The Writing Sections of The 2013-2014 Common Application
The Common App just released the format of the Writing Sections sections. This information won’t challenge kids as they won’t know what came before. But these changes will take counselors a while to adapt to. In addition to what they released today, while students can submit unlimited alternate versions, they can only make changes to essay three times.
This is what the Common App just released:
“THE WRITING SECTIONS: FIRST LOOK
What writing opportunities are available in the 2013-14 Common Application?
• The Essay. Required of all applicants.
• Additional Information. Optional for applicants who wish to report circumstances or
qualiﬁcations not reﬂected elsewhere in the application.
• Required Explanations. Conditionally required for applicants based on responses to
application questions about school discipline, criminal history, military discharge, or an
What is changing about writing in the Common Application?
• There are 5 new essay prompts. They will be reviewed annually and may change, in
whole or in part, based on member feedback.
• Each writing section will have an enforced 650 word limit. The essay will not allow a
response shorter than 250 words.
• The extracurricular short answer question will be moved to individual member Writing
Supplements for colleges that wish to review an answer to that question.
• Uploaded documents will be replaced by text-entry. Students can compose their
responses directly in the application or cut-and-paste a response drafted in another word
What are the advantages of text-entry relative to uploads?
• Mobile/touchscreen devices can be better supported.
• Word count can be enforced, creating a more level playing ﬁeld for applicants.
Can students format their writing?
Yes. Basic formatting (bold, italics, underline, and accented characters) will be available.
In addition, text pasted from a word processing program will typically retain these styles of formatting. An analysis of 2011-12 essays revealed that 99.7% of them had either no special formatting or the basic formatting that we will support in CA4.
Will students have other opportunities to share more writing or additional submissions?
Yes. Any college that wants to collect and review writing samples may continue to do so on their Writing Supplement. In addition, any member willing to receive uploaded documents such as résumés, research papers, or graded assignments can invite these submissions on their Writing Supplement–or not–as they choose.”
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