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First-Year Policy Changes

Admissions Policy on Standardized Testing

UC Berkeley is test-free, which means we will not use SAT/ACT test scores in any part of our application process.

Berkeley has always used, and will continue to use, holistic review, which means there is no one sole factor on the application that will determine a student’s admission status. SAT/ACT test scores were not the only academic indicators available on the application to assess students. Other academic indicators will continue to be assessed in the review process, including grades, the rigor of a student’s courses, other non-required tests (SAT subject test, AP tests, IB test, etc.), and a student’s individual academic context.

While SAT/ACT scores will not be used in the admissions process, any scores submitted to Berkeley will be used for placement or subject credit purposes should the student be admitted to Berkeley.

View our Applicant FAQs for more details on our testing policy.

Letters of Recommendation

Starting in fall 2015, some applicants to UC Berkeley are invited to submit two letters of recommendation. Submission is voluntary and not required for full consideration of the application for admission.

As of fall 2017, UC policy allows for letters of recommendation in the UC Policy for Augmented Review.

Furthering our belief in the value of holistic review, we ask that those who write letters consider the following concepts when asked to add a letter to the application process:

  • Academic performance and potential (both overall and in the context of the applicant’s high school class)
  • Love of learning
  • Leadership (in school, family, or community)
  • Persistence in the face of challenges
  • Cross-cultural engagement
  • Originality/Creativity
  • Demonstrated concern for others

If a student is offered the opportunity to submit up to two letters of recommendation, they must be submitted electronically. Additionally, at least one letter should be written by a teacher or instructor in a core academic subject.

The deadline for letters of recommendation are due January 3rd.

Helpful Tools

Students: If you are a prospective applicant with the opportunity to submit letters of recommendation, check out these helpful hints.

Letter Writers: Did a student ask you to write a letter on their behalf? Find tips on how to get started here.

Last updated July 2023.