Scholarship Essay Question Examples

In the scholarship application process, essays give applicants the opportunity to showcase their strengths, abilities, and personalities in a compelling manner. A well-written essay can be the most persuasive part of a scholarship application, which is why much time and care should be put into its preparation.

Essays are often required for scholarship applications. Therefore, it is wise to have five to seven pre-written, edited essays before beginning to apply for scholarships. This will not only help speed up the application process, but will also allow you greater time and preparation to apply for more scholarships. Your pre-written essays may not exactly match the required essay topics; however, you can use what you have already written and adjust it to the topic required by the scholarship application. 

Some Possible Essay Topics:

  • General topics.
  • Tell us about yourself.
  • What traits do you have that will enhance your education and future employment?
  • Who or what inspires you? 
  • Tell us about a book or article you have read that has inspired you.
  • Why do you need this scholarship?
  • Why does education matter to your community?
  • Describe something you have done in the past year that has made a difference in your community.
  • What would you like to do to change the world for the better?
  • Do you consider yourself to be a leader? Why or why not?
  • Describe the solutions you would propose to improve or resolve a current issue, such as health care, the economy, discrimination, or a current topic of your choice. 

Besides the more general topics, scholarship applications may also ask essay questions regarding your field of study, personal achievements, background and influences, future goals, financial need, and other topics. In order to test your problem-solving abilities and check your knowledge of current issues, applications sometimes ask questions regarding current events and social issues. Most of these questions are designed for you to demonstrate your motivation, vision, and creativity. The questions will also give you the opportunity to communicate the qualities and abilities you most want to showcase.

More Examples of Essay Questions:

Field of Study

  • How will your study of _______ contribute to your immediate or long-term career plans?
  • Why do you want to be a _______?

Current Events and Social Issues

  • What do you consider to be the most pressing societal problem we face today? Why?
  • If you had the authority to change your community in a positive way, what specific changes would you make?

Personal Achievements

  • Describe how you have demonstrated leadership ability in your school, work, or community.
  • Discuss a special attribute or accomplishment that sets you apart.

Background and Influences

  • Pick an experience from your own life and explain how it has influenced your development.
  • Who has had the biggest influence in your life and why?

Future Plans and Goals

  • Briefly describe your long- and short-term goals.
  • Where do you see yourself 10 years from now?

Financial Need

  • From a financial standpoint, what impact would this scholarship have on your education?
  • State any special personal or family circumstances affecting your need for financial assistance.

While you cannot predict every essay question, knowing some of the most common ones can give you an advantage on applications. Start brainstorming now and you can prepare to write essays that will persuade scholarship committees of your deserving qualities.

See the articles "Scholarship Master Application" and "How to Strengthen a Scholarship Essay" for more information on the preparation and writing of scholarship essays.

For more information about scholarships, see the following:

Scholarship Sources

Finding Financial Aid on

Emphasizing Strengths in Scholarship Essays

Continuing Education 

Letters of Recommendation


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The way you handle scholarship essay questions will determine how successful your application is. There is no right or wrong answer to a question, but there is a right and wrong way to approach the process. In this guide, we will explore some common scholarship essay questions and learn a few tips for how to address them.

What Are Your Long and Short Term Goals?

These questions may be phrased in several ways: “Where do you see yourself in 10 years?” “How will your current education contribute to your overall career goals?” Your answers should show that you do in fact have a plan for your future that corresponds to your degree program. The scholarship committee wants to see that their money is going to a worthy cause, not someone just testing the waters in college. Create an answer that shows realistic goals that can be achieved through continued education.

What Are Some of the Most Important Issues in Your Field of Study?

Questions like this are designed to gauge your knowledge of current events in your field. A worthy scholarship applicant will be invested in his or her future career. More importantly, the education that leads to that career will ultimately be used to address current issues. At least, that’s how they will view it. Come up with solutions for each problem, or explain how your education would allow you to develop effective solutions.

What Are Your Biggest Weaknesses?

Since this is a scholarship application, you still want to create answers that will put you above other applicants. Turn your weaknesses into opportunities. “I currently have limited knowledge in this area, but with my degree, I will be able to…” you may be sensing a trend here – scholarship committees love solutions. Coming up with a solution shows that you are forward-thinking and intuitive, and both of those qualities are worthy of being rewarded.

Why Do You Need a Scholarship?

This is not an opportunity to tell the scholarship committee a long story about your troubled life. Every person has their own struggles. It’s how you overcome them that matters most. When a financial need question arises, the scholarship committee mostly wants to understand which students have little to no resources for additional funding. For instance, if you are 25+ years old, you could explain how your age limits the number of college scholarships you can apply for. If you’re enrolling in a specialized program, you may discuss the limited opportunities available in that degree field. You can highlight your low household income and limited family resources, but try to stay away from the “sob story” mentality.

Describe an Adult Who Had a Major Influence on Your Life

These are common scholarship essay questions because they give a glimpse into you past. While most people will say a parent, grandparent, or instructor, you could choose someone that is slightly less expected. This doesn’t take away from the value of a good parent, but think about how many scholarship applicants respond with those answers.

If you were raised by a single parent, you could discuss how the other parent was a strong influence because you had to learn how to live without him or her in your life. If you had a neighbor who had a positive work ethic, you could explain how that shaped the dedication you have to your degree. Take some time to look beyond the obvious choices, and you may be surprised by what you come up with.

What Are Your Greatest Personal Achievements?

You can choose any achievement you want for this answer as long as you relate it back to your education or career. For example, if you won a singing competition, you could explain how you learned the importance of practice and preparation. Those lessons could help you during your degree and your career. Take the opportunity to brag on yourself, but don’t forget the mission of the scholarship application.

When All Else Fails, Ask Yourself WHY

Why are they asking me this? What will my answers tell the scholarship committee about my life, my goals and my future? What can I say that will show how worthy I am to accept this award? No matter what scholarship essay questions you come across, try to identify the underlying reasons behind the prompts. This will help you create the best answers to earn their financial support.

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