How Hard is it to Get Into Caltech: The Admission Stats

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Are you aspiring to get into Caltech? Do you wonder just how hard getting into Caltech can be? You’re in the right place if you’ve answered yes to any of these questions. Here’s an article that explains the details of how hard it is to get into Caltech. It’s a popular myth that Caltech’s acceptance rate is low.

But how low is it? How can you defile the odds? We’ll find out in this article. Read on to find everything you need to know before getting into Caltech, including the Caltech acceptance rate for international students.

How Prestigious is Caltech?How Prestigious is Caltech?

Caltech is a premier institution of pure and applied sciences. It is one of the top universities in America that is self-sufficient, with the highest academic standards and a long line of distinguished faculty, partners, and alums. The university has past and present recipients of 76 Nobel Laureates, four field medalists, 71 United States National Medals of Science and Technology, Six Turing Awards, and Eight Crafoord Laureates.

Caltech is at the forefront of scientific innovation and research development with over 50 centers and institutions. Caltech’s ambition regarding research projects can be seen in its Jet Propulsion Lab (JPL)— one of Caltech’s NASA facilities. The JPL sends probes to explore the solar system with robots and quantify changes on our planet.

The devotion to research can further be deduced from the looks and functionalities of the Cahill Center for Astronomy and Astrophysics, Warren and Katharine Schlinger Laboratory for Chemistry and Chemical Engineering, and Walter and Leonore Annenberg Center for Information Science and Technology.

Caltech receives over $2.83 billion in funding and has 1.3MW solar that produces 1.6GWh to power the school’s 124-acre campus. All these keep it at par with other top universities and Ivy League schools in America. So yes, Caltech is not just a prestigious institution but one of the country’s best private research universities.

What is Caltech Known For?

Caltech is a private research university known for excellence in science and engineering. It has top graduate science programs, including Computer Science, Physics, Mathematics, Biology, Chemistry, and Earth Science.

The top graduate programs in engineering include Mechanical, Civil, Aeronautical, Electrical, and Chemical Engineering.

Caltech is also known for scientific breakthroughs in sustainability science, Quantum physics, seismology, protein engineering, and robotics. It is famous for its financial support policy that ensures every student that gains admission into the school will be able to attend regardless of financial restrictions. The university is also known for its innovative technology that has made breakthroughs in medicine, neuroscience, chemistry, microbiology, and artificial intelligence.

Caltech is research-focused and has a small size. This quality makes for the many opportunities it provides undergraduates to participate in research projects early in their academics. It is known for teaching students proof-based calculus, multivariable calculus, and linear algebra to ensure that each student graduates with a good grasp of core math.

Is it Really Hard to Get Into Caltech?

Is it Really Hard to Get Into Caltech?

Caltech is one of the most prestigious universities in America, and the burning question is how hard it is to get into Caltech. As a leading private university in science and engineering, it receives many admission applications from the brightest minds, making admission difficult.

Caltech’s low acceptance rate makes it highly competitive and selective. You will be competing with exceptional students with high GPAs, High SAT/ACT scores and who have research internships, contributed to research, or have been published. Therefore, you must aim to do exceptionally well in relevant exams to give yourself a chance of making it into Caltech.

What Does it Take to Be Admitted to Caltech?

What Does it Take to Be Admitted to Caltech?

The admission committee uses five ranking factors to grant applicants admission. Your high school course load is vital for entry into Caltech. You must demonstrate math and science skills by mastering proof-based and abstract math and calculus and taking advanced-level science courses.

Caltech considers the following very important when granting admission:

  • Secondary school records. How good have you performed in secondary school? What kinds of courses have you taken, and how serious you where.
  • Standardized test scores. It takes high scores in standardized tests such as SATs/ACTs. Students need to take these tests on time, study hard, and pass them before graduating high school to give them better chances of getting into Caltech.
  • Application essays. The quality of your application essay is also very important. Ensure that it covers all your strong points and why you deserve a Caltech admission.
  • You want to also focus on getting good recommendations from your high school and every social club you belong to. These recommendations help to show how serious and deserving of an admission you are.
  • Character and personal qualities. You’re expected to work hard in academic and non-academic activities to be in the driving seat. Only choose extracurricular activities that matter to your dream field.

What Kind of Students Does Caltech Look For?

What Kind of Students Does Caltech Look For?

Caltech looks for a student with a solid academic profile in the top 5-10% of their class in high school. But the university also looks beyond your grades. The university looks for students who prioritize intelligence and curiosity with a passion for STEM. Additionally, students with relevant extracurricular activities show innovative thinking.

Your unique interests and quirks are also crucial to Caltech. The university looks for a student that will contribute to the school community through inclusion, care, and collaboration.

What is the Caltech Acceptance Rate?

What is the Caltech Acceptance Rate?

Admissions into Caltech are significantly competitive. The average Caltech acceptance rate is 6%. The 2020-21 academic year had 8007 applications, but only 536 admissions were offered, making the acceptance rate 6.7%. However, the 2021-22 academic year saw over 13,000 applications with 510 admissions, making the acceptance rate 3.9%.

Caltech has a small student body, and fewer admission spots are available. Caltech’s acceptance rate for international students is fair. International students made up about 30% of students enrolled in 2020.

Requirements to Get Into Caltech

Requirements to Get Into Caltech

Many requirements go into your admission into Caltech. Caltech requires two letters of evaluation from teachers who teach major subjects; one from a math or science teacher and the other from a humanities teacher. Your application essay and secondary school report matter.

However, the following are the essential requirements that require focus.

What GPA Do You Need to Go to Caltech?

The average GPA of students who gained admission into Caltech is 4.0. The university evaluates GPAs from the end of your junior year. In essence, your academic performance throughout high school is essential. It is important to strive for high GPA scores and consistently rank in the top 5-10% of your class.

Getting straight As in all your high school courses will enable you to compete with other students.

What are the SAT Requirements?

You need high SAT scores to have a robust application and compete with other students. The average SAT score is 1545 out of 1600. A score of 1530 puts you in the 25th percentile and below average. On the other hand, a score of 1570 puts you in the 75th percentile and above average, improving your chances of getting into Caltech.

It would be best if you also got above-average scores in each test subject. The average SAT score for critical reading is 740-760, while the standard for Math is 790-800.

What ACT Requirements Do You Need?

Sometimes your GPA may not be up to the average, but standardized tests help to make up for that. Standardized tests show the university how far ahead you are in your academics. The average ACT score is 36 out of 40. Caltech does not have a minimum ACT score, but the competition makes it difficult to gain admission if you have low ACT scores.

Although most students take the SAT and ACT, Caltech does not favor one test over the other. The average ACT score for the English section is 35-36, and that of Math is 35-36. Caltech will consider your highest score per section for all the test dates you submitted instead of just picking the highest scores from a single test. Therefore, if you are taking multiple tests, a tip will be to focus on one section per test. Then focus on the other section in the subsequent trial.

Do You Need Any Extracurriculars?

While academic excellence is essential, extracurriculars give a student depth and personal quality that Caltech looks for. Extracurriculars show that you are well-rounded and will engage and promote Caltech’s community values.

The extracurriculars you choose should be valuable and related to your career development and show dedication, passion, leadership, and commitment. The following are a few examples of extracurricular activities.


  • Math Bowl
  • Math Olympiad
  • Science Olympiad
  • International Biology Competition
  • Telluride Association Summer Program


  • All-state band or orchestra
  • Start a music band or orchestra
  • Play a complex instrument exceptionally

Visual and Performing Arts

  • Teaching art lessons (painting or drawing)
  • Drama club
  • Congressional art competition
  • International thespian honor society


  • Model Congress
  • Model UN
  • Student Government
  • Senate Page Program


  • Student Newspaper editor
  • Publishing in a national publication
  • Literary magazine
  • Intern at a publication
  • NCTE Achievement award


  • Captain of a sports team
  • Coaching competitive youth sports
  • Martial arts
  • Medal in a competitive sport
  • Running a marathon

Community Service or Volunteer Work

  • Starting a volunteer club (children’s center, animal shelter, etc.)
  • Part-time job to help support your family
  • Leadership role at amnesty international
  • Starting a nonprofit

What are Caltech's Application Deadlines?

What are Caltech’s Application Deadlines?

Caltech’s first-year application deadline varies for the Restrictive Early Action (REA) and Regular decision.

Restrictive Early Action is early admission for students who want Caltech as their first choice and want to know early on if they will gain entry. The application deadline for the REA is usually November 1. Caltech will notify you of your admission status in Mid December, and you have until May 1 to accept their admission offer.

The Regular admission decision is the most common decision that admits most students. The application deadline for regular admission is usually January 3. Caltech will notify you of your admission status in Mid March, and you have until May 1 to accept their admission offer.

How to Get Into Caltech: 7 Tips to Improve Your Chances

How to Get Into Caltech: 7 Tips to Improve Your Chances

Caltech always looks for innovative and leadership experiences in the students who apply. The following tips will help you build a strong candidate profile and strengthen your application.

1. Have an outstanding academic performance

You must consistently perform at optimal academic levels to improve your admission chances. Choose relevant high school courses that show an exceptional background in math and science. Caltech high school course requirements include four years of math, one year of physics, one year of chemistry, 3-4 years of English, and one year of US history or government.

You need challenging high school courses that prepare high school students for college-level courses. AP courses increase your knowledge and build relevant skills for college. Passing them will make your application stand out in highly selective colleges and universities like Caltech. Aim for straight As in your courses and consistently rank at the top of your class.

2. Choose relevant extracurricular activities

Caltech also looks for well-rounded students beyond academic performance. Most students sign up for up to 8 extracurricular activities. However, remember that the quality of the extracurricular activities you choose matters more than the quantity. You also need to show that you have been doing these activities for a long time. Therefore, starting at the beginning of your first year in high school is essential.

You need 3 to 4 quality extracurricular activities that show exceptional talent, passion, and merit. Examples include robotics team members, track and field athletes, the debate team president, coaching a little league team, or volunteering at a summer camp.

3. Apply for early admission

Most colleges offer early admission to students excited about attending their school. The early application improves your chances because it shows the admission team that you are excited, prepared, and interested in the school. Caltech’s early action acceptance rate is also significantly high, so early application gives you an edge.

It also helps you to plan ahead of schedule. You get an early answer regarding your admission status, giving you enough time to contemplate your choices before the deadline. Also, if your admission is deferred, it gives you enough time to improve your application and apply again during the regular college application.

4. Enroll in local, state, or National competitions

Since Caltech is a highly competitive school, you must show that you can excel in competitive environments. Enrolling in competitions will demonstrate your ability to excel in a competitive setting. Beyond just participating, placing in the competition is also essential. Some examples of competitions to boost your high school profile include

  • Academic Decathlon
  • US National Chemistry Olympiad
  • Harvard/MIT Mathematics Tournament (HMMT)
  • American Mathematics Association (AMC) 12

5. Write exceptional essays

Essays are critical to your application because they give admission officers an idea of the kind of student you are. Your essay should show drive, motivation, academic interests, achievements, values, and experiences.

For example, it should show different aspects of what got you interested in STEM. Explore how this interest could be applied to your passion and how you can use your skill set to build innovative solutions for your passion.

6. Good letters of recommendation

Caltech requires two letters of recommendation; one from any STEM teacher and the other from a humanities teacher. Choosing a teacher who knows you well and can write an in-depth letter highlighting your skills and personal qualities is essential. The teacher should speak on your intellectual abilities and unique attributes like empathy, creativity, leadership, and attitude toward learning.

7. Review your application

Give your application to a current or past Caltech student to review. They are in the best position to critique your application’s necessary documents, tests, and essays. They will offer you current insights into what the school looks out for in an application. You can also seek advice from an admissions counselor. Use whatever insight they give you to strengthen your application and maximize your admission chances.

Wrapping Things Up: How Hard is it to Get Into Caltech: The Admission Stats

While aspiring to get into Caltech, one of the first things students consider is the Caltech acceptance rate. Unfortunately, it’s not as favorable as most people would want it. A 6.4% admission rate means you’ll need to work extra hard in your academic and non-academic work to get into the school.

But why is Caltech so hard to get into? Simply put: the school is extremely selective because of its competitive nature. Thousands of people apply to the institution every year, competing for the few hundred sloths available per year. Hence, the cutthroat competition. However, this shouldn’t scare you.

If you’re serious enough to start fulfilling Caltech high school course requirements from an early age, you can be sure to have everything you need to get into the university. So far, we’ve reviewed every requirement you’ll need to get into Caltech. We’ve also provided valuable tips and tricks to put you in the driving seat as you prepare to apply to Caltech.

Explore our other guides on university admissions and learn how to increase your chances of getting accepted! Check them out below.

> How Hard Is It to Get into Claremont McKenna?

> How Hard Is It to Get Into Dartmouth?

> How Hard Is It to Get into MIT?

> How Hard Is It to Get into Oxford?

> How Hard Is It to Get Into UCSB?

> How Hard is it to Get into Yale?

> How Hard Is It to Get Into Cal Poly SLO?

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Professor Conquer

Professor Conquer started Conquer Your Exam in 2018 to help students feel more confident and better prepared for their tough tests. Prof excelled in high school, graduating top of his class and receiving admissions into several Ivy League and top 15 schools. He has helped many students through the years tutoring and mentoring K-12, consulting seniors through the college admissions process, and writing extensive how-to guides for school.

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