UC Application How-To Guide, Part III: Personal Insight Questions Tricks

This is the third installment of a four-part series. See Part I: Pick Your Major for how your choice of major may affect your application and chance of admission, Part II: Additional Comments for examples of information that should be included in the “Additional information” and “Additional comments” sections of your UC Application, and Part IV: Application Fee Payment for a detailed explanation of the fee payment options and fee waiver.

Having trouble staying under the 350-word limit? Remember that you CANNOT submit the UC Application until each response is trimmed to 350 words or under (the system won’t let you submit the application until that happens). As you edit, use these tricks to keep your responses concise and improve their readability:

Contraction is your friend!

Use contraction to combine words and shorten your responses. The tone and language you use in response to the Personal Insight Questions need NOT be extremely formal. To determine the appropriate level of formality, imagine yourself talking to a teacher you don’t know too well or one of your parent’s/guardian’s friends from work. You wouldn’t be super casual like you would when talking to a close friend, but you wouldn’t necessarily be extremely formal like you would delivering a speech at the school assembly. Use contraction wherever you can; this can be very helpful in shortening your responses.

Formatted text is your enemy!

Even though the Personal Insight Questions input box allows formatting (Ctrl + B will bold, Ctrl + I will italicize, Ctrl + U will underline), such formatting is not saved. The application will also give a warning for special characters that are not accepted (must be removed before saving the application) and will automatically convert some special characters, such as curly apostrophes (’) and long dashes (—), to plain text (ASCII text). So get rid of your bold (use all caps instead, SPARINGLY!), italics (use “quotation marks” instead), indentation, double spacing, and special characters. Set up your response in block paragraph format (single space, no indentation, double space between paragraphs) for best readability.

Do NOT manually indent (by putting five spaces at the start of the paragraph) or double space your response because

this will really mess up how your
responses are

displayed to the readers (and they
don’t like that).

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