Common Application Changes for 2021-2022

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By: Jason Robinovitz | Last Updated: June 8, 2021

Changes to the Common App for 2021The Common Application (, accepted by more than 900 universities, undergoes annual changes to improve the application. This year’s changes are primarily based on removing barriers to application completion, thus ensuring equal opportunities for all students. The Common Application will be down for a few days in the last week of July to be updated for next year, and the new application will be launched on August 1st. However, you should be working on this year’s application now as your application will “rollover” to the new application when it launches. At that time, you’ll be walked through a series of screens to initiate the rollover. All seven sections of the Common App will rollover; however, your answers to changed questions will be blank, necessitating your answering the revised questions.

Here’s a summary of the changes:

  • Sex and gender:changes to the common app gender section

    • Questions related to gender identity have been revised
    • Preferred pronouns and first name have been added
    • The label has been changed from “Sex” to “Legal sex”
    • Sex and gender information has been moved from the Personal Information section to the Demographics section (Profile page)
  • Religious preference:

    • The question has been removed because 90% of member colleges ignore it when making admission decisions
  • Citizenship:

    • The Geography and Citizen sections (Profile page) have been combined
    • Questions that may cause barriers for undocumented/DACA students have either been revised, removed, or made optional
  • Military discharge:

    • The question has been removed as few colleges utilize it in making admission decisions
  • Family:

    • Questions that may cause barriers for undocumented/DACA students have either been revised, removed, or made optional
  • School discipline:

    • The question has been removed from the application itself as well as from the School Report and Counselor Report

Each college will still have the opportunity to add any of the removed questions to its individual member page.

Common App added one new essay prompt, an opportunity to reflect on something positive:

"Reflect on something that someone has done for you that has made you happy or thankful in a surprising way. How has this gratitude affected or motivated you?" Click here for the complete list of next year’s essay prompt choices.

Other changes include the following:

  • Testing page:

    • Two additional tests have been added for students who wish to report their scores: Cambridge & Duolingo English
    • The option to add pre-2016 SAT scores has been removed
  • Education page:

  • Courses & Grades section (required by some colleges):

    • Introductory information has been added so applicants will better understand why it’s helpful for some colleges to get their transcript information with their application
  • You’ll see confetti when you submit each application!

Click here to view a PDF of Common App. Note that is hasn’t yet been updated to reflect the 2021-2022 application, but it will be!

Many Common App colleges have additional essay requirements, and while they won’t be available on Common App until August 1st or later, there is a great Writing Requirements Resource, where you can look up the writing requirements for each member college.

Need help completing your Common App? Want to make sure it shines? Just contact our experts – we’ve been guiding students through all aspects of their Common Application for 35+ years!

To learn more, check out the Common Application's webinar on the topic. 

Topics: College Admission Common Application


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