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Common App Essay Prompts 2019-20

Below are the Common App essay topics for 2019-20.

Topic #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, then please share your story. 

Topic #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?

Topic #3

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

Topic #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 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.

Topic #5

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

Topic #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?

Topic #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.

You should see the prompts listed in the Writing section of the Common App online system. Once you have decided which prompt you wish to answer, just tick the check box next to it to indicate this is your selection.

Try not to worry too much about which prompt you choose for your application, or even about "answering" it. Those reading your application won't always check which prompt is being addressed, and will just start to read it straight away. However, if you're struggling to make a decision, take a look at our Choosing A Common App Essay Topic guide.

Don't forget, college admissions tutors are busy people and will only spend a matter of a few minutes or so reading your perfectly crafted essay.

The above prompts are designed to provide inspiration and act as guidelines, rather than be specific questions that you should aim to answer in a particular manner.

Further information

For more tips and advice on putting together your common application for college, please see: