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The New UT Austin Essay Prompts 2019-20

Attention would-be Longhorns! The UT Austin essay prompts have been updated for 2019-20. While most of them cover the same general topics as the prompts for last year, there are some important differences in wording. (There's also one totally new prompt, but we'll get to that.) The good news is, these updated prompts are simpler and more flexible overall.

First, let's look at the prompt for the long essay. 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?

In our guide to last year's prompts, we described the long UT Austin essay as an opportunity to explain how you became the person you are today. In other words:what makes you awesome, and how did you get that way?

The previous version of the prompt asked you to describe your environment rather than telling your story. This version gives you bit more flexibility... and makes it a bit easier to re-use a Common Application essay! We call that an improvement.

Next, let's look at the short answers. These 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 prompt tracks with last year's "career plans" prompt. The change might come as a relief to students who haven't yet picked a career, but if you are a long-range planner, don't worry. This prompt offers you plenty of scope to talk about your future goals.

Note- Prompt's free brainstorming tools include a module to help you find great topics for any "why major" essay.


  • 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.

This prompt is similar to last year's leadership prompt, but with one important difference. It focuses exclusively on how you've been a leader in the past, and doesn't ask you to talk about how you plan to be a leader at UT Austin. This doesn't mean you can't touch on your plans for UT, but we'd recommend that you save UT specific resources for the next prompt.


  • 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 prompt is brand new... for UT Austin at least. But let's cut to the chase: this is a "Why UT Austin" essay.

At Prompt, we like to say 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 fairly common type of school supplement, so we do have a module for it in our free brainstorming tools.


The final essay is optional.

  • 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.


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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