Get help writing your college application essays. Find this year's Common App writing prompts and popular essay questions used by individual colleges.
The college essay is your opportunity to show admissions officers who you are apart from your grades and test scores (and to distinguish yourself from the rest of a very talented applicant pool).
2018-19 Common App Essays
Nearly 700 colleges accept the The Common Application, which makes it easy to apply to multiple schools with just one form. If you are using the Common App to apply for college admission in 2017, you will have 250–650 words to respond to ONE of the following prompts:
- 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.
Tackling the Common App Essay Prompts
Prompt #1: Share your story.
Answer this prompt by reflecting on a hobby, facet of your personality, or experience that is genuinely meaningful and unique to you. Admissions officers want to feel connected to you and an honest, personal statement about who you are draws them in. Your love of superheroes, baking chops, or family history are all fair game if you can tie it back to who you are or what you believe in. Avoid a rehash of the accomplishments on your high school resume and choose something that the admissions committee will not discover when reading the rest of your application.
Prompt #2: Learning from obstacles.
You're trying to show colleges your best self, so it might seem counterintuitive to willingly acknowledge a time you struggled. But overcoming challenges demonstrates courage, grit, and perseverance! That’s why the last piece of this prompt is essential. The obstacle you write about can be large or small, but you must show the admissions committee how your perspective changed as a result.
Prompt #3: Challenging a belief.
Your answer to this question could focus on a time you stood up to others or an experience when your own preconceived view was challenged. Choose this prompt if you have a relevant—and specific!—experience to recount (and reflect on). A vague essay about a hot button issue doesn’t tell the admissions committee anything useful about YOU.
Prompt #4: Solving a problem.
This essay is designed to get at the heart of how you think and what makes you tick. Present a situation or quandary and show steps toward the solution. Admissions officers want insight into your thought process and the issues you grapple with, so explain how you became aware of the dilemma and how you tackled solving it. Don’t forget to explain why the problem is important to you!
Prompt #5: Personal growth.
Just like Prompt #2, the accomplishment or event you write about can be anything from a major milestone to a smaller "aha" moment. Describe the event or ccomplishment that shaped you but take care to also show what you learned or how you changed. Colleges are looking for a sense of maturity and introspection—pinpoint the transformation and demonstrate your personal growth.
Prompt #6: What captivates you?
This prompt is an invitation to write about something you care about. (So avoid the pitfall of writing about what you think will impress the admission office versus what truly matters to you). Colleges are looking for curious students, who are thoughtful about the world around them. The "what or who do you turn to when you want to learn more” bit isn't an afterthought—it's a key piece of the prompt. Make sure you explain how you pursue your interest, as well.
Prompt #7: Topic of your choice.
This question might be for you if you have a dynamo personal essay from English class to share or were really inspired by a question from another college’s application. You can even write your own question! Whatever topic you land on, the essentials of a standout college essay still stand: 1.) Show the admissions committee who you are beyond grades and test scores and 2.) Dig into your topic by asking yourself how and why. There isn’t a prompt to guide you, so you must ask yourself the questions that will get at the heart of the story you want to tell.
More College Essay Topics
Individual schools sometimes require supplemental essays. Here are a few popular application essay topics and some tips for how to approach them:
Describe a person you admire.
Avoid the urge to pen an ode to a beloved figure like Gandhi or Abraham Lincoln. The admissions committee doesn't need to be convinced they are influential people. Focus on yourself: Choose someone who has actually caused you to change your behavior or your worldview, and write about how this person influenced you .
Why do you want to attend this school?
Be honest and specific when you respond to this question. Avoid generalities like "to get a good liberal arts education” or “to develop career skills," and use details that show your interests: "I'm an aspiring doctor and your science department has a terrific reputation." Colleges are more likely to admit students who can articulate specific reasons why the school is a good fit for them beyond its reputation or ranking on any list. Use the college's website and literature to do your research about programs, professors, and other opportunities that appeal to you.
What is a book you love?
Your answer should not be a book report. Don't just summarize the plot; detail why you enjoyed this particular text and what it meant to you. What does your favorite book reveal about you? How do you identify with it, and how has it become personal to you?
Again, be honest in answering this question—don't choose a classic from your literature class or a piece of philosophy just because you think it will make you seem smarter. Writing fluently and passionately about a book close to you is always better than writing shakily or generally about a book that doesn't inspire you.
What is an extracurricular activity that has been meaningful to you?
Avoid slipping into clichés or generalities. Take this opportunity to really examine an experience that taught you something you didn't previously know about yourself, got you out of your comfort zone, or forced you to grow. Sometimes it's better to write about something that was hard for you because you learned something than it is to write about something that was easy for you because you think it sounds admirable. As with all essay questions, the most important thing is to tell a great story: how you discovered this activity, what drew you to it, and what it's shown you about yourself.
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With the help of “The Censors” by Luisa Valenzuela, interpret the way the essay writer supports one of the themes listed below.
- Humans can change regarding the limited society and absence of freedoms;
- A person can become personal rival when facing a particular life challenge;
- A decision-making process led by emotions can lead to various adverse outcomes;
- Author’s personal theme.
Congratulations – it looks like you have received your first thematic essay assignment! A logical question to follow is, “What is a thematic essay?” In this article, the student can find all answers to the questions regarding this type of academic essay writing along with the helpful hints and great topic ideas.
HELP ME WITH MY ESSAY
Once you are done with your reading, another question may show up. In case a student hesitates about his knowledge or skills, it is possible to hire a professional essay writer from the competent online academic essay service.
What Is a Thematic Essay? You Ask – We Answer
The best answer to the question, “What is a thematic essay” would be: an academic writing assignment, which contains a specific response of the writer to the main essay prompt’s question(s) or an analysis of the specific argument. This type of academic essay focuses on concepts in the selected field of study. It goes beyond recall of facts; the essay enhances critical thinking & analytical skills; this essay makes students provide logical links. Even if the essay’s questions seem unrelated, it is important to draw a parallel.
In this type of essay, the teacher expects the student to analyze several factors.
- Figurative language
- Rhetorical devices
The listed literary devices help the writer to develop the central essay’s theme. They figure as the essay’s evidence collected from credible sources.
Ways to Find the Central Theme of an Essay
In a thematic essay, it may be hard to define the primary question form the first look at the assignment prompt. Use these tips to decide on the central theme of this type of academic essay.
- Make a summary of the used literature: Any source like a book or newspaper provides the necessary hints to define the main idea.
- Select the dominating subject to discuss: Pay attention to the difference between a subject and a theme. A theme is a narrower subject as it talks about a specific point from the overall topic. An example of the essay’s subject might be Stephen’s King novel while an essay’s theme would be a bigotry on the example of “Misery.”
- Learn to read between the lines: Get deeper into the literary piece to get more clues and examples. They will help to find the answers to essay prompt.
- General significance: Can the discussed issue be useful & important in real life?
How to Write a Thematic Essay: Introduction, Conclusion, and Reasons Why Body Paragraphs Come First
The next thing to discuss is how to write a thematic essay. The most challenging task in many academic writing assignments is to highlight/understand/interpret the teacher’s prompt.
How to Write a Thematic Essay for English Literature Class: Analyzing the Prompt
Re-read the instruction carefully several times. Here are the most common tasks a student may face:
- Discussion – Making observations with the help of facts, statistics, logic, reasoning, & argument (introducing the concept in details).
- Description – Illustrating the essay’s topic in words using a lot of details.
- Showing – To make it short, it means “to point out something”; this action is about stating a writer’s side concisely by providing a support/evidence for the author’s words.
- Explanation – Providing things in a plain, understandable way with the help of reasons & causes. Presenting the logical flow of essay ideas.
Developing a Powerful Thematic Essay Introduction
Professional Essay Writer’s Advice
“It may seem unusual, but in case of a thematic essay, a student should start with the body paragraphs. It is better to omit the introduction until the author decides on the main argument of the essay after underlining the primary questions to answer. Once the writer is done, he should review the body paragraphs to come up with an introduction that reveals the arguments and provides a brief overview of the entire text.”
Professor Samuels, a Literature & Arts tutor and online academic essay writer at NerdyMates
What can we say about thematic essay’s introduction? In general, a thematic essay is nothing more than an outline of the main points. If you want to get a clear answer to the question, “What is a thematic essay,” you should understand some academic essays have more primary points than others. It means a student will need more primary sources. He will need to retrieve multiple supporting arguments to defend the essay.
Not to get lost, take down notes mentioning the essay arguments while writing a draft. After that, decide on a strong thesis statement. It gets complicated as a good thesis statement must be concise (a single-sentence statement), and thematic essay requires a plenty of points. It is necessary to choose the most important idea based on the prompt. Essay thesis example: Student’s essay disagrees that the entry of the US army into WWII finished the country’s policy of isolationism in foreign affairs, and that is how the thesis statement should sound!
In your essay’s body then, put minimum 3 good supporting arguments. A typical essay is made of 5 paragraphs. Each of them should provide a particular reason why the US foreign policy changed dramatically after the World War II compared to the post-War policy.
Try to engage the reader’s interests and provide him with a roadmap! Do not forget to add quotations to your essay – find how to cite the sources properly in this article!
Working on Memorable Thematic Essay Conclusion
As the main goal of a thematic essay prompt is to make the student respond to the specific questions, so give your answer at the end! Add a summary of the essay’s topic. Paraphrase the main point, essay’s thesis statement, share the findings and sum up how the included information helped to prove the author’s opinion.
Important! It is necessary to extend an essay’s argument. A sophisticated essay conclusion should not paraphrase the thesis alone – make an attempt to offer the broader meaning of the question by explaining why it is significant.
There are more things to explore to answer, “What is a thematic essay?” For instance, pay attention to the list of global regents thematic essay topics and other topic ideas shared by the top students from the best colleges in the US and the UK!
Thematic Essay: DOs & DON’Ts!
To learn how to write a thematic essay, it is critical to pay attention to the grading rubric. Here is what a student should do to get A:
- Present a concise, clear knowledge;
- Address all the assigned questions;
- Perform a deep analysis of the subjects/events/people;
- Write a cogent thematic essay, rich for the details;
- Prepare a summary of the basic arguments;
- Develop powerful introduction and conclusion.
What about the bad ideas? In case a student lacks the depth/accuracy, provides faulty evaluation, misses any question, ignores the examples, writes weak introduction/conclusion, or fails to cite the sources properly, he/she risks obtaining an F. try to keep away from other academic writing mistakes after reading this article.
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30 Thematic Essay Topics to Satisfy Student’s Curiosity
Are you ready to observe the list of the most interesting thematic essay topics? The article has several separate categories of such ideas: US history thematic essay, global regents thematic essay topics, and belief systems thematic essay. This way, it will be easier to choose what a student needs.
Belief Systems Thematic Essay
- Determine the God in Christianity
- Identify the founding father of Hinduism
- Define a significant manual or book used as the main holy text of the chosen religion
- Find out how many followers Islam has nowadays
- Discover the ways a certain religious movement spreads its dogmas into the world
- Define the role of certain religious movement's leaders in the cultural development of the nations
- Decide on and provide the details on the significant construction of the particular religion
- List the goals of the Buddhism along with its main life lessons
- Identify the wisdom shared by the Christianity followers
- Discuss three or more basic teachings of Judaism
Global Regents Thematic Essay Topics
- Decide on a couple of natural resources. Explain why people need them and how these resources influence entire population
- Choose a country that supports imperialism. Provide an in-depth overview of the reasons why these people chose to follow this specific regime and explain the ways imperialism impacted the conquerors
- Pick a couple of geographic conditions and show their effect on the particular region & its development
- Interpret the ways some of the best ideas evolved over time
- Discuss how a particular political movement affected people living in a certain country
- Focus on the life and activity of 2 known philosophers and explain their roles in the development of modern philosophical trends
- Talk about 3 people who decided to challenge the religion in a particular country. Explain their fate in details
- Discuss several historical leaders who led to positive changes
- Focus on explaining the consequences and outcomes of some famous wars
- Revolutions of student’s choice: development, ending, and results
US History Thematic Essay
- Identify the causes and outcomes of the Great Depression
- Identify the reasons for and consequences of the Civil War in the United States
- Define the causes & results of the Korean War
- Point to the impact of social media on the modern US history
- 2 foreign policies run by the United States: Describe them in details
- Assess the success of 1820-1933 reforms in the US
- Analyze the causes and consequences of the migrations within the United States
- Identify the reasons why Europeans destroyed Indian population
- Choose a couple of trade agreements that were controversial. Mention why they were supported/rejected by the government
- Choose a couple of areas that belong to the United States. Explain the ways this country conquered or enslaved those territories
Wow, such an inspiring list of thematic essay topics, isn’t it? We are not saying they are the best and only options in the world. A student can always look for other exciting ideas, read free essay examples, use the ideas of famous authors, and do other things to increase this list of possible topics. What is a choice of topic is not a problem, and you need some writing help? The simplest and most reasonable way to submit an A+ thematic essay on any topic is to purchase custom college essays offered by the leading US/UK essay writing service! Its prices are democratic, and the results are above any expectations!