Personal Insight Questions

The following are tips to help applicants find appropriate topics, styles and tones for their answers to the personal insight questions. Please also see the University of California’s instructions for first-years and for transfers.

As we read your application, including your answers to the personal insight questions, we’re looking for evidence of your intellectual curiosity and your interest in personal development. UCLA has such a creative, ambitious and diverse student body. We’re always on the lookout for applicants who will contribute to the intellectual vitality, cultural life and diversity of UCLA.


The Basics

  • These questions are about getting to know you better, so be open, reflective, find your individual voice and express it.
  • First-Year Applicants: You will have eight questions to choose from, you must respond to any four of the eight questions. The questions you choose to answer are entirely up to you.
  • Transfer Applicants: There is one required question you must answer; then you answer three out of seven additional questions. Which three of the seven you choose to answer are entirely up to you.
  • All applicants: We recommend you select questions that are most relevant to your experience and best reflect your individual circumstances.
  • All questions will be given equal consideration in the application review process, which means there is no advantage or disadvantage to choosing certain questions over others.
  • Each response is limited to a maximum of 350 words.

Tips for Success

We hope these tips will help you get organized and will inspire you. Your accomplishments, your opinions — you are important! Your answers to these questions are the best tool you have to show us the individual gifts you have to offer to the UCLA community.

Start early.

Give yourself time to think about your topics and carefully consider the rationale behind each question.

Be clear. Be focused. Be organized.

Make sure your answers to the questions follow a logical structure. Try to think about how it may seem to an audience who doesn’t know you. Input from people you trust — teachers, friends, relatives — can help you get perspective on how your answers affect those who are reading them.

Be careful with humor and clichés.

What might seem funny or bitingly ironic to you may not seem that way to someone who doesn’t know you. Remember that these questions are an opportunity for you to give us a complete picture of yourself. Don’t allow clichés to speak for you.

Don’t manufacture hardship.

Your answer to a personal insight question isn’t effective simply because it chronicles difficult circumstances. An effective answer to any question gives us a clear sense of your personal qualities and how you’ve used and developed them in response to your opportunities and challenges.

Use specific examples to illustrate your ideas.

Prove to us with written examples that you have a sense of who you are, where you’re going and how you will use your education and experiences to accomplish your goals. Although some events have long-term or even lifetime ramifications, it’s usually better to focus on recent events because they shed more light on who you are right now.

Finally, give yourself plenty of time for revisions.

Read your writing to others, and revise for clarity in content and in style. Pay attention to rules of correct grammar and punctuation, and don’t forget to spell check.

Please visit the University of California site for more help with your personal insight questions, including the text of the questions you will be asked to answer.

How to Answer UC’s Personal Insight Questions

Special Instructions for Veterans

We’re interested in knowing about your military service. Therefore, you may wish to use the personal insight questions to communicate the following:

  • Describe how your military service has been instrumental in developing your educational plans.
  • Indicate if you’re entitled to educational benefits as a result of your own military service or the service-connected death or disability of a parent or spouse.
  • Indicate if you’re affiliated with the military such as, but not limited to, the spouse or dependent of someone who is on active duty or a current participant in an ROTC-type program.

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