Sample Essay Prompts:

UC Personal Insight Questions

It's officially personal statement writing season and you can use Mozi to help guide your students through the process of writing a personal statement. Below you will find the University of California personal insight questions that have been put into the Mozi scaffolded writing format.  Each response is a maximum of 350 words and students must respond to four of the eight questions in their application. #WriteWithMozi


Question 1

Hook: A leadership role can mean more than just a title. It can mean being a mentor to others, acting as the person in charge of a specific task, or taking the lead role in organizing an event or project.  

Premise: Describe an example of your leadership experience in which you have positively influenced others, helped resolve disputes, or contributed to group efforts over time.  Your leadership role doesn’t necessarily have to be limited to school activities.  For example, do you help out or take care of your family?

Map: Think about your accomplishments and what you learned from the experience. First, what were your responsibilities? Next, what actions did you take to positively influence others, resolve a dispute, or contribute to group efforts?  Finally, what were the results of those actions?  

Assertion: How did your experience change your perspective on leading others? 


Question 2

Hook: 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.  

Premise: Describe how you express your creative side. 

Map: In your first body paragraph, explain what creativity means to you. Next, provide two examples from your experience that illustrate your beliefs about creativity.  In your second body paragraph, explain how creativity influences your decisions inside or outside of the classroom. Next, provide two examples from your experience that illustrate the connection between creativity and your decisions.  

Assertion:  What is the value of creativity in your life? In what ways might creativity relate to your major in college or a future career?


Question 3

Hook: If there’s a talent or skill that you’re proud of, this is the time to share it. You don’t necessarily have to be recognized or have received awards for your talent (although if you did and you want to talk about, feel free to do so).  

Premise: Describe your greatest talent or skill and how you have developed and demonstrated that talent over time. 

Map: In your first body paragraph, explain why this talent or skill meaningful to you. Provide two examples from your experience to describe the importance of this talent or skill in your life. In your second body paragraph, explain whether or not this talent or skill comes naturally to you. Provide two examples from your experience that illustrate how this either comes naturally or that you have worked hard to develop this skill or talent. 

Assertion:  In what ways does your talent or skill allow you opportunities in or outside the classroom? How do they fit into your schedule?



Hook: An educational opportunity can be anything that has added value to your educational experience and better prepared you for college. For example, participation in an honors or academic enrichment program, or enrollment in an academy that’s geared toward an occupation or a major, or taking advanced courses that interest you — just to name a few.  An educational barrier can be anything that you have faced that challenged you in a significant way. 

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

Map: In your first body paragraph, explain what personal characteristics or skills you called on to take advantage of this opportunity or to overcome this challenge. Provide two examples from your experience that illustrate how these characteristics or skills were of value. In your second body paragraph, explain how taking advantage of an educational opportunity or overcoming a barrier helped shape who you are today. Provide two examples from your experience to describe this relationship.   

Assertion:  Why is seizing opportunities or overcoming barriers important?



Hook: Challenges can be personal or something you have faced in your community or school. 

Premise: 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? 

Map: Option 1: In your body paragraph, explain why the challenge is significant to you. Provide two examples that talk about any obstacles you’ve faced and what you’ve learned from the experience. Did you have support from someone else or did you handle it alone? 

 Option 2: In your body paragraph, If you’re currently working your way through a challenge, explain what are you doing now, and how this affects different aspects of your life. Provide examples from your experience that illustrate how your life has changed at home, at school, with friends, or with your family. 

Assertion:  Explain why overcoming challenges is important now and how this ability will serve you in the future.



Hook: Experiences both inside and outside the classroom — such as volunteer work, summer programs, participation in student organizations and/or activities — can have tremendous influence on what inspires a person academically.   

Premise: Describe your favorite academic subject and explain how it has influenced you.  

Map: In your first body paragraph, explain what you have gained from your involvement in this activity. Provide two examples that illustrate how this activity is directly related to your favorite academic subject and how it influenced you and what you gained as a result of your involvement. Have you been able to pursue coursework at a higher level in this subject (honors, AP, IB, college or university work)? In your second body paragraph, explain whether or not your interest in the subject influenced you in choosing a major and/or career. Provide two examples that show this relationship.  

Assertion:  In general, why is having access to a variety of experiences important? 



Hook: Think of community as a term that can encompass a group, team or a place – like your high school, hometown, or home. You can define community as you see fit, just make sure you talk about your role in that community. 

Premise: Describe what you have done to make your school or your community a better place.  

Map: In your first body paragraph, explain a problem in your school or community and discuss the consequences of that problem. Provide two examples from your experience that illustrate this problem. Then, discuss why you were inspired to act. In your second body paragraph, explain how your actions benefited others, the wider community or both. Provide two examples that illustrate how you worked—alone or with others—to initiate change in your community. Describe the value to you and others in approaching the problem in this way.  

Assertion:  What did you learn from your effort?



Hook: From your point of view, what do you feel makes you belong on one of UC’s campuses? We’re not necessarily looking for what makes you unique compared to others, but what makes you, YOU. Don’t be afraid to brag a little. Even if you don’t think you’re unique, you are — remember, there’s only one of you in the world. 

Premise:  Explain the one thing that you think sets you apart from other candidates applying to the University of California. 

Map: In your first body paragraph, look at your life and explain what a stranger needs to understand in order to know you. Provide two examples that illustrate who you are and why these examples show that you are unique. In your second body paragraph, explain what have you not shared with us that will highlight a skill, talent, challenge, or opportunity that you think will help us know you better. Provide two examples that illustrate this and explain why this sets you apart from other candidates.  

Assertion: In your estimation, why do the above examples make you a strong candidate for one of UC’s campuses?