10 Practice Essay Prompts

  1. Discuss a significant personal archievement.
  2. Evaluate the pros and cons of a political issue, and discuss how that issue related to your community.
  3. Write an essay describing a person who has influenced you.
  4. Write about your favorite book, poem, or play.
  5. The admissionos committee has a copy of your autobiography opened to page 367. What does it say?
  6. discuss a challenge you overcame and how it changed you.
  7. What is the best advice you have received, and why?
  8. If you could time travel, what period in history would you visit, and why?
  9. You have been selected to meet with the president of the United States for one hour. What will you discuss?
  10. If you could switch bodies with someone for a day, who wouldyou choose, and why?

Source: College Planning Workbook, Spark Publishing, 2008, p. 138-167.

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UC Personal Statement

UC Davis – The Personal Statement

  • Write it yourself.
  • Write it about yourself.
  • Provide any relevant information about yourself that you don’t think is captured elsewhere in the application.
  • Write about experiences, accomplishments, etc. that occurred during or after high school.
  • Provide specific examples of your accomplishments or activities in which you’ve participated.
  • Keep your statement focused.
  • Have your statement checked by a teacher, counselor or other adviser for spelling, grammar and clarity.

Writing and Reading UC’s Personal Statement (PowerPoint presentation)

What characteristics is UC looking for?

  • Thoughtful, incisive reflection — some sense of who the student is.
  • Personal qualities including, but not limited to, leadership, creativity, initiative, persistence, maturation, commitment to others.
  • Students who have done more to enrich their education.
  • Students who have had meaningful participation, not just a listing of activities.  Quality over quantity should be the general guideline.
  • Students who demonstrate tenacity, self-discipline and motivation for academic success.
  • Students who have demonstrated a sensitivity to and respect for differences, e.g., through sustained community service.
  • Students who are informal leaders — the type of student who makes things happen — a catalyst who motivates others, who initiates or takes responsibility for something that meets a perceived need.

What the personal statement is not:

  • A visionary statement of what you plan for your future, without concrete examples of what initiatives you have already taken that will lead you to your goals.
  • An elaboration on someone you admire, without a specific description of what you, yourself, have done or not done as a result of your inspiration.
  • An exaggeration of problems but an acceptance of responsibility for choices, academic performance,  and/or behaviors.
  • An exhaustive listing of activities, honors, awards but rather a judicious selection of important indicators.
  • Solely a sample of  writing skills although appropriate grammar, level of  usage and spelling are expected.