By Dr. Marciene Mattleman

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – What does the essay reveal on a college application…sometimes more than grade point averages and tests. So, when college counselors complained that the option, “topic of your choice,” was being removed, test makers listened.

To preserve flexibility of broad questions, five new question prompts have been added. Students can add a background story, recount an incident when they experienced failure and what was learned from it, reflect on a time when they challenged a belief or idea and would you make that decision again.

They can describe a place where they are perfectly content and why it’s meaningful; and discuss an accomplishment or event that marked transition from childhood to adulthood within their culture, community, or family.

Students this year will have more time to write, but no more than 650 words and no fewer than 250 and Eric Hoover’s article in The Chronicle of Higher Education quotes some advice, “the essay should sound like you.”

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