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How to Write a Common App Essay as a UK Student

How to Write a Common App Essay as a UK Student

First things first, your UK essay (UCAS statement) can never double up as your Common App essay.

They are fundamentally different and what the admission officers are looking for in these essays also varies greatly. We’ve outlined the key points that US admission officers would like to see in your Common App essay:

Tip 1: Choose a suitable Common App prompt before you start writing.

Some students underestimate how crucial it is to select the right prompt for the Common App essay. In fact, many students that we work with write the draft of the essay first before picking the prompt. This shouldn’t be the case. The content of your essay should answer the prompt directly and you should always refer to the prompt during the process of writing.This is to ensure that you stay on track and don’t deviate from what the prompt is asking for. Even if you have chosen to write on the topic of your choice, you are still advised to define the topic in the early stages of your writing so you can refer to it without going astray.

Tip 2: Character comes before academic passion and ability.


If you have written your UCAS statement, then you probably know that the essay is very academically driven. You are supposed to discuss why you are interested in your chosen major and why you think you can excel in it at university level. However, you actually don’t need to discuss your academics at all in your Common App statement. The admission officers want to read about who you are as a person, what you have been through in your life that has shaped you into who you are today, and what you are hoping to achieve in the future.

common app essay writing


"Make sure that you produce a statement that only you can write."

Tip 3: Story, story, story!

Given the volume of applications that an admission officer processes on a daily basis, it is essential that you make your essay engaging and compelling to read. Nothing does this better than illustrating your points through a well-packaged story.


"You are encouraged to find a good story that sparks curiosity in your reader."

Tip 4: Include your takeaways, unique perspectives and life mantra.

A good story is just the start of the whole journey. Depending on which prompt you have chosen to write on, you should include important life lessons that you have learned, explain why these events you have narrated in the essay are so important to you, and provide your key takeaways, which should lead into what you hope to achieve in the future.

We hope that this article has helped you understand the key differences between a UK admission essay vs. a Common App essay. Do feel free to reach out to our professional mentors for expert guidance in one of our Writing Clinics, or head to our Blog for more useful tips.