How to Write Supplemental Essays

How to Write Supplemental Essays

Common supplemental essay prompts can be daunting, but with a few basic guidelines and techniques, it will be easy to come up with a compelling piece. These tips cover topics like Common supplemental essay prompts, how to write a personal statement, and how to format your supplemental essay. After you’ve reviewed these tips, you’re ready to begin writing! Here are some ideas for supplemental essays. They can also help you get started:

Common supplemental essay prompts

While some of the common supplemental essay prompts may seem similar, others might require students to take a different tack. While Stanford asks students to describe an event that affected their community, Brown asks about a bridge in their neighborhood. This is a great opportunity for students to show their character by explaining how they handled conflict in their past. Whether the conflict was constructive or destructive is up to the student, but ensuring that the essay conveys what they value most is crucial.

Writing a personal statement

If you’re applying to medical school, you’ll likely be asked to write a personal statement supplemental essay. Most schools use a common application platform, which means they can’t control the questions they ask you. Only the supplemental essay section is completely under their control. If you’re unsure of what to write, here are a few tips to keep in mind:

Choosing a topic

Using your experiences as the basis of a college essay will make you stand out amongst your competitors. Don’t focus on awards or other accolades. Rather, choose a topic that resonates with you and showcases your personality. A common theme for college essays is service trips or significant family connections. While this approach is not necessarily bad, it doesn’t give you the edge you need. Instead, write about a specific experience and highlight how you did something or met a person who made a significant impact on your life.


The format of supplemental essays varies from application to application, but they often have the same basic requirements: a minimum word count and an outline. It’s also crucial to include a conclusion, which summarizes your key learnings or takeaway. You can even use a crisp one-liner to sum up the answer to the question you’ve been asked. Regardless of the prompt, the format of supplemental essays should be well-planned and well-written.

Common mistakes students make

Many students fail to spend enough time writing supplemental essays and end up making common mistakes. The “WHY US” essay is especially important, as it allows schools to determine if you’ll be a good fit for their program. While supplemental essays are generally much shorter than personal statements, it is important that they be as specific as possible. Be sure to avoid platitudes, generalizations, and overly technical language. Instead, explain why the school is an excellent fit for you and your goals.

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