Short Answer Questions Short answer questions are almost harder to write than a personal essay, since you usually have a word limit. Answer honestly. Colleges want to get to know you. Always use details to bring even a short story to life. Write out your answer without worrying about the length and then go back and delete any unnecessary information. Underline the stand-out points and trim the rest. Describe your personal growth.
When discussing an activity or event in your life, ask yourself what you learned or took away from it. Be specific about each institution. If asked why you want to attend a particular school, make sure to reference any times you visited the campus, met with admissions counselors, or spoke with current students or alumni.
12222–20 Common App Essays
Talk about programs that interest you and how you think they will benefit you in the future. Tell your readers why the idea of being a student at their institution excites you. Consider these steps for producing a well-written, thoughtful response to any essay prompt: Get moving. The best way to activate your mind is to activate your body. The act of moving forward, whether you are on foot or on a bike, can help you work through the ideas that might feel stuck. Read the prompt thoroughly, and then see what comes to you as your move through your neighborhood. Write down your ideas.
When you get home, write down the ideas that stood out. Simply put the pen to paper or your hands to the keys and write without worrying about sentence structure or grammar. Construct an outline or two. At most, you will be able to use words to respond to the question, so every statement you make must serve your overall objective.
Choose a topic or two from you list and give yourself plenty of time to outline each idea. Use bullet points and separate each section by paragraph. You may realize that one topic is too broad and you need to narrow your focus. If you make two outlines, ask a trusted adult to help you decide which one is stronger than the other. Even if you're not a fan of outlines and prefer to write organically, writing down your ideas in a consecutive list and creating a pseudo-outline can still help you maintain organization and flow between ideas when you actually fill in the blanks.
Fill in the details with positivity. You are now ready to begin your first draft of your essay. Of course, it's true that many of the stories you think of can be shaped to fit each of these prompts.
Still, think about what the experience most reveals about you. For more help, check out our article on coming up with great ideas for your essay topic. Want to write the perfect college application essay? Get professional help from PrepScholar. Your dedicated PrepScholar Admissions counselor will craft your perfect college essay, from the ground up. We'll learn your background and interests, brainstorm essay topics, and walk you through the essay drafting process, step-by-step.
At the end, you'll have a unique essay that you'll proudly submit to your top choice colleges. Don't leave your college application to chance. Find out more about PrepScholar Admissions now :. We analyze all eight UC prompts in this guide, and for each one we give the following information:.
Describe an example of your leadership experience in which you have positively influenced others, helped resolve disputes, or contributed to group efforts over time. Things to consider : A leadership role can mean more than just a title. It can mean being a mentor to others, acting as the person in charge of a specific task, or taking a lead role in organizing an event or project.
Think about your accomplishments and what you learned from the experience. What were your responsibilities? Did you lead a team? How did your experience change your perspective on leading others? Did you help to resolve an important dispute at your school, church in your community or an organization? For example, do you help out or take care of your family? The prompt wants you to describe how you handled a specific kind of relationship with a group of people—a time when you took the reigns and the initiative.
Your answer to this prompt will consist of two parts:. Before you can tell your story of leading, brokering peace, or having a lasting impact on other people, you have to give your reader a frame of reference and a context for your actions. First, describe the group of people you interacted with.
Who were and what was their relationship to you? Second, explain the issue you eventually solved. What was going on before you stepped in? What was the immediate problem? Were there potential long-term repercussions? Discuss what thought process led you to your course of action. Was it a last-ditch effort or a long-planned strategy? Did you have to choose between several courses of action? Explain how you took the bull by the horns. Did you step into the lead role willingly or were you pushed despite some doubts? Did you replace or supercede a more obvious leader? Describe your solution to the problem, or your contribution to resolving the ongoing issue.
What did you do? How did you do it? Did your plan succeed immediately or did it take some time? Consider how this experience has shaped the person you have now become. Do you think back on this time fondly as being the origin of some personal quality or skill? Did it make you more likely to lead in other situations? Sure, you will have a framework for your curriculum, and you will have advisers available to help—but for the most part, you will be on your own to deal with the situations that will inevitably arise when you mix with your diverse peers.
UC wants to make sure:. The prompt very specifically wants you to talk about an interaction with a group of people. Think of the way movies ratchet up the tension of the impending catastrophe before the hero swoops in and saves the day. Keeping an audience on tenterhooks is important—and makes the hero look awesome for the inevitable job well done. Similarly, in your essay the reader has to fundamentally understand exactly what you and the group you ended up leading were facing.
Why was this an important problem to solve?
Personal statements need to showcase you above all things. Because this essay will necessarily have to spend some time on other people, you need to find a good proportion of them-time and me-time. In general, the first, setup, section of the essay should be shorter, since it will not be focused on what you were doing. The second section should take the rest of the space.
So, in a word essay, maybe words go to setup, while words to your leadership and solution. Not only do you need to show how your leadership met the challenge you faced, but you also have to show how the experience changed you. In other words, the outcome was double-sided: you affected the world, and the world affected you right back. Every person has a creative side, and it can be expressed in many ways: problem solving, original and innovative thinking, and artistically, to name a few.
Things to consider : What does creativity mean to you? Do you have a creative skill that is important to you? What have you been able to do with that skill? If you used creativity to solve a problem, what was your solution? What are the steps you took to solve the problem? How does your creativity influence your decisions inside or outside the classroom? Does your creativity relate to your major or a future career?
8 Questions Your College Essay Should Answer
This question is trying to probe the way you express yourself. What this essay question is really asking you to do is to examine the role your brand of creativity plays in your sense of yourself. The essay will have three parts. What exactly do you produce, make, craft, create, or generate? Of course, the most obvious answer would be a visual art, a performance art, or music. But in reality, there is creativity in all fields. So, your job is to explain what you spend time creating. Why do you do what you do? Are you doing it for external reasons—to perform for others, to demonstrate your skill, to fulfill some need in the world?
Or is your creativity private and for your own use—to unwind, to distract yourself from other parts of your life, to have personal satisfaction in learning a skill? Are you good at your creative thing or do you struggle with it? If you struggle with it, why is it important to you to keep doing it? The most basic way to do this is if you envision yourself actually doing your creative pursuit professionally. How has it changed how you interact with other objects or with people?
8 Questions Your College Essay Should Answer
Does it change your appreciation for the work of others or motivate you to improve upon it? Nothing characterizes higher education like the need for creative thinking, unorthodox ideas to old topics, and the ability to synthesize something new. That is what you are going to college to learn how to do better. This essay wants to know whether this mindset of out-of-the-box-ness is something you are already comfortable with.
They want to see:. Instead, give a detailed and lively description of a specific thing or idea that you have created. The question wants a little narrative of your relationship to your creative outlet. How long have you been doing it? Did someone teach you or mentor you? Have you taught it to others? Where and when do you create? Anything worth doing is worth doing despite setbacks, this question argues—and it wants you to narrate one such setback. So first, figure out something that interfered with your creative expression. A lack of skill, time, or resources?
Too much or not enough ambition in a project? Then, make sure this story has a happy ending that shows you off as the solver of your own problems. What did you do to fix the situation? Your essay should include some thoughtful consideration of how this creative pursuit has shaped you, your thoughts, your opinions, your relationships with others, your understanding of creativity in general, or your dreams about your future. We can help. PrepScholar Admissions is the world's best admissions consulting service. We combine world-class admissions counselors with our data-driven, proprietary admissions strategies.
We've overseen thousands of students get into their top choice schools , from state colleges to the Ivy League. We know what kinds of students colleges want to admit. We want to get you admitted to your dream schools. Learn more about PrepScholar Admissions to maximize your chance of getting in. What would you say is your greatest talent or skill? Why is this talent or skill meaningful to you?
Does the talent come naturally or have you worked hard to develop this skill or talent? Does your talent or skill allow you opportunities in or outside the classroom? If so, what are they and how do they fit into your schedule? Whatever you write about, picture yourself talking about it with a glowing smile on your face.
The first part of the question really comes down to this: tell us a story about what's amazing about you. Have you done an outstanding thing? Do you have a mindblowing ability? Describe a place, a time, or a situation in which you were a star. A contribution could be anything from physically helping put something together, to providing moral or emotional support at a critical moment. The second part of the last essay asked you to look to the future. The second part of this essay wants you to look at the present instead.
The general task is similar, however. Once again you're being asked to make connections— how do you fit this quality you have or this achievement you accomplished into the story of who you are? In other words, this is probably not the time to write about getting arrested for vandalism, unless you can spin that experience into a story about how you been on the straight and narrow path ever since. Even if your vandalism was really, really, cool, don't write about it.
Admissions officers have a very straightforward interest in learning about your accomplishments. They want to know what makes you proud of yourself. It is something that relates to performance, to overcoming a difficult obstacle, to keeping a cool head in a crisis, to your ability to help others in need? At the same time, they are looking for a sense of maturity.
This is your chance to show that you truly get the qualities and experiences that make you into a responsible and grown-up person, someone who will thrive in the independence of college life. Unless you were hired to paint the overpasses. Then definitely brag about it. Many struggle with the balance between writing creative, witty responses and sounding cheesy and forced.
When tackling these odd application essay prompts , remember the main goal of the admissions essay — to reveal something not obvious about yourself. These essays are about you, not what you think the college wants to hear, so keep your interests in mind! If supplemental essays are good gauges for demonstrated interest, this particular type of essay is the most important. When answering this essay question, use specific details.