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Personal Narrative Essay Prompts – Choose Wisely

October 23, 2015 - Posted to Writing

Content personal narrative essay prompts

Prompts for Personal Narrative Essay

As you prepare your college admissions package, there will be one component that will absolutely take more time than anything else – writing that essay! Now you may want to think that it is not all that important, but that is just wishful thinking. Admissions committees do really read them, and here is a common situation:

Two or three students have extremely similar backgrounds – good grades, high SAT or ACT scores, lots of activities both in an out of school. The problem is all three cannot be admitted. How will they determine this? By that essay you thought wasn’t all that important.

Steps to Writing a Winning Essay

Choose Your Topic

  1. If you are completing the Common Application, there will be 5 personal narrative essay prompts from which you may choose. These range in topics from a time when you had to go against the values of your family or church; the influence that your background and circumstances have had on forming your values today; description of a time when you failed and explanation of how you worked through that failure, explaining what you learned from it. The prompts are published online; just Google them and get started now, even if you are only a junior. They haven’t changed in the past 5 years.
  2. If you are applying to a college that does not use the Common Application, then get on that college’s website and find the essay prompts. If they are not there, request an application package. Your prompts will be contained in that.
  3. If you are applying to a college that want a personal narrative essay but gives you freedom to pick your own topic, then you will need to get personal narrative essay ideas from other sources. These, too, can be easily found online, so do some significant research before you decided on a topic


Once you have your topic, you will need to spend some time brainstorming. This should not occur quickly. If you have given yourself enough lead time on this, you can take a few months and just jot down ideas as they come to you and put them in a folder.

Sort Your Ideas

The first step in your writing process is to organize your ideas, putting those that relate together and eliminating those that really don’t belong. Fortunately, because this is a narrative, you will either have a chronological timeline or some very specific elements that will each require a paragraph.

Create Your Essay Outline

Personal narrative essay outline not have to be a formal document. You just want to list each of your sub-topics (paragraphs) and the details that will go under them.

Writing the Rough Draft

Do not concern yourself with grammar, spelling and punctuation. Just get your story down in paragraph form. This is just the first step and you will have plenty of time to revise, re-write and refine. This first draft is just for organizing your thoughts well.

The Introduction

If you are not a highly creative person, get some help from this point forward. The introduction is really the key piece and it must completely hook your reader into the piece. If you do not have someone to rely on, consider a professional essay writing service that has creative writers just for this purpose.


You may feel that you do not know how to write a personal narrative essay for college admissions. If this is the case, get a professional to help you. You can provide what you have written, and they can provide the editing and the polish that will really make it pop. Don’t take risks with this essay.

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