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Wake Forest University Application Essay

For this prompt, Wake Forest is asking you to prove that you have both the empathy and critical thinking skills to derive meaning from works that may not be directly related to your own life. These skills, in turn, will be of great value to any college student! To approach this prompt, first choose the book about which you want to write. (Although “work of fiction” doesn’t necessarily specify a book, it’s typically more meaningful to write about a book, as opposed to a TV show or movie, since written words leave the most room for interpretation.)


You can write about a classic, but if you do, try to avoid writing about something that you’ve read from school (e.g., 1984, The Great Gatsby, The Scarlet Letter) because it is likely that many, many others are writing about the same. But if the only thing you’ve read (in recent memory) is a school book, choose that over something you read recreationally from long ago.


Once you choose your book, your next goal is to demonstrate your interpretation of the world and how your chosen text has helped shaped this perspective. For this essay, one way to do this is by explaining how the book has made you more empathetic to unfairness of random luck that everyone is subjected to, or how the text has motivated you to assume an active role in political events.


For example, The Book Thief may have cemented your understanding of the nuances of human emotions during World War II, or The Kite Runner may have introduced you to the intricacy of early 20th-century Middle Eastern conflicts. With a relatively high word limit of up to 300, you can spend time explaining your perspective before reading the book and contrast it with your perspective afterwards. Including specific details from the book would be especially convincing to admissions officers.


Finally, wrap up the essay by generalizing your new viewpoint on this particular political event to your novel perspective on the world as a whole. This illustrates to Wake Forest University your ability to learn from all mediums, and your ability to reflect on other’s trauma or difficult experiences as your own.

Holding standard procedure to a higher standard.

For the record, it’s not that we think standardized tests are evil. We just think that the measure of your intelligence and potential requires a deeper dive. It’s about life experience, aspiration, work ethic, engagement and all of what makes you who you are. That’s why we believe so strongly in the interview process. Numbers rarely tell the whole story.

In May of 2008, Wake Forest announced that it would no longer require applicants  to submit scores in standardized tests such as the SAT or the ACT.  The policy went into effect with the class that entered in the Fall of 2009, and we’re very glad we made the move. Ethnic diversity in the undergraduate population increased by 54 percent from Fall 2008, the final year in which scores were required, to the Fall of 2015. Furthermore, there has been no difference in academic achievement at Wake Forest between those who submitted scores and those who declined to do so.

Others are starting to take notice. In January 2016, the Harvard Graduate School expressed support for the test-optional concept by including it on a list of methods colleges should consider in the name of reducing test-related stress.

Again, numbers cannot tell the whole story, but they have provided hard evidence to support what our instincts originally told us: Making test scores optional would not compromise the academic quality of our institution, but it would make our university more diverse and intellectually stimulating.

It’s simple. If you think your scores are an accurate representation of your ability, feel free to submit them. If you feel they are not, don’t. You won’t be penalized.

Update For Fall 2017 Applicants

If you are a Fall 2017 applicant for the freshman class and would like to submit your test scores as part of your application, please be aware of the following:

  • An official ACT or SAT score report must be submitted directly from the testing agency in order for your scores to be considered.
  • We will accept scores from the “old” SAT and the “new” SAT. Wake Forest will consider your highest section scores from any sitting on the same version of the SAT to form the highest possible composite score. We will not combine section scores from the old and new tests.
  • The scores from the Writing section of the ACT and the Essay section of the new SAT are not required.