University of Washington Essay Prompts

University of Washington Essay Prompts 2022-2023

University of Washington Essay Prompts Quick Facts:

  • University of Washington acceptance rate: 53%—U.S. News ranks the University of Washington as a more selective school.
  • Requirements for the University of Washington supplemental essays: 
    • 1 (~650 word) essay
    • 1 (~300 word) short response
    • 1 (~200 word) additional information essay (optional)
  • University of Washington application: The University of Washington accepts applications via the Common App or ApplyWeb. The University of Washington Common App essay is not considered in the admissions process. Make sure to check all of the University of Washington application requirements. 
  • University of Washington essay tip: Every UW application essay is important when it comes to impressing the UW admissions committee. Make sure to give each UW essay prompt your careful attention, no matter the word count. 

What are the University of Washington essay prompts?

You’ve completed the tedious work of finding your top colleges to apply to and now you’re working on your UW essay prompts. Before you start worrying about the college enrollment process, let’s break down each UW essay prompt so you can begin writing your UW application essays! 

There are three UW essay prompts.

Remember that UW admissions doesn’t consider the Common App essay in their writing section. Two of the UW essay prompts are required and one UW essay prompt is optional. While the University of Washington acceptance rate may not seem so intimidating compared to other colleges, your UW essay prompt responses can still make or break your application. 

We have provided all three UW essay prompts for the 2022-2023 University of Washington supplemental essays below. You’ll find a breakdown of how to approach each of the University of Washington essay prompts as well as tips for writing UW application essays that will stand out.

Importantly, the University of Washington does not review your Common App essay. Although the University of Washington Common App essay isn’t considered in the University of Washington admissions process (it won’t factor into your odds against the University of Washington acceptance rate), the Common App personal essay is still important in other universities’ application process. Check out all you need to know about writing a personal essay for the other schools that made your college list

University of Washington Essay Prompts #1 (Required)

Tell a story from your life, describing an experience that either demonstrates your character or helped to shape it (650 words).

Of all the University of Washington essay prompts, this one is the longest and the most open-ended. This UW application essay should focus on some part of your character: the qualities that determine how you move through the world. In this UW application essay, try to highlight who you are, what you value, and who you’d be on UW’s campus.

Identify your values

To begin your brainstorm for the first of the University of Washington essay prompts, write out your values. List any qualities you care about— honesty, compassion, curiosity, etc. For each characteristic, think of a moment that taught you something about this quality and a moment it was tested. For example, if your characteristic was honesty, you might think about a time when you lied and the consequences of your actions. Or, maybe you think of a moment where you had to choose between lying and being honest.

If you’re not sure which characteristic to highlight for this University of Washington essay, start by brainstorming potential stories. Try to think of a time when you were proud of yourself, when you were challenged, or when you learned a lesson.

You can also check out this list of personal achievements and characteristics from the University of Washington admissions page for ideas of what to discuss in this UW application essay.

Focus on action

Whatever story you tell in this UW application essay, make sure your experience involves you making a decision or taking action. A story with a conflict and resolution will make your essay more engaging. Once you have settled on your topic, without second-guessing yourself, write out what happened and, more importantly, what you got out of the situation. 

A great way to make sure you’ve answered this UW essay prompt is to have another person read your essay without reading the prompt. Then, ask what they learned about you from your essay. If they learned something about your character, then chances are you’ve successfully responded to the question. Then, you can move onto the other University of Washington essay prompts.

University of Washington Essay Prompts #2 (Required)

Our families and communities often define us and our individual worlds. Community might refer to your cultural group, extended family, religious group, neighborhood or school, sports team or club, co-workers, etc. Describe the world you come from and how you, as a product of it, might add to the diversity of the UW (300 words).

The second of the required University of Washington essay prompts revolves around community and how it creates unique perspectives. Because the UW essay prompts are quite general, brainstorm before you pick a topic. You’re likely part of many intersecting communities, so start by listing all the communities you belong to. Communities can be as big as a globally practiced religion or as small as a friendship group based on Dungeons and Dragons, so don’t leave anything out.

Focus on impact

Once you have your list for the second of the University of Washington essay prompts, think about how these communities impact your life. Remember, diversity is not just based on categories of identity; it also comes from differences in how we view and experience the world. For each community, do two free-writes: one detailing the important characteristics, beliefs, and events shared within that community and one detailing how that community impacts how you move through the world.

The UW essay prompt then asks you to imagine how you might add to the diversity of UW. Maybe you want to join a specific student group. Alternatively, you might even propose to start a new one. Maybe you want to bring your point of view into a field of study where it’s not typically included. For each community on your list, brainstorm how it would impact your time at UW.

Once you’ve done your brainstorm for this UW application essay, string your ideas together. If you’re having trouble organizing your thoughts, stick to the outline provided by the University of Washington essay prompts. Use the questions “what is your world,” “how are you a product of it,” and “how will you add to the diversity of UW” as guiding questions for the beginning, middle, and end of your University of Washington essay.

University of Washington Essay Prompts #3 (Optional)

Additional information about yourself or your circumstances (200 words).

This UW essay prompt is optional. The University of Washington application requirements don’t call for a response to this UW essay prompt. However, you may include additional information if something has particular significance to you and you’d like to share that information with the University of Washington admissions. 

Often, prompts listed as “optional” are still essentially required if you want to be a competitive applicant. This is not the case with the final UW essay prompt. If you don’t have any extenuating circumstances, feel free to disregard this University of Washington essay prompt. 

You may want to answer this optional UW application essay if:

  • You have experienced personal hardships in attaining your education.
  • Your activities have been limited because of work or family obligations.
  • You have experienced unusual limitations or opportunities unique to the schools you attended.

Of all the University of Washington essay prompts, this one lets you fill in potential gaps in your University of Washington application due to various circumstances. If you have had to overcome challenges to get where you are today, the University of Washington admissions committee wants to hear about it.

Although this is the shortest of the University of Washington essay prompts, it is important you still craft a story and directly connect your experiences to your University of Washington application. For example, if you had to start working at a young age to support your family, be sure to include why it is important for the UW admissions team to know. Maybe you didn’t have time for extracurriculars, or maybe you had to make extra efforts to stay on top of your homework. 

Mention how you’ve grown

You should also make sure you include what the experience means to you if responding to this UW application essay. For instance, maybe your hardships taught you to be more responsible, or maybe you learned how to ask for help when you need it. If you choose to respond to this last of the University of Washington essay prompts, make sure your reader knows why you chose to include it. As with your other two University of Washington supplemental essays, remember to be brief, specific, and honest.

How do I write my University of Washington essays?

University of Washington essay prompts

To make your essays count, remember to consider your audience. Your responses to the University of Washington essay prompts should convey who you are, how you’d succeed at UW, and what you might bring to UW’s campus. Are you a first generation college student? Did you take a meaningful gap year? This is your opportunity to show what makes you unique. Remember that your responses to each UW essay prompt shouldn’t read like your college resume. Give each UW essay prompt response some personality and passion

Take time with the University of Washington essay prompts, and give the same amount of consideration to each UW application essay. While one of the University of Washington essay prompts is shorter than the other, that doesn’t mean it will be easier to write. Each UW application essay should be clear, concise, and captivating. It should also completely answer the University of Washington essay prompts. 

Follow the checklist below to be sure that you answer the University of Washington prompts to the best of your ability. 

UW Essay Prompts Checklist:

✔️ Brainstorm

Before you begin writing, create a list of topics related to the University of Washington essay prompts. Use the breakdowns of the University of Washington essay prompts above to help you get started.

✔️ Draft

Once you’ve chosen a topic for each of the University of Washington essay prompts, it is time to get writing. Don’t worry about making your first draft perfect—it doesn’t need to be! Don’t think about things like the University of Washington acceptance rate; just focus on getting your story down on paper

✔️ Revise

Ask yourself: does my UW application essay specifically answer the UW essay prompt? Am I telling a story? Is there a clear beginning, middle, and end? Does my essay show who I am? Because each UW essay prompt has a specific word limit, it’s important to make every word count.

✔️ Proofread

Read through each essay for any spelling or grammatical errors. The University of Washington admissions team will review thousands of responses to the University of Washington essay prompts, and we want your University of Washington essays to stand out for the right reasons. Make sure your responses to the UW essay prompts are as clear and easy to read so your personality can shine.

✔️ Get a second opinion

Have someone else—a family member, mentor, even a peer—read your essay. A second pair of eyes will notice how your UW essays read, whether your story flows, and how well you’ve addressed the UW essay prompts.

✔️ Repeat steps 3-4 until you are satisfied with your UW essay prompts

Remember, the writing process is a process. Give yourself enough time ahead of the deadline to think about the UW essay prompts. Draft each UW application essay, take a step away, and come back to them with fresh eyes.

After working through the checklist above, evaluate your progress. Keep reworking your responses to the University of Washington essay prompts until you can confidently say that the following statements are true:

  • My UW essays tell a story with a beginning, middle, and end.
  • Each of my essays answers the UW essay prompt.
  • All of my UW essays emphasize who I am and what is important to me.
  • My UW essays have no spelling or grammatical errors.

Does the University of Washington care about essays?

Yes! As the University of Washington acceptance rate tells us, not everyone gets into UW. Figuring out how to get into UW will be difficult without placing importance on the UW essay prompts. The University of Washington application essays are UW Admissions’ way of learning who you are as a person. 

The University of Washington admissions office uses a holistic review process. This means they consider your UW essays and extracurriculars alongside your academics. So, your responses to the University of Washington essay prompts are a vital part of your University of Washington application requirements. 

Specifically, UW breaks down their review into two categories: Preparation & Performance and Personal Achievements & Characteristics. While the first depends on your grades and courses, your University of Washington supplemental essays are the perfect place to emphasize the second. UW looks for students who will both succeed academically and contribute to campus life. Your UW application essays should capture who you are and how you will shine at UW. Each of the University of Washington essay prompts lets you share different aspects of what matters to you.

University of Washington Admissions Top Tips for Supplemental Essays

While Seattle may not be the stereotypical “college town,” the city certainly has a lot to offer. If you’re set on UW, which is a top ranking university globally, then we know you want to do everything you can to make your responses to the UW essay prompts stand out. 

To save you time as you begin working on your UW essays, we’ve provided the top ten tips from the University of Washington admissions for writing the UW essays below. We’ve also included tips on how to apply them to your University of Washington supplemental essays.

“Write to the prompt.”

Your University of Washington essays will only be successful if they completely answer the University of Washington essay prompts. Be sure to use our breakdowns of the University of Washington essay prompts, and keep each UW essay prompt in mind when editing your drafts.

“Avoid overused topics.”

Be thorough as you brainstorm topics for each of the UW essay prompts. If you read the UW essay prompts and choose to write about a common experience, use specific details in your UW application essays that show what makes your experience unique.

“Use language you can manage.”

When in doubt, always lean towards simple and straightforward language in your University of Washington essays. Your University of Washington application essays should be written in your voice. Don’t try to sound more intelligent as you respond to the UW essay prompts. Authenticity is key. 

“Keep it simple and real.”

Often, the little things in life have the biggest impact. As you brainstorm topics for your UW application essays, don’t feel pressured to construct the most complicated story. Remember, the University of Washington admissions office wants to be impressed by you! Just be yourself and show them exactly who you are when responding to the University of Washington essay prompts.

“Use humor, honesty, and humility.”

Respond to the UW essay prompts in your own voice. If you have a humorous voice, let that shine through, but only use humor if it feels natural. No matter your writing style, all of your University of Washington essays should be honest and authentic. If you choose to write about your accomplishments, try to do so without bragging or showing off.

“Make it memorable.”

Your University of Washington supplemental essays will be memorable if you are passionate about the story you are telling. Don’t worry about whether the UW admissions team will find your story interesting—if your UW application essays are honest, specific, and exciting to you, they’ll be exciting to read.

“Find the sweet spot.”

Each of the University of Washington essay prompts has a specific word count. While your UW application essays should not be over the word count, it isn’t a bad thing if they are under. For example, if you can tell your story in 400 words, don’t add fluff to reach the 650-word limit. Just be sure your responses to the University of Washington essay prompts are specific and detailed enough to paint a complete picture for your reader.

“Proofread.”

The last thing you want UW admissions thinking about as they finish reading your UW application essays is a typo. Make sure to double-check your responses to the University of Washington essay prompts for spelling and grammar. Try to complete your University of Washington essays ahead of the deadline so you can give yourself a few days away from each of your UW application essays before your final proofread. 

“Punctuate properly.”

Punctuation can change the entire meaning of a sentence, so it’s important you punctuate your University of Washington essays correctly. Try highlighting all your commas, periods, etc., and reading your responses to the University of Washington essay prompts out loud. If someone is helping you edit your UW essays, ask them to do a read-through specifically looking at punctuation.

“Write a punchy first line.”

While it is important your University of Washington essays have a strong opening, don’t let this tip trap you into trying to be overly funny or clever. Your UW application essays thrive on specificity, so write an opening line suited to your specific story and voice.

UW Essay Prompts: Final Thoughts

Remember, the University of Washington essay prompts are your chance to introduce yourself to UW admissions. While the University of Washington acceptance rate is not the highest, strong essays can make all the difference. 

Although your academic history is an important part of your University of Washington application requirements, your UW application essays let UW see who you are beyond numbers and statistics. If you feel your GPA or test scores don’t reflect the kind of student you are or hope to become, your University of Washington essays are the place to showcase your best self. And with so many universities deciding to go test-optional, your essays are of utmost importance when it comes to maximizing your odds against the University of Washington acceptance rate. 

Each essay is an opportunity

Think of each UW application essay as an opportunity to overcome the University of Washington acceptance rate and impress the University of Washington admissions. Write each UW application essay thoughtfully, passionately, and comprehensively. Each UW essay prompt response should be not only moving, but also mechanically impeccable. 

While the University of Washington essay prompts may seem like a challenge, remember you have complete control over your UW essays. The strength of your responses to each UW essay prompt relies entirely on how much time, effort, and care you put into them. Start thinking about the UW essay prompts early so you can make your essays the best they can be.


This University of Washington supplemental essays guide was written by Sarah Kaminski. Looking for more admissions support? Click here to schedule a free meeting with one of our Admissions Specialists. During your meeting, our team will discuss your profile and help you find targeted ways to increase your admissions odds at top schools. We’ll also answer any questions and discuss how CollegeAdvisor.com can support you in the college application process.