefully more UC admitted students will ask to review their applications, post their findings so everyone can have a clearer picture of the UC admission process.


Thank you for sharing your findings, its very helpful.
Did the AO say anything specific about AP scores and their impact on the academic index? The UCs tend to downplay AP scores and their impact on admissions


I was not aware about the review process, could you explain how the review process works ?Is there a place where I can read about it on UC website ?

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I did not know about review process, is there a timeline to do so ? Please share the process so I can be better prepared for current senior child.

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@Edward_Ding This is FANTASTIC info! As @doomam3 asked, I too would really like to know the impact of AP scores on the Academic Index. My daughter missed 2 out of her 6 AP tests this past spring due to getting COVID and this is really her only biggest worry, as she feels her ECs and PIQs are rather quite strong.

I have only seen 2 UC’s state they consider AP/IB scores in their selection process which are UCB and UCLA.
Here is UCB’s information and look under selection.