Not sure how to approach the UT Austin essay prompts? With tips from a Harvard graduate, CollegeAdvisor.com’s guide to the UT Austin essay requirements will give you the tools to write UT Austin essays sure to stand out in admissions.

If you need help responding to the UT Austin essay prompts, click here to create your free CollegeAdvisor.com account or schedule a free advising consultation with an Admissions Expert by calling (844) 343-6272.


UT Austin Essay Guide Quick Facts:

  • UT Austin has an acceptance rate of 32% — U.S. News ranks UT Austin as a most selective school.
  • We recommend answering all of the UT Austin essay prompts authentically and thoroughly in order to maximize your admissions odds.

Does the University of Texas at Austin have essays?

Yes. All applicants to UT Austin must complete several UT essay prompts. You can access the UT Austin essay prompts through ApplyTexas or the Coalition App. You can also review the full list of application requirements—including the UT essay prompts—on the UT Austin website.

Keep in mind that UT Austin does not use the Common App. All UT Austin application materials must be submitted through ApplyTexas or through the Coalition App. This includes your responses to the UT Austin essay prompts.

How many essays does the University of Texas at Austin require?

All fall 2021 applicants must complete five UT Austin essay prompts—one long-form essay of 500-700 words and four short answer questions of 250-300 words each.

Since UT Austin does not accept the Common Application, there’s no need to worry about the Common App personal statement. The Coalition App also has a personal statement—UT Austin applicants are not required to complete this, however.

So what does this mean? In the absence of a Common App/Coalition App personal statement, you’ll want to think about your long-form UT Austin supplemental essay the same way you’d think about your Common App essay. In other words, your first UT Austin supplemental essay should give the admissions team a unique window into who you are and what matters to you.

We’ll discuss how to use the UT Austin essay requirements to your advantage throughout this guide.

How important are the University of Texas at Austin essays?

The UT Austin essay prompts are incredibly important in the admissions process. While UT considers a variety of factors when reviewing applications, your UT essays allow your readers to understand who you are beyond your grades and test scores. Think of the UT Austin essay requirements as a tool to help the admissions team understand who you are in your own words.

Strong UT Austin essays can make or break your applications. This means it’s important to draft, proofread, and edit your UT essays as much as possible before you press submit. Don’t underestimate the UT Austin essay prompts!

How do I write a University of Texas at Austin essay?

The UT Austin essay prompts are intended to help the admissions team learn more about you. At their core, your UT Austin supplemental essays should help UT admissions understand who you are.

To make your UT essays stand out, you’ll want to be as authentic as possible. Use the UT essay prompts to tell your story and help the admissions team understand why they should admit you.

Now, let’s discuss the UT Austin essay requirements!

UT Austin Essay Prompts: Long-form Essay (Required)

Tell us your story. What unique opportunities or challenges have you experienced throughout your high school career that have shaped who you are today? (500-700 words)

The long-form UT essay prompt is entirely open-ended—and that’s the point! Let’s break down this first UT Austin supplemental essay.

The first of the UT essay prompts asks you to discuss “unique opportunities or challenges” that you’ve experienced throughout high school. With 700 words, this UT essay gives you plenty of space to tell a detailed story about how your identity has developed. Maybe you’ve struggled with dyslexia while pursuing an interest in poetry; maybe you’ve had to support yourself and your family by working a job throughout high school. Whatever topic you choose for the first of the UT Austin essay prompts, make sure it has “shaped who you are today.”

If you’re struggling to find a topic for this UT Austin essay, start with a timed brainstorming session. Set a timer for ten minutes. Then, write down every significant experience from high school that comes to mind. These experiences can be related to academic coursework, extracurricular activities, or personal experiences. Don’t hold yourself back—a strong topic for this UT Austin supplemental essay could come from anywhere.

Choosing an experience

Once you have this list, look for any experiences that have particularly defined who you are and how you operate in the world. Think about this list in the context of your overall application. What story can you tell in your UT essay that would complement the other aspects of your application, including your academic interests and extracurricular activities? For example, has a health challenge led to a desire to pursue a career in medicine? Or, did you have the opportunity to attend a famous art installation and it led to you pursuing art-centric extracurriculars during high school?

If you’re stuck between ideas, try a few timed freewrites for this first of the UT essay prompts. If you can’t stop writing about a certain topic, chances are that it would make a good UT Austin essay! Additionally, while this prompt does allow you to discuss multiple experiences, you’ll have the most luck if you stick to one topic.

Drafting your essay

Once you’ve chosen a topic, it’s time to start drafting. Since you have up to 700 words in this UT Austin essay, you have plenty of space to tell your story in detail. Like your Common App Personal Statement, you might choose to begin your first UT essay with an engaging anecdote to help draw your reader in. Then, explain your chosen experience or challenge. Discuss how this experience made you who you are, using as many specific details as possible. Finally, end your UT Austin supplemental essay with a glance into the future as you consider how this experience will inform your growth in college.

While you’ll want to provide enough context to help your reader understand your topic, you should spend most of your first UT essay talking about how this experience has informed your identity and worldview. What lessons did you take from this experience? In what ways did it shift your perspective? How have you grown as a result of this experience? How will this experience continue to influence you?

Telling your story

Keep in mind that this UT Austin essay prompts you to “tell your story.” This means that, fundamentally, your first UT Austin essay should be about you. While this might seem obvious, it can be easy to lose sight of this requirement. For instance, if you choose to describe a volunteering project, you might accidentally spend most of your essay describing the people you helped rather than your own experience. Similarly, if you write about an extracurricular club, you might spend more time detailing how that club runs rather than explaining your connection to it.

Remember, your reader should come away from your UT Austin supplemental essay with a solid sense of who you are and how you relate to the world around you. If your essay fulfills these two requirements, you’re on the right track. This same advice applies to many of the UT essay prompts!

UT Austin Essay Draft Key Questions:

  • Does your response to the first of the UT essay prompts describe one experience or challenge that has made you who you are?
  • Do you engage your reader with specific anecdotes and vivid language?
  • Do you avoid clichés or topics that might not be appropriate for a college essay?
  • Is your essay about you?
  • Does your essay teach your reader something new about you that isn’t obvious from the rest of your application?

How do you answer the UT Austin short answers?

As you may have noticed from the UT Austin essay requirements, all students applying in fall 2021 must respond to four short-answer UT Austin essay prompts. While each response is limited to 250-300 words, you should still spend time brainstorming and drafting your short answer UT essays.

In this section, we’ll break down each of the short-answer UT Austin essay prompts. Let’s get started!

Short Answer UT Austin Essay Prompts: Question 1 (Required)

Why are you interested in the major you indicated as your first-choice major? (250-300 words)

The first of the short-answer UT Austin essay prompts asks you to explain your academic interests in more detail. On your UT Austin application, you will identify your intended major; while this intended major is non-binding, you should still think carefully about which major you choose. The major you describe will influence how your readers approach your application, providing greater context for your academic achievements and overall candidate profile. For more advice on choosing a major for your college applications, check out our article.

Make sure the major you choose to discuss genuinely intrigues you. Don’t say you want to study applied math just to seem intelligent. Remember, the best answers to the UT essay prompts will be the most genuine! If you’re undecided, that’s okay—just choose a major that aligns with your interests. The UT Austin essay requirements aren’t intended to force you to choose a field of study before you’re ready—they’re just meant to help you discuss your academic interests in more detail.

Keep it concise

With only 250-300 words in this UT Austin essay, you shouldn’t waste your time on elaborate anecdotes. While you can (and should!) include strong details to help your responses to the UT essay prompts stand out, you should spend most of your UT essay directly discussing your chosen major. Break down why it matters to you and how you hope to engage with it at UT Austin.

Cut to the chase with a description of what you want to study and why it appeals to you. Be as specific and personal as possible. Avoid general statements like “I just want to study geology because it interests me”; instead, talk about why it interests you. Maybe you visited the Grand Canyon as a kid and have been fascinated by rock formations ever since. Whatever you discuss, be sure to tie it back to your identity.

UT Austin Essay Draft Key Questions:

  • Do you identify a major that genuinely interests you?
  • Does your chosen major support your application narrative?
  • Do you cite the specific reasons why this major appeals to you?
  • Does your UT essay illustrate your intellect?

Short Answer UT Austin Essay Prompts: Question 2 (Required)

Describe how your experiences, perspectives, talents, and/or your involvement in leadership activities (at your school, job, community, or within your family) will help you to make an impact both in and out of the classroom while enrolled at UT. (250-300 words)

The second of the short answer UT Austin essay prompts addresses your relationship to your community. Through this UT Austin supplemental essay, the admissions team hopes to understand how you will make an impact on their campus.

Overall, the UT Austin essay requirements should help you show the admissions team how your experiences will inform who you will be at UT. This essay is no exception. This UT essay prompt asks you to address how your “experiences, perspectives, talents, and/or your involvement in leadership activities” will help you positively influence the UT community. Note that UT asks you to provide specific details about how your background impacts your role as a community member. That is, they want you to state, in precise terms, how your experiences will help you contribute to UT.

Try brainstorming

You might start this UT Austin supplemental essay with a brainstorming session. Make two lists: one that describes formative experiences, perspectives, talents, and leadership roles, and one that describes your key values and character traits. Once you have these lists, look at how they overlap. For instance, maybe you stated on your values list that you care about showing compassion to others and noted on your experience list that you spend every weekend taking care of your younger brother. Intersections like this will form a strong foundation for your UT essay.

You only have 250-300 words, so once again, you should be relatively brief. Don’t tell longwinded stories; instead, focus on specific experiences you’ve had and how they’ll help you impact your future community at UT. Once you’ve written your first draft, be sure to revise. Every word of your UT essay should make a difference!

UT Austin Essay Draft Key Questions:

  • Do you describe particular experiences, perspectives, talents, or leadership roles you’ve had?
  • Does your UT essay clarify the specific ways you’ll impact the UT community?
  • Does your essay complement the other elements of your application?

Short Answer UT Austin Essay Prompts: Question 3 (Required)

The core purpose of The University of Texas at Austin is, “To Transform Lives for the Benefit of Society.” Please share how you believe your experience at UT-Austin will prepare you to “Change the World” after you graduate. (250-300 words)

In looking at the UT Austin essay requirements, you might have noticed that there’s no conventional “Why UT” essay. However, while it may not seem like it, this is essentially a “Why UT” essay. If you’ve spent time on the UT website, you’ve probably noticed their tagline: “What starts here changes the world.” So, how will you change the world with the skills you develop at UT?

This UT Austin supplemental essay asks for two things. First, it asks you to paint a picture of what your time at UT might look like. Then, it asks you to describe how your experiences will help you change the world after you leave UT.

For inspiration, check out the UT website or their YouTube channel. You might also look through UT’s list of student organizations for a bit more inspiration. Think about the kind of person you would be at UT. What would you study? Which clubs would you join? How would you spend your time? Be as specific as possible—your UT Austin supplemental essay should show that you’ve done your research.

Then, transition to your postgraduate plans. How would the UT experience you envision help you impact the broader world? What skills would UT give you that would help you in your chosen career, both in the practical and the personal sense?

UT Austin Essay Draft Key Questions:

  • Does your UT essay specify why UT—and only UT—will help you meet your future goals?
  • Do you state specific reasons why UT will prepare you for your future career?
  • Does your UT Austin supplemental essay describe how UT will help you positively influence the world after you graduate?

Short Answer UT Austin Essay Prompts: Question 4 (Required)

Please share background on events or special circumstances that you feel may have impacted your high school academic performance, including the possible effects of COVID-19. (250-300 words)

According to the UT Austin website, this UT Austin supplemental essay question is required for all students applying in fall 2021, though it will become optional for students who submit their applications in the spring. Double-check your Coalition App or ApplyTexas requirements before drafting your response. Still, it’s in your best interest to think about how you might respond to the last of the UT Austin essay prompts.

Is there any context that your readers should understand in order to best evaluate your application? For example, maybe you had a bad bout with COVID just before taking the SAT, or had to care for a sick family member during exam season. You might even use this space to talk about how virtual learning impacted your education over the last year and a half.

While many students will use this space to discuss the impact of COVID-19, that’s not the only way you can approach this UT Austin essay prompt. This UT essay question gives you the space to discuss any other “events or special circumstances” that have complicated your high school experience. Additionally, while you should proofread your work carefully, you can approach this UT essay with less artistry than the rest of the UT Austin essay requirements. Above all, make sure that your essay communicates how your education was disrupted so that UT admissions can evaluate your application fairly.

UT Austin Essay Draft Key Questions:

  • Do you describe how your education was disrupted, either by COVID-19 or by other factors?
  • Does your UT Austin essay provide specific details?
  • Is your essay free from any grammatical or spelling errors?

UT Austin Essay Requirements: Final Thoughts

While the UT Austin essay requirements might seem overwhelming, don’t be discouraged. If you start your UT Austin essays early and give yourself plenty of time to brainstorm and draft, you should be in great shape. Don’t be intimidated by the UT Austin essay requirements—instead, use them to your advantage. Good luck!


This 2021-2022 essay guide on UT Austin was written by Abbie Sage, Harvard ‘21. Want more help responding to the UT essay prompts? Click here to create your free CollegeAdvisor.com account or schedule a free advising assessment with an Admissions Expert by calling (844) 343-6272.