How To Write Cal Tech Supplementary Essays (FAQs) | 20239 min read

Cal Tech Supplementary Essays: Cal Tech is one of the toughest schools to get into because of its low acceptance rate.

So, when applying to the school, you must ensure that you send in a strong application to increase your chances of admission into one of the world’s best science and engineering schools.

Caltech has nine different supplementary essay prompts.

This article will provide valuable tips on how to write each of them.

How To Write Each Supplementary Essay Prompt For Caltech

Essay Prompt 1:

Optional: Have you had any extenuating circumstances regarding your coursework (such as limited course selection or disruptions) not described elsewhere in your application? If so, tell us about them here.

In this essay prompt, you will talk about all that stopped you from getting your best academic results in school, from the quality of teachers at the school to individual circumstances that affected you in school.

Even though this essay is not required, you can use it to give possible answers to some things that could hurt your chances of getting in.

For example, if your transcript shows that you dropped out of school for about two years, you could use this essay to explain why you stopped going.

Essay Prompt 2:

Optional: Some Caltech applicants engage in STEM competitions locally, nationally, and internationally (such as AIME, Science Olympiad, and International Science Olympiads.) If you receive any STEM honors or awards, list them here (and scores, if applicable).

Providing the answers to this essay prompt is not a big deal.

However, when doing so, ensure that you only provide honest answers because you will not help your case if the school runs a check and finds out that you were lying about some of your achievements.

Moreover, use a numbered list to arrange your achievements nicely, from the most remarkable and latest ones to the least remarkable and oldest ones.

You can write a short note about the theme of the competition.

Cal Tech Supplementary Essay Prompt 3:

Because of the rigorous core course curriculum, Caltech students don’t declare a major until the end of their first year. However, some students arrive knowing which academic fields and areas already most excite them or which novel fields and areas they most want to explore. If you had to choose an area of interest or two today, what would you choose? Why did you choose that area of interest? (Max: 200 words)

This essay prompt allows you to share your reasons for choosing a particular major.

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In this essay, you will also talk about how this major will help you achieve your career goals and why you think that Caltech is the best place to enable you to do so.

Moreover, you can write this essay excellently by taking the steps below:

  • Try to share your story about what inspired you to pursue a career in STEM.
  • Use bullet points to organize your ideas from scene to scene and moment to moment.
  • If you have a thesis you’ve wanted to look into since then, you can talk about how that thesis influenced your interest in a certain area.
  • Develop a draft.           

Nevertheless, when responding to essay prompts 3, 4, and 5, you can end up repeating points in each of them.

So, ensure that you segment your experiences so that each prompt will discuss how a different experience affected your decision.

This will show how diverse you are.

Essay Prompt 4:

At Caltech, we investigate some of the most challenging, fundamental problems in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. Identify and describe two STEM-related experiences from your high school years, either in or out of the classroom and tell us how and why they activated your curiosity. What about them made you want to learn more and explore further? (Min: 100/Max: 200 words for each experience.)

Caltech is a top-notch academic institution that always looks to admit the best students.

Through this essay’s prompt response, you can inform the school of the talents and academic abilities that make you an ideal student.

You will discuss the STEM areas in which you are particularly interested and why.

You can also discuss some of the projects you did in high school that you would like to learn more about.

Moreover, talk about some things that have motivated you to take up a particular research project or have boosted your knowledge of a study area.

Focus on honestly sharing experiences that authentically ignited your interest; don’t try to say things that are not true or exaggerate, as you will compose a poorly written piece when you share several false details.

Cal Tech Supplementary Essay Prompt 5:

The creativity, inventiveness, and innovation of Caltech’s students, faculty, and researchers have won Nobel Prizes and put rovers on Mars. Still, Teachers also imagine smaller-scale innovations every day, from new ways to design solar cells to 3D printing dorm décor. How have you been an innovator in your own life? (Min: 200/Max: 250)

Caltech is a school that is meant for students who have massive concepts and the mindset to apply them.

Which singular innovation or idea do you have? Please share the details, even if you improved on an existing innovation.

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If you took on a large challenge, such as teaching yourself one new engineering skill every day for 90 days without stopping, make sure you talk about it and provide information about the skills you learned and how they will impact your academic performance.

Moreover, this essay prompt allows you to write a response that clearly shows your biggest STEM achievements or the skills you possess.

However, do not just focus on the big achievements or progress you have made but also share information on the small-scale innovations you have developed or worked on.

Essay Prompt 6:

The discovery process is best advanced when people from diverse backgrounds come together to solve the greatest challenges in their fields. How do past experiences and present-day perspectives inform who you have become and how you navigate the world? (Min: 200/Max: 250)

Caltech always admits students from different parts of the world because they know that a diverse learning environment is a factor that improves learning and encourages creativity.

So, in this prompt, you are expected to respond to how your cultural traits, religion, sexuality, and language will contribute towards sustaining the school’s rich and positive learning environment.

You can also draw insights from your nationality, values, and lifestyle and share some experiences shaping your viewpoints.

Discuss how some of the groups you belong to have influenced your ability to think positively.

Moreover, specifically talk about how you are already considering adding value to the student body and share your insights based on the clubs and programs that run in the school.

You can connect them with the activities that you have engaged in the past.

On the other hand, this prompt offers a question frequently asked by many schools.

Essay Prompt 7:

Optional: If aspects of your identity are not captured elsewhere in this application, please provide that information below. (Max: 150 words)

This particular essay prompt is not compulsory.

However, you can respond to it if there is a particular experience you have not discussed in the other prompts or a particular mentorship that you are embroiled in that has shaped your academic interests.

If there is any aspect of your personality that you have not discussed, this essay prompt should allow you to do so.

Cal Tech Supplementary Essay Prompt 8:

Optional: When not surveying the stars, peering through microscopes, or running through marathons of coding, Caltech students pursue an eclectic array of interests that range from speed-cubing to participating in varsity athletics to reading romance novels. What is a favourite interest or hobby, and why does it bring you joy? (Max: 100 words)

How to select a topic:

Pick a topic that is easy for you and makes you happy.

This essay is not where you pitch your talents, abilities, and achievements but where you talk about your hobbies.

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However, ensure that you only provide honest answers because the reader will easily detect when you amplify your insight.

You can even talk about why you love the hobby and how it helps you.

Essay Prompt 9:

Optional: Did you struggle to narrow it down to just one interest or hobby? We understand – Caltech students like to stay busy, too – tell us about another hobby or interest! (Max: 50 words)

This essay prompt is a follow-up to the last essay prompt.

Briefly talk about another hobby that you have that is not related to the first one in any way.

For instance, if your response to the last essay prompt focused on singing as your hobby, talk about your love for volleyball in this response.

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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) on How To Write Cal Tech Supplementary Essays

Does Caltech care about essays?

The admissions process at Caltech is extremely competitive; therefore, the supplemental essays should be viewed as an opportunity to set yourself apart from the other applicants by demonstrating that you are more than just a collection of numbers.

Is Caltech prestigious?

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) are regarded as two of the world’s finest technological research and education centers. They have equally rigorous coursework, equally accomplished faculty, similarly well-respected alumnae networks, and similarly low admittance rates.

Do people drink at Caltech?

According to the Institute’s substance abuse policy, Caltech is committed to fostering a campus and workplace free from alcohol and drug misuse. Using illegal drugs or alcohol is prohibited during Institute events, whether on or off campus.

How often do college students get drunk?

Eighty percent of college students, or four out of five, regularly drink alcohol. Half of these students reportedly partake in binge drinking, defined as the excessive consumption of alcohol in a short period of time. Many college-bound freshmen already have a drinking problem before they even start classes.


Cal Tech, like most schools, demands supplementary essay responses from prospective students.

This school has 9 essay prompts.

However, to successfully write about any of them, ensure that you apply the tips discussed in this article.

Also, ensure that you proofread your piece thoroughly and even give it to someone to review it before submitting it.

Awesome one; I hope this article answers your question.

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