These are the current essay prompts. Both the Common App and the Coalition have added an optional question to address Covid-19’s impact.
Common App Essay Prompts
The word limit on the essay is 650.
1. Some students have a background, identity, interest, or talent that is so meaningful they believe their application would be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, then please share your story.
2. The lessons we take from obstacles we encounter can be fundamental to later success. Recount a time when you faced a challenge, setback, or failure. How did it affect you, and what did you learn from the experience?
3. Reflect on a time when you questioned or challenged a belief or idea. What prompted your thinking? What was the outcome?
4. Reflect on something that someone has done for you that has made you happy or thankful in a surprising way. How has this gratitude affected or motivated you?
5. Discuss an accomplishment, event, or realization that sparked a period of personal growth and a new understanding of yourself or others.
6. Describe a topic, idea, or concept you find so engaging that it makes you lose all track of time. Why does it captivate you? What or who do you turn to when you want to learn more?
7. Share an essay on any topic of your choice. It can be one you’ve already written, one that responds to a different prompt, or one of your own design.
Coalition for Access, Affordability, and Success Essay Prompts
From the Coalition: “In general, we have found that concise, straightforward writing is often the best for college essays, and that good essays are often 300 to 400 words in length. While there is no perfect length for an essay, most application readers find college essays are rarely improved when they are longer than 500 to 550 words, and we strongly recommend you stay within that limit. For more information on specific application requirements, please consult the website for each institution to which you are applying, as requirements often vary.”
The prompts are:
- Tell a story from your life, describing an experience that either demonstrates your character or helped to shape it.
- What interests or excites you? How does it shape who you are now or who you might become in the future?
- Describe a time when you had a positive impact on others. What were the challenges? What were the rewards?
- Has there been a time when an idea or belief of yours was questioned? How did you respond? What did you learn?
- What success have you achieved or obstacle have you faced? What advice would you give a sibling or friend going through a similar experience?
- Submit an essay on a topic of your choice.