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The UC Application Essays

Starting in 2016, applicants to the UCs are required to answer four questions when they submit their application. These Personal Insight questions are replacing the two Personal Statement essays that were standard protocol the previous ten years.

Both systems are geared toward the same result:  The UCs want to know more about you and what makes you tick. There are no wrong answers. Whereas in the past one of the Personal Statements asked you to pick a talent, skill, personal quality, or event that helps define you, the short answers now give you a selection of those qualities, but you choose the ones to answer.  (The second Personal Statement concerned your major, and that, in fact, remains as a required short answer.)

The only change now is that the answers are shorter and can cover a lot more territory.

Personal Insights Overview:

  • Transfer applicants will answer one required question, in addition to three out of seven additional questions.
  • Each response is limited to a maximum of 350 words.
  • All questions will have equal value in the admissions selection process. For applicants, there is no advantage or disadvantage to choosing certain questions over others.
  • You will never not get admitted because of these answers. They can only help, and are most vital to the borderline applicant.
  • Currently, only five campuses read the personal statements for admission purposes:  Berkeley, UCLA, Merced, Irvine and San Diego.

CA College Transfer also assists with freshman Personal Insights.

View our Personal Insight Packages

We offer three options:

  • help pick your 4 questions
  • guidance with content
  • unlimited email support and read-throughs
Additional non-UC application essays:

  • If you have more essays, perhaps the Common App or private college essays, we can easily add these at a discounted rate.

Pay as You Go:

  • If you just want a read-through or you wish to stretch out payments, than an hourly rate may fit the bill.

The 8 Personal Insight Choices

REQUIRED personal insight question for fall 2020 applicants:

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.

Transfers must choose THREE of the below questions to answer, your choice:


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


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.


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


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


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?


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


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

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