How to Tackle Supplemental Essay Questions




Personal Information: Check

Academic History: Check

Supporting Information: Check

Program Materials: Oh Wow…


This captures my thought process to a T as I navigated CSDCAS for the first time. I was shocked when I got to the “Program Materials” section and saw that each school might ask for three to five supplemental essays, many tailored specifically to a particular program!


After reading through each prompt, I already had writer’s block and did not know where to begin. If you are experiencing this same obstacle, keep reading for tips on achieving that fourth and final checkmark ✓



1. Parse Out Each Question

Many supplemental essay prompts are disguised as three questions in one. I would recommend dividing the question into its parts and writing a paragraph for each with a transition to maintain the flow.


For example:


What was your most memorable observation during your undergraduate experience and what lessons did you take away from it? What would you do similarly and differently to the clinician you observed in your future endeavors?


This is a loaded question! I would break it down into:

  1. What was your most memorable observation during your undergraduate experience?

  2. What lessons did you take away from it?

  3. What would you do

  4. Similarly

  5. Differently

This way, you do not forget to include any information they are seeking, and you can work on each question in pieces, which makes the load more bearable.


Hint! Use the Grad School Organization Spreadsheet Template to keep all of this information organized and check off each supplemental essay you complete!


2. Choose Your Topics

Now that your question is broken into its parts, decide on your main point for each. Let’s continue with this example!

  1. What was your most memorable observation during your undergraduate experience?

  2. My first time seeing an AAC device in action.

  3. What lessons did you take away from it?

  4. Communication is beautiful in all forms and should be celebrated.

  5. What would you do similarly and differently to the clinician you observed in your future endeavors?

  6. Similarly: I would like to be as patient and kind as the clinician I observed.

  7. Differently: I would focus on the most essential words first such as food, water, bathroom, yes, and no before adding accessory words.

At this point, your essay has already begun to form itself. You have strong ideas that you are ready to support with specific examples and transitions!


3. Demonstrate, Don’t Just Describe

Another mistake I made when I dove head first into writing was packing as many ideas into each essay as I could. Because this is how they get to know you, right? Yes, BUT this can be done with greater ease by supporting a few strong ideas with even stronger examples.


By telling a story, your reader will fill in the blanks and have a more colorful picture of you. When you describe an instance where you were kind, rather than stating kindness as your greatest attribute, your reader will connect the dots.

Your resume is a great place to give them the cut-and-dry experiences, dates, and facts. Paint your reader a picture through examples in your essay to add some personality to your application.


4. Tie it all together

When you wrap up each essay, try to tie everything together with a strong concluding sentence. It is so easy to get carried away in telling a story or describing an example, but reel it in and restate the question at the end. Tell them why you and your story are relevant to their program.


Maybe you began with an interesting hook or metaphor, if you can gracefully reference this again, it will make your narrative even more cohesive and compelling.


If you need more help with your essays or personal statement, check out our products & services page to find many helpful products including our Personal Statement Workshop (full of essay prompts to get you thinking about your experiences & relating them to how you will become an amazing SLP), and sign up for a one-on-one coaching call!


As always, feel free to send me an email at hello@speechlyss.com with any comments, questions, or suggestions :) You’ve got this, I am rooting for you!




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