UCLA Supplemental Questionnaire

Sounds like UCLA is starting to send out supplemental questionnaires. Read on for general advice and how to get more help.

Get the guidance you need on how to best complete your supplemental questionnaire by signing up for my Supplemental Questionnaire Service. I will review your UC Application, provide an analysis of the potential triggers, and counsel you on the best strategy for answering the questionnaire.

I believe the campus is using the same questionnaire as last year and the questions are broad in scope (one about talent/achievement and one about special circumstances). You will need to go back and review your UC Application to determine what aspects of your background prompted the questionnaire to be issued. Make sure you take the time to carefully think through and respond to the questions. This is likely the final piece of information UCLA needs to make the admission decision.

UCLA Supplemental Questionnaire Guideline

For the talent/achievement question, you want to stress your accomplishments and give as much background information as possible – this is particularly important if your talent/achievement is rare and/or requires some explanation to those unfamiliar with it. Be sure to provide contextual information (for example, explain what the “region” is for a regional award you received and spell out city names and/or any acronyms). If the pursuit of your talent/achievement has impeded your academic/school performance, you will want to address that as well.

For the special circumstances part of the second question, you want to address any obstacles that have prevented you from achieving your full academic potential. Identify issues that may concern UCLA, such as discrepancies between grades and test scores or fluctuation in grades, and address them.

For the educational preparation program part of the second question, you want to provide details about the program(s) in which you have participated. You may want to provide information such as the selectivity of the program or if there was an extensive application process; what you learned in the program (academic/non-academic skills, soft/people skills, etc.); and how the program prepared you to succeed in college.

If you have not received your fall grades, you should still fill out the grade report form but enter the grades as IP (in-progress).

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Join the discussion and tell us your opinion.

January 29, 2021 at 10:36 pm

Hi Ms. Sun,

I got the request for the supplemental questionnaire this evening and I just had two questions.

For the first prompt asking about an extraordinary talent/skill/academic achievement, is it better to expand on an activity that I have already mentioned in my personal insight questions or could I pick an activity from my activities list that I haven’t written about and expand upon that?

For the second prompt, it asks about special circumstances affecting your academic achievement. Although my academic achievement didn’t necessarily have any dips, could I address weakness in my extracurriculars or would that not fall under “academic achievement”. I already talked about my extracurricular weakness in my additional comments so I’m not sure if I should even answer this question because I don’t want to be redundant.

Thank you in advance 🙂

Ms. Sunreply
January 30, 2021 at 1:32 am
– In reply to: Josh

The general purpose of the questionnaire is to get the kind of information UCLA needs from you that you had not previous provided (but, in my opinion, the questionnaire is so poorly constructed that it’s not really asking the right questions for you to know what kind of answers to provide).

For students that the first question applies to, there is usually a clear, single (sometimes more) talent/achievement that student has that’s worth UCLA asking about (so, for example, if you play a sport at Junior Olympic level, that is probably the talent UCLA is asking about). Typically students are not good at providing adequate detail or context in the UC Application (UCs showed an example during the last Counselor Conference where the student didn’t even specify which sport was played; the activity just said something like “USA Youth Development Team” and somehow the description never mentioned the name of the sport once), and the questionnaire is (doing a very poor job of) trying to get some of that missing detail/context. Just to use Junior Olympic sport as an example, you should have discussed in the UC Application how your commitment to the sport affected your school performance (or, if it didn’t, how you balanced everything); if you didn’t adequately explain that in the UC Application, then you should explain it in your response to the questionnaire.

If one question clearly doesn’t apply to your situation, then you can skip it. If you have something you want to discuss and you can make it work for the question, then you can do that. You should also carefully consider the information that is in your UC Application; I find students often don’t have a clear idea of what “educational preparation programs” include and fail to provide explanation of why they took advantage of educational opportunities and/or how they are better prepared for college as a result.

Remember that UCLA wants students who can excel academically. The reason why UCLA is issuing this request is to get more information on how/why you may not have performed to your full academic potential and/or how you have worked around challenges and setbacks to achieve academic excellence. Everything you discuss ultimately has to come back to how/why you are someone who can succeed at UCLA. This is not a random writing exercise; it has a very clear purpose that you must try to achieve.

January 30, 2021 at 3:24 pm

Thank you for the quick response!

If we choose to respond to the question about special circumstances affecting our ability to achieve academically, can we write about how my special circumstance helped me to thrive academically?

Throughout high school, I had all A’s, so my special circumstances didn’t necessarily impair my ability to achieve academically. I wanted to elaborate more on how this special circumstance allowed me to succeed as a student, and connect it to how I would thrive at UCLA.

Also, have you seen higher success rates in those students that responded to both prompts?

Ms. Sunreply
January 30, 2021 at 3:32 pm
– In reply to: Josh

You can absolutely discuss how your special circumstance has motivated/enabled you to excel academically and/or better prepared you for college.

I think the last time any stats were published (quite a while ago), the admit rate for those who responded to the questionnaire was about the same as the regular pool (I imagine a lot of the applicants continue to miss the point when they respond to the questionnaire).

January 31, 2021 at 4:05 pm

For the PIQS, I had a more dramatic and scenic approach, as I described an exact moment, how I felt, where I was, and then tied it with the full experience of the specific prompt. Should I emulate this style for the supplemental essay or should I just get right to the meat of the question? Thanks again in advance.

Ms. Sunreply
January 31, 2021 at 8:55 pm
– In reply to: SZ

The response should be straightforward like how you would behave/speak at an interview.

January 31, 2021 at 8:35 pm

If I mentioned an activity in my personal insight questions, can I still elaborate on that in my supplement?

In my essay I talked about a special activity that I think they might be referring to, but I dont want to jeopardize my situation by mentioning it again and possibly being repetitive.

Is it a safer bet to just go with an activity that is in my activities list but has not yet been elaborated on in the form of an essay?

Ms. Sunreply
January 31, 2021 at 8:58 pm
– In reply to: Isaac

Please refer to my comment here.

January 31, 2021 at 9:53 pm

Hi Ms.Sun,

(I love your name by the way. It’s the same as my favorite teacher.) When writing these 2 essays, how should I approach it? Should I try to make it as fancy as possible by adding elements like imagery, and dialouge as if I am telling a story/trying to prove I can write well, or should I just get straight to the point and write in a simple manner. Thank you Ms.Sun!

Ms. Sunreply
January 31, 2021 at 11:01 pm
– In reply to: Daniel

Thanks! 🙂 The response should be straightforward like how you would behave/speak at an interview.

February 1, 2021 at 12:07 pm

For the second question about a special circumstance: What if we have a special circumstance that could be written about, but we dont have any educational preparation program to talk about?

I feel like I could talk about a special circumstance, but I dont have much to say with regard to an educational preparation program which is what the second question includes.

Ms. Sunreply
February 1, 2021 at 1:37 pm
– In reply to: Isaac

You can just address the part of the question that applies to you. There is a reason why the questions are phrased indeterminately (with “may,” “any,” and “if”); these questionnaires are going out to hundreds, maybe thousands, of students and each of them has a different background and situation that need to be explained.

February 1, 2021 at 1:48 pm

Hi Ms. Sun,

If our school has not yet finalized the fall grades, will it hurt our admissions chances if we put IP? I am worried that they will compare me with other students who are able to turn in their grades. In your experience as an admission officer, can they check for my fall grades in a few weeks once it has been finalized.

My last question is that if we are putting IP for grades, will the admission officers add more weight to our essays? Thank you. I really love your work and for keeping me sane throughout this stressful college season.


Ms. Sunreply
February 1, 2021 at 5:47 pm
– In reply to: R.

You could put “IP (expected grade: [whatever you think you’ll get])” to give UCLA an idea of what your grades will look like. Senior year grades do not generally factor into admission evaluation, I think the supplemental questionnaire asks for them more to see if you made changes to your schedule and/or whether you are performing adequately (for example, UCLA will likely stop considering a student if there’s a string of non-passing grades in senior year since that student would have violated the Admission Contract anyway; unless, of course, the student manages to make a persuasive argument within the questionnaire response for UCLA to make an exception).

February 1, 2021 at 6:04 pm

Some of my grades are borderline. Will it hurt me if I put “IP(expected grade: A),” and then somehow eventually get a high B in the class? I do not want to get rescinded for a failed self-report if they offer me a provisional acceptance. Thanks you so much; I would have never though to do this expected grade idea. Hope to get a response from you soon 🙂

Ms. Sunreply
February 1, 2021 at 6:13 pm
– In reply to: R.

I would say if you are fairly certain you can get an A, then put “A” as your expected grade. But if it’s really a toss up and you want to be unambiguous, then maybe put “A-/B+” as your expected grade. Alternatively, you can just put your current in-progress grade; for example, “(current in-progress grade: B+; 89.4%)”

February 1, 2021 at 6:13 pm

I have a “C” and a “B” in my Calculus and AP Government class for fall 2020. Should I just put IP because I have gotten A’s throughout my high school tenure. I just lost focus this semester (thankfully not to the point of getting a potential provisional acceptance rescinded). Thanks.

Ms. Sunreply
February 1, 2021 at 8:22 pm
– In reply to: E

If you have received final grades for first semester, you should report them. I would recommend offering a brief explanation for the C (there is room in the form for you to do that).

February 2, 2021 at 12:35 pm

In my PIQ’s, I mentioned two different talents/passions for two different questions. One was a musical talent (classical guitar) and the other was a passion for science. I am not sure which one they are looking for more information on and how to approach this. Also, my musical talent is a hobby and passion. I have no awards, no formal groups that I am a part of, but I do play well and specialize in Flamenco. Is it worth mentioning either of these if there are no formal awards/achievements beyond middle school (for science I won science fair award in middle school, but had no time to enter in high school).

Ms. Sunreply
February 2, 2021 at 1:31 pm
– In reply to: PJ

You can discuss either or both. Focus on how pursuing music and/or science has enabled you to develop skills/abilities and/or demonstrated characteristics that will ensure your academic success at UCLA.

February 2, 2021 at 10:30 pm

Hello I am kim ! In one of my PIQs I talked about being a Sunday school teacher. I was wondering if I could talk about teaching/tutoring mathematics at my school as a skill or talent. Does that sound repetitive?

Also they asked me to talk about a special circumstance.
I talked about having poor grades in 9th grade in one of my piq’s so I am confused and don’t know what to talk about for that question? Should I add more about 9th grade or something? What do you think they want to hear ? Help

Ms. Sunreply
February 3, 2021 at 11:28 am
– In reply to: Kim

The supplemental questionnaire is an opportunity for you to provide additional information to persuade UCLA to admit you. The readers are not exactly agonizing over whether you are providing “correct answers” or answering the “correct questions.” The supplemental questionnaire is meant to serve as an information-collection mechanism and whatever useful information you can provide, UCLA will consider.

The supplemental questionnaire instructions tell you what the information you provide should achieve: “assist our readers in fully understanding your academic preparation, personal accomplishments or obstacles, or commitment to achieving a university education.” Provide whatever information you have in order to accomplish that (for example, how does teaching/tutoring help you develop skills that will enable you to succeed at UCLA and/or what lessons you learned from 9th grade have ensured you achieved excellent grades during the rest of your high school career and will ensure you achieve excellent grades at UCLA?).

February 4, 2021 at 2:24 am

For the second question about a special circumstance that I faced, do you think it would be risky to mention my father’s drug addiction? I want to talk about how my family’s struggle with his drug addiction led me to become a more self sufficient person, ultimately instilling traits within me that have led me to succeed throughout high school.

Do you think such an essay topic should be strayed away from? My grades were pretty solid throughout high school, and this particular situation led me to thrive academically instead of hurting me.

I don’t really have any other particular special circumstances worth mentioning for question 2, but I am scared that not answering it will hurt my chances when being compared with other applicants who filled out both supplemental questions.

Ms. Sunreply
February 4, 2021 at 12:25 pm
– In reply to: Josh

If you feel like your father’s drug addition was a motivation for you to do well in school and you want to share that with UCLA, then you should do that. If you didn’t previously mention this in your UC Application, then I would suggest including an explanation for why you didn’t disclose it before and decided to disclose it now.

Like I mentioned in one of my previous comments, the supplemental questionnaire is an opportunity for you to provide additional information to persuade UCLA to admit you. The readers are not exactly agonizing over whether you are providing “correct answers” or answering the “correct questions.” The supplemental questionnaire is meant to serve as an information-collection mechanism and whatever useful information you can provide (useful as in “assist [UCLA] readers in fully understanding your academic preparation, personal accomplishments or obstacles, or commitment to achieving a university education”), UCLA will consider.

February 4, 2021 at 12:32 pm
– In reply to: Ms. Sun

I’m not exactly sure how to explain why I didn’t disclose that within my UC application. I did mention my dad being in and out of the picture within my additional comments section, but I didn’t necessarily explain why. Is it okay if I said I wasn’t really open to sharing that information in that point and time?

Ms. Sunreply
February 4, 2021 at 1:14 pm
– In reply to: Josh

Maybe you can just say you want to further clarify the reason your dad was in and out of the picture was due to a drug addiction, then launch into why that was motivation for you to become self-sufficient and excel in school.

February 5, 2021 at 1:30 pm

I notice the limit says “under 600 words/4000 characters”

If my essay falls under 4000 characters, but exceeds 600 words, is that okay?
Do I need to meet both conditions (less than 600 words AND less than 4000 characters)?

Ms. Sunreply
February 5, 2021 at 2:25 pm
– In reply to: Isaac

I believe the maximum cap is 4,000 characters, but you can test it.

February 5, 2021 at 2:27 pm
– In reply to: Ms. Sun

It allows me to insert my essay into the text box without problems because my essay is under 4000 characters. However, my essay does exceed 600 words still – is this something I should worry about?

Ms. Sunreply
February 5, 2021 at 2:38 pm
– In reply to: Isaac

I wouldn’t worry about it. I believe if you exceed the 4,000-character cap, the form doesn’t allow you to submit. So as long as you can submit, you are fine.

February 5, 2021 at 2:04 pm

Do I have to answer both questions? Because the first one really doesn’t apply to me.

Ms. Sunreply
February 5, 2021 at 2:26 pm
– In reply to: Ethan

You may only answer the question that applies to you.

February 7, 2021 at 11:18 pm

Hello! I also received this questionnaire and I understand all the essay components but just wanted to make sure of something regarding the grades. I have received all my fall semester grades, but do I put in A- for some of my grades or just A? Because I know on the UC application it only does A,B,C and not A+, A- , B+ and so on. It would benefit me a lot more if I removed the + and – from my grades so should I just do that?

Ms. Sunreply
February 8, 2021 at 12:14 am
– In reply to: Jake

You don’t need to show the +/- designations as the UCs do not consider them for freshman admission.

February 10, 2021 at 12:46 pm

So I applied with a 4.4 GPA my junior year, but my freshman year I had a 3.5 GPA. I mainly talked about being unmotivated, extremely lazy, and revolved my essays around finding motivation. I talked about transferring schools, becoming extremely involved, and was wondering why they asked me about information?

Ms. Sunreply
February 10, 2021 at 4:42 pm
– In reply to: Cody

Based on the information you provided, I would assume UCLA wants a more detailed explanation of how you found and maintained motivation, in addition to reassurance that you will be able to sustain that motivation throughout your time in college.

Questions or Comments?