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How to attempt prompt #2 of the Common Application

The second option on the Common Application asks to you to explore a time when you faced failure. If you decide to attempt this prompt, the first thing you need to do is to read the question carefully.

You can break it down into three parts. The first part is basically a description of the failure. The question asks you to recount and to recount is to tell someone about something. You don’t need high levels of imagination to recount your failure. You don’t have to think hard either. You just need to be honest. Give a description of the failure. Make sure that your language is clear and engaging.

How did the failure affect you? How did you respond when you realize that you have failed? This is the second most important part of your essay.

Did the failure evoke any strong emotions? Were you angry? Were you frustrated? Did the failure discourage you? Or did it motivate you? You need to be honest while assessing your reaction to the failure. In hindsight, you might feel that your reaction was inappropriate. Still, it is important to be honest.

What lessons did you learn from this failure? This is the most important part of your essay and hence it should be given extra emphasis. You need strong critical thinking skills to answer this part of the question. Ideally you should be able to assess your failure, learn from it and then move on. This prompt gives you an opportunity to prove that you are capable of doing that.