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 Personal Insight Question is trimmed to 350 words or under. As you edit, use these tricks to keep your Personal Insight Questions concise and improve their readability:

Contraction is your friend!

Use contraction to combine words and shorten your Personal Insight Questions. You do NOT need to use tone and language that are extremely formal for the UC Application. 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 effective at reducing word count.

Formatted text is your enemy!

Even though the text field for the Personal Insight Questions allow 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 Personal Insight Questions 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 manually double space your Personal           Insight Questions because

this will really mess up how your Personal Insight Questions
displayed to the application readers (and they really don’t
       like that).

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Join the discussion and tell us your opinion.

November 15, 2022 at 6:09 pm

Is there a work around for special characters? The essay is about learning another language and it makes no sense without them. . Thank you

Ms. Sunreply
November 16, 2022 at 3:44 pm
– In reply to: Lauren

If you are putting a lot of non-English words into your PIQ, then it’s not going to be effective. The PIQ should emphasize how you are capable of succeeding academically through your effort to learn another language, not to teach the application reader a foreign language.

Questions or Comments?