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For more information, please see full course syllabus of Application Essays
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The Prompt

  • There are five main kinds of prompt used in application essays.
  • Experience prompts ask you to describe an experience in your life. To answer these, pick an experience you remember well—one that makes a good story.
  • Influence prompts ask you to describe a person, work of art, or idea that has influenced you. To answer these, choose a well-regarded influence that you actually like OR a more poorly regarded influence that you like and can prove is helpful.
  • Analysis prompts ask you to analyze a quote, a current event, or some other concept supplied to you. To answer these, pick the quote or event apart and relate it to your own experience or life philosophy.
  • Explanation prompts ask you to explain why you want to attend a certain school or study a certain subject. To answer these, read the school’s website, pick an element that stands out or strikes a chord in you, and write from there.
  • “What if?” prompts ask you to answer a hypothetical question or respond to an imaginary situation. To answer these, use your imagination, and add one slightly weird element—something uniquely “you”—to make your work stand out.
  • What do these prompts have in common? They’re all things you can write about before you enter your school of choice, and answering them requires skills you’ll need in that school.
  • When in doubt, go with the good (true) story; write something no one else can; and be weird.

The Prompt

Lecture Slides are screen-captured images of important points in the lecture. Students can download and print out these lecture slide images to do practice problems as well as take notes while watching the lecture.

  • Intro 0:00
  • Lesson Overview 0:07
  • Experience Prompts 0:55
    • Example 1
    • Example 2
    • Example 3
  • Influence Prompts 1:31
    • Select a Creative Work
  • Analysis Prompts 2:34
    • Examples
  • Explanation Prompts 3:11
    • Examples
  • 'What If?' Prompts 4:08
    • Examples
  • What These Prompts Have in Common 4:47
    • You Can Write About Things Before You Enter the School
    • They All Use Skills Needed in School of Choice
  • How to Answer Experience Prompts 5:57
    • What to Pick
    • Example
  • How to Answer Influence Prompts 8:13
    • What to Pick
    • Example
  • How to Answer Analysis Prompts 10:35
    • What to Pick
    • Example
  • How to Answer Explanation Prompts 12:46
    • What to Pick
    • Example
  • How to Answer 'What If?' Prompts 14:21
    • What to Pick
    • Example
  • When in Doubt 16:28