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Personal insight questions

The personal insight questions are about getting to know you better — your life experience, interests, ambitions and inspirations.

Think of it as your interview with the admissions office. Be open. Be reflective. Find your individual voice and express it.

While this section of the application is just one part we consider when making our admission decision, it helps provide context for the rest of your application.

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.

In your application—including your answers to the personal insight questions—we are looking for evidence of your intellectual curiosity and your interest in personal development. UCLA is a dynamic and exciting place—due largely to our creative, ambitious, and diverse student body. We anticipate that the applicants we admit will contribute to the intellectual vitality, cultural life, and diversity of UCLA.

Your Answers to the Personal Insight Questions

The Basics.

  • These questions are about getting to know you better, so be open, reflective, find your individual voice and express it.
  • Freshman Applicants: You will have 8 questions to choose from, you must respond to any 4 of the 8 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 3 out of 7 additional questions. Which 3 of the 7 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

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 personal insight 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 different perspectives on how your answers to the questions affect those who are reading them.

Be careful with humor and clichés.

What might seem funny or bitingly ironic to you might 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. Rather, an effective answer to any question gives us a clear sense of your personal qualities and how you have used and developed them in response to your opportunities and challenges.

Use specific examples to illustrate your ideas.

Most students will answer some of these questions discussing initiative. A much smaller number will show us initiative with concrete examples of demonstrated motivation and leadership. But examples are only one part of the equation: we need you to prove to us with written examples that you have a sense of who you are, where you are going, and how you are going to use your education and your experiences to accomplish your goals. Although some events have long-term or even lifetime ramifications, it is 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.

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.

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.

Special Instructions for Veterans

The University is 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 are entitled to educational benefits as a result of your own military service to the service connected death or disability of a parent or spouse.
  • Indicate if you are 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.

Spanish-language versions

The UC Personal Insight Guides are also available in Spanish.

International Students

Students come from all over the world to attend UCLA. Indeed, part of what makes UCLA great is the wide variety of experiences and backgrounds our students bring to our campus community. Each year we admit students from nearly 90 countries. UCLA is truly an international institution located in one of the world’s most international cities.

UCLA also offers an enormous breadth of areas to study: more than 130 majors spread across five academic divisions.

UCLA receives more undergraduate applications than any other school in the United States. As such, admission is highly selective in all majors.

International Student Admission Guide

Academic Requirements

As an undergraduate, you may apply for admission as a freshman (first-year) or as a transfer student. You are a freshman applicant if you completed secondary school and have not enrolled in a regular session at any college or university. UCLA does not admit students into any undergraduate program who already hold Bachelor’s degrees, nor do we admit students who have the equivalent of three years (130 quarter-units or more) of transferable university work. You may not disregard your college record and apply as a freshman.

Freshmen (first-year) students.

Secondary School Requirements

To be considered for admission to UCLA, international students must have completed secondary school with a superior average in academic subjects and have earned a certificate of completion which enables the student to be admitted to a university in the home country.

Students who have attended school under the British system must present five GCSE/Ordinary-Level examinations and at least three Advanced-Level examinations with superior grades. Results of Advanced-Subsidiary or Higher-Level exams should also be submitted. Students enrolled in the India/Pakistan post-secondary system must apply as undergraduates unless they have earned a Bachelor’s degree in engineering or a Master’s degree in any other area, in which case they should apply for admission to a graduate program.

Test Requirements

All freshman applicants are expected to take the following tests:

The SAT. Note: for tests taken in March, 2016 or later you must complete the essay portion of the SAT. We will not accept your scores if you opt not to write the essay.

In order for your test scores to be available in time for our review, all tests must be taken by December of the year before you plan to enroll. You should request that your test scores be sent directly to the UCLA Undergraduate Admission Office.

Transfer Students.

Transfer applicants need to be at the junior level, that is, have taken college level coursework amounting to 90-130 quarter (60-90 semester) units of credit. UCLA gives preference to students transferring from California community colleges, and international students are no exception. In fact, almost three out of four of our international applicants for Fall Quarter 2015 were attending community college in California when they applied.

Transcripts and Official Records

UCLA requires records from all secondary schools attended, showing subjects taken and grades received as well as any national or government certificates earned. Documents of all college or university coursework must also be sent in the original language, along with English translations. Do not send these documents now. If you apply and are admitted to UCLA, your admission packet will contain instructions on how to send your original records to us.

Language Requirements

English language proficiency is critical to your success at UCLA. Applicants whose first language, or language of instruction for at least the last three years, is not English, are required to take the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or the International English Language Testing Service (IELTS).

A competitive score is 7 or higher.

Optional – Duolingo English Test

Applicants have the option to provide additional information about their English ability by submitting a score on the Duolingo English Test. This is an optional supplement that may assist us in evaluating your application. TOEFL or IELTS is still required.

When you take the test, have your scores forwarded by the testing service to the UCLA Undergraduate Admission Office.

If you are admitted to UCLA and your native language is not English, we may also require you to take UCLA’s English-as-a-Second-Language Placement Examination (ESLPE) immediately before the term in which you enter. If your score indicates a weakness in English, several terms of your program may include special courses in English for international students. If your score shows that you are seriously deficient, you will be required to gain proficiency in English before you are allowed to pursue your studies at UCLA.

Information about Majors

UCLA offers over 130 majors at the undergraduate level. Please note that the number of qualified applicants to any of the majors in engineering (including Computer Science) or economics (including Business Economics) far exceed the number of spaces available in these programs. Competition in these areas is even more rigorous than in other programs.

UCLA does not offer undergraduate degrees in architecture, journalism or business administration. See section on Undergraduate Majors for a complete listing.

Financial Information

UCLA does not award scholarships or financial aid to undergraduate students who are not citizens or permanent residents of the United States. International students must prove that they have sufficient funds available to them to pay for their educational and living expenses. For example, students admitted to Fall Quarter 2018 will need a minimum of about $63,000 (with an additional $5,000 recommended for additional personal expenses, contingencies and summer expenses). This minimum amount usually grows each year.

UCLA also requires that all international students on non-immigrant visas have adequate medical insurance during all periods of enrollment. More information about these requirements will be sent to students when they are admitted.

Important Message about Agents and Consultants

UCLA Undergraduate Admission does not partner with agents to represent the University or to administer any part of the application process. The engagement of agents or private organizations for the purpose of recruiting or enrolling international students is not endorsed by UCLA.

UCLA expects an application to be the work of the student and any deviation violates University policy which may lead to rejection of application materials, revocation of an admission offer, cancellation of admission, or involuntary withdrawal from the University. There is no formula for gaining admission to UCLA. Students with vastly different credentials come from thousands of secondary schools across the country and around the world. What unifies our students are the talents they bring to UCLA and their passion to explore all that UCLA has to offer.

Additional Information

Information about undergraduate and graduate courses, degree requirements, housing, and student services is included in the UCLA General Catalog.

Freshman Admission – 2017-18

Guide for Freshman Applicants

This page provides admission selection information for freshman applicants. Refer to Applying for Admission for information about how to obtain an application and application filing deadlines.

Each year UCLA admits an extraordinary group of students. We have carefully designed our review process to ensure fairness and expand opportunity. We perform a holistic review of all applicants to UCLA in which all of your achievements, both academic and non-academic, are considered in the context of the opportunities you have had and how fully you have taken advantage of those opportunities. No single attribute or characteristic guarantees admission. Since admission to UCLA is highly selective, it is crucial that freshman applicants present complete pictures of themselves, their educational histories and their personal perspectives by thoroughly and carefully completing the application.

How UCLA Selects Its Freshman Class

We consider the following academic elements:

  • Academic grade point average (GPA), calculated using 10th and 11th grade UC–approved courses only
  • Performance on standardized tests: the ACT Assessment Plus Writing or the SAT

Note: if you take the new SAT exam (March, 2016 and later) you must complete the essay section for UCLA to recognize the exam.

  • Quality, quantity, and level of course work taken throughout your entire high school program (including the strength of your senior year program), especially course work completed beyond the minimum "a–g" courses to meet the University of California admission requirements
  • The strength of the program taken within the context of the high school you attended
  • A progressively challenging academic program, including the number of and performance in college preparatory, honors, Advanced Placement (AP), International Baccalaureate (IB), and transferable college courses; passing scores on AP or IB exams; mastery of academic subjects as demonstrated by high grades and exam results; and presence of summer session/inter-session courses that enhance academic progress.
  • California high school students—Identification by the University of California as ranked in the top 9% of your school and/or ranked in the top 9% or high school graduates statewide
  • Sustained participation in activities that develop academic and intellectual abilities and honors and/or awards in recognition of academic, intellectual, or creative achievement
  • UCLA Undergraduate Admission reviews all applicants for admission. Freshman applicants to the UCLA College of Letters and Science are reviewed without regard for major. Therefore, no Letters and Science major (including Undeclared) is more or less selective than any other. Representatives from all other schools—the Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science ; the School of the Arts and Architecture; the Herb Alpert School of Music; the School of Nursing; and the School of Theater, Film and Television—further review their respective applicants and admit students by major. The portfolio/audition is the primary consideration in the review of applicants to the School of the Arts and Architecture; the Herb Alpert School of Music; and the School of Theater, Film and Television. Applicants to the School of Nursing must submit a supplemental application.

    The Personal Insight Questions

    The personal insight question portion of the application allows you to provide information that will give us more insight about you during the review process. Your answers to the personal insight questions should add clarity, richness, and meaning to the information in the other parts of your application. You should respond to four of the eight questions and share with us the accomplishments, perspectives, experiences, and talents that are important to you. The answers to the questions should reflect your own personal perspectives and should complement, not repeat, the information included elsewhere in your application.

    The personal insight questions.

    • Offers us an understanding of you as a unique individual within the context of your family, school, community, and the world
    • Provides us with information that may not be evident in other parts of your application
    • Is a forum for you to explain how factors outside of your school environment have enhanced or impeded your ability to maximize available academic and intellectual opportunities

    We use these elements from the application to increase our understanding of you as a whole person. We consider the following:

    • Your likely contribution to the intellectual and cultural vitality of the campus
    • Your personal background and experience
    • Extensive leadership and initiative in school and/or community organizations and activities
    • Exceptional achievements, such as recognition for special talents or extracurricular activities
    • Employment or personal responsibilities
    • Overcoming life challenges relating to personal or family situations, social or economic difficulties, lack of educational opportunities, or challenges particular to the urban or rural environment, including foster care if relevant
    • How military service has been instrumental in the developing of your educational plans

    For Additional Information

    Please refer to University of California Admission Requirements for information the subject, test score and scholarship requirements.

    Refer to the Applying for Admission for information about how to obtain an application and application filing deadlines.

    Refer to Majors and Minors for a complete listing of undergraduate majors.

    University of California

    Freshman Admission Requirements

    Subject Requirements

    UCLA receives applications from far more students than it can admit. To gain admission to UCLA, you need to present an academic profile much stronger than represented by the minimum UC admission requirements below. The Freshman Profile gives some idea of what the academics of competitive applicants look like.

    The "a–g" subject requirements represent the 15 minimum academic preparatory courses that freshman applicants must have to be meet University of California admission requirements. Applicants must complete 11 of the 15 "a–g" requirements by the end of their junior year. For more information on these requirements, please visit the UC a-g interactive website. The University of California also maintains a list of certified "a-g" courses for high schools in California.

    (a): History/Social Science

    2 years required – Two years of history/social science including one year of world history, cultures, and geography; and or one year U.S. history or one half year U.S. history and one half year of civics or American government.

    4 years required – Four years of college preparatory English that include the reading of classic and modern literature and frequent and regular writing. No more than one year of ESL-type courses can be used to meet this requirement.

    (c): Mathematics

    3 years required, 4 years recommended – Three years of college-preparatory mathematics that include the topics covered in elementary and advanced algebra, and one year-long course in geometry that includes two and three-dimensional geometry. Approved integrated math courses may be used to fulfill part or all of this requirement, as may math courses taken in the seventh and eighth grades that your high school accepts as equivalent to its own math courses.

    (d): Laboratory Science

    2 years required, 3 years recommended – fundamental knowledge in at least two of these three foundational subjects: biology, chemistry, and physics. Advanced laboratory science courses that have biology, chemistry, or physics as prerequisites and offer substantial new material may be used to fulfill this requirement. The last two years of an approved three-year integrated science program that provides rigorous coverage of at least two of the three foundational subjects may be used to fulfill this requirement.

    (e): Language other than English

    2 years required, 3 years recommended – Two years of the same language other than English. Courses should emphasize speaking and understanding and include instruction in grammar, vocabulary, reading, composition, and culture. Courses in languages other English taken in the seventh and eighth grades may be used to fulfill part of this requirement if your high school accepts them as equivalent to its own courses.

    (f): Visual and Performing Arts (VPA)

    1 year required – A single year-long approved arts course from a single VPA discipline: dance, drama/theater, music, or visual art.

    (g): College Preparatory Electives

    1 year required – One year (two semesters), in addition to those required in "a-f" above, chosen from the following areas: visual and performing arts (non-introductory-level courses), history, social science, English, advanced mathematics, laboratory science, and a language other than English (a third year in the language used for the "e" requirement or two years of another language).

    For additional information regarding the University of California a-g subject requirements, please visit the UC’s Doorways website.

    Test Requirements

    Applicants must submit scores on an approved core test of mathematics, language arts, and writing. This requirement can be satisfied by taking the following:

    Note: The SAT exam changed significantly as of March, 2016. Applicants may submit scores from either or both the old and new SAT, however those who take the new SAT must complete the essay section for UCLA (or any University of California campus) to recognize the exam. We will accept scores from either the old or new SAT for all freshman applicants who graduate from high school prior to 2020; applicants who graduate in 2020 or later must take the new SAT.

    Note: for each test above, we will use the sitting with the overall highest composite score; we do not combine test scores from multiple sittings.

    • Applicants to the Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science also are strongly encouraged to take the following SAT Subject Tests: Math Level 2 and a science test (Biology E/M, Chemistry, or Physics) that is closely related to the applicant’s intended major.

    Take these tests as early as possible, and have your test scores sent directly to UCLA. December of the year prior to the fall you intend to enter UCLA is the latest you can take any test in time for scores to be used for our selection process.

    Scholarship Requirement

    The Scholarship Requirement defines the minimum grade point average (GPA) in the "a-g" subjects to meet University of California admission requirements. The minimum GPA for California applicants is 3.0. It’s 3.4 for nonresidents.

    Tips for Answering UCLA Application Prompts

    Answering UCLA Application essay prompts can be a very tricky task. Even though the majority of universities make sure their applicants have a hard experience when it comes to answering to the essay prompts, in UCLA is a little less stressful and easier. However, it is still a task that could make some students have a really difficult time.

    But it is something that can be overcome really easy. Like answering UC application prompts you just need to know about the admission requirements for all graduate degree programs plus the UCLA Essay Prompts list and how to answer them. Then, your pass to the University of California, Los Angeles will be a lot closer.

    Admission Requirements for UCLA

    All universities in the world, especially those which are a little more demanding, always have these types of requirements every applicant needs to comply with. When it comes to UCLA, the requirements are pretty easy to follow:

    • A minimum GPA of 3.0 for California residents and 3.5 for out-of-state applicants. Calculated using only 10th and 11th courses.
    • SAT or ACT Writing test performance.
    • Transcripts of all your coursework and school experience during the entire high-school program.
    • All registries of academic activities to develop intellectual abilities. From honours and awards to recognitions or any other type of achievements with an academic purpose.
    • UCLA Application Prompts answers as an entrance exam.
    • Interview if needed
    • Statement of purpose for graduate school

    All of these requirements need to be delivered before the UCLA application deadline ends. The normal admission dates are from the 1st of November to the 30th of the same month every year. However, the application site is available from August in order to receive applications from all type of students willing to be part of such a wonderful university.

    List of Common UCLA Prompts

    As you know, the UC application prompts are of utmost importance for the application process when you apply for the university. They can change the outcome of your application, making you look better and possibly – getting you an admission on the program of your liking. These are the most common personal statement UCLA prompts and how to answer them, take a look:

    Prompt #1: Every person has a creative side, and it can be expressed in many ways: problem-solving, original and innovative thinking, and artistically, to name a few. Describe how you express your creative side.

    This prompt is mainly directed to know more about your creative side, about your concept of creativity and about how creative you can be. If your artistic side is an important thing for you, and it actually helped to overcome any of your personal problems, you can state it here. However, if it is a big influence on your life, if you take creativity as an important part of your every day, this is the moment to let the admission committee know. Just tell them exactly what you think about creativity and how it moulds with your personality.

    Nadira Berman from Magoosh, a professional college advisor says:

    “This prompt about creativity could also be answered in many different ways, whether you wish to write about artistic work or your ability to think of creative solutions to difficult problems.”

    Prompt #2: Think about an academic subject that inspires you. Describe how you have furthered this interest inside and/or outside of the classroom.

    This essay prompt can be both used to know about your interests according to your academic goals and your interests outside your academic goals. For example, if you choose to talk about something relevant to the university and program you want to apply for in your UCLA admission essay, you are immediately making sure they know exactly what inspires you to keep studying in such subject or idea.

    But if you choose to talk about something not relevant to the university, about something that flourishes your enthusiasm but doesn’t have as much to do with the university you are immediately making the admission committee know that you have other interests, maybe making you look better than those who talk about an academic one.

    Nadira Berman affirms:

    “They want to learn more about the various parts of students’ lives. Take the opportunity to show that you’re well-rounded.”

    So, don’t choose something with academic purpose if you don’t really want to, you can choose something that only seems academic but actually is something more personal and it will still be good.

    Prompt #3: What have you done to make your school or your community a better place?

    Wherever you’re going, whether it is a university or a company or any other type of institution, they will want to know what you’ve done in the past, especially out of pure solidarity. Here, you can talk about what you’ve done to offer your community, what you’ve made and what you’ve achieved in order to make of the place you live a better one.

    However, you shouldn’t stick to a problem or something you’ve fix or made. You can just talk about something you offered, an idea or whatever of that sort. Berman says:

    “But you also shouldn’t be afraid to think outside the box. You don’t always need to take the prompts completely literally.”

    Prompt#4: Beyond what has already been shared in your application, what do you believe makes you stand out as a strong candidate for admissions to the University of California?

    This is a wonderful essay prompt to choose. According to Nadira Berman:

    “This is exactly what colleges want to know about you and exactly what will get you admitted. You can have all of the qualifications, but if there’s nothing about you that sets you apart, then you may not be accepted. Make sure you don’t blend into the crowd.”

    So, take your time, answer according to what you think it’s best of yourself and increase your chances of getting admitted.

    Need Help with UCLA College Prompts?

    We know the difficulty of answering the questions like how UCLA application essays should be written. That’s why we offer the best help for you to make all of your answers perfect according to the essay prompt you choose.

    Just avoid making yourself look bad. Write according to your deepest thoughts and you will be better off than most applicants. Be honest and everything will be easier.

    But if this still makes it too difficult for you, there’s no better option than our guidance and writing service for UC application prompts. We will make your essays look wonderful and achieve you an admission to the university of your liking.

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