A Common App Essay: What You Need to Know

When you are in your last year at school, it is the time to think of what you are going to do further. If entering a college sounds like a good idea to you, then start preparing documents, which will allow you to qualify. A Common App essay is something that you can start working on right now to make sure that it is of high quality. In this article, you will find comprehensive explanations of what it is and how to prepare a great Common Application essay.

What Is the Common Application?

It is a popular online system allowing students to apply to a college or university. The Common App includes hundreds of educational institutions, and it makes the admission procedure quick and effective. The members of this system are based not only in the USA, but also in other countries, such as Austria, Bulgaria, France, Italy, Germany, Switzerland, and more.

These educational institutions will not only evaluate you based on GPA (grade point average) and your test scores, so you can also increase your chances of qualifying by sending a good essay. The Common Application essay that you send will be received by every college, which you wish to apply with.

What Are the Requirements for the Essay?

The paper should be 650-word long, and there are seven prompts, which you can pick from. You can choose any of them. Moreover, you can prepare your paper first, and then determine which prompt it matches.

When going through your paper, an admission officer will try to find answers to the following questions:

  • Who is the applicant?
  • Will he or she be able to contribute something to the campus?
  • What are the writing skills of the student?

When to Start Writing Your Essay?

You should not wait until the very last minute to prepare your essay because it will take you some time to come up with the right ideas, make a draft of your essay, and then check it to ensure its best quality. Therefore, the sooner you start working on it, the better.

What Prompts Can You Choose From?

Currently, there are the following seven prompts that you can choose from. Going through them will allow you to get a better idea of what is required. Moreover, you may have already written an essay matching one of the following prompts:

  • Prompt #1. You can share your own story in your essay. Maybe, you have a certain background, interest, or talent that you wish to tell about.
  • Prompt #2. There may be different lessons that you may have learned in your life. You can write about overcoming obstacles, which you have encountered to achieve success. Even if it has been a failure, you can write what that taught you and what conclusions you made.
  • Prompt #3. You can recall the times in your life when you started to question or challenge a certain belief or idea. Why did this happen? What was the result?
  • Prompt #4. In your paper, you can describe a problem, which you have managed to solve successfully or a problem that you would like to solve. This can be, for instance, an intellectual challenge, ethical dilemma, etc.
  • Prompt #5. If you choose this prompt, you will need to write a paper about a certain event, accomplishment, or something else that contributed to your personal growth and resulted in a different understanding of yourself or other people.
  • Prompt #6. If there is something special grabbing your attention and making you spend hours investigating it, you should share it in your paper. It can be a topic, concept, or idea. Why is it so interesting for you?
  • Prompt #7. This prompt allows you to share an essay of your choice. Maybe, you already have a good essay that you have written before, but it does not fit in any of the previous prompts.

How to Work on Your Essay?

If you do not have an essay you wish to send right away, you will need to prepare one from scratch. Follow our recommendations, and you will be able to complete everything step by step.


It is the most important and the most difficult stage to complete. This is where you will need to come up with a topic of your essay and its main points. You can go through the list of the prompts to get the right ideas on that. Whatever you choose, remember that it should be something that you find interesting.

Structure Your Paper

At this stage, you need to create the structure of your paper to make sure that your writing will be logical and consistent. Based on the requirements for the number of words, you can also determine how many words each of the sections should have.

Prepare a Draft

Here, you will need to write your ideas. Basically, you should add in your paper everything that you want to share without really worrying about the readability of the text.

Edit Your Essay

This is a very important stage where you actually make sure that your writing is clear, easy to follow, and logical. Re-write any phrases, which you do not like, cross out unnecessary sentences, and pay attention to word choice.


After you finished and edited your paper, you need to make sure that it has no grammar mistakes or errors. It may be difficult to check your own writing, so it may make sense to ask someone else to help you out with that.