2019-2020 Common App Essay Prompts


CommonApp has announced that the essay prompts for 2019-20 will remain the same as the prior year’s.

Common App cites feedback from counselors determined that “the existing essay prompts provide great flexibility for applicants to tell their unique stories in their own voice.”

Since the essay prompts are the same, applicants who started their Common Applications this year, can carry over their essay drafts and have more time to make revisions. For more info and tips on completing the CommonApp, students, teachers, and counselors can access Common App Ready, a suite of on-demand resources, training videos, and infosheets covering topics from starting a CommonApp account to getting teacher recommendations. These tools are available in both English and Spanish.

Below is the list of Common Application essay prompts for 2019-20:

2019-2020 Common Application Essay Prompts

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.

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 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.

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 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?

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.

According to CommonApp, the most popular topic of choice over the 2018-19 application cycle was: “Share an essay on any topic of your choice...”, which was chosen by 24.1% of applicants. The next most popular essay choice was “Discuss an accomplishment, event, or realization that sparked a period of personal growth and a new understanding of yourself or others” (23.7%).