What is the Common App essay prompt?

Every year, the Common App announces new essay prompts to be used when submitting the common application. These prompts are decided by the Common App organization and are typically announced around January of each year.

What is the Common App?

The Common Application (Common App) is a non-profit organization that connects student applicants with public and private colleges and universities across the U.S. and in various international countries. 

As an organization, its goal is to simplify the application process, making it possible for students to apply to multiple colleges through one application and provide access to higher education for students that might otherwise hit roadblocks. 

What is the Common App Essay Prompt? 

When you submit your college applications, you are generally asked to write an essay. The Common App Essay Prompts are essay questions you can choose from to provide alongside your common application. 

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While these prompts can change from year-to-year, they remained the same over the last two years. You can find the 2020-2021 essay prompts below or visit the Common App for more information. 

  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.

If you have any questions about the Common App essay prompt, please visit their website and reach out to their support team