Transfer Application UC Personal Insight Questions

This blog post provides the UC Personal Insight Questions (PIQs) for Transfer Admissions for the 2022-2023 school year.

The deadline to submit a UC application is November 30th. Each UC campus will notify you of its admission decision, generally by March 31

Information and resources about how best to approach the UC Personal Insight Questions are offered by the University of California Office of Admissions.

You can view a “Writing Tips” document HERE. It was created by the UC Admissions Department and provides useful information for how to organize your thoughts, writing, and, ultimately, your question designations.

UC Personal Insight Questions (PIQ) Fall 2023 UC Application
UC Personal Insight Questions (PIQs) Fall 2023 UC Application

Actual UC Personal Insight Questions (UC PIQs) for Transfer Applicants

Required Question

Please describe how you have prepared for your intended major, including your readiness to succeed in your upper-division courses once you enroll at the university.

You will also need to select three out of the following seven UC Personal Insight Questions to answer:

Question 1

Describe an example of your leadership experience in which you have positively influenced others, helped resolve disputes, or contributed to group efforts over time.

  • Go beyond the traditional leadership stories and identify an experience that is unique and special to you. The most important thing to remember when answering this question is to be specific. Don’t just say that you’ve taken some classes or done some research – give concrete examples of what you’ve done. This will demonstrate your readiness and show the admissions committee that you’re serious about your major.
  • Another key tip is to be honest. If you haven’t done as much as you would have liked, don’t try to make up stories – state the facts. The admissions committee will understand that everyone has different levels of preparation, and they’re more interested in seeing how you plan to address any weaknesses.
  • Finally, always keep your goals in mind. What are your plans for the future, and how does your chosen major help you achieve them? Be sure to mention this in your essay, as it will further show the committee that you’re making a wise choice in your major.
  • Taking classes relevant to your intended major is always a good idea, as is doing research on what it takes to succeed in that field. Joining clubs or organizations related to your major can also be helpful, as it allows you to network with others who share your interests. And lastly, be sure to talk to professors and professionals in your field of interest – they can give you great insights into what it’s like to work in that industry.

Related: The 5 UC Application Tips You Need to Get into the University of California

Related Reading: UC Application Portal: Applying to UCSD

Question 2

Every person has a creative side, and it can be expressed in many ways: problem-solving, original and innovative thinking, and artistic, to name a few. Describe how you express your creative side.

  • When approaching this question on a UC transfer application, it is important to be specific about how you express your creative side. For example, do you enjoy painting or drawing? Are you musically inclined? Do you enjoy coming up with new solutions to problems? Whatever your creative outlet may be, highlight it in your response. Colleges are looking for creative and expressive students, so make sure to sell yourself and your unique talents!
  • If I were to answer this question, I would recognize that my supplementary document (i.e., transcripts, letters of recommendation, and extracurricular activities) does not present an insanely creative applicant. Thus, I would approach this question by describing an experience that was challenging to problem-solving but for which an innovative solution was garnered.

Question 3

What would you say is your greatest talent or skill? How have you developed and demonstrated that talent over time?

  • Regarding talents and skills, there is no one answer that fits everyone. However, here are a few tips that might help you when answering this UC Personal Insight Questions (UC PIQ prompts) for a UC College Application.
  • First, think about what you are passionate about and what you enjoy doing. From there, try to focus on the skills and talents that you have developed through your experiences in these activities. For example, if you love playing music, you could talk about your skill in playing an instrument or your ability to sing well. Alternatively, if you are interested in science, you could focus on the scientific experiments you have conducted or the papers you have written on scientific topics.
  • Whatever activity or activities you choose to focus on, be sure to highlight how you have developed your talent or skill over time. This could include mentioning any awards or accolades you have received and explaining how your passion for the activity has led you to become proficient in it.
  • Following these tips, you can create a thoughtful and well-written response to this question to help demonstrate your unique talents and skills to colleges.

Read: 11 Impacted Majors at UC Berkeley | 2022-2023 Admit Rates & Average GPA

Question 4

Describe how you have taken advantage of a significant educational opportunity or worked to overcome an educational barrier you have faced.

  • A good way to approach this essay question is to think about a time when you faced a significant educational opportunity or barrier. For example, if you had to work hard to overcome an academic difficulty or if you took advantage of a great educational opportunity.
  • When writing your essay, be sure to provide specific examples and explain how you overcame the challenge. You should also highlight any academic successes you achieved as a result.
  • Stay positive, and don’t focus on the negative aspects of your experience. Be specific and provide concrete examples of what you did. Make sure to highlight your accomplishments and how you benefited from the experience.

Recommended Reading: 5 Tips for a Strong College Application: Transfer Students

UC Personal Insight Questions Are Excellent Opportunities to Differentiate Yourself from Other Applicants
UC Personal Insight Questions Are Excellent Opportunities to Differentiate Yourself from Other Applicants

Question 5

Describe the most significant challenge you have faced and the steps you have taken to overcome this challenge. How has this challenge affected your academic achievement?

UC Personal Insight Question Example:

“The most significant challenge I have faced is managing my time efficiently. When I started high school, I had no idea how to manage my time between homework, extracurricular activities, and socializing. I often procrastinate and spend all night trying to finish my work. This resulted in poor grades and a lot of stress.

I started using a planner to track my assignments and deadlines to overcome this challenge. I also began planning out my days in advance so that I knew what I needed to accomplish each day. This helped me stay on top of my work and prevent procrastination.

The challenge of managing my time has definitely affected my academic achievement. However, by using a planner and staying organized, I have improved my grades and reduced the amount of stress I experience.

Obviously, this is an incredibly ROUGH DRAFT, but the structure is indicative of a successful UC Personal Insight Question. It restates the question, identifies a specific circumstance and theme, and justifies the actions and choices to overcome the problem or experience.”

Question 6

Think about an academic subject that inspires you. Describe how you have furthered this interest inside and/or outside of the classroom.

  • Pursue the field that interests you the most and explains why you have grown to love it. Also, mention how your worldview has changed because of this pursuit. You should discuss your choice of major as well and how UC schools will help support your studies in order to achieve success. Last but not least, use examples of situations where you have explored topics within this subject matter to finish up strong!
  • Admissions officers want to see that you have more than just a passing interest in your chosen field of study. They want to know that you are intellectually engaged with the subject matter and are actively pursuing opportunities to learn more about it. Your answer will be stronger if you can discuss an academic subject that is related to the overall theme of your application.
  • Admissions officers become easily confused when applicants shift gears and change subject matter without warning. To avoid any confusion, make your story straightforward and to the point. College applications are not the time for fanciful language or embellishments–give them concrete examples of your work in research so they can get a sense of your passion.
  • If you’re like many students and have a passion for one particular subject, tell the UC more about it. How did your interest in the topic begin? Discuss any relevant experiences you’ve had outside of the classroom — such as through volunteer work or internships — and what impact they had on furthering your knowledge in the subject.
  • Explain how your interest in the subject has influenced you and how it will continue to influence you in college and beyond. The coursework you have completed that is related to this subject, higher-level coursework (honors, AP, IB), will inspire you further pursue this subject matter at UC.

Question 7

What have you done to make your school or your community a better place?

  • Talk about the impact your efforts have had and how you’ve helped to improve your community. If you’ve volunteered with an organization, highlight your work there. If you’ve started a club or campaign, describe what it is and what it’s achieved. Whatever you’ve done, make sure to highlight your dedication and commitment to making a difference.

Question 8

Beyond what has already been shared in your application, what do you believe makes you a strong candidate for admission to the University of California?

  • This is the ULTIMATE question for differentiating yourself from other applicants. The University of California (UC) system is a highly selective and prestigious system of higher education. UC admission officers receive thousands of applications from students with similar academic accolades and accomplishments.
  • The University of California is looking for students who are excited about attending and can provide evidence of their readiness and potential. When approaching the UC Personal Insight Questions on a UC application for transfer students, think about what makes you unique and why you are interested in attending UC. Be specific in your response and highlight your academic achievements, involvement in extracurricular activities, and what you hope to gain from your time at UC. Remember to be concise and articulate your passions and goals clearly.
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Visit the UC admissions website for more information about the UC Personal Insight Questions, including writing exercises and worksheets.

Related: Common App Transfer Admissions | Step-by-Step Guide & Bonus Tips


When approaching the UC Personal Insight Questions, it is important to stay specific, creative, and relevant. Make sure to focus on your unique experiences and identify what makes you stand out from other applicants. It is also crucial to give yourself enough time to outline your thoughts and create a strong response to each question. In the end, this attention to detail will help you shine through the competition and land a spot at your dream school.