Essays & Short Answers

  • UT Austin Required Essay in the Common App, or
  • Topic A in ApplyTexas
  • Please keep your essay between 500–700 words (typically two to three paragraphs).

Summer/Fall 2024 and Spring 2024 Essay Topic

Tell us your story. What unique opportunities or challenges have you experienced throughout your high school career that have shaped who you are today?

Submitting Your Essay

You can submit your essays:

  • In conjunction with your application.
  • Using the Document Upload System in MyStatus.

*Students do not need to submit other Common App essays. We’ll only review what is required,

Short Answers

  • Submit the required short answers to prompts in your admission application.
  • Answers are limited to no more than 40 lines, or about 250–300 words per prompt, typically the length of one paragraph.

Summer/Fall 2024 Prompts

  • Why are you interested in the major you indicated as your first-choice major?
  • Describe how your experiences, perspectives, talents, and/or your involvement in leadership activities (at your school, job, community or within your family) will help you to make an impact both in and out of the classroom while enrolled at UT.
  • The core purpose of The University of Texas at Austin is, “To Transform Lives for the Benefit of Society.” Please share how you believe your experience at UT Austin will prepare you to “Change the World” after you graduate.

Optional Short Answer

  • Please share background on events or special circumstances that you feel may have impacted your high school academic performance.

Spring 2024 Prompts

Submitting your short answers.

You can submit your short answers with either your Common App or Apply Texas application. Short answer responses must be completed in order to submit your application.

  • Transfer applicants must submit one essay responding to Topic A.
  • Applicants to the School of Architecture and Studio Art, Art Education and Art History are required to upload Topic D in addition to Topic A. 

Essay Topics

Topic a (required).

The statement of purpose will provide an opportunity to explain any extenuating circumstances that you feel could add value to your application. You may also want to explain unique aspects of your academic background or valued experiences you may have had that relate to your academic discipline. The statement of purpose is not meant to be a listing of accomplishments in high school/college or a record of your participation in school-related activities. Rather, this is your opportunity to address the admission committee directly and to let us know more about you as an individual, in a manner that your transcripts and the other application information cannot convey.

Topic D (School of Architecture majors and Studio Art, Art Education and Art History majors only)

Personal interaction with objects, images and spaces can be so powerful as to change the way one thinks about particular issues or topics. For your intended area of study (architecture, art history, studio art, visual art studies/art education), describe an experience where instruction in that area or your personal interaction with an object, image or space effected this type of change in your thinking. What did you do to act upon your new thinking and what have you done to prepare yourself for further study in this area?

Submitting Your Essay(s)

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  • Writing Tips

The Word Limit in Academic Writing (and How to Stick to It)

3-minute read

  • 24th September 2016

Even the phrase “word limit” can cause panic among students . For some it’s the challenge of writing enough, while others find it hard to stick within the limit given. In either case, it can lead to spending more time worrying about the length of your paper than the content!

And length isn't everything, right ladies? Ahem.

But why do college papers come with set word limits? And what should you do to ensure you don’t write too much or too little?

Why Have a Word Limit?

There are two main reasons that academic papers usually come with a word limit:

  • Fairness It’s impossible to grade two papers of vastly different lengths (e.g., 20,000 compared to 2,000 words) on the same scale. The word limit makes sure that everyone taking the same class knows what is expected of them.
  • Communication Skills As well as testing your knowledge, college papers are about communicating clearly and concisely. Setting a word limit forces you to consider what you’re saying more carefully, helping you to develop your writing skills.

Sticking to the word limit is, therefore, part of being a good academic, since being a long way over or under could suggest you’ve misjudged the scope of the essay topic or that you’re having trouble communicating your ideas.

How to Stick to the Word Limit

Although many colleges give you roughly 10% leeway on the word limit, you should aim for your finished paper to be as close to the suggested word count as possible. If you find yourself writing too much, you can reduce the word count by:

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  • Editing out repetition, redundant words and padding phrases
  • Cutting down long or unnecessary quotations
  • Reducing the number of examples or case studies used (if you’ve included several)
  • Using the active voice instead of the passive voice

More generally, you should re-read your work and eliminate anything that isn’t directly related to the question you’re answering. As well as helping you stick to the word limit, this will make your work more focused, which could boost your grades.

How to Increase Your Word Count

If you’re struggling to write enough, the temptation might be to add padding phrases like “in my opinion” or long block quotations until you hit the minimum word count. But this will simply detract from the clarity of your writing.

Instead, the answer is usually to go back over your work and look for things that could be improved with a little additional attention. This might involve:

  • Addressing anything from your essay question that you’ve overlooked
  • Adding illustrative examples to support a point
  • Considering different sources and views on the same issue
  • Using short quotations as evidence for your arguments

Moreover, whether you’ve written too much or too little, getting someone else to read your work and offer feedback is a fantastic idea (especially if you ask a professional for help). This will help you to identify areas that could be expanded or cut in the next draft, so eventually you should be able to get your essay to the required length.

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  • How Long Should a College Admissions Essay Be?

Sarah Farbman

  • January 23, 2024

Student writing a college admissions essay

Throughout the process of applying to college, students must follow many steps and jump through what can feel like ten million hoops before (and even after!) hitting that submit button. But one part of the process looms large in the minds of students and parents alike: the college admissions essay . It feels so open-ended. How long should a college admissions essay be? What should you write about? How should your tone sound? How do you know if your reader will like what you wrote? 

A lot of these questions are subjective and personal, but one is much more clear-cut: essay length. In this post, we’ll go over how long your essay should be, how strict these guidelines are, and what to do if your writing doesn’t fall within the word limit provided.

How long should a college admissions essay be?

College admissions essays vary in length, but you’ll most likely be asked to write somewhere between 150 and 650 words per essay. That’s about a quarter of a page to one full page, double-spaced.

Sometimes, the word limit will be given to you right in the prompt. Take a look at this example from Villanova University:

“Why do you want to call Villanova your new home and become part of our community? Please respond in about 150 words.”

Often, the prompt itself may not state the word limit, but if you’re submitting your application through an online form like the Common App, the word limit will appear in tiny letters underneath the box where you’re supposed to paste your answer. Take a look at this screenshot from the Common App page for the University of Colorado Boulder.

As you can see, the maximum number of words the form will accept is 250, and it won’t allow you to submit fewer than 25 words, even if you want to.

Are college admissions essay word limits flexible?

So now you know how to find the word limits, but how closely do you have to stick to them? Is it okay to write less?

If a college gives you a range of words, your writing should definitely fall within that range. For example, Tufts University asks you to pick one of three topics and write between 200-250 words. In this case, you should write at least 200 words. In this case, writing fewer than 200 words could give the wrong impression for a couple of reasons.

  • You may give the impression that you don’t have a lot to say. Since college is, after all, an educational venture, schools are looking for thoughtful applicants who like to mull over new ideas. If you write too little in what is already supposed to be a pretty short piece of writing, you’re not providing the college with evidence that you like to embrace your nerdy side!
  • It might seem like you’re not good at following directions or feel that the rules don’t apply to you. Following directions is a significant part of the college application process, partly because there are just so many moving pieces and partly because you want to show that you’re a respectful applicant.

If the prompt only gives an upper limit, aim to write no fewer than 50 words under that limit. So, if the prompt asks you to write up to 450 words, try to write no fewer than 400 words. Again, this will help give the impression that you’re a thoughtful student who takes your time and considers your ideas carefully.

Remember: the point of your college application is to help your reader get to know you and to make a case for why you’d be an excellent fit for a given college or university. Readers already have so little to go on. You want to take every opportunity available to you to share with the reader more information and more evidence that you’re a great student!

What if you go over the word limit?

While some students may struggle to fill an essay, most students have the opposite problem, especially on first drafts; they blow that word limit out of the water!

It is totally, 100% acceptable to exceed that word limit, even by a lot, on your first draft. In fact, it’s crucial when drafting to take away those word limits and just let yourself write without any limits or judgment. That’s often how we, as writers, find our best ideas and figure out what we’re really trying to say.

However, it’s important not to exceed the given word limit on your finished product. For one thing, many colleges use a web-based form, often the Common Application , to collect applications. These forms will not allow you to submit more than the given number of words.

Even if you’re submitting your application in a format that does allow you to technically include as many words as you like, say, as a PDF or Word attachment, admissions readers may well stop reading after they hit the word limit.

Remember, admissions readers must read A LOT, usually under a stringent time limit. They may only have ten or fifteen minutes to read your entire file, including all your essays and letters of recommendation. And then they have to make some notes and repeat the whole exercise with someone else’s file, over and over, all day, for months. A pressed admissions officer simply doesn’t have the time to read the extra words you wrote!

Don’t worry, though, even if your first draft is significantly longer than it’s supposed to be. First drafts are often repetitive and wordy. Most students find that once they have a good idea of what they’re trying to say, it’s reasonably easy to cut words. 

First, review your draft and ensure you only present each idea once. Then, see if reorganizing the paragraphs would allow you to streamline your ideas to cut words. Finally, see if specific phrases can be replaced with shorter synonyms. You’ll see the words start to fall away pretty quickly.

So really, how long should a college admissions essay should be?

How long should a college admissions essay be? Most essay prompts will tell you either the range they’re looking for (e.g., “Respond in 200-250 words”) or the hard upper word limit. You’ll find this either written out right in the prompt or in little gray letters below the part of the application where you’re supposed to paste your answer.

If you don’t see a word limit anywhere on the prompt, don’t fret! Look around the college’s website for an FAQ section. If you still don’t see the answer you’re looking for, call the admissions office and ask!

It’s vital to stick fairly closely to the word limit given. Certainly, do not go over!

Need more advice on your college applications?

The team at Great College Advice has extensive experience in guiding students along the road from high school to college. We provide individually tailored, one-on-one advising to help young people achieve their educational ambitions. If you’d like more information about our services, contact us for a free consultation. Or just pick up the phone and call us at 720.279.7577.  We’d be happy to chat with you.

Sarah Farbman

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College Essays


Figuring out your college essay can be one of the most difficult parts of applying to college. Even once you've read the prompt and picked a topic, you might wonder: if you write too much or too little, will you blow your chance of admission? How long should a college essay be?

Whether you're a terse writer or a loquacious one, we can advise you on college essay length. In this guide, we'll cover what the standard college essay length is, how much word limits matter, and what to do if you aren't sure how long a specific essay should be.

How Long Is a College Essay? First, Check the Word Limit

You might be used to turning in your writing assignments on a page-limit basis (for example, a 10-page paper). While some colleges provide page limits for their college essays, most use a word limit instead. This makes sure there's a standard length for all the essays that a college receives, regardless of formatting or font.

In the simplest terms, your college essay should be pretty close to, but not exceeding, the word limit in length. Think within 50 words as the lower bound, with the word limit as the upper bound. So for a 500-word limit essay, try to get somewhere between 450-500 words. If they give you a range, stay within that range.

College essay prompts usually provide the word limit right in the prompt or in the instructions.

For example, the University of Illinois says :

"You'll answer two to three prompts as part of your application. The questions you'll answer will depend on whether you're applying to a major or to our undeclared program , and if you've selected a second choice . Each response should be approximately 150 words."

As exemplified by the University of Illinois, the shortest word limits for college essays are usually around 150 words (less than half a single-spaced page). Rarely will you see a word limit higher than around 650 words (over one single-spaced page). College essays are usually pretty short: between 150 and 650 words. Admissions officers have to read a lot of them, after all!


Weigh your words carefully, because they are limited!

How Flexible Is the Word Limit?

But how flexible is the word limit? What if your poignant anecdote is just 10 words too long—or 100 too short?

Can I Go Over the Word Limit?

If you are attaching a document and you need one or two extra words, you can probably get away with exceeding the word limit by such a small amount. Some colleges will actually tell you that exceeding the word limit by 1-2 words is fine. However, I advise against exceeding the word limit unless it's explicitly allowed for a few reasons:

First, you might not be able to. If you have to copy-paste it into a text box, your essay might get cut off and you'll have to trim it down anyway.

If you exceed the word limit in a noticeable way, the admissions counselor may just stop reading your essay past that point. This is not good for you.

Following directions is actually a very important part of the college application process. You need to follow directions to get your letters of recommendation, upload your essays, send supplemental materials, get your test scores sent, and so on and so forth. So it's just a good general rule to follow whatever instructions you've been given by the institution. Better safe than sorry!

Can I Go Under the Word Limit?

If you can truly get your point across well beneath the word limit, it's probably fine. Brevity is not necessarily a bad thing in writing just so long as you are clear, cogent, and communicate what you want to.

However, most college essays have pretty tight word limits anyways. So if you're writing 300 words for an essay with a 500-word limit, ask yourself: is there anything more you could say to elaborate on or support your points? Consult with a parent, friend, or teacher on where you could elaborate with more detail or expand your points.

Also, if the college gives you a word range, you absolutely need to at least hit the bottom end of the range. So if you get a range from the institution, like 400-500 words, you need to write at least 400 words. If you write less, it will come across like you have nothing to say, which is not an impression you want to give.


What If There Is No Word Limit?

Some colleges don't give you a word limit for one or more of your essay prompts. This can be a little stressful, but the prompts generally fall into a few categories:

Writing Sample

Some colleges don't provide a hard-and-fast word limit because they want a writing sample from one of your classes. In this case, a word limit would be very limiting to you in terms of which assignments you could select from.

For an example of this kind of prompt, check out essay Option B at Amherst :

"Submit a graded paper from your junior or senior year that best represents your writing skills and analytical abilities. We are particularly interested in your ability to construct a tightly reasoned, persuasive argument that calls upon literary, sociological or historical evidence. You should NOT submit a laboratory report, journal entry, creative writing sample or in-class essay."

While there is usually no word limit per se, colleges sometimes provide a general page guideline for writing samples. In the FAQ for Option B , Amherst clarifies, "There is no hard-and-fast rule for official page limit. Typically, we anticipate a paper of 4-5 pages will provide adequate length to demonstrate your analytical abilities. Somewhat longer papers can also be submitted, but in most cases should not exceed 8-10 pages."

So even though there's no word limit, they'd like somewhere in the 4-10 pages range. High school students are not usually writing papers that are longer than 10 pages anyways, so that isn't very limiting.

Want to write the perfect college application essay?   We can help.   Your dedicated PrepScholar Admissions counselor will help you craft your perfect college essay, from the ground up. We learn your background and interests, brainstorm essay topics, and walk you through the essay drafting process, step-by-step. At the end, you'll have a unique essay to proudly submit to colleges.   Don't leave your college application to chance. Find out more about PrepScholar Admissions now:

Implicit Length Guideline

Sometimes, while there's no word (or even page) limit, there's still an implicit length guideline. What do I mean by this?

See, for example, this Western Washington University prompt :

“Describe one or more activities you have been involved in that have been particularly meaningful. What does your involvement say about the communities, identities or causes that are important to you?”

While there’s no page or word limit listed here, further down on page the ‘essay tips’ section explains that “ most essay responses are about 500 words, ” though “this is only a recommendation, not a firm limit.” This gives you an idea of what’s reasonable. A little longer or shorter than 500 words would be appropriate here. That’s what I mean by an “implicit” word limit—there is a reasonable length you could go to within the boundaries of the prompt.


But what's the proper coffee-to-paragraph ratio?

Treasure Hunt

There is also the classic "treasure hunt" prompt. No, it's not a prompt about a treasure hunt. It's a prompt where there are no length guidelines given, but if you hunt around on the rest of the website you can find length guidelines.

For example, the University of Chicago provides seven "Extended Essay" prompts . You must write an essay in response to one prompt of your choosing, but nowhere on the page is there any guidance about word count or page limit.

However, many colleges provide additional details about their expectations for application materials, including essays, on FAQ pages, which is true of the University of Chicago. On the school’s admissions Frequently Asked Questions page , they provide the following length guidelines for the supplemental essays: 

“We suggest that you note any word limits for Coalition or Common Application essays; however, there are no strict word limits on the UChicago Supplement essays. For the extended essay (where you choose one of several prompts), we suggest that you aim for around 650 words. While we won't, as a rule, stop reading after 650 words, we're only human and cannot promise that an overly wordy essay will hold our attention indefinitely. For the “Why UChicago?” essay, we suggest about 250-500 words. The ideas in your writing matter more than the exact number of words you use!”

So there you go! You want to be (loosely) in the realm of 650 for the extended essay, and 250-500 words for the “Why UChicago?” essay.

Help! There Really Is No Guidance on Length

If you really can't find any length guidelines anywhere on the admissions website and you're at a loss, I advise calling the admissions office. They may not be able to give you an exact number (in fact, they probably won't), but they will probably at least be able to tell you how long most of the essays they see are. (And keep you from writing a panicked, 20-page dissertation about your relationship with your dog).

In general, 500 words or so is pretty safe for a college essay. It's a fairly standard word limit length, in fact. (And if you're wondering, that's about a page and a half double-spaced.) 500 words is long enough to develop a basic idea while still getting a point across quickly—important when admissions counselors have thousands of essays to read!


"See? It says 500 words right there in tiny font!"

The Final Word: How Long Should a College Essay Be?

The best college essay length is usually pretty straightforward: you want to be right under or at the provided word limit. If you go substantially past the word limit, you risk having your essay cut off by an online application form or having the admissions officer just not finish it. And if you're too far under the word limit, you may not be elaborating enough.

What if there is no word limit? Then how long should a college essay be? In general, around 500 words is a pretty safe approximate word amount for a college essay—it's one of the most common word limits, after all!

Here's guidance for special cases and hunting down word limits:

If it's a writing sample of your graded academic work, the length either doesn't matter or there should be some loose page guidelines.

There also may be implicit length guidelines. For example, if a prompt says to write three paragraphs, you'll know that writing six sentences is definitely too short, and two single-spaced pages is definitely too long.

You might not be able to find length guidelines in the prompt, but you could still hunt them up elsewhere on the website. Try checking FAQs or googling your chosen school name with "admissions essay word limit."

If there really is no word limit, you can call the school to try to get some guidance.

With this advice, you can be sure you've got the right college essay length on lockdown!


Hey, writing about yourself can even be fun!

What's Next?

Need to ask a teacher or friend for help with your essay? See our do's and dont's to getting college essay advice .

If you're lacking in essay inspiration, see our guide to brainstorming college essay ideas . And here's our guide to starting out your essay perfectly!

Looking for college essay examples? See 11 places to find college essay examples and 145 essay examples with analysis !

Want to improve your SAT score by 160 points or your ACT score by 4 points?   We've written a guide for each test about the top 5 strategies you must be using to have a shot at improving your score. Download them for free now:

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Apply Texas Essays 2022‒2023

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Apply Texas Essays 2023

If you live in Texas or plan on applying to schools there, it’s likely that you’ve heard of the Apply Texas portal . At Texas schools, the Apply Texas essays are an important part of the application process. In fact, the Apply Texas essays are the best way to let your personality, experiences, and interests impress admissions teams. 

In many ways, Apply Texas—including the Apply Texas essays—resembles the Common Application. So, you can likely repurpose plenty of information from the Common Application as you complete the Apply Texas application. 

In this guide, we’ll walk you through how to tackle each of the Apply Texas essays. We’ll discuss:

  • General information about the Apply Texas portal 
  • How to respond to each of the Apply Texas essay prompts
  • Different Texas college requirements
  • The importance of the Apply Texas essays
  • More useful essay resources from CollegeAdvisor

Now, let’s start our deep dive into the Apply Texas essays. But first, let’s talk about the Apply Texas application more broadly. 

What is Apply Texas?

Apply Texas Essays

Apply Texas is a college application portal where students can apply to higher education institutes in Texas. The portal was created in order to allow students to fill out one application for all Texas schools. Students will create an Apply Texas login in order to access their applications. 

However, while many of the best colleges in Texas require an Apply Texas login to complete their application, some don’t. So, make sure to check the application requirements for every school. 

Apply Texas essay vs. the Common Application essay

You may be wondering, what’s the difference between the Apply Texas essay and the Common Application essay? Well, logically, Apply Texas can only be used to apply to schools in the state of Texas. However, some Texas schools may also accept applications through the Common Application or Coalition Application. If that’s the case, then you can decide which portal to use. 

Overall, the Apply Texas essay format is similar to the Common Application essay format. This means that many of the tools you’ve used for your Common Application essay will help you complete your Apply Texas essays. You can also look at Common App essay examples to help you write the Apply Texas essays. 

Understanding the Apply Texas essay requirements

Different schools will have different requirements when it comes to the Apply Texas essay prompts. Some schools may not even require an essay at all. 

For example, Texas State University applicants will complete their applications using the Apply Texas login. While Texas State only lists their essay as “highly recommended,” you should still complete it. You can also check out some Apply Texas essays examples to bolster your application. 

The Apply Texas application also has its own unique Apply Texas essay prompts, which differ from the prompts on the Common App. So, while you might be able to repurpose your Common App essay for one of the Apply Texas essay prompts, you should think carefully about your choice of topic. 

What schools use Apply Texas?

Apply Texas Essays

Many two- and four-year universities in Texas use Apply Texas. This includes the majority of public universities as well as some private colleges. 

However, you should always double-check each school’s admissions site to see which application portal you should use. Each school’s requirements will vary. 

You can use Apply Texas to apply to some of the best colleges in Texas , including UT Austin and Texas A&M University. However, Rice University—the top college in Texas, according to U.S. News—does not use Apply Texas. 

Understanding the Apply Texas essay format

If you’re planning to apply to multiple Texas schools, you should create an Apply Texas login. However, all schools’ requirements will be different. This means the Apply Texas essay format could slightly vary.

While you’ll find one Apply Texas essay word limit on the application itself, different schools will recommend different word counts. You may also not complete all of the Apply Texas essays for every school.

So, top Texas universities such as the University of Houston , Texas Tech , and TCU will have slightly different requirements, even though you’ll use the same Apply Texas login to access their applications. Use our College Search Feature below to learn more about each school’s unique features!

College Search Feature

What are the Apply Texas essays?

Next, let’s check out the Apply Texas essays. 

There are three Apply Texas essay prompts. You’ll complete different Apply Texas essays depending on which schools you apply to. For example, some schools may require that students respond to the Apply Texas essay A, while others may let you choose your prompt.  

Below, we’ve provided a chart with each of the Apply Texas essay prompts. 

Applicants should also note that Apply Texas word limits will vary by school. In this chart, we’ve provided the word limit suggested by the portal itself. However, you should adapt your word count to each university’s requirements. 

Remember to consider school supplements 

Additionally, note that some universities will require other short essays as well as one of the Apply Texas essay prompts. 

For example, the UT Austin application will differ from the Baylor application even though both will use an Apply Texas login. Likewise, the UT Austin application requirements aren’t exactly the same as the UT Dallas application requirements. So, always be sure to double-check the admissions sites for school specifics. 

Before tackling your Apply Texas essays, try to read some Apply Texas essays examples. This will give you an idea of the different ways to approach the essay. The Apply Texas essay format can vary, so looking at Apply Texas essays examples can help you think outside of the box. 

How long should Apply Texas essays be?

Apply Texas Essays

As you tackle the Apply Texas essays, you should keep the word count in mind. According to the Apply Texas application portal, you have 800 words for each of your essays. 

However, when it comes to the word limit, you’ll want to see what each university requires or recommends. Every school’s requirements will be different. 

Let’s check out a couple of schools in Texas and compare their approach to their Apply Texas essay word limit. 

The University of Texas Austin requires its applicants to respond to Apply Texas Essay A if using the Apply Texas application. Their word limit is 500-700. Additionally, students will complete three required short answer essays with word limits of 250-300 words. They can also choose to complete a fourth optional essay (also 250-300 words). 

Alternatively, Texas Tech does not require applicants to complete an essay. However, the essay is “highly recommended.” So, as usual, consider this optional essay a requirement. If using the Apply Texas application, Texas Tech gives students the option to respond to Apply Texas Essay A or B. They have placed a 500-word limit on this essay. Check out some tips from Texas Tech admissions to write your Apply Texas essays. 

Texas Christian University

The TCU admissions office requires applicants to complete one essay. However, which of the Apply Texas essays students write is up to them. The word limit is 300-500 words, so you’ll need to impress TCU admissions with a concise, authentic, and passionate essay. 

As you begin your Apply Texas essays, check out Common App essay examples and Apply Texas essays examples to help you prepare.

Apply Texas Essay A

Tell us your story. what unique opportunities or challenges have you experienced throughout your high school career that have shaped who you are today.

The Apply Texas Essay A seems to be the overwhelming favorite among universities using the Apply Texas essays. This prompt asks students to “tell us your story.” Simple enough, right? 

Of course, a prompt this broad can feel overwhelming. However, it’s a great opportunity to show admissions who you are. This is your chance to really make your application stand out by sharing something that you haven’t yet revealed (or expanded upon) in other parts of your Apply Texas application. 

This prompt is quite similar to one of the Common Application prompts. So, if you want some inspiration, you can check out Common App essay examples. 

Which Texas colleges require it?

Surprisingly, many universities in Texas do not require applicants to submit an essay. However, if a school includes an “optional” essay requirement, you should still submit one. The Apply Texas essays are a great way to stand out and enrich your application narrative. 

That being said, some universities in Texas do require applicants to submit Apply Texas Essay A. For instance, Texas A&M requires applicants to respond to Apply Texas Essay A. And, as we mentioned, the UT Austin application also requires Apply Texas Essay A.  

Remember, while going through the Apply Texas application, double-check the essay requirements. They will vary depending on each school. 

How to write Apply Texas Essay A

Like many college essays, Apply Texas Essay A asks you to share experiences that have made you who you are. Whether you have a million ideas or are drawing a complete blank, don’t worry. We’re here to help.

Let’s check out the best way to respond to Apply Texas Essay A.

You could probably tell many stories. Apply Texas Essay A asks you to share just one. This leaves a lot of room for interpretation. 

So, think about significant moments in your life. It could be easier to focus on the last few years, as you’ve probably grown a lot throughout high school. 

Make a list of moments that have changed or shaped you as a person. No moment is too small to include. As long as it shows some growth—and you can write authentically and passionately about it—then it’s a good topic. 

Answer the prompt completely

Now, the prompt mentions an opportunity or challenge. Don’t blatantly point out this in your draft by stating “this was a huge challenge/opportunity.” Most likely, if you’ve chosen a story that shows your personal growth, then it’s probably an opportunity or challenge. And, if you tell your story well, this will come through. 

You will need to clearly show how that moment that you’re sharing has shaped who you are today. For example, let’s say that you want to discuss the day you went to your first protest. From that moment forward you’ve been passionate about activism. That clearly shows how pivotal this moment was in your life. Maybe it’s even shaped what you’d like to study or your future career. 

Remember to research your school, too. Well-written Apply Texas essays will be specific to each individual school. For example, if writing an essay for Southern Methodist University , check out their specific programs and offerings. Even though this isn’t a “why school” essay, you can still link your interests and growth to the school.

Write passionately

This isn’t the time to write vague statements that could apply to any high school student. Your story should be unique to you. Make sure to choose your topic wisely to highlight your passion and authenticity. 

Don’t be afraid to get creative. Set the scene. Remember that it’s much more impactful to show rather than tell when writing. If we continue with our protest example, you might open your essay by describing the atmosphere using descriptive language that puts the reader right there with you. Then, you can reflect back on how this moment has affected you to date. 

Apply Texas Essays – Topic B

While a few schools require applicants to answer the Apply Texas essay A, some may ask you to choose which essay to respond to. Let’s review the second of the Apply Texas essay prompts:

Some students have an identity, an interest, or a talent that defines them in an essential way. If you are one of these students, then tell us about yourself.

Again, the goal of this prompt, like all of the Apply Texas essays, is to let you show each school what makes you unique. You should also aim to relate it back to your aspirations. For example, how does who you are shape what you want in your future?

Approaching Apply Texas Essay B

Topic B asks you to explore a part of your identity. Is there something you can point out that shows your values, character, and personality?

For example, maybe you’ve been dancing ballet since you started walking. Maybe it’s become a form of meditation or a way for you to express yourself. Perhaps it’s taught you discipline. It doesn’t matter how it’s shaped you (although it should be in a positive way)—you just need to show how it has impacted you. 

If you decide to focus on an “identity” instead of an “interest,” then you’ve got even more options to choose from. You can choose to highlight your background, experiences, family, values, or other key features. 

Overall, your topic should be unique to you. And, again, don’t be afraid to get creative in writing this essay. Your Apply Texas essays shouldn’t read like a resume; they should be engaging while still answering the prompt. 

Apply Texas Essay Prompts – Topic C

You’ll be hard-pressed to find a university that requires students to respond to the last of the Apply Texas essays. However, you may be given the option of which Apply Texas essay prompts you’d like to respond to. So, let’s check out Essay C.

You’ve got a ticket in your hand – Where will you go? What will you do? What will happen when you get there?

You may notice that this essay seems quite different from the other Apply Texas essays—it gives you a lot more freedom. So, you can really dive into the creativity of this topic. However, remember to not get too carried away and forget that, in the end, you’re still writing a college essay. The main goal, like the other Apply Texas essay prompts, is to show who you are as a person and an applicant. 

Crafting a response to Essay C

For Essay C, your process doesn’t have to be wildly different than it was for the other Apply Texas essay prompts. First, decide what you’ll write about. Start by brainstorming options if nothing comes to mind right away. 

Maybe you have a topic in mind immediately. That’s great! If you can write passionately about your ticket destination and activity, then that’s the topic for you.

Once again, get creative. You could go to a magical land, back in time, outer space, or to a remote island. The ticket and the destination don’t matter—it’s what they show about who you are. 

Most importantly, make sure to tie in your career goals or future aspirations. How will this trip impact you and your future? What experience will you have that will shape you?

Exploring Texas college’s essay requirements

When it comes to factors such as the Apply Texas essay word limit or Apply Texas essay prompts, requirements will vary by school. While the general Apply Texas application will be the same, the Apply Texas essay format will be different. Namely, each school will request different Apply Texas essay prompts. 

Let’s look at some of the essay requirements for the best colleges in Texas:

As you can see, while the Apply Texas application is uniform, the essay requirements vary greatly by school. For instance, you’ll see the Apply Texas essays for the Baylor application vs the University of Houston application are not the same. So, always double-check with your university’s admissions sites for all requirements. 

And, don’t forget, when it comes to “optional” essays, treat them as though they are required. While Texas A&M admissions requires an essay, Texas Tech does not. However, strong essays will impress both Texas Tech and Texas A&M admissions. After all, Apply Texas essays are the best way for schools to get to know you better. 

How important are the Apply Texas essays?

Apply Texas Essays

When it comes to the admissions process, the Apply Texas essays are extremely important. In general, college essays let applicants share a part of their personality that they haven’t highlighted elsewhere in their application. 

Additionally, most schools use a holistic admissions approach when evaluating students. That means that they review all parts of the application: GPA, essays, extracurricular activities, recommendations, and more. In fact, with more schools going test-optional, essays are an even more significant piece of your application puzzle. 

All to say: strong Apply Texas essays can make a huge difference. So, give yourself ample time to write them.

5 Tips to Make Your Apply Texas Essays Stand Out

Apply Texas Essays

Since the Apply Texas essays are so important in the admissions process, you’ll want to do everything you can to make yours stand out. 

5 tips to write Apply Texas essays that impress 

1. meet the requirements.

This may seem obvious, but you need to make sure that you understand the requirements for each school. Double-check the word counts and requirements for each to make sure that you hit all targets. 

2. Choose a topic carefully

Your topic is the most important part of the process. If you choose a topic that you aren’t authentically passionate about, it will show. Don’t think about what admissions wants to hear. Instead, choose a topic that you can easily write about. Then go back and fine-tune your essay to answer every aspect of the prompt. 

3. Get creative

Your Apply Texas essays should be engaging and unique. Don’t feel like you need to stick to a certain format. Set the scene and capture your audience. This is your opportunity to show who you are as well as your writing chops. So, as long as you answer each prompt fully, get as creative as you’d like!

4. Show personal growth

Your Apply Texas essays should show how you’ve evolved. Ideally, you should connect your personal growth to future aspirations in college and beyond. No matter the prompt, this is your opportunity to shine. These are college essays, so you want to show what you’ll bring to campus with your responses. 

5. Start early!

The last thing you want to do when it comes to your Apply Texas essays is wait until the last minute. Creating impactful essays will take time. You’ll brainstorm, draft, edit, and redraft. You should also leave enough time to have someone else proofread your essay for mechanical errors. Likewise, if they don’t understand the narrative, you’ll want to rework your story and message so that it makes sense to a reader. 

Apply Texas Essays & More Essay Resources from CollegeAdvisor

Writing the Apply Texas essays can feel overwhelming. That’s why we’ve compiled many essay resources to help you create your best essays. While admissions requirements and essay prompts will change, the overall goal of your college essays stays the same: show admissions who you are and why you belong at that university. 

Before writing essays, you’ll also want to research specifics about the school. We have college pages that outline acceptance rates, enrollment, majors, and more to give you some quick facts on different schools in Texas. To jumpstart your research, check out the Baylor University , Texas A&M University , and University of Texas Austin pages . However, make sure to also do a deep dive into each university’s website to learn more about specific programs and campus life. 

Essay guides and other resources

Follow up by checking out our essay guides. These guides are specific to individual universities. You may even find it helpful to look at past essay guides such as our Baylor , Texas A&M , or UT Austin essay guides. Again, while prompts may change, the end goal of the essays stays the same. 

Additionally, check out the most recent guides such as this 2022-2023 Texas Christian University guide for the most up-to-date tips on making your essays stand out to TCU admissions. Looking at example essays can also help you get inspired. 

CollegeAdvisor has a wealth of resources to help you on your college journey. No matter if you’re trying to create the best Baylor application or impress Texas A&M admissions, our team can help. For expert guidance on the Apply Texas essays and more, schedule a meeting with our team here .

Apply Texas Essays

This essay guide was written by Sarah Kaminski. Looking for more admissions support? Click here to schedule a free meeting with one of our Admissions Specialists. During your meeting, our team will discuss your profile and help you find targeted ways to increase your admissions odds at top schools. We’ll also answer any questions and discuss how can support you in the college application process.

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  • How long is an essay? Guidelines for different types of essay

How Long is an Essay? Guidelines for Different Types of Essay

Published on January 28, 2019 by Shona McCombes . Revised on July 23, 2023.

The length of an academic essay varies depending on your level and subject of study, departmental guidelines, and specific course requirements. In general, an essay is a shorter piece of writing than a research paper  or thesis .

In most cases, your assignment will include clear guidelines on the number of words or pages you are expected to write. Often this will be a range rather than an exact number (for example, 2500–3000 words, or 10–12 pages). If you’re not sure, always check with your instructor.

In this article you’ll find some general guidelines for the length of different types of essay. But keep in mind that quality is more important than quantity – focus on making a strong argument or analysis, not on hitting a specific word count.

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Table of contents

Essay length guidelines, how long is each part of an essay, using length as a guide to topic and complexity, can i go under the suggested length, can i go over the suggested length, other interesting articles, here's why students love scribbr's proofreading services.

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In an academic essay, the main body should always take up the most space. This is where you make your arguments, give your evidence, and develop your ideas.

The introduction should be proportional to the essay’s length. In an essay under 3000 words, the introduction is usually just one paragraph. In longer and more complex essays, you might need to lay out the background and introduce your argument over two or three paragraphs.

The conclusion of an essay is often a single paragraph, even in longer essays. It doesn’t have to summarize every step of your essay, but should tie together your main points in a concise, convincing way.

The suggested word count doesn’t only tell you how long your essay should be – it also helps you work out how much information and complexity you can fit into the given space. This should guide the development of your thesis statement , which identifies the main topic of your essay and sets the boundaries of your overall argument.

A short essay will need a focused, specific topic and a clear, straightforward line of argument. A longer essay should still be focused, but it might call for a broader approach to the topic or a more complex, ambitious argument.

As you make an outline of your essay , make sure you have a clear idea of how much evidence, detail and argumentation will be needed to support your thesis. If you find that you don’t have enough ideas to fill out the word count, or that you need more space to make a convincing case, then consider revising your thesis to be more general or more specific.

The length of the essay also influences how much time you will need to spend on editing and proofreading .

You should always aim to meet the minimum length given in your assignment. If you are struggling to reach the word count:

  • Add more evidence and examples to each paragraph to clarify or strengthen your points.
  • Make sure you have fully explained or analyzed each example, and try to develop your points in more detail.
  • Address a different aspect of your topic in a new paragraph. This might involve revising your thesis statement to make a more ambitious argument.
  • Don’t use filler. Adding unnecessary words or complicated sentences will make your essay weaker and your argument less clear.
  • Don’t fixate on an exact number. Your marker probably won’t care about 50 or 100 words – it’s more important that your argument is convincing and adequately developed for an essay of the suggested length.

In some cases, you are allowed to exceed the upper word limit by 10% – so for an assignment of 2500–3000 words, you could write an absolute maximum of 3300 words. However, the rules depend on your course and institution, so always check with your instructor if you’re unsure.

Only exceed the word count if it’s really necessary to complete your argument. Longer essays take longer to grade, so avoid annoying your marker with extra work! If you are struggling to edit down:

  • Check that every paragraph is relevant to your argument, and cut out irrelevant or out-of-place information.
  • Make sure each paragraph focuses on one point and doesn’t meander.
  • Cut out filler words and make sure each sentence is clear, concise, and related to the paragraph’s point.
  • Don’t cut anything that is necessary to the logic of your argument. If you remove a paragraph, make sure to revise your transitions and fit all your points together.
  • Don’t sacrifice the introduction or conclusion . These paragraphs are crucial to an effective essay –make sure you leave enough space to thoroughly introduce your topic and decisively wrap up your argument.

If you want to know more about AI tools , college essays , or fallacies make sure to check out some of our other articles with explanations and examples or go directly to our tools!

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How to Write the ApplyTexas Essays 2023-2024 + Examples

ut college essay word limit

Born from the collaboration between the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board and various public and private universities around the state, ApplyTexas is a wide-spanning application that allows its users to apply to hundreds of Texan colleges. Like the Common App, it offers a platform for students—natively Texan or not—to send off the same information to many schools, although each school may require differing additional information. 

Unlike the Common App, ApplyTexas may be used to apply to the community colleges, public four-years, participating private schools, graduate programs, and even scholarships within Texan borders. For this article’s purposes, we will be focusing primarily on ApplyTexas’s 150+ four-year colleges and universities. Check out our full list of Texan colleges .

Read this ApplyTexas essay example to inspire your own writing.

Which Colleges Require Which Essays?

As for the ApplyTexas essays, there are three main prompts — prompts A, B, and C — but some colleges will only require some, keep others optional, or not accept certain prompts at all. They may also have additional short answer questions and supplements of their own. Even the recommended word count varies between schools.

Here’s a quick snapshot into the unique essay requirements of a few top ApplyTexas colleges:

University of Texas at Austin:

  • Topic A is required.
  • 4 short answer responses, 1 of which is optional (250-300 words).
  • Additional major-specific materials/requirements for art/art history, architecture, nursing, and social work programs .
  • Also accepts the Common App.

Southern Methodist University:

  • Topic A essay required, B is optional. 
  • Also accepts the Common App, Coalition Application, and its own application.

Texas A&M University, College Station:

  • Topic A is required. 
  • 4 additional short answers for all applicants, 1 of which is optional.
  • 1 short answer for applicants to the College of Engineering.

Baylor University, Waco:

  • Choose between Topic A, B or C (optional). 
  • Also accepts the Common App and its own application.

Texas Christian University:

  • Any essay topic on the ApplyTexas application (optional)
  • 3 additional short answer questions, 1 of which is optional.
  • Any essay topic on the ApplyTexas application (optional).

Never ignore optional prompts! Taking the time to complete them shows that you truly care about the school. Ignoring them will make admissions officers wonder if you even like it enough to actually attend it if accepted.

If you are applying to any of these universities and feel you would rather use the Coalition Application or the Common Application, see our Coalition Application Essay Guide and our Common Application Essay Guide . Keep in mind that essay requirements will vary depending on which platform you use. For instance, some schools (SMU, TCU, Baylor) may have additional short essays if you use the Common App.

If you still feel ApplyTexas is the platform for you, read on!

Before You Begin

It’s important to verify that your desired schools are featured on the ApplyTexas platform. Certain private schools—Rice University, for example—use the Common Application instead of ApplyTexas.

And while all the public universities in Texas accept ApplyTexas, some of them also accept the Common Application and Coalition Application, as we’ve seen. The Common Application , Coalition Application , and ApplyTexas offer tools to determine whether a university is included in their platform. Be sure to verify which application is better suited to your college list. Many students can tackle all their schools with just the Common App, but others may have to use a couple different platforms.

Approaching the ApplyTexas Essays

So you’ve worked through the application form, requested copies of your transcript and recommendation letters, effectively described your extracurriculars, and sent in your scores, if any. All that remains now are the essays: your best shot at showing admissions officers how you think, who you are, what matters to you, and why!

As you may remember, ApplyTexas contains three essay prompts: Topics A, B, and C. Each school may have different essay requirements, so it is best to familiarize yourself with all of them. For instance, even if you’re bursting with knowledge about your future major, these essays are an opportunity to speak holistically with regards to your life and experience.

Essay-Writing Strategies

With few parameters aside from the word limit of approximately 800 words (and with each school often setting different word counts), the ApplyTexas essay may seem intimidating. Luckily, the prompts can act as a creative and procedural tether. Whereas students applying via Common Application may begin by shaping a central idea before matching it up to one of the various prompts, ApplyTexas essays grow from the prompt up . Because of this, the best brainstorming and organizational practices for each prompt are unique. The one factor that remains ubiquitously relevant is writing — good writing. Before we get into the details of ideation and organization for each prompt, we’ll review some ways to ensure your writing is clear, communicative, and evocative.

Tips for writing well:

  • Show, don’t tell (you’ve heard it before, but it’s worth hearing again!)
  • Use active, rather than passive, sentence construction.
  • Write with precision.
  • Avoid clichés

The somewhat hackneyed advice of “Show, don’t tell” is nevertheless crucial to writing a compelling application essay. The meaning of showing a reader rather than telling them is best interpreted literally. Imagine you’re outside your house and you see a dog skateboarding on it’s two front paws. You run inside, eager to { tell, show } whoever is home. You fling open the door and narrowly avoid a collision with your brother, still unlacing his shoes from basketball practice.

You tell him: “Aamir, I just saw a dog skateboarding on its two front paws!”

You show him: You grab Aamir by the corner of his Jersey. “Come quick” you squeal, and he stumbles out after you, tripping on his laces. Thankfully, the dog is still there. “Just look,” you breathe out, already mesmerized by the wind rushing through the schnauzer’s mustache. Wobbling ever so slightly, the pup remains confident as he shreds the inclined blacktop of the cul-de-sac. Then, a moment later, it’s over. Unaware of the scale of his accomplishment, the dog scratches behind his right ear. You look over at Aamir. “Whoa.”

Out of these two scenarios, we can be sure that Aamir will only remember the second. It’s much the same for admissions committees; they’re more likely to remember you if you show them what you want to communicate. Now, showing doesn’t need to be much longer than telling. In fact, succinct writing is just as important as descriptive writing. Abandoning the literal narrative of “showing,” we’re left with something like this: A schnauzer puppy from the cul-de-sac was balanced on his front paws—miraculously, on a skateboard. Man, that dog could shred.

Using active voice is another crucial component of clean, clear writing. It’s also pretty simple. Make sure your sentence’s subject performs the action indicated by the verb. For example, instead of writing “the skateboard was maneuvered by a schnauzer,” you would opt for, “the schnauzer maneuvered the skateboard.” The only exception to this rule is when you want to bring explicit attention to the person or thing affected by an action. Our story is actually a decent example. What’s more noteworthy? The skateboarding? Or the fact that a dog is doing it? An acceptable passive construction might look like this: “the skateboard—would you believe it—was being maneuvered by none other than the schnauzer from across the cul-de-sac.” In this instance, we’re able to use passive voice to create humor and suspense. That being said, the vast majority of your sentences should employ the active voice.

The active voice is also a big part of writing with precision , and word choice may also make writing precise or imprecise. For example, while “evasive” is a synonym of “oblique” in one sense, it would nevertheless be embarrassing to write that, “John sat in the armchair evasive to the television.” Rather than picturing a chair positioned diagonally (obliquely) from the television, readers are left wondering what in the world an evasive chair might be. So use your thesaurus — carefully. 

It is common for burgeoning writers to get a little too adjective-happy. Adjectives’ power correlates inversely with their use. If each of your sentences is flush with adjectives, you’re diluting their impact.

Finally, avoid any clichés, aphorisms, etc. that fail to add value to your essay. Admissions officers will read countless essays boasting “Be the change you want to see in the world.”  If you’re tempted to use a hackneyed phrase, find its seed instead. Clichés are cliché because they stem from important thoughts, universal truths, and romantic principles. In the case of “Be the change you want to see in the world,” the seed might be an individual’s ability to impact a community, or to transform outdated and unjust systems. The seed of a clichéd phrase may still be worth writing about, but it’s important that you write authentically and originally.

Dissecting the Prompts

ApplyTexas features two sets of prompts, one for incoming freshmen (both domestic and international) and one for transfer, transient, or readmit applications. In this article, we will cover the first set to help freshman applicants. Want to know your chances at an ApplyTexas school? Calculate your chances for free right now.

While different schools require different combinations of essays, most students should be prepared to deal with topics A, B, and C. Students intent on pursuing a degree related to art and design should also be ready to answer topic D. Check out this ApplyTexas database to scout out which schools will require which essays . 

Here are this year’s prompts:

  • Topic A: Tell us your story. What unique opportunities or challenges have you experienced throughout your high school career that have shaped who you are today?
  • Topic B: Most students have an identity, an interest, or a talent that defines them in an essential way. Tell us about yourself.
  • Topic C: You’ve got a ticket in your hand – Where will you go? What will you do? What will happen when you get there?
  • Topic D (specific to majors in architecture, art history, design, studio art, visual art studies/art education): Personal interaction with objects, images and spaces can be so powerful as to change the way one thinks about particular issues or topics. For your intended area of study (architecture, art history, design, studio art, visual art studies/art education), describe an experience where instruction in that area or your personal interaction with an object, image or space effected this type of change in your thinking. What did you do to act upon your new thinking and what have you done to prepare yourself for further study in this area?

Tell us your story. What unique opportunities or challenges have you experienced throughout your high school career that have shaped who you are today?

Notice how you are encouraged to speak about an opportunity or a challenge. Many students believe that they must talk about a tragedy in order to grab the attention of admissions officers, but this isn’t true. An essay can easily be thoughtful, insightful, and an engaging read without utilizing this specific emotional appeal.

Still, stories about difficult circumstances are often memorable. They are most effective when focused primarily on the student’s journey of working through the challenge instead of the challenge itself. Check out Collegevine’s article if you would like more tips on writing about challenges .

You’re trying to stand out, so beware of overused tropes like the following:

  • Mental illness: It takes enormous strength to heal from and learn to manage a mental illness. Still, they may be tricky to write about. Read our article for more information on covering mental illness and disabilities within your application .
  • Getting a bad grade in a class but then working hard to raise it.
  • Sports stories such as winning/losing the “big game” or getting injured.
  • Death of a pet or family member.
  • Mission trip which made you realize how lucky and privileged you are.

Side note : Sometimes students face challenges that are outside of their control and which have negatively impacted their academic and/or extracurricular performance. If this has been your experience, and you don’t plan to explain them within this essay response, you may ask one of your recommenders to do so through their letter of recommendation.

Now, there’s no such thing as a “bad” or “good” essay topic; students have gotten into top schools with essays about Costco, pizza deliveries, and sparkling water. It often matters less so what you write about than how you write about it! 

These common essay topics are only doable when well-written, specific, and featuring a fresh take. The story of how fixing your Calculus grade taught you the value of hard work is not nearly as interesting as that of a student who is diagnosed with dyscalculia—a disability which creates a difficulty in understanding and working with math and numbers—and then opens up a dyscalculia awareness club with plans to become a special education teacher. The latter story would demonstrate the student’s ability to turn preconceived weaknesses into strengths, and admissions officers will quickly see that though he may initially struggle with long division, this student is nonetheless a creative problem-solver.

Please be aware that although it is possible to make a “common” topic interesting, it is easier to write about a situation that is unique to begin with. Also, don’t feel pressured to write about a challenge, especially if the situation has happened so recently that you haven’t fully finished processing or growing from it.

With all of this in mind, let’s get into brainstorming! Many people begin their ideation process through writing long lists or even talking into their phones in an untethered stream-of-consciousness. Do whatever it takes to get your creative juices flowing! 

As you reflect, you may consider these questions:

  • Which values and skills do you hold closest to your heart? Honesty? Hard work? Clear communication? Diversity? Environmental stewardship? Activism? Where did these priorities come from?
  • What are you most grateful for? What are you most proud of? What risks have you taken which have paid off?
  • What do you like to do? When and how did you get into it?
  • How would your family and friends say you have changed for the better over the years, and why?
  • Look back at your list of extracurricular activities. Which ones were challenging and/or special opportunities? When have you tried something new?

Practice self-compassion while considering topics, and know that none are too big or too small. You can write about anything from taking a summer math class (even though you’re more of an English person) to being a camp counselor to giving your first speech in front of a crowd.

Overall, the admissions officers are looking for growth. They want to see the circumstances you turned into opportunities for improvement. You may even reflect upon a situation that initially seemed like an unpleasant challenge but later revealed itself as a hidden opportunity. For example, you may have reluctantly let your friend drag you to a business club meeting before discovering a passion for economics and rising as a club leader.

Ideally, your story will be unique and offer a fresh perspective. Be specific about the challenge or opportunity you were presented with, and think about how it changed you for the better. 

Remember, they are literally asking for you to “tell [them] your story,” so consider using a narrative format, especially if storytelling is a talent of yours. 

Here’s a general outline: 

  • If you choose to go with a traditional storytelling format, we recommend beginning with a vivid anecdote featuring rich imagery to draw the reader in or an unexpected premise which makes one have to read on in order to fully understand. 
  • From there, you may dive into who you were at the time, how you felt and how you acted, before moving towards your turning point—the challenge or opportunity—from which you decided to grow. 
  • Explain how, exactly, the turning point influenced you. Ask yourself: How did it make you feel? Excited and ready for more, or initially anxious? How did it impact you? Perhaps you learned something new about yourself, or maybe now you’re kinder, more confident, or a harder worker. 
  • To mix it up a bit, you could even play with sequencing, perhaps starting with a moment of success before reflecting on all of the growth you had to complete to get to that point.

Finally, you are human, so you don’t have to portray yourself as perfect in the end. You are using this essay to talk about what may be one of your greatest strengths or sources of pride, but make sure to stay balanced with a humble tone.

Here’s an Example Essay for Topic A:

The morning of the Model United Nation conference, I walked into Committee feeling confident  about my research. We were simulating the Nuremberg Trials – a series of post-World War II  proceedings for war crimes – and my portfolio was of the Soviet Judge Major General Iona  Nikitchenko. Until that day, the infamous Nazi regime had only been a chapter in my history  textbook; however, the conference’s unveiling of each defendant’s crimes brought those horrors  to life. The previous night, I had organized my research, proofread my position paper and gone  over Judge Nikitchenko’s pertinent statements. I aimed to find the perfect balance between his  stance and my own.

As I walked into committee anticipating a battle of wits, my director abruptly called out to me.  “I’m afraid we’ve received a late confirmation from another delegate who will be representing  Judge Nikitchenko. You, on the other hand, are now the defense attorney, Otto Stahmer.”  Everyone around me buzzed around the room in excitement, coordinating with their allies and  developing strategies against their enemies, oblivious to the bomb that had just dropped on me.  I felt frozen in my tracks, and it seemed that only rage against the careless delegate who had  confirmed her presence so late could pull me out of my trance. After having spent a month  painstakingly crafting my verdicts and gathering evidence against the Nazis, I now needed to  reverse my stance only three hours before the first session.

Gradually, anger gave way to utter panic. My research was fundamental to my performance, and without it, I knew I could add little to the Trials. But confident in my ability, my director  optimistically recommended constructing an impromptu defense. Nervously, I began my  research anew. Despite feeling hopeless, as I read through the prosecution’s arguments, I  uncovered substantial loopholes. I noticed a lack of conclusive evidence against the defendants  and certain inconsistencies in testimonies.

My discovery energized me, inspiring me to revisit  the historical overview in my conference “Background Guide” and to search the web for other  relevant articles. Some Nazi prisoners had been treated as “guilty” before their court dates.  While I had brushed this information under the carpet while developing my position as a judge,  it now became the focus of my defense. I began scratching out a new argument, centered on the premise that the allied countries had violated the fundamental rule that, a defendant was “not guilty” until proven otherwise.

At the end of the three hours, I felt better prepared. The first session began, and with bravado, I  raised my placard to speak. Microphone in hand, I turned to face my audience. “Greetings  delegates. I, Otto Stahmer would like to…….” I suddenly blanked. Utter dread permeated my  body as I tried to recall my thoughts in vain. “Defence Attorney, Stahmer we’ll come back to  you,” my Committee Director broke the silence as I tottered back to my seat, flushed with  embarrassment. Despite my shame, I was undeterred. I needed to vindicate my director’s faith  in me. I pulled out my notes, refocused, and began outlining my arguments in a more clear and  direct manner. Thereafter, I spoke articulately, confidently putting forth my points. I was  overjoyed when Secretariat members congratulated me on my fine performance.

Going into the conference, I believed that preparation was the key to success. I wouldn’t say I  disagree with that statement now, but I believe adaptability is equally important. My ability to  problem-solve in the face of an unforeseen challenge proved advantageous in the art of  diplomacy. Not only did this experience transform me into a confident and eloquent delegate at  that conference, but it also helped me become a more flexible and creative thinker in a variety of other capacities. Now that I know I can adapt under pressure, I look forward to engaging in  activities that will push me to be even quicker on my feet.

Most students have an identity, an interest, or a talent that defines them in an essential way. Tell us about yourself.

This prompt is a more varied than the first one, and gives you more leeway in choosing what you’ll actually be talking about. Someone’s identity, talents, and interests, might be linked together but they just as easily might not. Either way, don’t worry. With regards to this prompt, there is no ideal angle. Let’s break down what it could mean to address each of these categories.

Identity can refer to any number of traits that you feel define you. This includes race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity, religion, and other more community-based identities such as gamer, athlete, artist, weaver, dancer, Democrat, etc. Your identity is simply what makes you, you. Essays about identity are a great opportunity to demonstrate your critical and political acuity, personal convictions, and social history. However, they also pose certain risks. The premise of writing about identity is that you’ll demonstrate what makes you unique as a person. Even though many of us share certain identity traits, we’ve all experienced them differently. It’s especially important to focus on those details. Essays about identity that lack individual texture risk making you appear almost clone-like. That being said, there is no topic that is inherently cliché for this prompt.

Talent is a topic that will surely feel familiar to you as a prospective college applicant. Frankly, that’s what can make it tricky to write an essay about your talents—it risks echoing the several other parts of an application that are designed to draw out and display your talents for an admissions committee. Even so, if you believe that you have gained an especially insightful lesson or reflection from one of your listed activities, it may still be worth writing about. Just make sure you’re elaborating on your talents rather than reiterating them. Beyond the talents already featured in your application, many applicants have a talent that stands out from their formal talents and activities. One might be a master bird-caller, for example, but not have it listed as an extracurricular. Often times, writing about a wild-card talent is a way to introduce a facet of your personality that would otherwise remain invisible. The topic of talent also gives you the opportunity to write about certain interpersonal skills that might be especially important to you but impossible to express on a resume. For example, if you cultivate your skills as a listener and have a well-formulated political or philosophical imperative for doing so, that could make a great topic.

Interests are unique from talents in that you need not necessarily be good at them. They might not even be skills-related to begin with. For example, you might be supremely interested in pigeons but unable to include that interest in any other part of the application. Interests can make for especially unique, quirky, and fascinating essays. That being said, such essays also risk missing the whole point of the prompt. You need to tell the committee about yourself. If you choose to write about an obscure interest, it’ll be crucial to relate it back to your personality, outlook, or identity.

Now that we’ve addressed the differences between the subsections of this prompt, let’s review some ways in which you can brainstorm. While writing about identity, talents, or interests will result in slightly different essays, the goal is the same: to show the admissions committee—through your own eyes—who exactly you are.

The first step in brainstorming for this prompt is making a list of your defining characteristics. As you do this, you’ll want to prioritize characteristics that paint you in a generally positive light. While you don’t want to brag, you definitely want to be optimistic about who you are.

Second , you should make a sort of genealogy for each characteristic. How did they come to be so important to you? What experiences built up to the point where you’d consider a trait to be essential to your personality?

Finally , you’re going to need to rank your traits and their accompanying genealogies. For some students, who have a very central and defining trait, this won’t be tricky at all. But for students who are less certain what to write about, it will be important to prioritize the traits with the most interesting genealogies. Seeing as you want to show the committee rather than tell them, it’s crucial that you pick a trait that has a compelling history—that fits into a narrative or intellectual picture of yourself. This is especially essential for students intent on taking a more creative tone with this prompt. While an obscure interest can be interesting and endearing, it needs to have a compelling genesis and impact within your personal history.

Here’s an Example Essay for Topic B:

In one of the side streets of Rabat, one of the many winding corridors in the Medina, a long-abandoned house is standing, dilapidated from its years of neglect. The windows have been smashed; valuable materials have been ripped out of the floor and graffiti smears peeling walls. Yet remnants of its old life still remain intact; photo albums clutch family moments as cobwebs dangle from their spines. A mini plastic basketball hoop clings to a wall and a handmade poster above it reads “Senior League: Armond – Junior: Sasha and Lucy” but the faded yellow of the net suggests that no games have been played here for a long time. Not since we left. Mom left him just as I was turning four. The relationship had been emotionally stressful for the past few years and the threat of physical danger forced her to make a secret escape with us. We left everything behind.

Thousands of miles away and thirteen years later, I have never been back. I have never met him. As young as I was, I have not been oblivious to his absence. Even now, there are moments when I experience this emptiness inside of me. A sensation so overwhelming, I can’t believe I have managed to ignore it for so long. I lie down, close my eyes and grieve. Not just for him but for the life I never had, or at least, the one I left behind and can no longer remember. As the tears stop, I slowly drift to sleep. Sometimes I dream that he has unexpectedly turned up on the doorstep of our Chicago house especially for me. I open the door and immediately recognize him. I jump into his arms, simultaneously crying and laughing. I wake up, the empty feeling has passed and I know that he will never come. But I can’t help romanticizing the first time we meet.

However, going on eighteen, reality is soon catching up with me. Four years ago at the age of eighteen my brother, Armond, travelled to Morocco to meet him. Last year my sister, Sasha, did the same. So now, it is my turn; my own rite of passage awaits me. I have been waiting for this opportunity my whole life, even imagined it ten times over. But the more I thought about it, the more I doubted it. As the youngest in the family, I have striven to emulate my siblings in many ways. I could feel the assumption that I would go to meet him just as they did. However, I know that I am not yet ready. Unlike Sasha and Armond, my memories of Rabat are just a haze. I do not know whether they are real, or dreams or stories I have been told. I don’t understand any Arabic, and his English is very broken. And most of all, I cannot remember his face. The emptiness still comes back every now and then. But I know that the hole is not father-shaped, and if I meet him now, he might think it is. What I need to do first is to find out who I am before I can know what shape that hole really is. And when I know, I will understand what it would mean to meet him. For now at least, that tired old home stays suspended; a three-dimensional snapshot of my forgotten childhood. I like to think it’s waiting for me; waiting for when I’m ready to go back.

You’ve got a ticket in your hand – Where will you go? What will you do? What will happen when you get there?

Topic C stands opposed to Topics A and B in that it is almost entirely oriented towards the future. While each of your essays should demonstrate a degree of imagination, this prompt also carries the most overt call for creativity. There are two main genres of responses to prompts like this. The first genre adds to the forecasting effort found throughout your whole application. The second represents a creative departure from the path of your ambitions.

Choosing a Genre:

Forecasting is what you do when you make promises or predictions about what you’ll do with an educational opportunity. You’re forecasting when you tell UT Austin that you want to attend their engineering program in order to realize your dream of developing clean, public transportation. You’re forecasting when you draw conclusions from your past accomplishments to predict your future success. The act of applying to a school is inherently future-oriented. That being said, good applications demand cohesion and balance. An application that is too future-oriented will leave the admissions officers wondering who exactly you are . An application that is too auto-ethnographic will leave them wondering about your ambitions .

A forecast oriented answer to topic C will likely link-up with other parts of your application. For example, the engineering student from the example above might write that they’re holding a ticket for the very first 100% green, interstate transportation system—a system that they’ve spent the past 15 years building from the ground up. In this case, the essay looks back from a future point in which the student has fulfilled the ambitions they forecasted. It’s also possible to write this essay looking forward. Students that hope to attend medical school or law school might write about holding a “ticket” to their tertiary degree. These essays would go on to imagine the important, transformative work that those students would accomplish when they get to medical/law school.

Here’s an Example Essay for Topic C:

I’m holding a flyer that declares the date and time—this coming Tuesday at 7:30 PM—for a meeting of the Low Carbon Emissions Workers’ Union. Twelve years ago, when I started my undergraduate degree in public policy, the union was only a flicker of a thought, housed somewhere in the back of my mind. Still, those years were crucial. With every class I took, whether in policy studies, environmental science, or history, that flicker grew stronger. Following my interest in labor, I developed a rapport with the university employees that kept things rolling on campus—the people that took care of us, really. For my senior thesis, I made it my mission to collect and present an oral history of labor on campus. Many university workers expressed a sense of relief at being employed by the university. It allowed for decent wages and preserved the dignity of it’s workforce through open dialogue and worker representation. Through this sense of relief—or rather, through its negative—my thesis became invested in the alternatives for these laborers, in what lay on the other side of their relief. Though they were specifically skilled in care work, janitorial work, landscaping, and more, most of them told me that outside the university there was little opportunity for the advancement of worker’s interests. Finding work on a free-lance basis or through predatory placement companies, these care-laborers were largely on their own.

After graduating, I stayed in touch with my contacts at the university. Throughout law school, I made time to continue coordinating with them. We were hatching a revolutionary idea. Our goal was to create a union that could unite the various forms of under-the-radar care-work that was so often left out of organized bargaining units. The plan that we finally realized was even bigger than that. Not only would it unite domestic workers, janitors, and landscapers, its umbrella would extend to cover teachers, day-care supervisors, nurses, artists, and agricultural workers. This was the Low Carbon Emissions Workers’ Union. While it contained specifically oriented compartments, each aimed at advancing the rights of a particular sub-group of laborers, its superstructure was perhaps the more significant. In the same way that my senior thesis became invested in its negative all those years ago, this union stood as a foil to the socially and environmentally destructive tendencies of so many economic giants. We mobilized and housed research regarding Green-GDP, environmentally adjusted Gini coefficients, and other methods aimed at illuminating the real cost of having an economy predicated on environmental exploitation. As a political and intellectual force, the union gained ground in reevaluating the ways in which we value certain kinds of labor over others.

I’m smiling as I tack the flyer to the community board at my old university. I step back to look at it. “I can’t believe this is where it all started,” I think to myself. “Well, see you all this Tuesday.”

The genre of creative departure allows you to focus more on your personality, imagination, and capacity for critical thought. If you feel that your application already does enough to forecast your ambitions, you may opt to write about something completely unrelated. Especially for students applying to creative programs such as theatre or studio art, this can be a good moment to demonstrate your fit. Students who pick this genre can write about almost literally anything. The ticket in your hand could be for a time-machine to the Renaissance, a one-way expedition to Mars, or a mysterious back-alley puppet show. The important thing is that you use the premise of your essay to reflect on the world in a mature and thoughtful manner.

Here’s another Example Essay for Topic C:

“Take a number” buzzes an automated voice from somewhere inside the ticket booth. I reach out and tear off a slip of blue paper. 96. “Great,” I snort, “might as well settle in for the long haul.”

Someone behind me notices my annoyance and pipes up.

“I know right? I’ve never seen the time machines so crowded in my life.”

“Me neither,” I respond, “application season I guess.”

“Must be. Damn ticket prompts.”

I turn around to address my queue-compatriot. He’s a tall guy, pretty built for our age—probably a football player or something. He looks anxiously down the line, craning his neck to see something or someone just out of view.

“What’s got your nerves up?” I ask, “where are you headed?”

“You know,” he shrugged, “the usual. Off to 1904 to encourage Hitler to pursue his passion for painting. I’m just worried she’s gonna get there first.” I stepped out of line to see where he was looking. Fourth in line was a girl decked out in all black, determination etched into her features.

“Is she carrying a rail-gun?” I ask, stepping back into line. Football nods. “Yeesh…that’s a bit extreme but to each their own I guess. Wonder how the AdComms are gonna feel about that.”

Football fidgets for a few minutes before asking, “And you? What’s your plan?”

“Way back. Off to the early fifth-century to help Pelagius argue against St. Augustine.”

“Pelagius. He was an early theologian that rallied against Augustine’s notion of original sin.”

Football nods. “So all that with Eve and the apple, yeah?”

“Exactly. The doctrine of original sin says that because Adam and Eve had the apple, every human from then on was infected with their sin. That’s one of the reasons babies are baptized, to cleanse them. It’s behind a whole host of other things too. All the indulgences that people paid into the church, our long-standing association of sexuality with guilt and impurity, not to mention most of the pessimistic philosophies surrounding human depravity.”

Football chuckles. “So let’s say you win” he proposes, “then what? Babies don’t get baptized? There are still nineteen people ahead of us. You might want to change plans.”

My brow furrows a bit as I consider his suggestion. “I don’t know,” I say, “Pelagius argued for a whole lot of things. He was a big proponent of free will and accountability. He thought we should do good for the sake of good, not for salvation. He even countered a lot of hang-ups that endure to this day—bedroom stuff, bathroom stuff, all of it. Where Augustine saw sin and depravity, Pelagius saw beauty and Grace.” I continue. “I mean, I’m not even religious. I just think we could use a sort of ‘reset’ for our collective psyche. People are too caught up in hating themselves. We’re subconsciously misanthropic and it hurts. It hurts when a corporation takes advantage of a mining community because profit is the only legitimate motive in a world that seems like a lost cause. It hurts all the young people who hate their bodies and strive for an unrealistic ‘cleanliness’ from deformity and irregularity. It hurts women who get told they’ll be ‘second-hand stock’ if they have sex before marriage. It hurts when the police open fire in a neighborhood because they’re scared a kid might do it first.”

“Yeah” he nods, “hey, do you mind if I tag along? Mine might be a lost cause anyways—that girl was scary.”

Just then my number comes up on the time machine’s display. I look up at Football. “Sure. Why not. Oh, and I don’t think I caught your name.”

“It’s Bryan.”

“Well Bryan, we’re off.”

(Please Note: The essay in this section is specific to certain college majors and is not required by all colleges/universities that accept the Apply Texas Application. If you are not applying for a major in Architecture, Art, Art History, Design, Studio Art, Visual Art Studies/Art Education, you are not required to write this essay.)

Personal interaction with objects, images and spaces can be so powerful as to change the way one thinks about particular issues or topics. For your intended area of study (architecture, art history, design, studio art, visual art studies/art education), describe an experience where instruction in that area or your personal interaction with an object, image or space affected this type of change in your thinking. What did you do to act upon your new thinking and what have you done to prepare yourself for further study in this area?”

Topic D is a situational prompt for students looking to engage with art, design, and image. Unlike topics A and B, topic D is specifically asking you to tell a story. Regardless of the mode of narrative you employ, your essay should start with a moment of confrontation, observation, and reaction. Whether you engage with a piece of art or a lecture from design class, this step is crucial. It is here that you will demonstrate your ability to sift through your feelings about art, pulling out the concrete variables and specific vocabularies to describe why the art made you feel that way in the first place. It’s unsurprising that the prompt is so intent on drawing this out from you—understanding how art has impacted you is the first step towards creating art to impact others.

The second part of this process should move you beyond the moment of interaction detailed in step one, either to the present or the future. In this section, you’ll want to set your compass, so to speak. Using the lessons from part one, you should forecast the ways in which your future ambitions will be uniquely impactful. This can include anything from aperture to allegory. Whether technical or philosophical, your art is largely a product of your inspiration—being able to trace and predict this link demonstrates your maturity as a budding artist or designer.

Here’s an Example Essay for Topic D:

Standing in the Musée de l’Orangerie, surrounded on all sides by Monet’s Water Lilies, I felt myself melt away. The noise of the room seemed to dim, even as my perception heightened. I was somewhere else. The water lilies had swallowed me whole. They were beautiful, certainly, but also tense. One of the lesser-known iterations, flush with the purples, golds, and oranges of autumn, reminded me of the fluttering dance of falling leaves. And yet, its leaves were static—not because they weren’t real; they were real to me in that moment—but because of the water’s tension. Tethered to the surface of the pond, equally unable to float up or down, the leaves were trapped in a planar prison. The painting was practically bursting with the energy of an infinite autumn, but the water held it all together with its sticky buoyancy. Surface tension is far crueler than gravity, I thought to myself. My throat tightened and I felt paralyzed, peacefully imprisoned along with the lilies and leaves.

“Huh.” My brother stepped up beside me. “Look, you can see the canvas poking through,” he whispered, nudging me. He was right. As my eyes latched onto those bare fibers I felt a gust of release; I was back in the room.

To this day, that remains one of my most intense experiences with art. While it wasn’t exactly euphoric, it was transformative. Spanning the whole wall, the water lilies are all you can see; they colonize your reality. It was that quality—the quality of transportation out of time and space—that has stayed with me most. Monet’s techniques, brushstrokes that infuse the canvas with texture and momentum, allowed for a sort of virtual reality. VR before VR. It was the power of that experience that prompted me to combine my art with contemporary VR techniques. My first VR project pays homage to the water lilies. Putting on the headset, you find yourself in a blue green film, replete with flowers of every kind. It’s peaceful but when you try to move you find that the further you stray, the slower you get. A few feet out and you’re snapped back to the start. The piece explores movement and energy through anxiety and ensnarement.

As I continue my education in fine art, I’m primed to explore the range of possibilities allowed by VR technology. I’m eager to create landscape experiences that more directly implicate art and embodiment. My current project also takes inspiration from Monet’s impressionism. Entering the reality, one finds oneself on the top of flower-freckled hillside, umbrella in hand despite the blue skies. It is windy and the grasses sway around you. Slowly, almost imperceptibly at first, you begin to blow away, to disperse, until there’s nothing left. The viewer is utterly gone, yet utterly present.

Want to learn more about how to write the ApplyTexas essays? Check out one of our popular recorded live streams on this topic.

Where to Get Your ApplyTexas Essays Edited

Do you want feedback on your ApplyTexas essays? After rereading your essays countless times, it can be difficult to evaluate your writing objectively. That’s why we created our free Peer Essay Review tool , where you can get a free review of your essay from another student. You can also improve your own writing skills by reviewing other students’ essays. 

If you want a college admissions expert to review your essay, advisors on CollegeVine have helped students refine their writing and submit successful applications to top schools.  Find the right advisor for you  to improve your chances of getting into your dream school!

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September 27, 2023

Word and Character Limits in College Essays

Word And Charater Limits In College Essays

Previously Published on September 2, 2011:

With every college essay comes a word limit. Some essays are 35 words, others 650 words. Some are 100 characters, others two pages. But for each of these essays, irrespective of the word count, there is one guiding principle that college applicants should follow: stick to the word count — don’t write more, don’t write less.

Essays Are Real Estate for Applicants to Make Their Case

Each essay — no matter its length — offers applicants real estate to make their case for admission. Some schools, of course, offer more real estate than others. For the 2023-2024 college admissions cycle, for example, Harvard University has five 250-word essays . Meanwhile, Brown University has three essays and four short answers: 200-250 words for the three essays, three words for the first short answer, 100 words for two short answers, and 50 words for the final short answer.

Applicants Should Write to the Maximum Word Count in Essays

So, when a school asks applicants to write a 200-250-word essay, how many words should they write? That’s an  easy  one: 250. When a school offers students the chance to write optional essays, should they write them?  You bet ! No  optional  essay in highly selective college admissions should ever be considered optional. Instead, it’s a chance for students to make their case. And applicants should always write to the maximum word count in all college essays .

A Word Count Test

To conclude, we’ve got a test for this year’s applicants. Applicants to Duke University ‘s Class of 2028 are required to answer one 250-word essay, and they’re given five optional essay options of which they can write up to two. So, how many essays should this year’s Duke applicants write? You guessed it — three! And how long should each of their essays be? You guessed it again — 250 words! Not more, not less.

Ivy Coach’s Assistance with College Essays

If you’re interested in optimizing your case for admission by submitting the most powerful essays possible, fill out Ivy Coach ‘s free consultation form , and we’ll be in touch to outline our college admissions counseling services.

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Working within word limits: A short guide

  • Short on word counts
  • Last minute panic scenario!
  • Further references on working within word count
  • Acknowledgements

In adhering to the word limit, it is always a good idea for you to roughly plan first how many sections or paragraphs you will need for the essay. From there, you will be able to estimate how much you have to write for each section or paragraph. 

The general rule of thumb is to allocate 10% of the word limit for the introduction and 10% for the conclusion. This rule will leave 80% for the body paragraphs or sections.

Here is the breakdown:

Introduction - 10%

Paragraph 1 - 20%

Paragraph 2 - 20%

Paragraph 3 - 20%

Paragraph 4 - 20%

Conclusion - 10%

In writing a dissertation, the allocation of word limit might differ slightly. The weightage depends on the depth of each chapter.  For example,

Literature review - 25%

Methodology - 15%

Findings - 20%

Discussion - 20%

Remember that normally the references and appendices are not included in the word count. 

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University of Texas at Dallas | UT Dallas

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Want to see your chances of admission at University of Texas at Dallas | UT Dallas?

We take every aspect of your personal profile into consideration when calculating your admissions chances.

University of Texas at Dallas | UT Dallas’s 2023-24 Essay Prompts

Common app personal essay.

The essay demonstrates your ability to write clearly and concisely on a selected topic and helps you distinguish yourself in your own voice. What do you want the readers of your application to know about you apart from courses, grades, and test scores? Choose the option that best helps you answer that question and write an essay of no more than 650 words, using the prompt to inspire and structure your response. Remember: 650 words is your limit, not your goal. Use the full range if you need it, but don‘t feel obligated to do so.

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?

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?

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.

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  1. Common App Essay Word Limit (BEST WORD COUNT FOR COLLEGE ESSAY)

    ut college essay word limit

  2. College Essay Format: Structure, Word Limit, Titles, & Samples

    ut college essay word limit

  3. College Essay 500 Word Limit: 5 Simple Ways to Pare it Down

    ut college essay word limit

  4. College Essay Length: How Long Should It Be or Word Limit

    ut college essay word limit

  5. How to Avoid Going Over an Essay Word Limit: 15 Steps

    ut college essay word limit


    ut college essay word limit


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  1. Essays & Short Answers

    Essays & Short Answers Freshman Essays. All freshman applicants must submit a required essay: UT Austin Required Essay in the Common App, or; Topic A in ApplyTexas; Please keep your essay between 500-700 words (typically two to three paragraphs). Summer/Fall 2024 and Spring 2024 Essay Topic. Tell us your story.

  2. How to Write the UT Austin Essays 2023-2024

    Prompt 2: Describe how your experiences, perspectives, talents, and/or your involvement in leadership activities (at your school, job, community, or within your family) will help you to make an impact both in and out of the classroom while enrolled at UT. (250-300 words) Prompt 3: The core purpose of The University of Texas at Austin is, "To ...

  3. "Can my UT-Austin Essay A and Short Answers Be Longer Than 700 and 300

    Yes. You can submit MUCH MORE than 750 words for Essay A and more than 300 for each Short Answer on Apply Texas. I am very aware that my blog posts suggest 750 words for Essay A and 350 words for the Short Answers, and that this suggestion does not align with UT's suggested 500-700 words or 250-300 word recommendations, respectively.Why UT doesn't just impose hard word limits like Common ...

  4. How to Write the University of Texas-Austin (UT) Supplemental Essays

    Write your Topic A essay for UT so that it answers the same question you're answering for the Common App (which sets a max limit of 650 words) and/or Coalition Application (which suggests but doesn't strictly limit your essay to 500-650 words). UT asks that you keep your Topic A essay between 500-700 words, but for ease of doubling ...

  5. Six First Choice Major UT-Austin Short Answer Examples

    Your short answer can be longer than the suggested 300 word limit: ... Sharing why you're applying to UT and your specific college/school will also help refine your goals and how UT can help ... This essay is an effective example of developing fully an influential teacher and relevant courses that influence not just their future studies but ...

  6. UT Austin Supplemental Essays

    The UT Austin supplemental essays will differ if you are a transfer student (we'll get into this later in this guide). For first-year students, the UT Austin supplemental essays will include one 500-700-word essay and three 250-300-word short-answer essays. The UT Austin essay prompts can be found on the Common App, or the Apply Texas portal ...

  7. How Long Should Your College Essay Be? What Is the Ideal Length?

    Personal statements are generally 500-650 words. For example, the Common Application, which can be used to apply to more than 800 colleges, requires an essay ranging from 250-650 words. Similarly, the Coalition Application, which has 150 member schools, features an essay with a recommended length of 500-650 words.

  8. How Long Should a College Essay Be?

    Revised on June 1, 2023. Most college application portals specify a word count range for your essay, and you should stay within 10% of the upper limit. If no word count is specified, we advise keeping your essay between 400 and 600 words. You should aim to stay under the specified limit to show you can follow directions and write concisely.

  9. The Word Limit in Academic Writing (and How to Stick to It)

    There are two main reasons that academic papers usually come with a word limit: Fairness. It's impossible to grade two papers of vastly different lengths (e.g., 20,000 compared to 2,000 words) on the same scale. The word limit makes sure that everyone taking the same class knows what is expected of them. Communication Skills.

  10. How Long Should a College Admissions Essay Be?

    College admissions essays vary in length, but you'll most likely be asked to write somewhere between 150 and 650 words per essay. That's about a quarter of a page to one full page, double-spaced. Sometimes, the word limit will be given to you right in the prompt. Take a look at this example from Villanova University:

  11. The Best College Essay Length: How Long Should It Be?

    As exemplified by the University of Illinois, the shortest word limits for college essays are usually around 150 words (less than half a single-spaced page). Rarely will you see a word limit higher than around 650 words (over one single-spaced page). College essays are usually pretty short: between 150 and 650 words.

  12. Apply Texas Essays- Latest Guide

    UT Austin. The University of Texas Austin requires its applicants to respond to Apply Texas Essay A if using the Apply Texas application. Their word limit is 500-700. Additionally, students will complete three required short answer essays with word limits of 250-300 words.

  13. How Long Should a College Essay Be?

    However, college application essays tend to require a word count. When a college provides you with a wide word count range, it's best to take advantage of the upper word count limit. For example, if a college asks for an essay between 250-500 words, you should aim to craft a response that's at least 400-450 words.

  14. UT-Austin Honors Programs Essay Prompts and Application Tips

    UT-Austin Honors Programs Essay Prompts and Application Tips. Completing 40 hours of introductory Bahasa Indonesia language class. FALL 2024 update: BHP, LAH, and Plan II have changed their essay topics. I've updated this post accordingly. Many universities have an "Honors College" that houses their best students regardless of their major.

  15. How Long is an Essay? Guidelines for Different Types of Essay

    This generally has a strict word limit. Undergraduate college essay. 1500-5000 words. The length and content of essay assignments in college varies depending on the institution, department, course level, and syllabus. Graduate school admission essay. 500-1000 words.

  16. Common word limit for college essays?

    The common word limit for college essays can definitely vary between schools, but there are some general guidelines to help you plan your writing. For the Common Application personal statement, the word limit is 650 words. Most applicants will apply to colleges using the Common App, and this is the essay that will be sent to all the schools you select on the platform.

  17. How to Write the ApplyTexas Essays 2023-2024 + Examples

    Even the recommended word count varies between schools. Here's a quick snapshot into the unique essay requirements of a few top ApplyTexas colleges: University of Texas at Austin: Topic A is required. 4 short answer responses, 1 of which is optional (250-300 words).

  18. Word and Character Limits in College Essays

    With every college essay comes a word limit. Some essays are 35 words, others 650 words. Some are 100 characters, others two pages. ... for example, Harvard University has five 250-word essays. Meanwhile, Brown University has three essays and four short answers: 200-250 words for the three essays, three words for the first short answer, 100 ...

  19. Common App Essay Word Limit—How Strict Is It?

    The word limit for the Common Application essay is indeed a firm one. Admissions officers expect students to follow the instructions, which includes adhering to the 650-word maximum. If your essay is over this limit, the online application could actually cut off the excess words without your control, leading to an abrupt ending or incomplete sentences.

  20. Working within word limits: A short guide

    In writing a dissertation, the allocation of word limit might differ slightly. The weightage depends on the depth of each chapter. For example, Introduction - 10%. Literature review - 25%. Methodology - 15%. Findings - 20%. Discussion - 20%. Conclusion - 10% . Remember that normally the references and appendices are not included in the word count.

  21. CAN I GO OVER WORD LIMIT : r/ApplyingToCollege

    I'm applying to UT Austin for the regular decision deadline tomorrow. I have 350 word supplements that perfectly answer the UT supplemental questions. On Coalition, it says "Please limit your answer to 250-300 words". However, it doesn't cap me the way common app does. I also read an article that said it was ok, but I'm still not sure.

  22. Common App essay word limit

    Hey there! The Common App essay word limit is 650 words, and it's best to adhere to that limit as closely as possible. While going slightly over may not seem like a big deal, it could potentially give admissions officers the impression that you're unable to follow directions or that you have difficulty with concise writing. That being said, if you're just a few words over, it's unlikely to be ...

  23. University of Texas at Dallas

    Applying to University of Texas at Dallas | UT Dallas and trying to find all the correct essay prompts for 2023-24? ... Remember: 650 words is your limit, not your goal. Use the full range if you need it, but don't feel obligated to do so. Option 1 ... Join thousands of students getting and giving peer feedback on college essays—all for free!