Skip to main content

Sample Questions

Open-ended questions give the candidates a chance to explain themselves and their experiences. Words that begin open-ended questions are:

  • What, Why, How, Tell Me, Describe, Explain, Compare, and Contrast

You should avoid direct or closed-ended questions (i.e. questions that lead to a simple yes/no response). For example, avoid using these opening words:

  • Should, Is, Did, Do, Could, Would, Will

Examples of good questions

  • Tell me about your school: courses, teachers, favorite subject, worst subject?
  • What are the strengths and weakness of your school?
  • What is your overall evaluation of your high school experience?
  • If you could change your high school experience, what changes would you make?
  • What are your future plans: college, major, career?
  • Compare your senior year to the rest of high school. What do you expect of your senior year?
  • What is a highlight of your high school experience? Is there something that will stand out; something that you will always remember?
  • In high school, what would you like to turn into an independent study? If you could take any subject and expand it, what would that subject be?
  • What makes a good teacher?
  • What would be your teachers' recollection of you if one of two of them sat down to discuss you a year from now?
  • What is your favorite book? Is there a literary character with whom you identify?
  • Is there a project, paper, lab, etc. that you were especially proud of when you completed it?
  • If you could get a national grant to research something, what would you want to study/research?


  • What school activities are you involved in: which are the most important; to which you have contributed most?
  • What are your outside activities: community, hobbies?
  • What has being a member of a team taught you?
  • (If a student government leader): What was your campaign platform?
  • Has there been a hot topic at your school as of late?
  • What kinds of activities would you like to pursue in college?


  • What would you do with a free day? Academic or otherwise?
  • What did you do this past summer?
  • Anything you have done or experienced of which you are most proud or about which we should be aware?
  • To date, what have been some of your more important responsibilities?
  • What would you do if you did not attend college next year?
  • What do you do when you're having trouble solving a problem?
  • What qualities would you look for in friends?
  • How do you think you can make an impact at college?
  • What would you like your college experience to be like?
  • How would you want to be remembered?
  • How have you left your mark on your community?
  • If you could meet anyone, dead or alive, who would it be?
  • Do you have a personal hero? This can be anyone, not necessarily someone famous.
  • What have been the biggest failures or frustrations in your life?
  • What are your best friend's strengths and weaknesses? What would they say are yours?
  • If you were to make a list of things that you would like to say that you have done (attempted or completed) before graduating from college, what would be on it?
  • Tell me about a person or an event that has markedly changed you.
  • What would you change about yourself?
  • If we were privy to your peer evaluation right now, what would it say?
  • If your application went before the admissions committee, what would you want to tell them to strengthen your case? What makes you unique?
  • What is something that you can't stop talking about?
  • Have you ever tried something and failed, but were glad you did it? Would you do it again? What did you learn from your experience?
  • What are some of the major issues affecting your peer group and what are some possible solutions?
  • What have you been waiting for me to ask?

Last Updated: 11/24/15