Common App Essay Prompts

For the fourth year in a row, the Common App essay prompts will remain unchanged from the previous year. Here’s why that’s important; especially if you’re a junior in high school—you can get started right now on your application essay. Brainstorming ideas for your essay shouldn’t be your first priority; right now you should be focusing on extracurricular activities, test prep, and building a list of schools. However, keep the essay at the back of your mind because inspirations strikes at many times.

Here are the Common App Essay Prompts for 2020-2021:

1. Some students have a background, identity, interest, or talent so meaningful they believe their application would be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, 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. Describe a problem you’ve solved or a problem you’d like to solve. It can be an intellectual challenge, a research query, an ethical dilemma — anything of personal importance, no matter the scale. Explain its significance to you and what steps you took or could be taken to identify a solution.

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 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.

A well-crafted, thoughtful, and unique essay can help your application stand out. You should put time and thought into writing it, ask for help, and take constructive criticism and edits throughout the process. We can help—schedule your first meeting today.