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How to Write Admission-Worthy UT Austin Essays

Good news! The UT Austin essay prompts remain simple and flexible — overall, they're an excellent chance to showcase how much you have to contribute to the University of Texas at Austin campus, and to the world. 

Of course, it helps if you know what admissions officers are looking for, and how to give it to them. That's what this guide is for! 

1. The long essay prompt. With a target length of 500-700 words, this is UT's equivalent of the personal essay.

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

If you've written a Common Application essay, we're delighted to tell you that you can almost certainly re-use it here with minor tweaks. (For a step-by-step guide to writing a stellar Common App essay, take a look at our specialized guide.)

But if this is your only personal essay, here's UT Austin-specific advice: use this essay as a chance to explain how you became the person you are today — what makes you awesome, and how did you get that way? By "awesome," be sure to focus in particular on areas in which you make an impact on the world, or improve the lives of others (even in a small-scale, good-friendship type of way). The admissions officers are looking for people who will have an impact on their campus and in their careers, so, even as you talk about yourself, bear that larger goal in mind.  


2. The short answer prompts. These three required essays are much more specific, and have a target length of 250-300 words.

  • Why are you interested in the major you indicated as your first-choice major?

This is the classic "why major" prompt. Luckily, Prompt has uncovered the secrets to succeeding with these essays, (and making them relatively easy to write). Take a look at our advice in our "why major" essay blog post. 

  • Leadership can be demonstrated in many ways. Please share how you have demonstrated leadership in either your school, job, community, and/or within your family responsibilities.

As you develop your topic, feel free to get creative with your interpretation of “leadership.” It’s fine to write about a traditional leadership role, but you could also write about a time when you led an informal group of peers, family members, or community members. 

Finally, you'll make this essay stand out if you go beyond praising your own past accomplishments by adding a word or two on how the experience you described makes you want to do even more. This will show the admissions officers that you have some humility, as well as some fire in your belly to keep achieving — two coveted qualities that most applicants will leave out as they approach this essay. 

  • Please share how you believe your experiences, perspectives, and/or talents have shaped your ability to contribute to and enrich the learning environment at UT Austin, both in and out of the classroom.

This is a classic "Why UT Austin" essay. At Prompt, we believe that every "Why this university essay" is actually a "why YOU at this university essay." UT is just being more upfront about it. It's important to cover both why you are motivated and prepared to attend UT, and to reference specific UT resources that make it a perfect fit for you. "Why us" is a common type of school supplement, and we have a great guide for nailing it


3. The final optional essay.

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

Should you write this essay? Only if you need to. If there were special circumstances (an illness, a car accident, a family upheaval) that negatively impacted your grades, or caused gaps in your record, this is where you can explain what happened, and more importantly, make the case that these circumstances will not continue to impact your academic performance at UT. If you need to write this essay, stick to the facts, and keep it short and clear.


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Prompt’s Essay Specialists reviewed 13,000 admissions essays in 2018, helping thousands of students submit their applications with confidence.

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