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Update October 2016: The UC essay questions have changed!
Every year, many of my students have some difficulty with the UC essay prompts. I decided to make a video to talk about some of the most common questions my students have about the UC prompts and how I answer them.
How to Answer UC Essay Prompts Transcript
my name is danielle bianchi
and for more than a decade
i’ve been helping students achieve their college admission dreams
i’ve created a series of free
to help students write better personal statements for the college applications
for more free tutorials
please visit personalstatementblueprint.com/tutorials/
this is responding to the university of California essay prompts
Many of my students are interested in applying to one
or many of the campuses within the university of california system which we
call the UC system for short
this is not surprizing as six of the nine UC campuses:
university of california berkeley, UCLA,
UC san diego,
UC santa barbara, UC davis, and UC Irvine
are ranked in the top forty of the US News and World Report’s
best national universities
The UC system has always had one main application that all of the campuses share.
Incoming freshmen must respond to two essay prompts on the UC application
in order to apply for undergraduate admissions.
each applicant must respond to both essay questions with a maximum of one
thousand words total.
So these words can be allocated as the student wishes as long as the shorter one
is greater than two hundred and fifty words.
Assuming this all makes sense to you,
I’d like to discuss the two prompts, what their asking the students, and how best
to respond to them.
So i’ll read the two questions you here:
UC prompt number one:
Describe the world you come from.
For example your family, community, or school, and tell us how you world has
shaped your dreams and aspirations.
UC prompt number two:
tell us about a personal quality, talent, accomplishment, contribution, or
experience that is important to you.
What about this call your accomplishment makes you proud and how does it relate
to the person you are?
When my students read these promts, they seem dumbfounded and then start to slowly
ask all the questions that add up in their heads.
Because these questions tend to be repeated each year with my new set of
I thought you might benefit from some of the answers.
So I’ve written all of the questions that students have asked over the past and
then i’m going to comment on them
One main question I get
“there too many words in this essay.”
Any time in essay question confuses you
just just break it down into parts so that you understand everything it’s
the writers of these essay questions usually add words and ideas that they
think will help you start brainstorming.
Another question I get usually about the UC
is, “what’s a prompt?”
and a prompt is just simply an essay question
then they get into
the the actually UC prompts they say
What is number one really asking? What is this, “describe my world?”
So to summarize number one is really asking who will you become.
Prompt number one really wants to know how your surroundings as they state, the
people or the environment
have helped shape who you want to become?
Often students can relate to this one by thinking about
why they’ve chosen a certain path in their potential college major or
Why they decided to study a certain major or why they want become an
engineer, a doctor, a psychologist, a social worker,
a business executive,
english teacher, maybe a politician, or a church leader.
What or who
made them want to become an athlete or artist or a singer or a cook or a
Then they say well Danielle, what’s number two really asking then?
So, to summarize UC prompt number 2,
I tell them it is really asking,
who are you now?
The other one is who will you become? What’s your future like? This one really
is who are you now.
It wants to know how some experience a quality or characteristic really
describes who you are.
So, here you want to a show a personality trait through an anecdote,
a story, an experience.
This one will
be more related to your personal statement on your other applications.
Then a student of mine has asked
tell us about talent I thought I am not supposed to tell anything danielle you say to show
Technically they are correct
they are right, you don’t want to spend time in an essay, telling anyone who you
this is why they usually follow up the questions with more details
and this one does. it says
how does this quality, talent, or accomplishment relate to the person you
They want you to describe the type of person you are by showing them through
an example through an
experience, through a story through an anecdote.
this status commonly said it after this question of saying
well quality talent to call the sender sounds like they want a laundry list of
And i will respond to this
for the UC or for any application,
no they do not want a laundry list of your extra curricular activities. You want to
save that for the right section on the application where they do ask you for a
list of your activities.
Another common question of my students,
“how am I supposed to choose which one is longer and which one shorter?”
Generally speaking, one essay can become your personal statement for other
Since almost all your personal statements on your other applications
give you about a five to six hundred word count limit,
make this one your longer one and the other one will be
the one that’s closer to three hundred to four hundred words.
And then commonly I’ll get questions what about you know should i write two,
five hundred word essays or one long and one short
and as i said before you can allocate these words as you wish, they’ve
told you that in the directions.
But in my experience I have to say students have chosen one to be five to
six hundred words in one to be closer to three to four hundred
but again you can’t do it
whichever way you’d like you have your choice to do uh… allocate 1,000
words as you wish
I would just advise using one as a longer essay and one as a shorter one.
And then some students of mine have
“If I’ve already written my personal statement, can I use it for one
of these answers?” And of course I say this is probably the best thing you can
do but make sure it properly answers the UC prompt you might have to switch
around some words here and there you have said that
make sure it answers it properly.
one last comment I want to
tell you is
in the past the UC application has been really difficult to navigate and
even more difficult to locate the essay questions.
But in the last few years the UC has really turned this around and you’ll notice on
their website you can
read their essay questions easily,
you can find a page about the prompts, review tips for writing, and even watch
YouTubes on what the
UC experts expect on their essays
and i’ve noted at the bottom here the website that’s best for that
thanks for watching
for more free personal statement tutorials
to learn more about how the personal statement blueprint can help you create
your perfect personal statement
visit personal statementblueprint.com
for more general college admission invites you can visit daniellebianchi.com
End of, “How to Respond to the UC Essay Prompts – Applying to the University of California”