Common App Guides: Resources to Guide You Through the Different Sections

Padya Paramita

Common App Guides: Resources to Guide You Through the Different Sections

Regardless of where you’re applying to college, chances are you will have to use the Common App. The application system might feel a little tricky with all of the sections you have to navigate. Alongside our complete step-by-step guide to the Common Application, InGenius Prep has also prepared Common App guides that can help you through the different sections in greater detail. 

Common App Guides - The Different Sections

You must fill out each section of the Common App carefully. To make sure you understand each instruction and don’t miss out on anything important, check out our different section by section Common App guides

Education and Honors Sections

Test Score Submission

Activities List

Personal Statement

Additional Information

School Specific Supplemental Essays

Letters of Recommendation

Other Relevant Titles

Your Common Application Timeline

Now that you’ve seen our Common App guides, it’s important that you have an idea of the timeline you should be following. The Common Application refreshes with updates every year on August 1st. This is the date when the sections are updated, alongside most supplemental essays for colleges. Take a look at the broader timeline below:


  • The 2021-22 Common Application opened on the 1st of August. Create an account and start entering the biographical, family, and high school information for these application systems as well. This process takes longer than you think, so get going early! Fill out this section very carefully—you don’t want to be that applicant that mixes up your first name and last name, or your home address and your school address. All of this information can help provide admissions officers with more context about you and your background, so do not forget to verify and proofread. You can also add schools to your Common App and check out if the ones you are interested in applying to require supplemental essays to make that part of your application plans.

Senior Fall — September-October

  • As soon as school opens, start talking to potential recommenders so that they can prepare to write letters for you in the upcoming months. Choose recommenders who actually know you well.
  • It’s time to finalize your college list. Make sure you don’t just plan to apply to reach schools. Keep some target and safety colleges on your radar as well. While it’s definitely great to aim for your dream college, the process is very competitive and you need to keep your options open.
  • Finalize your personal statement. Make sure you’ve edited it — most students go through at least ten drafts.
  • By late September you should know whether you plan to apply early action or early decision to any college. If you’ve got a top choice school, this is the time to let them know that you’re willing to commit. Don’t make this decision lightly. 
  • Start writing supplemental essays for your early decision and/or early action college. Make sure you’ve emphasized why you’d be a strong fit and how you can uniquely contribute to campus.


  • These are the actual months for applying to college! Most early decision and early action deadlines are in the beginning of November. In order to apply early, you must submit all of your application materials, including essays, recommendation letters, transcripts, and test scores by the deadline. Be ready to take the plunge on November 1st!
  • The time between early and regular decision deadlines is very short, so get started on your remaining supplements.
  • December is also the last session for which most colleges accept SAT scores. Ideally, you should plan on finishing your standardized testing by October or November of your senior year. But if you do want to retake the SAT one last time in December, you will need to register for the test by early November.
  • If you’ve applied ED or EA to a school, you will hear back sometime around December 15. If you’ve been accepted, congratulations! Remember that if you’ve applied early decision and your acceptance is binding, you must accept the offer and submit your deposit soon. If you’ve been deferred, or denied, don’t give up! Take the necessary next steps, and keep working on your regular decision applications as well.
  • Most regular decision and early decision II deadlines fall between January 1st and January 15th. All of your application materials should be submitted to the schools on your list! Check and double check that you have everything. Proofread your essays, and get a second set of eyes to read through them as well. Make sure your teachers and guidance counselor have submitted their recommendation letters. Verify that your activities and courses are up to date, and that you have completed all of the questions and essays required for each of your colleges.


  • Keep checking your portal for updates from the colleges you’ve applied to If you’re invited to interview for colleges, make sure you respond in time and attend the interviews. 
  • If you’ve applied ED II to a school, you should hear back sometime between early and mid-February. Hearing back from your top choice school early can take the pressure off from the rest of your applications.
  • After years of hard work, April 15th is time for the moment of truth! Most schools release Regular Decision results by this date. If you’ve been waitlisted at a school you really want to go attend, make sure to write a letter of continued interest and consider sending additional letters of recommendation.
  • Most schools ask that you submit a deposit by May 15th. If you’ve been accepted by multiple colleges, consider different factors before the decision.
  • Congrats — you’ve made it!

Many students are often overwhelmed by the stress of the application season. By keeping track of the timeline and using our Common App guides to take it one section at a time, you can make the process a bit easier for yourself. Good luck!

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