There are changes coming to the writing portions of the 2013-14 Common Application. Here’s an overview that The Common App released today:
1. What writing opportunities are available in the 2013-14 Common Application?
• The Essay. Required of all applicants.
• Additional Information. Optional for applicants who wish to report circumstances or
qualifications not reflected elsewhere in the application.
• Required Explanations. Conditionally required for applicants based on responses to
application questions about school discipline, criminal history, military discharge, or an
2. What is changing about writing in the Common Application?
• There are 5 new essay prompts.
• Each writing section will have an enforced 650 word limit. The essay will not allow a
response shorter than 250 words.
• The extracurricular short answer question will be part of supplemental essay requirements for schools that want to ask this question.
• Uploaded documents will be replaced by text-entry. Students can compose their
responses directly in the application or cut-and-paste a response drafted in another word
3. Can students format their writing?
• Yes. Basic formatting (bold, italics, underline, and accented characters) will be available. In
addition, text pasted from a word processing program will typically retain these styles of
4. Will students have other opportunities to share more writing or additional submissions?
• Yes. Through supplemental essays, if colleges wish to ask for them. Also, colleges may be willing to receive uploaded documents such as resumes, research papers, or graded assignments. (Make sure to find out if individual schools accept these kinds of submissions.)
Sharon Epstein is owner of First Impressions College Consulting in Redding, Connecticut.
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