Tips for the Personal Insight Questions on the UC Application

💡 What are Personal Insight Questions (PIQs)?

  • You will respond to 4 out of the 8 following personal insight questions.
  • The word limit for each response is 350 words.
  • Similar to the Common App, there is no right or wrong prompt. Choose the prompts that can reveal another side of that isn't shown in the activities/awards section AND/OR reveals what matters most to you. Think about which prompts are most RELEVANT to your life experiences.
  • Be concise. Think quality over quantity.
  • Write to your heart's content for the first drafts. Remember that it is easier to cut down information than to add information.

Question 1: Describe an example of your leadership experience in which you have positively influenced others, helped resolve disputes or contributed to group efforts over time.

  • Remember that a being a leader is more than being a president of a club. Think about unique ways that you have helped others in your family, community, etc. For example, you can be a leader to your siblings by taking care of them and mentoring them.
  • You can tie in your major with this question. Are there any ECs that you showed leadership experience in and possibly relates to your major?
  • You can talk about specific ways that you collaborated with others to achieve a goal.
  • How are you UPLIFTING others?

Question 2: Every person has a creative side, and it can be expressed in many ways: problem solving, original and innovative thinking, and artistically, to name a few. Describe how you express your creative side.

  • Creativity is not limited to playing a instrument or creating art. Creativity can be shown in mathematics, biology, photography, cooking, and much more!
  • Are you thinking outside the box? Are you bringing something new into the world?
  • Think about ways that you combine multiple disciplines. How can you combine art and mathematics and talk about it?
  • Ask yourself if the activity you are doing is similar to thousands of other applicants. Perhaps you play the piano and you can write about new compositions you created.

Question 3: What would you say is your greatest talent or skill? How have you developed and demonstrated that talent over time?

  • It doesn't have to be a traditional talent like playing tennis and you don't need to have won an award for it either. Think about something you do is that is meaningful to you.
  • Avoid restating information from the activities/awards section.
  • BE SPECIFIC as to how developed this talent and how it has helped you grow as a person.

Question 4: Describe how you have taken advantage of a significant educational opportunity or worked to overcome an educational barrier you have faced.

  • Think about how you made the most of your situation despite the difficulties you faced.
  • If you faced educational barriers, RESPOND to this question. The additional comments section is not a place to add another essay.

Question 5: Describe the most significant challenge you have faced and the steps you have taken to overcome this challenge. How has this challenge affected your academic achievement?

  • Why was this challenge so meaningful to you? What did you learn from this experience? Who helped you overcome this challenge?
  • This is all about how you frame the narrative. Focus on the positives and show how this challenge shaped you to become a better person.
  • Write a story that shows, not tells, how this challenge impacted you.

Question 6: Think about an academic subject that inspires you. Describe how you have furthered this interest inside and/or outside of the classroom.

  • The OUTSIDE part is very important here. What things did you do outside the classroom to foster your interests.
  • This is the essay to tie in your extracurriculars, classes, and major all in one narrative.

Question 7: What have you done to make your school or your community a better place?

  • Think about a cause that you care about. What are some activities that you were active in that supported that cause?
  • Explain why you are passionate about this cause. What inspired you to act?
  • Don't be afraid to tie into your own background.

Question 8: Beyond what has already been shared in your application, what do you believe makes you stand out as a strong candidate for admissions to the University of California?

  • This could be considered the "Why UC essay?"
  • Research the UCs and think about how you FIT in.

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