Applications University

US College Supplements: Short Answer Questions

Do you want to apply to US universities? This is the last part of our 5-part US college supplements series. This one will focus on the Short Answer Questions!

I applied to 10 universities in the United States and wrote nearly 30 individual supplemental essays for them in total. After having applied to and receiving acceptances from several top US universities so far, I believe that I can share some of my experience about different types of college essays. I will also include example responses of supplemental essays that got me accepted into those colleges!

What are college supplements? 

Supplemental essays are college-specific and are of varying length. They provide a chance for applicants to provide more information about themselves—why they chose the majors they did, why they chose the university, and even some fun personal information. 

Why are they important?

Aside from the main 650-word common application essay (or personal statement), these supplements allow students to express more of an interest in the specific university they are applying to and to reveal other aspects of themselves that may not already have been mentioned. 

Tips on how to answer a Short Answer Question

Short answer questions tend to be fun ones that allow students to reveal their non-academic side, and be creative! These typically tend to be very short answers. 

1. Take risks!

This is a great time to take risks and show a side of yourself to the university that has not come out before. Keep in mind, that universities are not likely to put an immense amount of pressure on these essays, as the word count is so limited. So have some fun, and show off your quirky side!

2. Cut to the chase

No need to set the scene in these essays. Get straight to the point but keep the writing interesting! 

3. Be genuine and don’t overthink

This applies to other essays as well! Be yourself—there is no need to overthink and doubt your responses. Remember to reveal something about yourself that you want the admissions officers to know! 

My personal experience

Here are some examples of short takes I wrote for the University of Maryland! I talked about my side interest in philosophy and hinted at how I am fascinated by it. I also mentioned how my childhood room growing up was turned into a library to reveal my love for reading and literature!

The most interesting fact I ever learned from research was?
“Free will is an illusion—our behavior can be primed by our senses, environment, culture, and brain. We are shaped by influences beyond our conscious control!”
Something you might not know about me is?
“My room on Lovebird Street is known as the “Lovebird Library.” Oak shelves packed with books of different genres - this will always be my space of literary joy.”

Remember that US college admissions are holistic! Your essays are not the sole factor that will determine your acceptance. Think of it as the cherry on top!

Helpful sources


Check out the rest of the US College Application Supplements Series:

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