California Institute of Technology (CA)

Common Application


Early Action: Nov. 1, 2016

Regular Decision: Jan. 3, 2017

Essay Questions:

Common Application Essays:

The essay demonstrates your ability to write clearly and concisely on a selected topic and helps you distinguish yourself in your own voice. What do you want the readers of your application to know about you apart from courses, grades, and test scores? Choose the option that best helps you answer that question and write an essay of no more than 650 words, using the prompt to inspire and structure your response. Remember: 650 words is your limit, not your goal. Use the full range if you need it, but don't feel obligated to do so. (The application won't accept a response shorter than 250 words.)

l   Some students have a background or story that is so central to their identity that they believe their application would be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, then please          share your story.

l   The lessons we take from failure can be fundamental to later success. Recount an incident or time when you experienced failure. How did it affect you, and what did you learn from the experience?

l   Reflect on a time when you challenged a belief or idea. What prompted you to act? Would you make the same decision again?

l   Describe a problem you've solved or a problem you'd like to solve. It can be an intellectual challenge, a research query, an ethical dilemma-anything that is of personal importance, no matter the scale. Explain its significance to you and what steps you took or could be taken to identify a solution.

l   Discuss an accomplishment or event, formal or informal, that marked your transition from childhood to adulthood within your culture, community, or family.


Supplemental Essay Questions:


l   Please list three books, along with their authors, that have been particularly meaningful to you. For each book, please include a sentence explaining their influence upon you (200         characters max). Please note that your response is not limited to math, science or school-assigned texts.

l   Members of the Caltech community live, learn, and work within an Honor System with one simple guideline; 'No member shall take unfair advantage of any other member of the         Caltech community.' While seemingly simple, questions of ethics, honesty and integrity are sometimes puzzling. Share a difficult situation that has challenged you. What was your      response, and how did you arrive at a solution? (200 word max)

l  Caltech students have long been known for their quirky sense of humor, whether it be through planning creative pranks, building elaborate party sets, or even the year-long                 preparation that goes into our annual Ditch Day. Please describe an unusual way in which you have fun. (200 word max)

l   In an increasingly global and interdependent society, there is a need for diversity in thought, background, and experience in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. How     do you see yourself contributing to the diversity of Caltech's community? (200 word max)

l   Scientific exploration clearly excites you. Beyond our 3:1 student-to-faculty ratio and our intense focus on research opportunities, how do you believe Caltech will best fuel your         intellectual curiosity and help you meet your goals? (500 word max)


Documents Required:
  • $75 Application fee
  • Official score reports from the SAT or ACT (with writing section)
  • Official score reports for 2 SAT Subject Tests (must include Math II and one of the following: Biology, Chemistry, or Physics)
  • Official score reports of TOEFL 
  • Secondary School Report and Transcript
  • Mid-Year School Report
  • Two Teacher References

Other Information:

Address: Caltech Undergraduate Admissions
               383 S. Hill Avenue MC 10-90 
               Pasadena CA 91125-3405

Phone: 626-395-6341
Application Info:

SAT/TOEFL Code: 4034
ACT Code: 0182