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How to Write Common App Essay Prompt 6

This article was written based on the information and opinions presented by Hale Jaeger in a CollegeVine livestream. You can watch the full livestream for more info.


What’s Covered: 



What is Prompt 6?


The Common App essay prompt number six is as follows:


Describe a topic, idea, or concept you find so engaging that it makes you lose all track of time. Why does it captivate you? What or who do you turn to when you want to learn more?


In this prompt you are asked to describe something that you find incredibly interesting, so much so that you become completely enraptured by it. This might seem similar to the first question about an interest or identity but it’s more focused on expanding and deepening a seemingly small idea.


Prompt 6 Ideas and Examples


One example is that you could discuss an interest as simple as stars. You could describe star-gazing as a child. You counted the stars, then you recognized constellations, and now you’ve transformed that initial captivation into a deeper appreciation of the cosmos as a whole – into a love of astronomy and physics. 


Another example could be language, specifically describing how it has evolved and changed over the course of history, how it allows you to look deeper into different cultures, and how learning different languages stretches your mind.


As a final example, if you’re passionate about cooking or baking, you can use specific details by explaining in depth the intricate attention and artistry that you need to make a dish or a dessert. In particular, you can delve into why certain spices or garnishes are superior in different situations, how flavors blend well together and can be mixed creatively, or even the chemical differences between searing and grilling. 


For this common app prompt, you want to be extremely detailed. For example, instead of discussing a broad interest or topic, such as biology, talk about specific sub-topics or concepts, such as genetics or epigenetics. 


Prompt 6 Tips and Tricks


Use Sensory Imagery


Regardless of your topic, this prompt provides a great opportunity to display writing prose through elegant, specific descriptions that leverage your sensory imagery.


Describing the beauty of the night sky, the rhythms and sounds of different languages, or the scent of a crumb all shows passion and captivation in a really direct and evocative way. The key to writing this essay is answering the question of why it captivates you instead of simply saying, “I love cooking”, “I love surfing” or “I love star-gazing”. 


Play Off Your Senses


One important tip is to play off your senses by thinking about what you see, feel, smell, taste, and hear. If you’re talking about surfing, then the salty water, the weightlessness of bobbing over the waves, and the fresh air can cater to the senses. Alternatively for a less physical topic, you can elaborate on how your different senses might affect a train of thought and then use descriptions to show how deeply and vividly your mind dwells on the topic.


Well executed trains of thought or similar tactics are successful ways to convey passion for a certain topic and to answer the second part of the prompt: what or who you turn to when you want to learn more. You simply have to show how you interact with this interest via the person or the medium that you choose.


Brainstorm Your Essay


When brainstorming for this kind of essay, we suggest using a web diagram. This puts your topic that you’re passionate about in the center focus, and helps you think about the branching characteristics, themes, and concepts that are related to the idea.


Make sure to address for each branch why they engage and captivate you, as it will help you gauge the depth of the topic and whether you’ll be able to write out enough for this prompt.


How to Perfect Your Prompt 6 Essay


Want to know if your response to Common App prompt 6 is strong enough for your top-choice schools? Try out our Peer Essay Review tool, where you can get a free, anonymous, and secure review of your essay from another student. You can also improve your own writing skills and earn CollegeVine Karma by reviewing essays from other students!