Tips For Writing Common App Essay Prompts 2023

March 4, 2023
By AdmissionSight
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Tips For Writing Common App Essay Prompts 2023

The Common Application, also known as the Common App, is an undergraduate college admission application that is accepted by over 900 colleges and universities in the United States and around the world. One of the most important components of the Common App is the essay, which is an opportunity for students to showcase their personality, experiences, and writing skills to college admissions officers.  In this blog we discuss the Common App essay prompts for 2023.

What are Common App essays?

What are Common App essays? The Common App essays are part of the Common Application, which is a standardized college application used by over 900 colleges and universities in the United States and around the world.

The Common App essays are an opportunity for students to showcase their personality, experiences, and writing skills to college admissions officers. There are seven essay prompts to choose from, each designed to elicit a specific type of response from the applicant.

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The essays are an important component of the application and can help admissions officers understand who the applicant is beyond their grades and test scores. The essays are typically 650 words or less and can be submitted as part of the Common Application.

Why are Common App essays important?

Why are Common App essays important? The Common App essays are important because they provide a unique opportunity for college applicants to showcase their personality, experiences, and writing skills to college admissions officers.

While other parts of the application, such as grades and test scores, provide important quantitative data, the Common App essay prompts provide a qualitative view of the applicant. The essays can help admissions officers understand who the applicant is beyond their academic achievements and give them a sense of the applicant’s values, interests, and life experiences.

In addition, the essays can help set an applicant apart from others with similar academic profiles. A well-written essay that showcases an applicant’s strengths and unique qualities can be a deciding factor in the admissions process. Admissions officers want to build a diverse and interesting class, and the essays can help them identify applicants who will bring a unique perspective to the college community.

Common App essay prompts

Check out the Common App essay prompts for 2022 to 2023:

Essay 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, please share your story.

This prompt invites students to share a personal story that highlights a unique aspect of their identity or background. It’s important to remember that admissions officers are interested in learning about the person behind the application, so don’t be afraid to share a personal anecdote that showcases your values, beliefs, or interests.

Then talk about how this piece of information, revelation, reflection, experience, talent, or interest affects who you are and how you see the world. In short, why do you think the information you chose is important to you, and how does it shape how you see yourself? How does what you told me to help me get ready for the future? How does it change the way you interact with the rest of the world?

Essay 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?

Male student typing in a table on a library.

This prompt from the common app essay prompts encourages students to reflect on a difficult experience and the lessons they learned from it. The key to a successful essay is not just to describe the challenge but to explain how it impacted you and how you grew as a result.

Give a clear description of the problem, setback, or failure you faced. Talk about what you learned from the experience, how it affects you every day, and how it changed the way you think. Don’t talk about the setback itself. Instead, talk about what you learned about yourself and how it changed the way you think or act.

Did it make you want to do something? What can you learn from this that could help you succeed in the future? You may have learned that working hard pays off. Or that having balance in your life is important? Or that you want to change the way you act in the future? If you can, talk about how you overcame a similar problem in the future by using what you learned and coming out on top.

As you write your essay and think about this experience, keep in mind that the point of this response is to show that you are strong.

Essay 3: Reflect on a time when you questioned or challenged a belief or idea. What prompted your thinking? What was the outcome?

This prompt invites students to share a moment when they took a critical look at their beliefs and values. Admissions officers are interested in seeing that you can think critically and independently, so be sure to explain your thought process and what you learned from the experience.

You can either talk about what you did and how it affected things or explain why you didn’t do anything. Tell a story about a time when you stood up for something or gave it a lot of thought. Explain what caused the problem that made you think about taking action.

Unknown student writing on her table.

How did you come up with that? What did you think about as you thought about the problem? What happened, and how did it affect you and other people? Talk about why this is so important to you. Don’t forget to show how much you care about the issue. What do your actions and decisions say about who you are?

Then think about whether you would make the same choice again and why you would or wouldn’t. Make sure that your values and beliefs come across clearly. What lessons did you learn from this?

Essay 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?

This is the fourth of the seven Common App essay prompts. This question is based on the ideas of being thankful and being kind. It is based on research that shows that thinking about the good things people have done for you makes you happier and more likely to be successful. If you choose to answer this prompt, you can show that you care about people. It makes you want to share happiness and thanks.

Depending on how you answer this question, you will be able to talk about something specific that someone did for you that helped you and how they inspired you. As you write your essay, think about how what that person did affected others.

It could have been a teacher, a friend, a member of the family, or even a stranger. Why did this person’s support, action, comment, or gesture surprise you? Tell us what made you happy or made you feel grateful. Why did this matter to you? What made you want to do something differently? How did it make you see yourself or the world differently?

Essay 5: Discuss an accomplishment, event, or realization that sparked a period of personal growth and a new understanding of yourself or others.

This question from the common app essay prompts gives you more ways to talk about your own growth. It asks you to think about who you were before a time when you changed a lot, and then to think about how that changed how you see yourself and the people around you (family, community, world).

Think about how you might have become more independent, learned more about yourself, or grown to feel responsible for yourself. Give a lot of background information as you describe your chosen accomplishment, event, or realization, and then focus on how it shows a big change in your life. Why did you care so much about this event?

You can think about this in terms of your culture, neighborhood, or family. Go one step further and talk about how this new knowledge of yourself or others motivates you and how it might help you in the future.

Essay 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?

This is your chance to talk about something that really interests you. The range is very wide, but the main question is about what you find interesting, why, and how you try to improve your intellectual skills.

Do you have people in your life who can help you? What got your attention? How do you find ways to learn new things? How do you find information and put it all together? You need to explain why you are so interested in this topic, idea, or concept.

Your talk should show how excited, curious, and passionate you are! Think about how you could learn more about this subject or idea in the future. How could your plans for the future help you with what you’re doing now?

a student studying beside a glass window

Essay 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.

While this is the last of the seven Common App essay prompts, it is also arguably the hardest. The question is broad and is meant to be that way. Use this as a chance to write about whatever you want! A word of warning to those who see this essay prompt as an easy way to avoid writing a new essay by using an old one: don’t just upload the last essay you got an “A” on in English or History class.

No matter what topic you choose, give yourself some extra time to edit. This essay should be a great example of how good a writer you are, and it should also show something important about you. Think about what you want the committee that decides who gets in to know about you and your life.

Think about what the essay might say about who you are as a person. What does it say about how you think, what you value, who you are, and how you see the world? What could it add to the rest of your application?

Give yourself some time to think about your life if none of the essays prompts jump out at you right away. Talk about your ideas with your parents and teachers. You will eventually find a topic that interests you and says something important about you.

Your essay doesn’t have to be about something brand new. But it should show your own unique point of view and show who you are at your best. Think about what you value and why you value it. This is your chance to make yourself stand out from the other applicants.

Be thoughtful, and don’t forget that this is your chance to make a good impression. Keep in mind that all the schools that use the Common Application want to find out more about you through your essays.

Learn more about Common App essay prompts and how to best answer them by consulting with college admissions specialists like the ones found here in AdmissionSight. At AdmissionSight, we have over 10 years of experience guiding students through the competitive admissions process to get accepted to the top universities in the world. Feel free to set up an appointment today to book your initial consultation.



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