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Common App 2022-2023 Essay Prompts

If you are planning to apply to the USA for college applications, you probably would be using the Common App portal. If you’ve been wondering when does the common app open for 2022-2023 or how to answer the 2022-2023 common app essay prompts - you’re in the right place!

With SAT going online from 2023, many high school students are now planning on taking the exam this year. For students who are applying for the 2023 intake, it is the right time to start looking for universities in the United States to apply to. Students usually applying to US universities use these common portals - Common App and Coalition App.

Common App is an online comprehensive application portal that allows students to complete one single application to be sent to multiple colleges and universities, especially in the USA. Some universities also use the Coalition App.

When does the common app open for the class of 2023?

You need to pick ONE of the essay prompts (out of the 7 essays) and answer the question in the form of a 600-650 word essay. The maximum word count for these essays is 650 words each.

Here are the Common Application 2022-23 Essay prompts.

You can click on the Prompts to find out how to write the Common Application Essays 2022-2023 (With Examples)

  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. Reflect on something that someone has done for you that has made you happy or thankful in a surprising way. How has this gratitude affected or motivated you?

  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.

There is also an optional COVID-19 Essay in which you can discuss how Covid has impacted you.

Get writing!


International SAT Dates and Deadlines 2022-2023

At this time, Registration is open for all students for 2022 SAT dates only. Registration for spring 2023 dates will open in the fall of 2022.

What are the 2022–23 School Year Test Dates? - Read our blog.


How To Answer The 2022-23 Common App Essay Prompts

How To Write Common App 2022-2023 Prompt #1

Prompt 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.

This prompt offers an opportunity to engage with your favorite extracurricular or academic subject, and it allows you to weave a narrative that displays personal growth in that area. An essay that displays your personality and a unique interest can be attention-grabbing, particularly if you have an unconventional passion, such as blogging about Fortnite or unicycling.

Don’t feel intimidated if you don’t have a passion that is immediately “unique,” however. Even an interest like “arctic scuba diving” will fail as an essay topic if it’s not written with insight and personality. Instead of attempting to impress the Admissions Officer by making up unusual or shocking things, think about how you spend your free time and ask yourself why you spend it that way. Also think about your upbringing, identity, and experiences and ask yourself, “What has impacted me in a meaningful way?”

And some examples for Common App 2022-23 prompt 1 to consider:

  • Has your family’s love of food and your resultant adventurous tastes and culinary curiosity allowed you to connect with cultures from around the world?

  • Does your crazy, dyed-blue hair define you?

  • Did going to a Picasso exhibit inspire you to start an art collection that has since expanded beyond the borders of your bedroom?

  • Have your yearly trips to see your extended family in China revealed something to you about your parents’ ability to overcome challenges and the work ethic you have absorbed as a result?

  • What are the challenges and rewards of having same-sex parents? Or of being raised by your siblings? Or of being part of a family made up of stepsisters and stepbrothers?


How To Write Common App 2022-2023 Prompt #2

PROMPT #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?

This prompt lends itself to consideration of what facets of your personality allow you to overcome adversity. While it’s okay to choose a relatively mundane “failure” such as not winning an award at a Model UN conference, another (perhaps more powerful) tactic is to write about a foundational failure and assess its impact on your development thereafter.

There are times in life when your foundation is uprooted. There are times when you experience failure and you want to give up since you don’t see a solution. This essay is about your response when you are destabilized and your actions when you don’t see an immediate answer.

Few examples for Common App 2022-23 prompt 2:

  • Has a lifelong battle with stuttering ultimately increased your overall confidence and allowed you to participate in social activities and public forums without self-judgment?

  • Did a parent’s fragile health situation challenge you to take on more responsibilities than the average teenager?

  • Did a series of setbacks on your road to becoming a child actor introduce you to screenwriting, your professional goal, and your biggest passion?

  • Did your failure to follow directions lead you to a botched home science experiment (root beer explosion!) and an appreciation for a balance of creativity and planned procedure?


How To Write Common App 2022-2023 Prompt #3

PROMPT #3: Reflect on a time when you questioned or challenged a belief or idea. What prompted your thinking? What was the outcome?

This prompt is difficult to answer because most high schoolers haven’t participated in the types of iconoclastic protests against societal ills that lend themselves to an awe-inspiring response. A more tenable alternative here could be to discuss a time that you went against social norms, whether it was by becoming friends with someone who seemed like an outcast or by proudly showing off a geeky passion.

And if you ever participated in a situation in tandem with adults and found some success (i.e., by blogging, starting a tutoring organization, or participating in political campaigns), you could discuss your experiences as a young person without a college degree in professional circles. However, avoid sounding morally superior (as if you’re the only person who went against this convention, or that you’re better than your peers for doing so).

Another way to answer this prompt is to discuss a time when you noticed a need for change. For example, if you wondered why medical records are often handwritten, or why a doctor’s visit can be long and awkward, maybe you challenged the norm in healthcare by brainstorming an electronic-recording smartphone app or a telemedicine system. In a similar way, if you led a fundraiser and recognized that advertising on social media would be more effective than the traditional use of printed flyers, you could write about a topic along those lines as well. Focus on what action or experience caused you to recognize the need for change and follow with your actions and resulting outcome.

And here are a few examples for Common App 2022-23 prompt 3:

  • Are you openly gay in a strict Catholic school environment? What has that meant for your self-esteem and personal relationships?

  • Did you work as an intern on a political campaign caught at the center of a scandal? How did you react?

  • Did you challenge the idea of horror as a throw-away genre by executing an extensive research paper on the subject, launching a horror movie club at school, and arranging the most elaborate, best-received haunted house your neighborhood has ever seen?


How To Write Common App 2022-2023 Prompt #4

PROMPT #4: Reflect on something that someone has done for you that has made you happy or thankful in a surprising way. How has this gratitude affected or motivated you?

While this prompt may seem to be asking a simple question, your answer has the potential to provide deep insights about who you are to the admissions committee. Explaining what you are grateful for can show them your culture, your community, your philosophical outlook on the world, and what makes you tick.

The first step to writing this essay is to think about the “something” and “someone” of your story. It is imperative to talk about a unique moment in your life, as the prompt asks for gratitude that came about in a surprising way. You will want to write about a story that you are certain no one else would have. To brainstorm, ask yourself: “if I told a stranger that I was grateful for what happened to me without any context, would they be surprised?”

Try to avoid writing an essay along these lines of involving a family member, teacher, or sports coach - unless you feel that your take on it will be truly original. Keep in mind, however, that the essay is ultimately about you and your growth. While you should set the scene clearly, don’t spend too much time talking about the “something” and “someone.”

Your story should then transition into a part about your unexpected epiphany, e.g. “Six months after Leonard gave me that pogo stick, I started to be grateful for the silly thing…” Explain the why of your gratitude as thoroughly as you can before you begin to talk about how your gratitude affected or motivated you. Finally, think about how learning to be grateful for something you would not expect to bring you joy and thankfulness has had a positive impact on your life. Gaining more self-confidence, for example, could motivate you to do an infinite number of things that you were not able to attempt in the past.

And here are some Common App 2022-23 prompt 4 examples to use as food for thought:

  • Did a kind gesture from a stranger inspire you to keep paying it forward? How do you do so and what’s become of your wholesome intentions?

  • Have you ever received an unexpected gift from someone? Why was this gift so meaningful to you? How did you express your gratitude?

  • Do you feel appreciative of a public figure for the work they have done to raise awareness about issues that are important to you? How do you give back?


How To Write Common App 2022-2023 Prompt #5

PROMPT #5: Discuss an accomplishment, event, or realization that sparked a period of personal growth and a new understanding of yourself or others.

This prompt is expansive in that you can choose any accomplishment, event, or realization that sparked personal growth or new understanding.

One option is to discuss a formal accomplishment or event (whether it is a religious ritual or social rite of passage) that reflects personal growth. If you go this route, make sure to discuss why the ritual was meaningful and how specific aspects of said ritual contributed to your personal growth. Alternatively, a more relaxed way to address this prompt is using an informal event or realization, which would allow you to show more personality and creativity. An example of this could be learning how to bake with your mother, thus sparking a newfound connection with her, allowing you to learn about her past. Having a long discussion about life or philosophy with your father could also suffice, thus sparking more thoughts about your identity.

The key to answering this prompt is clearly defining what it is that sparked your growth, and then describing in detail the nature of this growth and how it related to your perception of yourself and others. This part of the essay is crucial, as you must dedicate sufficient time to not undersell the description of how you grew instead of simply explaining the experience and then saying, “I grew.” This description of how you grew must be specific, in-depth, and it does not have to be simple. Your growth can also be left open-ended if you are still learning from your experiences today.

Common App 2022-23 prompt 5 examples:

  • Did your expansion of a handmade stationery hobby into a full-fledged business give you the motivation and wherewithal to combat the effects of a debilitating illness?

  • Have you learned to love the football team playback sessions that force you to routinely examine your mistakes, welcome constructive criticism and point yourself toward self-improvement?

  • Did a summer-long role as the U.S. President in a mock government and diplomacy exercise bring out leadership skills you never knew you had?

  • What did playing bridge at a senior citizens’ home each week show you about the value of enjoyment over competition? How did this change the way you interact and connect with others?


How To Write Common App 2022-2023 Prompt #6

PROMPT #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?

This prompt allows you to expand and deepen a seemingly small or simple idea, topic, or concept. One example could be “stars,” in that you could describe stargazing as a child, counting them, recognizing constellations, and then transforming that initial captivation into a deeper appreciation of the cosmos as a whole, spurring a love of astronomy and physics.

Another example could be “language,” discussing how it has evolved and changed over the course of history, how it allows you to look deeper into different cultures, and how learning different languages stretches the mind. A tip for expanding on these topics and achieving specificity is to select particular details of the topic that you find intriguing and explain why.

The key to writing this essay is answering the question of why something captivates you instead of simply ending with “I love surfing.” A tip would be to play off your senses (for applicable topics), think about what you see, feel, smell, hear, and taste.

When brainstorming this particular essay, a tip would be to use a web diagram, placing the topic in the middle and thinking about branching characteristics, themes, or concepts related to the topic that are directly engaging and captivating to you. In doing so, you’ll be able to gauge the depth of the topic and whether it will suffice for this prompt.

And a few Common App 2022-23 prompt 6 examples to get those wheels turning:

  • Did the idea of open source code inspire you to create a tech startup with a few of your friends? What new projects within the company are you most excited to work on?

  • Did getting an internship at an accounting firm inspire you to start each day by checking the markets? Do you participate in a mock trading club that allows you to use the expertise you gather from culling through economic news and analysis online and beyond?

  • On any given Sunday morning, could we find you lost in the literature of Kurt Vonnegut or immersed in a collection of stories by Isaac Asimov?

  • Have you taught yourself to master the compositions of Mozart and Beethoven and break down the songs of Bruno Mars by ear in your spare time?

  • Do you have an obsession with pizza so intense it led you to study the culinary arts and keep a pizza journal that documents the 700+ slices you’ve consumed thus far? (We know someone who did this—really.) How is pizza-making more scientific and/or artistic than the average person realizes?


How To Write Common App 2022-2023 Prompt #7

PROMPT #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.

This prompt allows you to express what you want to express if it doesn’t align directly with the other prompts. While this prompt is very open-ended, it doesn’t mean you can adapt any essay you’ve written and think it will suffice. This prompt, more than the others, poses a high risk but also a high-potential reward. Writing your own question allows you to demonstrate individuality and confidence. Here, you can craft an innovative essay that tackles a difficult topic (for example, whether to raise or lower taxes) or presents information with a unique format (such as a conversation with an historical figure).

We encourage you to try something unconventional for this prompt, like comparing your personality to a Picasso painting, using an extended philosophical metaphor to describe your four years of high school, or writing in a poetic style to display your love of poetry. If you are extremely passionate about a topic or an expert in a certain area, for example Renaissance technology or journalism during World War II, you can use this prompt to show your authority on a subject by discussing it at a high level.

As always, exercise caution in writing about controversial social or political topics, and always make sure to consider your audience and what they’re looking for in a student.

And a few Common App 2022-23 prompt 7 examples of potential subjects and their related (custom!) prompts:

  • Were you born with a congenital eye defect that literally (and metaphorically) affects how you see the world? (Q:How is your perspective on the world unique?)

  • Do you spend 40 minutes each Friday night tutoring a class of elementary school students in Cambodia? How has that impacted the way you mete out your time and assess your commitments? (Q: What is the value of 40 minutes?)

  • Did your parents let your older brother choose your name? What was his inspiration? (Please tell us your name is Gaston.) What does your name represent for you? How has it impacted your interactions in the world? (Q:What’s in a name?)


Common App vs. Coalition App: Which Should You Use?

The Common Application, or Common App, and the Coalition Application, or Coalition App, both give students a way to track, fill, and submit applications to multiple schools. The platforms are free to use, though applicants may still need to pay application fees for the colleges they apply to.

Both platforms ask applicants to write an essay in response to a predetermined prompt for schools that require it. Individual universities may require additional essays or short answers that students must complete alongside the main Coalition App essay and Common App essay.

5 Key Differences Between the Common App and Coalition App

  1. Number of Participating Colleges: Over 900 colleges in the U.S. use the Common App, which was created in 1975. The Coalition App, which was founded in 2015, partners with more than 150 colleges — a significantly smaller number than the Common App.

  2. Application Features: With the Common App's rollover feature, students can save information from year to year, giving themselves more time to apply if needed. Meanwhile, the Coalition App features a tool called "Locker" through which students can store materials such as essays, videos, and projects that may be useful for the application process.

  3. Platform Familiarity: Teachers and guidance counselors who help students with college applications generally have a better understanding of the Common App than they do the Coalition App. This is simply because counselors have had more time to familiarize themselves with the Common App, which has been around far longer than its competitor.

  4. Emphasis on Students From Historically Underrepresented Groups: The Coalition App was created to make it easier for students from underrepresented groups to apply for college. Specifically, the platform only partners with schools that offer generous financial aid or low-cost tuition and graduate students with little to no debt.

  5. Level of Technical Support: With more than 3 million users each year, the Common App tends to get busy around deadlines. This means technical support may not be readily available when students need it most. The Coalition App has fewer users, so it may have more tech support available to answer requests as they come in.

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