As you probably know, the University of California changed its required essay prompts for 2016-17.

Instead of writing two longer personal statement essays, you now chose from eight prompts (which they call Personal Insight Questions) and write four short essays, each under 350 words. (For incoming freshmen; transfer students have similar, yet slightly different requirement.)

The University of California recently shared several videos intended to help students understand what is expected from these new Personal Insight Questions prompts.

If I were applying, I would definitely watch these short videos. They certainly cover the basics.

Why wouldn’t you want to know exactly what the UCs say they are looking for?

That said, I found the actual advice pretty generic.

I believe the main goal of these videos is to try to boost the confidence of applicants, especially those who for whatever reason are not confident in their writing ability.

These videos seemed all about helping students not stress too much over these essays.

The UC admissions officers, essay reviewers, students, and others interviewed said things like, “Tell your story,” and “Be concise,” and “Proofread,” and “Allow plenty of time.” 

While these are all helpful tips on the Personal Insight Questions—and it’s nice that they are so encouraging (“You got this.”)—I believe the best way to help students not stress over writing assignments is to give them specific writing instruction and ideas on how to approach these short essays.


Check out the videos and maybe you will be ready to dive in.

If you still want some more ideas and strategies on how to think and write about these Personal Insight Questions, check out my posts (click blue link to read more):

Everything You Need to Know About the Personal Insight Questions


21 Tips for UC Personal Insight Questions

The videos ask you to tell your stories. My posts teach you how to do that.

Good luck!

(Let me know what you think about these Personal Insight Questions videos in the comments section below, or if you have any specific questions.)