After sending a survey to thousands of college counselors and other stakeholders, the Common Application has announced that, for the fourth year in a row, it has decided to keep the same six prompts (see prompts below). For counselors, this news is a relief as no additional preparation will be necessary to help their students tackle their essays. The release of the questions is also a signal to rising seniors that there is no time but the present to start thinking about their story and what they want to share with admission officers.
As students begin to think about their writing, here are some tips that they may want to keep in mind:
- Avoid overused phrase like my educational journey, the best version of myself, ever since I was a child, as long as I can remember, or anything like my heart was bursting with joy
- Remember: A comma is not a substitute for a period
- Do not repeat the question in the answer
- If you are describing an experience, be careful not to omit why that experience is important
Common Application Prompts 2020
- 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.
- 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?
- Reflect on a time when you questioned or challenged a belief or idea. What prompted your thinking? What was the outcome?
- 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 that is 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.
- Discuss an accomplishment, event, or realization that sparked a period of personal growth and a new understanding of yourself or others.
- 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?
- 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.