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.