Change to UC Application: Personal Insight Questions to Offer More Specificity, Flexibility

eSlug Newsletter Summer 2016 Fall Campus

Starting with the fall 2017 Application, the University of California will replace its essay section (formerly called the Personal Statement section) with a new section called Personal Insight Questions. The section includes more specific questions with more flexibility in which questions students choose to answer.

“We are excited to move in this direction,” said Michael McCawley, UC Santa Cruz Director of Admissions. McCawley headed a subcommittee of admissions directors that included the directors from UC Berkeley, UCLA, and UC Riverside. “We had many goals by making this change, not the least of which was to create less anxiety about that portion of the application,” he said.

While academic criteria (grades, courses taken, test scores) are most important, the Personal Insight Questions are also a very important part of the application and selection process. These questions give campuses more information about the student – their life experiences, interests, ambitions, and inspirations.

“So many students were missing opportunities to talk about themselves when responding to the old Personal Statement Prompts, and by moving to more straightforward questions, we’ll see much less of that,” McCawley said.

“All questions have equal value in the review process, so students can freely choose the questions that are most relevant to them.”

Freshman applicants will have eight questions to choose from, and they must respond to four of the eight questions. Each response is limited to a maximum of 350 words.

Transfer students will have one required question, plus seven additional questions, and they must answer three out of those seven questions. As with the freshman application, each response is limited to a maximum of 350 words. 

Freshman Questions

  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.

  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.

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

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

  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?

  6. Describe your favorite academic subject and explain how it has influenced you.

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

  8. What is the one thing that you think sets you apart from other candidates applying to the University of California?


Transfer Questions

Required Transfer Question

Please describe how you have prepared for your intended major, including your readiness to succeed in your upper-division courses once you enroll at the university.

Other Transfer Questions

  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. 

  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.

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

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

  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?

  6. What have you done to make your school or your community a better place? 

  7. What is the one thing that you think sets you apart from other candidates applying to the University of California?


More information and instructions that will appear on the Application