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How to Gain Admission into a California State University (CSU)

If you have been worrying about how to easily gain admission into CSU – worry no more! This article covers the basic steps you need to take to successfully get your admission.


For starters, all CSUs have what is known as the Eligibility Index. This is the basic criteria that anyone wishing to get into a CSU should have. However, having all the criteria as stipulated in the Eligibility Index doesn’t really mean you can get admittance into all of the California State Universities.

Below is the average acceptance scores for CSUs:


Here are the 3 things that the Eligibility Indexconsiders:

  1. Your ACT or SAT scores
  2. Your completion of the a-g requirements, and
  3. Your GPA

The above 3 things make up the total score of the Eligibility Index. More still, you need to meet the minimum Eligibility Index scores for ACT or SAT for any CSU to consider you for admission.

Use the formula below to calculate where you stand with your choice CSU

There are 2 formulas used for the calculation of the Eligibility Index score; one is for ACT scores and the other for SAT scores.

Here’s the formula:

For SAT – Your GPA x 800 + SAT writing and critical reading.

For ACT – Your GPA x 200 + ACT – writing score x 10.

CSUs only consider the 10th – 12th grade GPA and they take only up to 8 AP points as regards to your GPA.

The needed a-g requirements are at least 15 units and I unit equals 1 full year of the course required.

Note: A lot of high schools have some courses that last just for a semester. This is not good enough. You have to take up an additional class of the same classification if you want the courses counted towards you’re a-g requirements. More still, you need to do at least a C or even more in any of the courses.


There are exceptions though, for those who are multilingual. But this exceptions only applies if you can prove that you have the level of competence of any language, which is higher or equal to a student that have taken a language course for a period of two years. You can contact the particular CSU you plan to attend for details on this one.

What of bad grades and missing credits?

These things happen oftentimes, but don’t sweat it yet, as there are ways around this.

Here’s what you can do to make up for bad grades and missing credits:

You can pick up college-level courses that adequately match the category needed, or take up a course or courses in summer school.

You have to know though, that because California State colleges get a lot of applications for a given semester, there is the likelihood that the maximum limits given for students to be admitted can be exceeded.  This means that because a lot of individuals are applying to CSUs, not everybody can be taken. As a result of this, some majors for these schools are termed impacted majors. And supplementary admission criteria is needed for all impacted majors.

Remember our chart above of the CSU averages with some colored sections?You can think of as a traffic light.


You see how the impacted majors section are in red? 


Below are a few examples of what the impacted majors can use as their supplementary admission criteria.


Another thing to take note of is what is called Campus Impaction. It’s not the same thing impacted majors.

What you need to know about Impacted Campus

  1. You can submit your application during the first filing period (usually Oct. 1 - Nov. 30).
  2. You can make use of the CSU Mentor’s Application to redirect your application to another CSU if you are not accepted.

For Pre-Major Status

You have the chance of being admitted as a Pre-Major Status if your major is impacted. But know that you’re supposed to complete your Sophomore and Freshmen prerequisite courses for your specified major before your CSU application when you’re admitted with Pre-Major Status.

You can check whether your major is impacted by using the CSU Mentor’s Impaction Database.

Here’s a list of Impacted campuses California State Colleges from 2014-2015.


You can take AP and Honors courses to bump up your Eligibility Index score.

CSUs will take up to 8 points from your Honors or AP courses to your GPA and put it into the Eligibility Index calculation.

You will earn different amount of points for different amount of grades as sown below:

A = 5

B = 4

C = 3

(D grades and other grades below it don’t amount to anything). You can use the CSU Mentor’s GPA calculator to see how the calculation works. Remember, that the CSU requirements for application do not calculate your Freshman GPA. It’s never considered.

Here are some other important details:

  • You’re only allowed 2 AP/Honors classes in the 10th grade for it to count towards your index score. This is not the same with every school though.
  • You’re allowed a total of 8 semesters toward your index score.

So, which is better among the two?

Any of them would work very well for meeting up the requirements of the Eligibility Index score. Of course, if you score higher on one, then you should go with that one. Or you can just take one and see how you did, and then take the other test later if the previous one isn’t so good.

What you need to pay attention to is the average score accepted by your chosen CSU and work towards that score.

You need to score at least 147 on English Placement Test (EPT)

This is not part of the CSU admittance criteria. However, you will have to pass the EPT if you want to enter any class. Make sure you’re prepared for this test, as you can only take it once. The EPT test assesses your reading and writing skill level. There are exceptions to the EPT test, but that requires your taking of another separate test.

Preparation for the EPT

You can make use of the English Success Website developed by CSUMentor for your preparation. The site provides you with various tools for the preparation of the EPT. 


You need to score at least 50 on Entry Level Math Exam (ELM)

This difference of the ELM is that it’s meant to assess the level of your math skill. And like the EPT, there are exceptions, but that requires another separate exam as well.

Preparation for ELM

You can make use of CSUMentor website tool like you did with EPT.

What happens if you don’t pass your EPT or ELM?

In that case, you can enroll into the Early Start program, the summer prior to your Freshman year. The reason for all these tests, is that CSUs want to make sure you’re ready their type of coursework.

You don’t have to worry about how to know whether you need to sign up for the Early Start program. The CSU where you sent your application will notify you of the necessary steps once your application has been accepted.

That’s practically all the things you need to know to get into a California State University. Take your time and go through each step and you’ll surely get your admission!

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