Northwestern Short Answer Questions

August 22, 2022
By AdmissionSight

Northwestern Short Answer Questions

What Is The Primary Purpose of Short Answer Questions?

Each year, the very competitive university that is Northwestern receives hundreds of applications from prospective students who are already qualified. In point of fact, their rate of admissions has been gradually declining. What exactly does this entail? Although more students are applying to the university, the number of available spots has not increased.

Candidates frequently have grades, test scores, and even extracurricular activities that are comparable to one another. Because of this, it could be difficult for any student to stand out. Do not let this dissuade you from submitting an application. Make use of every resource that is available to you, including the essay titled “Why Northwestern,” in order to argue why you should be accepted into the university.

Young man typing an essay in his laptop.

Let’s discuss what is the primary purpose of short answer questions. You will have the opportunity to demonstrate to the Northwestern University admissions committee what sets you apart from other applicants through Northwestern short answer questions. Your Northwestern supplement essay should essentially be an introduction and argument for why you should be admitted. Your audience does not take this lightly, and you shouldn’t treat it that way, either.

Keep in mind that the additional essays for the Northwestern application should be written in such a way as to enable the admissions committee to see the applicant attending Northwestern. Utilize its influence carefully, since your supplement essay for Northwestern carries a lot of weight.

How Many Supplementals Do You Need for Northwestern?

Writing an essay provides a wonderful opportunity for personal expression and the development of fresh thought. If you wonder how many supplementals do you need for Northwestern, the Northwestern short answer questions that appear on the Common Application or Coalition Application and the Northwestern Writing Supplement essay are both required to be completed.

In the Northwestern supplemental essay, students are tasked with providing an explanation of why they wish to enroll at Northwestern University. This question is meant to be answered in a variety of ways. You are free to choose one or more areas of Northwestern to focus your writing on; nevertheless, the majority of the content of the essay should relate to your personal experiences or interests.

Female student typing in his laptop for a college essay.

Note that other Northwestern supplemental essays may be required of applicants to other programs at Northwestern, such as the Integrated Science Program or Mathematical Methods in the Social Sciences. Visit the Northwestern website to learn more about these programs and their requirements. But the principal Northwestern essay question, which is a requirement for all applications, will be the main emphasis of this guidance.

Applicants for the MMSS Program

The use of mathematics and statistics in the study of social science is the primary focus of the Mathematical Methods in the Social Sciences (MMSS) program. Students in MMSS are taught how to construct and evaluate mathematical models during the course. The MMSS program accepts roughly thirty first-year students each year and has strict requirements for their high school achievement, one of which is the completion of a calculus course.

When responding to Northwestern short answer questions, you should adhere to the same principles: be specific and goal-oriented in your responses. In addition, you should go into deeper detail about your intellectual interests, topics that are difficult to understand, and experiences that you’ve had in challenging environments, such as Advanced Placement (AP) classes and summer programs.

MMSS Prompt 1: Why MMSS? (200 words)

MMSS Prompt 2: Which social science question or problem interests you most? (200 words)

MMSS Prompt 3: Describe your current educational and career goals. (200 words)

MMSS Prompt 4: Describe your extracurricular interests and activities. (200 words)

MMSS Prompt 5: How did you hear about the MMSS program? (200 words)

Applicants for the ISP

The curriculum of the Integrated Science Program (ISP) is comprised of subjects from the natural sciences as well as mathematics, with an emphasis placed on the ways in which the many fields overlap and intersect. The program is distinguished by its intimate classroom settings, considerable chances for research, and its own student center on campus.

Please be aware that the application to ISP is submitted separately from your normal application to Northwestern and can be found on the website for ISP. In order to be considered for admission to the first year of college, applicants must have completed four years of mathematics and four years of science, in addition to three SAT II Subject Tests or AP examinations.

ISP Prompt 1: Please discuss your interest in science and mathematics. (~500 words)

ISP Prompt 2: Briefly discuss your educational and career goals. (~500 words)

ISP Prompt 3: Why is the Integrated Science Program interesting to you? (~500 words)

ISP Prompt 4: How did you learn about the Integrated Science Program? (500 words)

ISP Prompt 5: Describe any projects, special courses, jobs, or awards of yours that are related to science or mathematics.

How To Answer Northwestern Short Answer Questions?

The 2021-2022 Essay Questions for Northwestern University

In 300 words or less, help us understand how you might engage specific resources, opportunities, and/or communities here. We are curious about what these specifics are, as well as how they may enrich your time at Northwestern and beyond.

It’s possible that the essay for Northwestern won’t directly question applicants’ “Why Us?” But there is no denying the fact that this is a fairly traditional “Why Us?” article. This one is going to demand some study on your part, and you are going to want to really focus on the three primary components that are included in this question:

  1. Resources
  2. Opportunities
  3. Communities

Examples of topics covered in good “Why Northwestern?” essays include:

  • Over sixty percent of students pursue a second major or minor
  • An active study abroad program that attracts fifty percent of undergraduates
  • The Quarter system, which allows flexibility and balance
  • Undergraduate Research and Arts Expo
  • Fifty Research Centers on campus
  • There are 100+ innovation courses taught each year
  • Incredible journalism program with top-level student-run media organizations
  • A total of 350 different student organizations, of which 90 percent of students are members of at least one
  • The Northwestern Network Membership Program
  • Numerous opportunities for students who are motivated to get dual degrees

These are only ten of the hundreds of conceivable components that may be included however, they are some of the most important ones.

As you go on to the prewriting step, you will want to steer clear of some of the more typical mistakes that candidates make when they are attempting to write the “Why Us?” essay for Northwestern. The word “mistakes” might be too much to use because there is nothing intrinsically wrong with them; they just don’t provide any value that moves the needle.

Components of a “Why Northwestern?” essay that is only average in quality.

  • Overviews of the various reasons why attending college in a suburb of Chicago is preferable than attending school in the city itself.
  • Generalizations regarding the reasons why Chicago is an interesting, cosmopolitan, diverse, and culturally rich city.
  • Mentioning Wrigley Field, certain eateries, or other local hotspots as landmarks in the area
  • Northwestern University is ranked as one of the top 10 schools in the country by US News.
  • An excessive number of statements of sentiment that are too generic (for example, “I’ve pictured myself as a wildcat since I was in the sixth grade…”);
  • Statements that have been recycled from past “Why Us?” essays you have written, which give the impression of being outdated, impersonal, or, worst of all, irrelevant or untrue.

How to craft a compelling answer to the question “Why Northwestern?”

  • Particular community-based or Northwestern University-affiliated resources and programs located in the Evanston/Chicago area that you intend to make use of in the future.
  • Ensure that you discuss both a) why Northwestern is the ideal school for you and b) why Northwestern would be the ideal school for you in your application.
  • Provide details about certain academic programs, teachers, research opportunities, internship and externship programs, study abroad programs, student-run organizations, and so on.
  • Describe the ways in which you intend to participate in and contribute to the life of the Wildcat student body.
  • Provide proof that demonstrates how your previous or present pursuits will translate to the Northwestern University campus.
  • How do you intend to make the most of the vast resources available to you at Northwestern, both within and outside of the classroom?

A few overarching considerations in regard to the “Why Northwestern?” essay.

You need to demonstrate that you’ve done your research on the school that you’re applying to in any “Why Us?” composition, but you don’t want it to read like a robotic list of items that you Googled five minutes before writing the essay. Instead, you want it to read like you’ve done your research on the school (even if the timing of the Google search is roughly accurate).

In addition to the research component, a considerable amount of your time and skill will be required to connect the classes, professors, opportunities, etc. that you have discovered to be of interest to your particular set of values, talents, aims, proficiencies, and long-term objectives in the essays that you write for Northwestern. This is an essential part of how to answer Northwestern short answer questions.

What Does Northwestern Look for in Essays?

Once you have an idea about how you want to approach the topic for the Northwestern essay and what you plan to write about, the following three strategies can help you generate a fantastic essay and can assist you to decipher what does Northwestern look for in essays.

Female student typing in a table for early application.

1. Pay attention to what sets Northwestern apart from other universities.

When writing the supplement essay for Northwestern, one of the most essential pieces of advice to keep in mind is to center your thoughts on the aspects that set Northwestern apart from other educational institutions. Consider the following: Why would students want to apply particularly to Northwestern if the school did not provide anything special about itself?

Do not simply state that you wish to attend Northwestern because it is an extremely prestigious university or because your mother attended the university and liked it. Reflect carefully on the decision to submit an application to Northwestern rather than any of the thousands of other schools and universities in the United States.

Consider your own answers to the following questions:

  • Does Northwestern offer the major(s) you’re interested in pursuing, or do you have to go to another school? Is it well-known for the particular program or area of study that you intend to enter in the future?
  • Do you have any interest in participating in certain organizations, athletics, or other extracurricular activities that Northwestern University has to offer?
  • Do you have any particular lecturers in mind with whom you would like to collaborate?
  • Which of Northwestern’s distinctive qualities do you appreciate the most, and how do you anticipate they will benefit you? For instance, perhaps you like the fact that the university is located in such close proximity to Chicago, where you will have easy access to a variety of research positions, internships, and other chances for professional development. Or perhaps you are drawn to Northwestern University because of its amazing selection of more than one hundred different opportunities to study in other countries.
  • Have any current or former students of Northwestern told you anything about the university that piqued your interest enough to want to apply there?

Although the question for the Northwestern application essay is very open-ended, you should be careful to avoid writing about how prestigious, popular, and selective the university is (after all, many institutions are like this!).

2. Be particular and cite concrete examples.

When writing the essay for Northwestern, you only have a limited amount of space (only 300 words), therefore you should strive to be as detailed and specific as you possibly can. Northwestern indicated in their essay requirements, “The suggested word limit guideline gives you the chance to answer each question in detail, while also challenging you to write in a concise and clear manner.” Make use of concrete instances to give your story a reality-based foundation and to make it crystal clear to the admissions committee why it is so important to you to apply to this particular institution.

Young woman typing in his laptop while sitting in the sofa.

For instance, if you went to Northwestern and liked the campus, don’t just say that you went there and liked the campus; instead, write about anything particular that happened to you and explain why this experience had such a significant impact on your decision to apply there.

It’s possible that one of the teachers offered some words of encouragement to a student, and hearing those words made you realize how much you valued the supportive environment and the spirit of camaraderie that prevailed there. Or, it’s possible that you observed the pupils’ level of dedication to their studies and found yourself easily visualizing yourself helping them with their assignments.

In addition, if you intend to make a specific reference to a professor or a course that you are interested in taking, you should avoid just naming them and instead focus on providing more context. Instead, you should talk about the reasons why collaborating with that particular professor or enrolling in that specific class will help you achieve your long-term goals, and why Northwestern is the only institution where you can truly do this.

3. Give it some shine.

You need to spend some time rewriting and proofreading your “Why Northwestern” essay, just like you would with any other college application essay. If you follow these steps, you will be able to produce a statement that is clean, well-polished, and overall very well written.

Put your finished essay draft away for at least a few days after you have finished writing the first draft of it. Here is what you should do. You want to be able to look at it with a clean slate when you go back to it, so try to avoid looking at it during this time.

After some time has gone, you should pull out your essay and start looking for any obvious mistakes and spelling errors, as well as any sections in which you can expand, add, or delete content. In addition to that, you should focus on the organization and structure of your essay. Ask yourself: is it easy to understand what the focus is here? Are you able to follow what I’m saying? Does everything make sense when taken as a whole?

Young man using a laptop while studying.

After you have completed all of these steps a few times, you should next give your essay to someone you can rely on, such as a mentor, a teacher, a parent, or an older sibling. Request that they read over your essay and provide feedback on its content, as well as its style and organization. They should also check for problems of a more technical nature, such as those involving punctuation, grammar, and spelling.

Last but not least, you need to make sure that they have read the Northwestern essay prompt for them to verify that you are in fact responding to the questions that have been posed to you. AdmissionSight can also help you compose your responses for Northwestern short answer questions; be it for Common App or Coalition Application essay prompts or the Northwestern supplemental writing. Book an initial consultation to start your college admissions journey with us. AdmissionSight would love to hear from you!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.

Sign up now to receive insights on
how to navigate the college admissions process.