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How to Write Great Answers to the 2019-20 University of Pittsburgh Essay Questions

It’s a good idea to write the supplemental Pitt essays. They’re optional, but they will help you show that you’re a good fit for Pitt and increase your chances of admission and scholarships.

The recommended length for each essay is 200-300 words. You can write all three essays, or just focus on one or two. We recommend answering as many as you can.

Let’s take a look at the University of Pittsburgh essay questions!


Tell us about something you have read/watched/listened to that made an impact on you. Tell us why it made an impact.

The key word in this prompt is impact. What is something you read, watched, or listened to that led you to take action, discover a new interest, or develop a new goal?

Let’s look at some topic examples:

  • Read: A news article about homelessness in my city
    • Impact on actions: I started a clothing drive to collect winter coats for a local homeless shelter.
  • Watched: A YouTube video of the Boston Dynamics robots
    • Impact on interests: I became interested in robotics and decided to take a computer science class.


If you could create a new product, process, business, or organization, what would this entity look like? (We especially encourage applicants interested in the College of Business Administration or the Swanson School of Engineering to respond to this question.)

For this University of Pittsburgh essay, try to pick an idea that relates to one of your interests. Your essay will be stronger if you’re writing about something that you’re really passionate about. For example: If you love computer programming, you could write about an app you want to create. If you’re fired up about marine conservation, you could invent an organization to help reduce ocean pollution.

If you’re struggling to come up with a topic, try answering these questions: What is something you want to change in the world? If you had the resources to change it, how would you do it?


What else should we know about you? Take this opportunity to tell the Admissions Committee anything else you think we should know as we review your application for admission.

Unlike the other University of Pittsburgh essay questions, this prompt gives you a lot of freedom. There’s no right or wrong answer, but since this essay will be short, you should focus on just one value, interest, personal trait, or goal.

This is an opportunity to show the Admissions Committee why you would be a great addition to the University of Pittsburgh community. Here are some brainstorming questions to help you come up with a strong topic:

  • Have you achieved something awesome that you haven’t written about in your other essays?
  • What is one thing you have done to make your community or school a better place?


Finally, all three of the University of Pittsburgh essay questions have an open-ended word count: “200-300 words recommended, but can be longer or shorter.” Try to stay within 100 words of the recommended range – so, don’t go under 100 words or over 400 words.


Looking for information on the Pitt Honors College essays? Check out our guide.


Get started with our free brainstorming tools!

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

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