When it comes to the University of California's PIQ response structures, the way to shine is decidedly plug-and-play.
The experiences you talk about are going to be meaningful, poignant and deeply true to you. (In fact, we've got a blog post on how to figure out your most powerful experiences.) But the structure you use to do it? Wasting time coming up with something unique is only going to set you back.
For responses where your actions had a concrete impact on your peers, community, family or a particular organization — you solved a problem; you overcame a challenge.
For responses where your actions led you to change as a person — you improved your skills; you learned to see yourself (or others) differently.
For responses where you pursue a deep interest — a subject, topic, activity or experience that's particularly meaningful to you.
All 8 of the PIQ topics require you to write about an experience in which you (a) achieve a concrete impact; or (b) grow; or (c) pursue a meaningful passion. That means these three simple structures will see you through all four of your responses.
These structures work well because they allow you to say a lot in few words, and ensure your content is compelling and easy to understand. For example:
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