Essay Advice: UT Short Answers


During the summer, I posted about the changes that UT made to its essay requirements. Now that we are getting deeper into the college admissions season, I’d like to return to the Short Answers and give students more pointers on how to approach the questions.

[I'm going to assume that you know the basics of the UT Short Answers, so if you aren’t familiar with them, check out my previous blog post.]

How to Write UT Short Answer # 1: Career

Even though this question asks what circumstances have contributed to your desire to pursue a particular career, you need to avoid listing all of those circumstances. Treat the response as one that is based in a narrative format, and you should have an easier time collecting your thoughts and showing a meaningful progression.

For example, if you want to be a doctor, don’t state all of your volunteering experiences and clubs you are a member of. Think back to that pivotal moment that put you over the edge--maybe it was a sick family member, maybe it was that volunteering experience in Costa Rica--whatever the case may be, extract a single meaningful event and explain how that really set you on your current path to a medical career.

What would a "medical career" format look like?

  • Part 1: First describe your early fascination with medicine. Then say, “However, it wasn't until Y event that I really got motivated to pursue it.”

  • Part 2: Describe Y Event.

  • Part 3: Explain how Y Event has shaped your desire to pursue a career in medicine.

Note: This format can be adapted for any type of career.

How to Write UT Short Answer # 2: Academic Record

Make sure you actually address the academic record. In other words, you have to define what the academic record means to you and how it either represents you as a student or does not. The key part of this question is "represents you AS A STUDENT." So if you talk about how the academic record fails to show your aptitude as a student, then your example should relate to how you are a student. Do not get off topic and just talk about what you did that made your grades so bad, for example.

What is a general format that works pretty well?

  • Part 1: Define what the academic record means to you and whether or not it represents you as a student [most likely you will say it does not].

  • Part 2: Explain with one example how you did something beyond the record and how this reflects who you are as a student.

  • Part 3: Conclude with talking about the academic record again.

How to Write UT Short Answer # 3: Leadership

This response is the most straightforward of the three, but it's still easy to mess up. Again, it comes down to doing more with less, so you need to identify ONE moment that shows your leadership style. Then you have to explain how that style will be used at UT. Also, for the example you choose, make it count. Don’t select a time you led a class discussion or helped organize paperwork. Choose something of substance, and definitely think outside of the box -- leadership is not just based on people with titles.

How should you structure your leadership response?

  • Part 1: Identify your leadership style.

  • Part 2: Provide one example of how you employed that style.

  • Part 3: Explain how the leadership style will be used at UT.

What else should you know about UT Short Answers?

These short answers are deceptively simple. You have to draft them to be interesting and specific, which means you have to be good at choosing examples that represent your points. If you blast a bunch of ideas into the small response, then your thoughts will be too scatterbrained to make sense or come off as personable and interesting.

If you need assistance on UT Short Answers, then let us at B2A help you! We are happy to read them over and can help you work out any of the kinks. While the answers are short, we know the drafting process can be long, so let us cut down your time but not the quality of your message.

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