Tips and Guide on Writing UC PIQ Prompt #5

UC Prompt #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?


This is the place to reveal reasons why your extracurricular involvement, test scores or grades might not be as competitive as other applicants—just make sure it does not come off as making excuses. Your most significant challenge could relate to a personal loss, disability, conflicts within your community or family, or coming to terms with a non-conventional identity. It is also possible that you are still working to overcome this challenge. The important thing is to identify the challenge, discuss what you have done to try to overcome it and then explain its impact on your academic achievement. 

 It is also important to consider how the lessons you learned through this process prepares you for academic success in college.


  1. Start by describing a problem or challenge. Again, don’t dwell on negativity or point fingers; simply convey what happened.

  2. Then, describe how you solved this problem.

  3. This shouldn’t be a story about how someone else solved a problem for you.

  4. Instead, you should be demonstrating your creativity, persistence, and resiliency. What specific steps did you take to overcome your problem?

And of course, don’t forget to reflect.

  • How did this experience affect different aspects of your life, including school?

  • What did you learn from overcoming this challenge?

  • Did you change anything about how you think, view the world, interact with others, or approach difficulties?

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