UC Personal Insight Questions

The personal insight questions are about getting to know you better — your life experience, interests, ambitions, and inspirations.

Think of it as your interview with the UC admissions office. Be open. Be reflective. Find your individual voice and express it.

While this section of the application is just one part that UC considers when making their admission decision, it helps provide context for the rest of your application.

UC advises students to start working on the personal insight questions early and write as clearly as possible. They have a list of writing tips on their website.

Why Personal Insight Questions?

The traditional Personal Statement has been replaced with Personal Insight Questions.

Prospective students will be given eight questions related to different aspects of applicants’ personal qualities, life experiences, and educational backgrounds. Exactly four of the prompts must be completed, each with a response of up to 350 words.

Because they will now choose which questions to answer from a larger pool of possibilities, applicants can opt to address the topics that are most personally relevant. Because there are more questions to answer (in less detail), applicants also have a chance to cover a wider range of topics.

All questions will be weighed equally during the application process – there will be no inherent advantage to answering any particular question over any other question. Therefore, the best questions to answer are simply the ones that speak most to a given applicant’s situation.


  • Leadership
  • Creativity
  • Talents and skills
  • Taking advantage of educational opportunities
  • Overcoming challenges
  • Favorite academic subject
  • Community involvement
  • Unique qualities

Transfer applicants will answer the same set of questions, but with a slight twist: one of the questions is required for transfer students: “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.”

Applicants can highlight their strengths by strategically choosing topics from the broader set of questions. Working on the application, an important decision to make will be which four questions best round out your application and emphasize both the breadth and depth of your experience.

Additionally, UC is providing a supplementary personal insight question brainstorming worksheet designed to help get applicants thinking about possible topics for their responses.

Like other materials from the UC, the personal insight question worksheet encourages applicants to use their “unique voice.” Based on how much the school system has underscored the importance of personal touch in the new questions, one takeaway from the changes seems to be that UC is looking for less generic essays that express more fully who applicants are.

Besides giving applicants more say in what they write about, the new criteria also target topics admissions officers are interested in more specifically. Each question is associated with at least one of the fourteen comprehensive review criteria the UC uses to evaluate applicants. For example, the first personal insight question (about leadership – see above) speaks to “experiences that demonstrate unusual promise for leadership” from the comprehensive review criteria.

If you haven’t worked on your essays for the UC applications, you’ll still want to start them with plenty of time to spare. Although the essays are short, they cover a lot of territory, so you want to make sure you have strong answers on all four of the prompts you choose.

As you’re planning out how to balance your time between UC and other schools you’re applying to, you might want to consider doing the UC questions early in the process. Because they cover so much ground and require that you reflect on many of your qualities and past experiences, they can double as a nice brainstorming exercise to get you thinking about a wide range of different topics that might come up in the longer essays required by other schools.

Do I Start Now?

This is a question we get regularly.  The answer is simple, YES!

It is never too early to think about what you want to say in your personal statement, the connection to your major, the connection to your goals, the connection to your community. How do it all pertain to your transfer goals and to your Bachelor’s Degree.

The UC makes the questions readily available to students.  They don’t change for the most part.  You can visit: UC Personal Insight to read the questions.

Transfer applicant prompt

What is your intended major? Discuss how your interest in the subject developed and describe any experience you have had in the field — such as volunteer work, internships and employment, participation in student organizations and activities — and what you have gained from your involvement.

Prompt for all applicants

Tell us about a personal quality, talent, accomplishment, contribution or experience that is important to you. What about this quality or accomplishment makes you proud and how does it relate to the person you are?


The Transfer Center hosts workshops on writing your Personal Statement beginning August. Like us on Facebook to keep informed with workshops and Events: SCC Transfer Center Facebook