Frequently Asked Questions
Have questions about EAOP? Hear our advisors answer the most common ones.
What type of Question(s) do you have?
  1. High School
  2. Prospective Students
  3. College Admissions
  4. Financial Aid
  5. Entrance Exams
High School - What you should be doing now?
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How many AP classes should I take?
There is no exact amount. However, you should only take as many classes as you feel comfortable taking. Don’t overload yourself! Remember, a person who gets an A in two AP classes looks better than a person who gets C’s in five AP classes. Just remember that thousands of students apply to the UC each year. When you apply, you will be competing against all these people. AP classes look good, but doing well in these classes looks even better.
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I really don't want to take a third year of Spanish. If the UC only asks for two years, why should I take more?
There are two very important reasons. The first one has to do with making yourself into the competitive applicant. If you want to impress colleges, then you need to take more classes than the bare minimum. If everyone else takes two years while you take four, you automatically look better. But don’t take a third and fourth year and get D’s in them. That doesn’t help. But if you feel that you absolutely cannot suffer through another language course and pass with at least a B, then use that extra spot in your schedule to take another science or math class. Basically, take as many advanced UC-approved courses as you can – but especially take the classes in which you will get the highest grades.

Secondly, (this is just a tid-bit coming from a person who knows) once you get to college you’re still going to have a foreign language requirement. Yet, the more classes you take in high school, the less you have to take in college. And if you take four years in high school, you may actually satisfy the requirement for college. Moreover, if you take an AP language exam, you may actually get some college credit.
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How early should I start preparing for college?
The road to a college or university can begin as early as junior high school. But this doesn’t mean that you can’t find your way to the right path later. Just remember that the later you start the harder you’ll have to work and the more limited your options may be. Ninth grade is generally the best time to start thinking about what colleges to which you may want to apply. You need to start early in order to make sure that you have time not only to take the A-G courses and the other requirements, but that you may also do more than what is simply required.
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Prospective EAOP Students (and more)
Why should I be in EAOP if I’m not sure if I want to go to a UC?
It’s true, EAOP can help you become a competitive UC applicant, but it also can help you become a competitive applicant for other colleges at the same time. In fact, if you meet the UC eligibility requirements then you are also eligible to apply for most colleges and universities across the country. For example, someone who is UC eligible qualifies for all Cal States and community colleges.

However, private colleges have their own requirements that may or may not be different from the UC. You must research the schools on your own. The great thing is that being in EAOP can’t hurt you. No matter what schools you plan on ultimately applying to, being in EAOP will help you on your journey to the college of your choice.
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How can I become a part of EAOP?
Both GPA and math level achievement are considered when we look for possible EAOP students.
• 10th graders must have at least a 3.0 GPA and be in Geometry or higher.
• 11th graders must have at least a 3.3 GPA and be in Algebra II or higher.
If you meet these requirements and attend one of UCI’s partnership schools, but you have not been asked to be a part of EAOP, contact your school’s EAOP regional coordinator. To see if your school is one of our partnership schools click here. For your school’s regional coordinator info click here.
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How will I receive information from EAOP?
Your Regional Coordinator usually announces future presentations and events by sending you flyers and/or letters either through the mail or to one of your classes at school. Also, there is a UCI student representative – your EAOP student coordinator – that sometimes calls you out of class to give you more information and individualized attention. Your school’s EAOP student coordinator is usually located in the counseling office or college/career center.
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I missed my Regional Coordinator’s presentation. What did s/he talk about?
Each presentation has a different topic. One presentation may be about the UC personal statement while another may be about the courses your school offers that meet the A-G requirements. All of the presentations are important and informative (otherwise we wouldn’t present them to you, duh!). You really don’t want to miss one. But if you happen to be one of those lamentable souls who has the misfortune of missing one of our exciting and enlightening presentations you can always ask your school’s EAOP student coordinator who is usually located in the counseling office or college/career center.
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My EAOP student coordinator called me out of class but I didn’t go. What did s/he want?
Your student coordinator is your friend, not your enemy. There really is no reason not to see him/her. Your student coordinator is your direct link to the university - TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THAT! This EAOP representative is a current UCI student, so if you have any questions about college, s/he can give you first-hand info. Their whole job is to talk to students and make sure they are informed and on the right track.

Your student coordinator probably called you out of class just to see how you’re doing in your courses or with the college application process. S/he can look over your UC application and even proofread your personal statement. Also, if you missed a presentation s/he can help make sure you get all the information.
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I know somebody that once participated in an EAOP summer program. When do summer applications come out?
Unfortunately, due to budget cuts, EAOP is no longer able to offer summer programs. That’s why it is very important that you participate in all of our activities during the academic year. However, there are other summer programs offered at many other colleges and/or universities – you just have to do some research and find out where. EAOP highly recommends the California State Summer School for Mathematics and Science (COSMOS). It is offered at 4 different UC campuses, each one having a different list of classes like Marine Biology and Astronomy. All the classes are taught by UC professors. Financial aid and scholarships are available. Please visit their website at You can also call the UCI COSMOS Director, Melina Duarte, at (949) 824-6806.
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College Admissions
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What’s the difference between an eligible applicant and a competitive applicant?
An eligible applicant just does the bare minimum. There is nothing exciting about this student’s application that separates her from everybody else. On paper, the only way she stands out is by her name. Why should a university choose her instead of someone else from the thousands that look like her? Do you have an answer? Me neither. Don't let this be you.

Be the competitive applicant who goes above and beyond the call of duty. The competitive applicant treats the college application process like a competition. When a student applies to college she needs to do all she can to look better than everybody else does. The competitive applicant takes 4 years of math and Spanish, is involved in clubs and sports, runs for Junior class President, tutors at her local elementary school, has a part-time job, whatever -- you get the picture. Just do more. More! More!! More!!!
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Wow! It sounds like its pretty tough and a lot of work to be a competitive applicant. I'm not sure I’m up to it. Can I do it? Maybe I should just go to a Community College first.
YES, of course you can become a competitive applicant! Anyone who tries can be a competitive applicant. But that’s the whole point - you have to try. You don’t become a competitive applicant overnight. It’s going to require dedication and hard work. But it will all pay off once you get accepted to the college of your dreams. Just remember that you are not alone - EAOP will work with you and help you stay on the right track.

Sometimes Community College is the best choice for some people. However, if you are eligible to apply to a university right out of high school, then it is recommended that you go for it. And definitely do not use a lack of motivation to work hard as an excuse. If you go to a community college with the intention of transferring to a university in a few years, you will still have to work hard. You would still be expected to be active on your community college campus. So why not just do it now?
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What’s the difference between a public and a private college?
Public colleges, like public high schools, receive money from the state. Because of this they can provide great education at a respectively low cost. The public universities in California are the Cal States and the UC system. There are currently nine UC campuses (each with its own personality) from which you can choose. All community colleges are also public.

Then there are private universities, which can be different, or rather "unique." Each one has different requirements that you as a student must research. They may require you to be 6’ 7" and have an uncle named Ned. They can do whatever they want - they’re privately owned (hence the word "Private"). Sometimes, they can offer you certain things that public universities may lack, like very small class sizes and an intricate network of connections.

It’s all up to you what kind of school you think will fit your needs. To learn more about what questions you should be asking in order to narrow down your choices, click here.
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What’s the difference between a Cal State (CSU) and a UC?
They are both public universities, but the UC is generally more competitive in the admissions process. The Cal States accept the top 33% of the graduating high school class while the UC accept the top 12.5%. This means that the requirements for admissions are more challenging. The UC is first and foremost a research institution. This means that every year professors and students (even undergraduates) analyze old knowledge and discover new knowledge for the world. For example, Susan Bryant, dean of the UCI School of Biological Sciences, who has spearheaded the creation of an interdepartmental Stem Cell Research Consortium at UCI, and Oswald Steward, director of UCI’s Reeve-Irvine Research Center, are members of the governing commission of the new California Institute for Regenerative Medicine. Pretty interesting, huh? Moreover, another goal of the UC is to produce students who will continue their education through professional degrees and graduate research.
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If I know that I only want to go to UCLA why should I apply anywhere else?
Unfortunately, universities can accept or refuse any student they want. "So, what if I’m the top student of my class and I volunteer 60 hours a week to feeding my town’s homeless kittens?" This doesn’t guarantee you a spot anywhere; but it definitely increases your chances of being accepted. That’s why it’s best to apply to several schools so that not only will you have a back up school just in case your first choice doesn’t accept you, but also so you can have a few to choose from. It’s always nice to feel wanted.
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Is it true that the UC wants the ‘well-rounded’ student?
Yes, this is very true. The UC doesn’t want you to be simply smart, but also outgoing, involved, a leader, a go-getter, determined, funny, romantic and to like long walks on the beach…Oh, wait a minute. Forget that very last part. Just remember that the combination of grades, SAT, extra-curricular activities and personal statement gives the UC an overall picture of you. Ask yourself, is that picture the best it can be?
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Why does the UC want ‘well-rounded’ students? What’s wrong with just being the smartest?
Think about it. College is a whole lot more than just academics. Most students have part-time jobs and are involved in student organizations and clubs. Students need good time management and prioritization skills in order to be successful.

The UC doesn’t want its student to sink and drown from all the responsibility. So it chooses the students who it feels will be most likely to survive in a college atmosphere -- and this just so happens to be the "well-rounded" high school student.
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Do you have to be a straight ‘A’ student to go to college?
No way! Of course it helps, but it’s not necessary. If you’re not the #1 student in your class, it’s okay. Just remember to do your best because, honestly, when you apply to college you will be competing with some straight "A" students. Just remember our discussion of the "well-rounded" student. If you’re a little low on the academic side, try to make up for it in other areas.
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What are my options if I am undocumented?
You can still apply and be accepted to a 4-year college or university. Never let your residency status hold you back from pursuing your dreams. Due to AB 540, as long as you have attended and will graduate from a California high school, you can even pay in-state tuition -- the same tuition that everyone else who lives in California has to pay. However, the downside is that you will not be able to receive financial aid. But always remember, you can receive as much scholarship money as you can find. Just be sure to watch out for requirements. Some scholarships require that you be a US citizen or permanent resident. But there are some scholarships out there that do not have this requirement. For a list of some scholarships like this please visit the website of the Mexican Alliance Legal Defense and Education Fund (MALDEF): and click “Scholarships lista de becas” on the right.

Another alternative is to go the community college route, work on your paperwork, and transfer to a 4-year university later.
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Financial Aid
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College is too expensive. How can I afford it?
Never let money stand in the way of your education! There are thousands of SCHOLARSHIPS out there that students let pass them by every year. This is FREE MONEY, so don't let it slip away. California GRANTS are also free money. Qualification depends on your family income and the number of students attending college per household - but you have to apply. Usually, if you believe that you won’t be able to afford college, you probably already qualify financial aid.

There are also all kinds of LOANS that you or your parents may receive. Most of them don't require you to pay them back until you graduate college. You must fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and the GPA Verification Form by March 2 in order to be considered for state and federal aid.

But when applying to colleges, keep in mind that California public universities offer top-notch education at affordable prices. And if you absolutely know that you will not be able to afford 4 years at a university, you can always go the community college route for the first couple years.

Check out our “Resources for Students” page to learn about some Scholarship opportunities!
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What is the FAFSA and when is it due?
The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is an application that determines if you qualify to receive state and federal aid for any college or university. You must fill out the FAFSA and the GPA Verification form by March 2 in order to be considered for state and federal aid. Though you may still turn in the FAFSA after this priority filing date, there just might not be that much money left for you.
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I'm not sure my family will have financial need. Should I complete the FAFSA?
Yes. Financial aid is intended both to remove financial barriers for families who cannot afford the cost of education beyond high school, and to also fill in the gap for families who can afford only part of the cost. Some loans and scholarships are available regardless of "need." (Source: UC Irvine Office of Financial Aid and Scholarships)
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Do I have to wait till I'm accepted to a college before I can apply for financial aid? Can I receive aid before I'm enrolled?
No, you don't have to wait till you’re admitted in order to apply, and no, you can't receive it before you're actually enrolled at one college/university. You may apply for financial aid any time between January 1 and March 2 of your senior year. However, you must be admitted and enrolled at the college before you can receive any funds. (Source: UC Irvine Office of Financial Aid and Scholarships)
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Entrance Exams
For some Frequently Asked Questions straight from the College Board (the people that administer the SAT), please visit
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What ever happened to the SAT I and the SAT II?
The SAT I is now called the SAT Reasoning Test and the SAT II is now called the SAT Subject Tests. The names were changed because the tests have changed. For example, the SAT Reasoning Test now has a writing component and tests a higher level of math than before. The SAT Subject Tests no longer offer Math IC or the Writing exam. To find out more about the exams, please visit
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What’s more important: the SAT Reasoning Test or the SAT Subject Tests?
Both tests are very important. In the past the SAT II was weighed twice as heavily as the SAT I. Now that the tests have changed, it is hard to say which score will matter the most. Just be sure to take both tests seriously and make sure you start preparing months before each exam.
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What’s the difference between the SAT Reasoning Test and the ACT?
They both can be quite different. Some students are more successful in one test than the other, that is why we recommend that students take both. The SAT Reasoning Test is composed of three sections: Writing, Math and Critical Reading. The ACT is composed of five sections (if you add Writing, which is required for UC and CSU admission): Writing, English, Reading, Science Reasoning and Math. So, for the SAT Reasoning Test, Math is about 1/3 of the test, while in the ACT Math is only about 1/5. Also the SAT has a correction for guessing. That is, they take off for wrong answers. The ACT is scored based on the number correct with no correction for guessing.

Moreover, the SAT assesses how well you analyze and solve problems. This is why some people argue that the SAT is good at predicting how well a student will do in college. However, it is also argued that questions on the ACT are more modeled after questions that you would actually see in your high school classes - that’s why they call it an achievement test. It is said that high school adequately prepares students for the ACT but not the SAT.

It is recommended that students take both the SAT Reasoning Test and the ACT because you never know which test you’ll score the best in. But even if you take the ACT, you still have to take two SAT Subject Tests.
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What will the new SAT scores look like?
The new SAT Reasoning Test will have three scores, each on the familiar scale of 200 to 800. Your score will include Writing (W 200-800), Mathematics (M 200-800), and Critical Reading (CR 200-800). Your Math and Critical Reading scores on the new SAT Reasoning Test can be compared to the Math and Verbal scores from the old SAT I. This is something colleges need for consistency in admissions requirements. However, the SAT Writing score is completely new.
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What SAT score do I need to go to a UC?
The UC doesn’t require a minimum SAT score. However, there was an index that matched a student’s GPA with a needed SAT I and SAT II score total. However, that index will soon be changed to reflect the new SAT Reasoning Test and Subject Test requirements. When it is available, students will be able to find the new UC Eligibility Index:
But of course, try to get as high a score as possible in order to make yourself competitive. There is no one particular score that will get you into a specific UC campus. Therefore, be careful when you see certain SAT scores that are associated with a college/university. Most of the time these scores are only averages, meaning that there are students who have higher and lower scores. As for other colleges and universities, each one is different, meaning that they will be looking for different things. You need to research each individual one on your own. It takes time, but it’s best to know what each college expects of you.
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Does it matter which SAT Subject Tests I take?
Go ahead and let out that sigh of relief - no, it doesn’t matter which tests you take. Take whatever tests you feel you will score the highest in. This not only depends on knowledge in that area, but also how comfortable you are with it. Even if you plan to major in Biology, but you feel you’re better in Spanish – take the Spanish test. But if you plan to major in Biology, however you feel comfortable with both Biology and US History, take the Biology test. For a list of all the possible tests click here
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Which SAT Subject Test should I take for Math? Level 1 or Level 2?
Since the math level was increased on the SAT Reasoning Test, the University of California will no longer accept the SAT Math Level 1 Subject Test - so students who will be applying to the UC should not take it. And since a student does not absolutely have to choose a SAT Math Subject Test anymore, it is not recommended that students take the SAT Math Level 2 Subject Test unless they have taken at least Pre-Calculus.
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How do I qualify for a fee waiver?
Your EAOP representatives or your high school counselor can determine if you qualify for a fee waiver for the SAT as well as for the UC application. You can also apply for a fee waiver online for the SAT and the UC application. Depending on your parents’ income and the number of people in the household you may qualify for a fee waiver. The UC application fee waiver also allows you apply to four UC campuses for FREE (this can be a $220 value), so it’s worth a shot to see if you qualify.
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Can I use the SAT fee waiver if I am a sophomore?
No, sorry. The fee waivers are only for 11th and 12th graders.
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When is the best time to take the SAT?
May and June of your junior year tends to be the best time to take the SAT Reasoning Test and/or Subject Tests. Hopefully by the end of your junior year you have finished (or you’re close to finishing) Algebra II and the material is still fresh in your mind. These dates also leave you time to take the test(s) over again if you want in October, November and December of your senior year. The absolute last chance you have to take the SAT is December of your senior year. But always remember that you can take the ACT Plus Writing in place of the SAT Reasoning Test (they are always offered on different Saturdays).

The downside to the May and June test dates is that these tests are around the same time as prom and the end of school. If you feel that juggling all the dates and deadlines at the end of your junior year will be too much for you, take the tests in January and/or March. But just watch out because you must register for them 5-6 weeks in advance.
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For all other questions, please contact a program directly for further assistance.
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