21 Best ‘Describe a Challenge You Faced and How You Overcame It’ Examples

Answering behavioral interview questions can be tricky if you are unsure of their purpose. For example, when a potential employer asks you to describe a challenge you overcame, they want to see how you deal with pressure, setbacks, failures, and unexpected challenges.

A stellar answer will tell them about your problem-solving skills and critical thinking ability. Let’s review some tips for excellent answers, pitfalls to avoid, and look at 21 fantastic example answers.

5 Tips for Crafting Your Best Answer

  • Use a professional or work-related story if you can
  • Try to include a relevant story that can apply to the job position
  • Emphasize what you learned from the challenging situation
  • Keep the interview answer simple and concise
  • Be humble but proud of your accomplishments

5 Mistakes to Avoid

  • Do not say that you have never had to overcome any challenges
  • Avoid too much detail
  • Do not use your answer to blame someone else for a previous issue
  • Stay away from stories with negative outcomes
  • Avoid retelling the story as you being superior to others

How to Answer: STAR Format

When answering common interview questions, the hiring manager hopes your answer gives them a deeper look into your work abilities. Using the proven STAR technique will provide a good example that includes all the key elements they are looking for in an easy-to-follow layout.

The STAR method uses four vital elements, which include:

S: Situation – Start with the simple circumstances as the base for the answer. Were you on a team project and facing a short deadline?

T: Task – What was your part or role in the circumstances? Were you the individual responsible for delivering products to a client?

A: Action – What course of action did you take to solve the original problem? Specify your steps and not that of the team.

R: Result – End your answer with a positive outcome. Did you achieve what you set out to do, or what did you learn from the problem that you can use next time?

Take a look at these real example answers and see how you can prepare for any tough interview questions in your next interview.

Example #1: Filling a Role You Never Held Before

At my first job, I worked as the on-site customer service rep for the store. I was right out of school and did not have any customer service experience until this point. I answered phone and email concerns, forwarded complaints to specific departments, and tried to find workable resolutions.

Even though I was new to handling customer problems, especially in a busy, high-stress store, I learned how to think quickly and empathize with the clients so that they were satisfied with the end results.

Example #2: Fixing the Mistakes of a Coworker Who Was Fired

Working on the production floor at my previous job presented a significant challenge one time. A coworker was let go due to a lack of quality work, and there was a pile of incomplete orders and customer invoices with mistakes that needed fixing.

Because we were both assigned to the same production team, I had to fix the mistakes and clean up the unfinished orders. Although it was stressful and many of the orders were under a tight schedule, I successfully completed the task while balancing my production duties with careful time management.

Example #3: Having to Fire a Coworker

I was in a tough situation at my last job as the shift supervisor. I always try to have a good relationship with everyone at work for a more harmonious environment. Unfortunately, HR approached me to fire one of my coworkers because of some disciplinary issues.

This circumstance was a difficult time for me at first since I had never been the bearer of bad news before. Thankfully, after discussing company procedures and policies with Human Resources, I came up with a plan to let my coworker go as empathetically as possible. Although I do not want to deal with that problem again, I believe I am more knowledgeable on what it takes to get that kind of job done tactfully and professionally.

Example #4: Deal with a Cash Till Shortage Problem

Working as a cashier on the night shift at my previous job posed some challenges. My shift was short at cash-out every evening for an entire week. In addition, management was beginning to suspect employee theft, so I investigated the problem.

I did not want to start blaming coworkers, but I had to find the cause of the shortage before our company lost any more money. After sitting down with everyone on the night shift and going through till receipts, I discovered that one woman working with us had terrible eyesight and mistakenly entered in wrong codes and price counts.

Thankfully, I caught the problem early, she started wearing proper prescription glasses while on shift, and there was no further cash till shortage issues.

Example #5: Act as the Liaison Between Two Disgruntled Coworkers

Even though I was not a supervisor in my previous role, the management team asked me to act as a liaison between two coworkers that had personal issues because I had close personal relationships with both of them.

Although I had no previous conflict resolution training, my employer’s HR team helped me prepare to work effectively with both coworkers. As a result, I see now how having a familiar acquaintance was more productive for diffusing a sensitive situation than having the management team intervene alone.

Example #6: Learn a New Skill to Keep Your Job

When I was working as an administrative assistant, we had a change in ownership. The new management team had their own ideas about what each employee’s current role and duties should entail. After going through my job description, they decided that my position was ineffective and outdated.

The new owners gave me a chance to take some evening classes to obtain my license to sell insurance in the office and take a job on the floor rather than getting laid off. Although it was stressful to face a looming job loss, I decided to pursue the certification and completed it successfully to keep employment.

Example #7: Manage a Sales Team During Company-Wide Layoffs

Working as a sales team manager during the recession was a tough time for everyone. Our organization was going through company-wide layoffs, which had a detrimental effect on the remaining employee’s confidence and job satisfaction.

I could see how the anxiety and stress affected our monthly sales, and I had to find a way to turn it around. So, I took the initiative to talk to management about integrating some no-cost morale-boosting things to incorporate at work to help with everyone’s outlook. Thankfully, by including things like a monthly potluck and casual-dress Fridays, the employees started to enjoy working at the office more and spending time with each other, and our sales improved again.

Example #8: Accept a Promotion When Up Against a Coworker Who Was a Close Friend

One tough situation I faced at my last position was when our supervisor retired and his job was up for grabs. The company conducted an in-house job interview first before looking outside the organization, and consequently, both myself and my coworker applied for the position. The complication was that this coworker was also my close friend.

After two rounds of interviews with the hiring manager, they offered me the promotion to shift supervisor, much to my friend’s disappointment. However, this circumstance gave me insight into being professional and empathetic to coworkers. Although my friend was not happy about being passed over, they eventually accepted that I was the better choice for that particular job, and we have a good working relationship to this day.

Example #9: Being in Charge of Finding Cost-Cutting Measures for the Office

As part of my job as the district manager, my boss came to me for help in finding cost-cutting measures for the office. Although I did not have much accounting and budgeting experience, I embraced this new task and began searching our company processes and procedures for any inefficiencies.

In only two weeks, I distinguished three separate areas where our office could save money. From changing suppliers and distribution companies to allowing employees to take unpaid time off, I decreased our district budget by 12%.

Example #10: Make an Ethical Decision at Work Regarding Some Current Work Practices

Working at a public relations firm presented the biggest challenge that I have faced during my career so far. After working there for only one year, I found that some of my coworkers were making unethical decisions regarding our company’s business practices because of pressure from clients.

Once a client approached me to perform the same favors, I had to decide if my job was worth going against my principles. Eventually, I chose to follow my morals, and although the client was not pleased with my decision, it brought unfair company practices to light with our management team, forcing a positive change for all our staff.

Example #11: Being an Ineffective Manager of a Retail Store

Although it is hard for me to discuss now, I was an ineffective retail store manager years ago. It was my first role in management, and I had outdated ideas of my duties. As a result, my subordinates did not respect me, and there was a high turnaround rate for the first six months of me overseeing the team.

Eventually, the district manager came to me with concerns about my actions and how to handle the employees. By seeking further training and remaining open to better management practices, I was thankfully able to adjust my view and how I dealt with the team on the floor. This way, everyone was happier and more productive.

Example #12: Letting Pride Get in the Way of Asking for Help

At my previous position, I had the chance to take on other jobs during our slow season. Unfortunately, the one task they asked me to handle was an action I was unfamiliar with before. Because I was still pretty new to the job, I felt intimidated and nervous about asking for help since I didn’t want to look like I didn’t know what I was doing.

As a result, I did not complete the task according to how the company wanted, and I ended up wasting more time since I had to redo it after my supervisor took me aside to go over the steps. I know now that it is always better to ask for clarification and ensure that I am on the right track to be more productive.

Example #13: Refusing to See How Much More You Could Learn at Your First Sales Position

I worked as part of a profitable sales team at my previous job. My team was terrific, and we achieved top sales status almost every quarter. However, because of this, anytime my supervisor came to me with a good idea on obtaining new clients, I would brush him off and disregard his advice.

After some time, the management group brought me in to discuss how I was not open to new ideas and was combative at work. At the time, my thought process felt like they singled me out, but now I realize that my disregard for learning new strategies limited my potential. So now, I try to take any ideas a coworker has as having the potential to help me improve.

Example #14: Being in Charge of Hiring a Third-Party Event Planner That Overbilled Your Company

My boss assigned me to hire a third-party event planner for our annual district conference. I spent a lot of time researching the available options and comparing quotes, finally deciding on a local small company to run our event.

Once the event was over and my company received the final bill, there was a significant discrepancy in some charges. There was a miscommunication between what they quoted and what services I chose for them to handle. Facing a more significant invoice than our limited budget allowed, I strategized and agreed with the event planner for a lesser amount, and also committed to using their services for our next event.

In the end, my company had a more manageable bill, and we kept a professional relationship open with a local company. I also learned more about communication skills and having contracts in writing ahead of time.

Example #15: An Angry Client Asked for Your Manager Who Was Not Available and Demanded a Solution

I remember the first time I was the only senior staff member on shift while our manager had to leave for a delivery. While he was gone, I took a phone call from an irate client who had a mistake in their order and demanded to talk to the manager.

Although I have some experience with angry customers, the process at our company was to let the manager handle these types of calls. However, since he was unavailable, the client wanted a solution now rather than waiting for a callback. Thankfully, I took a conflict resolution course the year before, and I could calm the client down and minimize their urgency. This way, my manager could talk to them later about a proper solution.

My manager was impressed with how I handled the call. Because of how effective my methods were, he ensured that every team player could take the conflict resolution course so they would also have the tools to handle this situation if he was not around.

Example #16: Completing Your Monthly Reports Incorrectly

I held a work experience position as an intern right out of school. Although it was only a short-term job, I was keen to try my hand at as many tasks as possible. But, unfortunately, I think I was in too much of a hurry to try and learn everything and missed an important part in my monthly reports.

My supervisor noticed the mistakes and brought them to my attention. Of course, I immediately felt ashamed. But with time, I realized that as long as I own up to my mistakes and make sure I do not continue them, I can learn from any negative situations.

Example #17: Repeatedly Clashing with a Team Member During Major Projects

I worked in a small team at my last place of employment. We oversaw all the accounts payable and receivables. Unfortunately, each month, a report was due that required important information from all four team members. I was consistently clashing with one coworker about generating the details for the document.

This conflict would continue each month, causing stress and time delays. Finally, after some consideration, I approached my supervisor to ask for help to diffuse the situation and figure out a resolution. I am glad I took the initiative because, after that, our supervisor was able to work with both of us to find a workable solution when it came to collecting the necessary data for our monthly reports.

Example #18: After Spending Days on an Important Project, All the Data Was Lost 

I can remember a difficult work situation where I spent many days working on an important project for a new client. My supervisor wanted me to make sure that I met all the customer’s requests. I worked diligently on this project and was satisfied with my progress as I went through their items.

Unfortunately, we had a power surge at our office that took out our power, and my computer took on some damage from it. Within a second, all my hard work was gone. I immediately started to panic but realized that I had to think logically and formulate a plan. I contacted our IT department, and with some careful retracing to our backup server, I could recover most of my work so I could remain on task and complete the project on time.

Example #19: Being Very Driven During a Team Project, and Taking Over Too Much of the Responsibility

I enjoy working in teams, and with my last project, I was a little too enthusiastic when it came to taking on team tasks. So I started trying to handle as many items for the group as possible, believing that the more I did for the group, the better we would be.

Unfortunately, by doing this, I was not allowing each team member a great opportunity to use their strengths and abilities for the group’s benefit. As a result, I stretched myself too thin, and because I was completing too many things at once, I started making mistakes and missing deadlines. In the end, I realized that I could not do everything, and having a competent team to split tasks is the best solution for large projects.

Example #20: Having a Hard Time Following the Direction of Your Manager

Unfortunately, one difficult situation I encountered at my previous employer was when I was having a hard time following the direction of one of my managers. This individual would come to me with tasks that I didn’t feel were relevant to the project or they were not an efficient use of my time.

Consequently, because I did not always follow the directions given to me, I created a wedge between my manager and me that other coworkers noticed. After talking to the Human Resources department, I realized that ignoring or disregarding my manager’s directions was not the best solution. Thankfully, with the amazing group of people on staff, I learned how to accept guidance and when to ask for more clarification if I had concerns.

Example #21: Reacting When a Client Changed a Project Deadline

Thinking back, the biggest challenge I faced at work was when I was working for a prestigious client on a major project. This client was a long-term contract of our company, and I was new to working on their file. I began their new project last quarter and was well into many details when they came back and changed the deadline, moving it up by two weeks.

Once my manager notified me of the change, I started to panic since I didn’t think I would have enough time to complete the project before the due date. So, I talked to my supervisor and discussed some options to complete the job in a shorter time frame. I am glad I reached out because my supervisor assigned another person to help me with the project, and we had it done in time for the client, after all.

Answering behavioral questions is just the first step in the job interview process. One great way to ace an interview is preparing with sample answers that will wow potential employers.

Using details from specific situations will show an employer the best way you handle workplace challenges and if you will be the best fit for the job. In addition, past experiences can help a potential employer relate to you and show your best qualities, even when in stressful situations.

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Essays About Challenges: Top 11 Examples and Prompts

We come across many challenges we must endure throughout life. If you want to write essays about challenges, start by reading some of our top essay examples.

Everyone has had to deal with obstacles or challenges at some point. Some people can overcome hurdles with confidence and bravery, while many others have difficulty trying to face them. However, the challenges we have faced are, without a doubt, a central part of who we are today. Overcoming challenges can make you a better person. The lessons you learn from them are essential for future success, and as with all other experiences, these challenges help form you into the person you are today. They can also be exciting to some, as they test your skills and capabilities. 

If you are writing essays about challenges, look at our featured essay examples below. 

1. Personal Challenges by Delores Goodwin

2. life’s struggles make us stronger – and happier – if we let them by helen g. rousseau, 3. how to overcome your challenges with openness and courage by tony fahkry.

  • 4.  ​​Life: full of challenges by Vaibhav Jain

5. Challenges Facing Public Schools by Lewis Rios

Writing prompts on essays about challenges.

“A challenge will tell an individual more about themselves than anything else in life. Am I a quitter? How much adversity can I take? How badly do I want this? What is my breaking point? Where does my loyalty end? Challenge can ask us hundreds of questions and forces us to answer honestly. Challenges end the talk and make one walk the walk. Create challenges for yourself, it will cause you to see who you really are.”

Challenges are a necessity of life despite the hardship and stress they come with, and Goodwin discusses this in her essay. A great accomplishment cannot be made without a challenge. Without challenges, one becomes complacent, so we must keep facing challenges to keep us mentally and physically strong. Goodwin encourages readers to challenge themselves more to help them delve deeper into who they are. For more, check out these essays about life challenges .

“Every human being has been in this place at one time or another. Sometimes depression can make it more difficult to get away from the edge but any spark of light or encouragement should be used to seek help physically, emotionally or spiritually. When we face a crisis, it effects the all of who we are and thus must be met with our total beings.”

Rousseau reflects on overcoming adversity, recalling when she met with two former coworkers. They talked about their lives, families, and struggles during lunch. They could bond over their shared positive, confident mindset, allowing them to overcome challenges. Rousseau clarifies that if you put your mind to it, you can overcome anything and closes her essay with two of her poems about resilience. 

“Instead of running away from your emotions, lean into them and experience them fully. This transforms your fears and anxiety into empowering emotions. Let go of what you believe life owes you. It owes you nothing since you are the expression of life. Rise to your challenges armed with courage and an open mind. Remain confident that your experiences are serving your personal growth.”

Fahkry explains how to face challenges without stress and suffering. He reminds us that, first of all, we have free will, so we do not have to feel the way we do if we put our minds to it. We cannot change our reality once it is already there, so feeling sad or angry for prolonged periods is useless. If we change our mindsets for the better, we can overcome all adversity. Our fear and anxiety can be turned into confidence, empowerment, and courage. Check out these essays about competition .

4.  ​​ Life: full of challenges by Vaibhav Jain

“A person who has not encountered difficulties in life can never achieve success. Difficulties test the courage, patience, perseverance, and true character of a human being. Adversity and hardships make a person strong and ready to face the challenges of life with equanimity. There is no doubt that there can be no gain without pain. It is only when one toils and sweats it out that success is nourished and sustained.”

In his short essay, Jain writes about the wonders of life as well as its challenges. He likens life to a bed of roses, complete with painful thorns. In general, life is good, but adversity and challenges are prevalent. These two concepts seem different, but one cannot exist without the other. As with the previous essays, Jain explains that challenges make us stronger and help us feel successful and relieved: “there can be no gain without pain.” Without challenges, we take the better parts of life for granted; if we accept and overcome our struggles, we can live life to the fullest.

“In conclusion, public educational institutions experience many challenges ranging from budgetary constraints, student violence and low parental involvement. Much research needs to be done to establish why these problems exist in the first place and lasting solutions for these institutions.”

Rios’ essay explores challenges in an education system; he proposes research on the constraints of the U.S. public school system. Public schools face several economic and social challenges, such as insufficient funding and lack of parental involvement due to many students’ working-class backgrounds. Rios wishes for more research on these problems and possible solutions. 

1. Challenges I Have Faced

In this essay, write about a challenge you previously encountered and how you dealt with it. Provide context by describing the events leading up to it, how it happened, and, most importantly, how you overcame it. Then, describe how you felt after- were you relieved, stressed, or tired? You can also discuss how this experience has affected you today. 

2. Lessons Learned From Challenges

Challenges can teach us a lot about life and the world. Reflect on a challenge you faced previously and what you learned from it, whether positive or negative. As with the previous prompt, feel free to include ways in which the lesson you learned affects you today. 

3. How To Change Your Attitude Towards Challenge

How can you best handle the challenges you may face? Describe the ideal attitude one would need to overcome complex challenges. For example, what qualities would you need to have- courage, prudence, or sensibility? Regardless of what type of attitude you choose to write about, your essay will be substantive if you can adequately support your argument. 

4. Helping Others Overcome Challenges and Adversity

Essays about Challenges: Helping others overcome challenges and adversity

In your essay, you can write about a time you were able to help someone facing a challenge. Who did you help- a friend, family member, or someone else? Then, write about how you helped them, how it made you feel, and how it has impacted your life. 

5. Challenges Faced In Your Home Country

Research one particular challenge your country is facing today, whether that be an economic, social, or political issue. Discuss how this challenge occurred and what began the difficulties. If applicable, include multiple viewpoints on the issue and include information from credible sources. You can also propose possible solutions to this issue. 

6. Challenges The World Currently Faces

Humanity faces challenges on a massive scale, from a climate change crisis to possible third world war to a global pandemic. Choose one challenge the world faces today and write your essay about it. As with the previous prompt, write about the causes and responses to this challenge, and feel free to propose a solution. 

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greatest challenge essay examples

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greatest challenge essay examples

How to Write the “Most Significant Challenge” UC Essay

This article was written based on the information and opinions presented by CollegeVine co-founder Vinay Bhaskara in a CollegeVine livestream. You can watch the full livestream for more info.

What’s Covered:

Understanding the prompt, avoiding common pitfalls, navigating more difficult topics.

The University of California system requires you to answer four out of eight prompts for its essays. Prompt five asks applicants:

Describe the most significant challenge you have faced and the steps you have taken to overcome this challenge. How has this challenge affected your academic achievement? (350 words)

As with any college essay, this prompt is an opportunity to convey a strong personal voice while communicating personal values and strengths that may not readily apparent in other parts of their application. In this article, we will discuss what the prompt is asking, how to approach writing your essay, and advice for navigating difficult topics. 

The first step in answering this prompt is identifying a challenge to reflect on. You’ll want to focus on a challenge that’s personal, genuine and authentic. A common issue that students struggle with is selecting a challenge that is appropriate in scale for the purposes of this essay. Choosing a challenge that may come across as minor in the eyes of admission officers, such as losing out on extracurricular opportunities because of COVID, for example, likely wouldn’t impress your reader in the same way that a more specific, personal challenge would. Navigating COVID as a challenge is going to be a completely overused response to this prompt, and if you want to stand out you should reflect more deeply on a challenge that is unique to you. 

You don’t want your challenge to come off as tone-deaf. For example, writing about a time that your parents refused to purchase something for you would not reflect very well on you and make you sound spoiled. On the flip side, you also don’t want to choose an outsized challenge that doesn’t resonate you. Your topic should be genuine and authentic.

Additionally, because this prompt specifically calls out an impact to your academic achievement, it’s a little bit more restrictive than the similar prompt in the Common Application . To be clear, you don’t have to write about something that directly affected your academics; however, you should be able to relate the process of overcoming this challenge back to your academic performance.

Focusing Only on the Challenge

We’ve already talked about writing a tone-deaf essay, but another trope you want to avoid is what we call a sob story. Writing an essay solely about the challenge and all the pain that it’s caused you is a good place to start an essay, but pain and struggle shouldn’t be where you end. A key element of the prompt is the act of overcoming the challenge and reflecting on that process and where you ended up. If you can’t end this essay in a better place than where you started, you’re not going to have a strong response to this prompt. 

Blaming Others

Additionally, avoid blaming others for your challenges. For example, if you struggled with a particular academic subject, focus on the specific aspects of that subject that challenged you and how you worked to overcome them. It’s easy to blame a bad teacher for a poor academic performance, and it is possible that the teacher might have objectively not been good. 

But think back to the purpose of the supplemental prompts. Colleges want to understand the person behind the application and how they think and relate to the people around them. Shifting blame to your teacher, even if it is  wholly deserved, could signal a lack of personal responsibility or immaturity to the admissions team. Remember that colleges are looking for students who will add to the vibrant campus community, which of course also includes their faculty and the other students.

Regardless of what you choose as your challenge, it’s important to think critically about how you will frame it within the context of your essay. Difficult topics like mental and physical health can be quite effective essay topics as they’re deeply personal and often quite substantial. However, as you begin to think through your essay, remember that two huge elements of the prompt are overcoming the challenge and reflecting on how it has impacted you academically. 

Remember to start with the end in mind. When we say start with the end in mind, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the challenge is now over. Colleges understand that challenges like mental health and chronic pain often don’t go away. It is important that, in the case of a challenge that you are constantly navigating, you clearly and effectively convey how you’ve overcome it or, in some cases, the ongoing steps you take to mitigate it. 

Ultimately, college is rigorous and challenging in itself, and no college or university wants to set you up for failure if they’re not confident that you can succeed. If you cannot effectively demonstrate that the challenge is no longer a risk to your success and wellbeing, consider choosing a different topic.

Looking for more information on how to attack the UC supplemental essays? Check out this post for a comprehensive guide on how to answer each of the eight prompts!

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greatest challenge essay examples

My greatest challenge

  • Published: December 25, 2021
  • Updated: December 25, 2021
  • University / College: University of Kansas
  • Language: English
  • Downloads: 33

My greatest challenge would have to be going back to school to get a better education. I know that I need to go to college and get a degree in something that pays descent, so that I wouldn’t have to worry if I was going to have a job from one day to the next. So, I enrolled into the LPN classes at LBW. I have been going to school for two semesters now and everything is running smooth so far, but I have been told by so many people that it doesn’t get hard until the third or fourth semester.

So, I guess I will be alright until the third semester comes around. Then, I will be running around like a chicken with its head cut off. I know, by going back to school I will be able to support my family the way a husband and father should. I still have a long road ahead of me, but I know as long as I study hard, and do what I am told, their will be no problem finishing the program with flying colors.

My family and friends are all proud of me and will help me along the way if I ever need them. As a father and husband, I believe that it is my duty to make sure that my daughter and wife have everything they will ever need in life. I know that going back to school is a big challenge for someone that has been out of school for a while but I know that if I try hard, I can come out on top. After I graduate from college and start my new job, my wife plans on going back to school also.

She doesn’t know what she will go back for but she knows that it will be something that pays descent. It makes me feel good knowing that my wife and I will both have a degree in something that pays descent and I know that with both of us bringing home some money we will be able to make it thru anything that might come along. With that being said, I think this is going to be the greatest challenge I have ever overcome in my whole life.

greatest challenge essay examples

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Interview Question: "What Was Your Biggest Challenge as a Student?"

Alison Doyle is one of the nation’s foremost career experts.

greatest challenge essay examples

  • What the Interviewer Wants to Know

How To Answer, “What Was Your Biggest Challenge as a Student?”

Examples of the best answers, tips for giving the best response, what not to say, possible follow-up questions, frequently asked questions (faqs).

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When someone applies for an entry-level position, a typical job interview question they might be asked is how they’ve handled significant obstacles in the past. If you are currently in high school or college and lack work experience, interviewers may phrase this question as, “Tell me about the biggest challenges you’ve faced as a student.”

These challenges might be academic or personal—there is a wide gamut of situations you might choose to share. Perhaps you were faced with completing an important team project, but your teammates bailed at the last minute. Maybe you were an officer in an extracurricular or service organization tasked with organizing a major fundraising project. Or, like many students today, you might have struggled to balance your classwork with the demands of a necessary part-time or full-time job.

More important than the challenge is how you handled it: Use this as an opportunity to highlight strengths that would be helpful on the job, such as persistence, communication skills, and time management abilities.

Learn how to answer interview questions about challenges, what to say when you respond, and review examples of the best responses.

Key Takeaways

  • List the interpersonal/people skills that empowered you to overcome challenges as a student and highlight these in your response.
  • Ideally, use your answer to persuade your interviewer that you would readily accept challenges in order to grow your skills and contribute productively to their workplace.
  • Use the STAR interview response technique to create a unique, illustrative example that the interviewer will remember when it comes time to make a hiring decision.

What the Interviewer Really Wants To Know

This question is a way for interviewers to get a sense of how you tackle problems and adversity. They are also interested in your level of self-motivation. Are you an individual who actively seeks new challenges in order to develop your skills and gain knowledge and experience? Or are you someone who passively avoids difficult situations until they arise, and you are forced to cope?

If possible, share examples that demonstrate to your interviewer how you are a person who embraces challenges.

Be honest. It’s tempting to toss back a humble brag as a response, e.g., “My biggest challenge was that I’m such a perfectionist!” Don’t do this. Everyone has flaws and areas for improvement. By pretending you don’t, you’d force the hiring manager to assume that you’re either lying or not self-aware. Neither makes a good impression.

Focus on challenges you’ve conquered. By the same token, now is not the time to present yourself in an unflattering light. There’s no need to share challenges you’re still actively trying to resolve. For instance, if you currently have trouble keeping your cool in stressful situations, don’t tell the hiring manager that you tend to freak out when the pressure is high. Instead, look for examples that show how you faced a challenge and overcame it. So, for instance, if you used to feel stressed before presentations, talk about how you solved the problem by taking a public speaking course and creating a schedule that allowed you to prepare ahead of time.

Look for opportunities to show that you’re the best person for the job. When answering this or any job interview questions, your goal is to show the hiring manager that you’re the best candidate for the position. That means  matching your qualifications to the job  and using your answers to show that you’d be a good fit. For example, if the job listing specifies that the employer is seeking someone with good time management skills, you might talk about how you developed a system to help you juggle a challenging course load and a part-time job.

Here are sample interview answers that you can edit to fit your personal experiences and background. Notice how these responses all demonstrate desirable soft skills that employers hope to find in their new hires.

Example Answer #1

My biggest challenge as a student was being the student. Sitting through the conventional lectures was sometimes difficult. My mind and body were always going, and I couldn't wait to get out of my seat, move around, share my thoughts, and interact with my peers. I handled it by focusing all my energy on listening and note-taking. It helped keep my mind busy and my body moving, and I also left with some great notes.

Why It Works:  This candidate demonstrates a good degree of self-knowledge in admitting that their preferred learning style was one that allowed interactive, interpersonal communications rather than passive listening comprehension. Better still, they demonstrated that they could successfully recognize and adapt to what was a less-than-ideal classroom environment.

Desirable soft skills : Interpersonal communications, teamwork, adaptability, flexibility, and active problem-solving.   

Example Answer #2

My first year was when I faced my biggest challenge as a student. I had never lived away from home before, and I experienced severe homesickness. I was almost defeated by it, and had the opportunity to go home and attend a local college instead. But I decided to try to overcome my homesickness, which I did by making a real effort to connect socially with new friends in my classes, my dorm, and a campus church group.

Why It Works:  This is a smart answer because the speaker shares what is a fairly common challenge for many students, then outlines the steps they took to overcome it.

Desirable soft skills : Self-motivation, problem-solving, personal initiative, and tenaciousness.  

Example Answer #3

Acquiring successful time management skills was the biggest challenge I faced as a student. It was an aspect of college life that I underestimated the significance of. Now that I am in the workforce, I continue to use the skills I gained, and I am always trying to improve on them as well.

Why It Works:  Here, the candidate chooses to focus on a single job skill that they know would make her a valuable and productive employee: time management. They also express their belief in continuous improvement.

Desirable soft skills: Time management, self-initiative, self-knowledge, problem-solving, and willingness to learn.

Example Answer #4

One of the biggest challenges during my first year of college was the volume of work. It was a big change from high school, and standards were also much higher. I tackled this in a few different ways: I looked for opportunities to start or join study groups, met with my professors for advice on where to focus my attention, and set up a structured schedule to make sure I was putting in the required time studying. This resulted in my maintaining a 3.8 GPA, even though I was also working a part-time job to help pay for tuition.

Why It Works:  This answer effectively uses the STAR interview response technique to describe a past S ituation, explain the T ask/Challenge involved, describe the A ction(s) taken, and present the positive R esult of the action.

Desirable soft skills: Strategic planning, problem-solving, personal initiative, communications, organization, and project management.     

Practice your answers . It’s a good idea to have a couple of answers in mind, in case the interviewer nixes your first reply, or the interview goes in a direction you don’t anticipate. Regardless, you should devote some time to  practice interviews  before you meet with the hiring manager. Ask your career services office or a supportive friend to conduct  mock interviews  with you, to get a feel for how to answer questions effectively and organically—and change tracks when necessary.

Emphasize relevant soft skills. Even if you don’t have much professional work experience, as a student you’ve probably developed many of the soft skills (interpersonal or people skills) that employers are thrilled to find in entry-level job candidates. Highlight the soft skills mentioned in the employer’s job posting, then allude to these in your answer. 

Be enthusiastic. Use your tone of voice and body language to express your confidence and willingness to accept the sort of challenges the job would present. Humor, judiciously used, can also work in your favor.

Don’t mention a significant challenge you failed.  Don’t mention an important failure (like flunking a class) or use any sort of example that would raise a red flag with your employer about your reliability, ability to focus, coachability, or work ethic (like, “I had to miss a lot of classes”).

Don’t make excuses.  When explaining a challenge, don’t make excuses for yourself or cast blame on an instructor or your classmates. Avoid negative statements like, “The professor expected too much.”

  • Why should we hire you? -  Best Answers
  • What is your greatest strength? -  Best Answers
  • What are your goals for the future? -  Best Answers

How can I prepare for an interview when I don't have a lot of work experience?

Make a list of your top qualities, skills, and areas of knowledge or experience that match the requirements in the job description. Then think of examples of how you have demonstrated those attributes in jobs or internships, volunteer roles, extracurricular activities, academic projects, or school activities. You'll have examples of how you can succeed on the job ready to share with prospective employers.

What are behavioral interview questions?

Behavioral-based interview questions focus on how you handled work-related situations in the past. Your responses will help the interviewer learn about your behavior, personality, and character. When you don't have formal work experience, you can share examples from your classes, academic projects, extracurricular activities, and volunteering.

CareerOneStop. " Types of Interviews. "

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Blog > Essay Advice , Supplementals > How to Write a Personal Challenge Essay (with Examples)

How to Write a Personal Challenge Essay (with Examples)

Admissions officer reviewed by Ben Bousquet, M.Ed Former Vanderbilt University

Written by Kylie Kistner, MA Former Willamette University Admissions

Key Takeaway

This post is one in a series of posts about the supplemental essays. You can read our core “how-to” supplemental post here .

What is a Personal Challenge supplemental essay?

Personal Challenge supplemental essays ask you to pick a personal challenge you’ve faced, detail how the problem affected you, and describe the action steps you took to overcome it.

These essays can be challenging for students for two main reasons. First, many students feel like they haven’t faced a problem significant enough to talk about. And second, other students have faced a significant problem but may not feel comfortable discussing it in a college essay.

So why do colleges want to know about a challenge you’ve faced anyway?

Well, admissions offices know that life in college and beyond doesn’t always go as expected. Colleges want to see that you’re resourceful, resilient, and capable of thinking critically to solve problems.

At their core, Personal Challenge essay prompts let you to strategically pick a problem you’ve faced and write about how you worked to solve it.

Before we continue, it’s worth saying explicitly: you do not have to talk about trauma you’ve experienced to get into college. No admissions officer will ever want to read anything you’re not ready to share. In fact, sharing negative experiences before you’re ready can actually work against you. Writing about a situation that you haven’t yet come to terms with can result in an essay that is overall too negative and not forward-looking enough to meet the requirements of Personal Challenge essay prompts.

That caveat out of the way, let’s look at three Personal Challenge supplemental essay prompt examples.

1: Brown University

Brown’s culture fosters a community in which students challenge the ideas of others and have their ideas challenged in return, promoting a deeper and clearer understanding of the complex issues confronting society. This active engagement in dialogue is as present outside the classroom as it is in academic spaces. Tell us about a time you were challenged by a perspective that differed from your own. How did you respond? (200-250 words)

2: Colorado School of Mines

Florence Caldwell was the first woman to graduate from Mines. She enrolled in 1895 and found that her fellow classmates discouraged her attendance. She persevered through that discouragement and graduated with a degree in Civil Engineering in 1898. She was described as a problem-solver, who was loyal, kind, and sympathetic to others and displayed unwavering courage. Describe a time when you overcame an obstacle, persevered through a situation, or displayed characteristics similar to Florence Caldwell. (500 words)

3: Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Tell us about a significant challenge you’ve faced (that you feel comfortable sharing) or something that didn’t go according to plan. How did you manage the situation?

Personal Challenge Essay Strategy

When an admissions officer reads your essay among thousands of others , your supplemental essays are one of the main tools you have to stand out. The key to writing a strong Personal Challenge essay is picking the right challenge to talk about.

Personal Challenge essays are all about finding a delicate balance. While your challenge should be a genuine one that you’ve had to wrestle with, it shouldn’t be so challenging that you can’t write about it in a way that is ultimately positive.

While you don’t have to reveal anything you don’t want to, you should choose a genuine challenge.

“Genuine” problems are those that present real challenges to you, your way of thinking, or your overall lived experience.

They are significant. That means that a genuine problem is more than sleeping in late and missing a test. It’s more than losing your big baseball game or forgetting to put gas in the car before a road trip.

Genuine problems don’t necessarily have to be life-changing, but they do have to be deeply meaningful.

Significant challenges might include:

  • conflict or disagreements with friends or loved ones
  • information or an event that challenged your worldview
  • a significant change or loss
  • reconciling with differences
  • Dealing with a disadvantage that sets you apart from others

Pick a challenge that lets you refer to one of your strengths.

Personal Challenge essay questions are actually questions about your strengths in the face of adversity. Since all college essays should be rooted in strengths, your supplemental essays should be no different.

The challenge you pick shouldn’t be a covert way to brag about yourself, but it should represent one of your personal characteristics that is ultimately positive.

Whether your goal is to show your resilience, problem-solving abilities, compassion, understanding, fortitude, or something else, your Personal Challenge essay should work to showcase one of your strengths.

Take the “more phoenix, less ashes” approach.

This is one of the most difficult parts of writing Personal Challenge essays. By nature, Personal Challenge essays are about a challenge. That means that you’re inevitably going to be writing about something difficult.

But essays that only focus on the negative aren’t ultimately serving your college admissions goals. The ultimate goal of a personal challenge essay is to demonstrate how you’ve grown, developed, and changed through dealing with a problem.

The essay isn’t about the problem itself. It’s about your growth.

“More phoenix, less ashes” is a helpful way to remember to focus on the positivity. The phrase refers to the mythology of the phoenix, which rises from the ashes of a predecessor. By focusing more on the phoenix and less on the ashes, you’re focusing on the life, hope, and resilience that comes in the aftermath of a challenge.

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How to Write a Personal Challenge Supplemental Essay

Step 1: Read the prompt.

As you’ve seen from the example Personal Challenge prompts, there are a few ways schools ask these kinds of questions.

Some ask you to focus on a time your perspective was challenged, others ask you to discuss a time you overcame a challenge, and others yet give you the freedom to discuss any personal challenge you want.

You’ll need to know which kind of prompt you’re responding to before you begin brainstorming, so analyzing the prompt closely should always be your first step.

Step 2: Brainstorm some challenges.

Since picking the right kind of challenge is important to writing a good Personal Challenge supplemental essay, it’s probably a good idea to brainstorm a few different options.

This structured brainstorming chart might help you sort through different areas of your life to identify particular challenges.

Step 3: List your action steps, think about what’s at stake, and find a positive focus.

To maintain sight of “more phoenix, less ashes,” it may be helpful to list out a few specific details for each challenge you’re considering writing about.

Specifically, think about three criteria:

  • Action Steps: What specific actions did you take to confront the challenge?
  • What’s at stake?: Why is this challenge one of genuine concern? What implications did it (or its solution) have to your life?
  • Resolution & Lessons: How was the challenge resolved? What were the positive lessons or outcomes that you learned as a result?

Step 4: Pay special attention to your essay structure.

“More phoenix, less ashes” also means structuring your essay in a way that keeps the focus on the positive outcome rather than the challenge.

If the story about your challenge or difficulty takes up 80% of your essay, then there’s a good chance that you haven’t written enough to address the phoenix instead of the ashes. The best way to structure a Personal Challenge essay is to quickly pivot from discussing the challenge to discussing your actions, solutions, and reflections.

Depending on the prompt you’re responding to, your outline may look something like this:

I. Introduce the challenge

II. Describe inciting incident (what caused things to change for the better?)

III. Detail the action steps you took

IV. Expand on your solution

IV. Reflect on the lessons you learned and relate them to the prompt

Personal Challenge Essay Mistakes

Writing about a fake problem.

Since Personal Challenge essays should be about genuine challenges, few things are worse than writing about a fake problem.

“Fake” problems are those that didn’t actually affect you very much. The stakes were relatively low, and your worldview wasn’t significantly altered.

An example of a fake problem would be

Writing about a “convenient” problem.

A “convenient” problem is like a “fake” problem, but it’s one that conveniently allows you to talk about an accomplishment.

Here’s an example:

The biggest obstacle I’ve faced was when my team was down 88-90 in the state basketball finals. There was only one second left on the clock. My team was really starting to get discouraged, so I called everyone together to rally them back up. When the clock started back up, I sunk a three-pointer.

While that obstacle was obviously important in the writer’s life, the story itself comes across as a convenient way to talk about their team leadership and athletic abilities.

Writing an essay that only discusses problems, not solutions.

To return to the phrase we’ve been using, it’s a mistake to write a Personal Challenge essay that is all ashes and no phoenix. If you weigh your reader down with all the heavy details related to your story, it’ll be hard for them to climb out of those details to see your overall message.

To make it easier for them, only include the details that are necessary to understanding your story. Then quickly move on to addressing your action steps, solutions, and reflection.

Personal Challenge Supplemental Essay Example

Example essay: lead pipes.

MIT: Tell us about a significant challenge you’ve faced (that you feel comfortable sharing) or something that didn’t go according to plan. How did you manage the situation? (~200 words)

Two times a day, I fill up my Hydroflask at the drinking fountain near Room 124. With over 1,000 Hydroflasks of water total, this daily ritual has sustained me through countless lectures, math tests, and in-class essays. What I didn’t realize until last May was that this ritual was also slowly poisoning me.(( This introduction draws the reader in and states a compelling and significant problem.))

Built in the 1920s, my school contains a network of lead-covered pipes. Recent tests of the drinking fountain by Room 124 found over 5,000 parts per billion (ppb) of lead–4,985 more ppb than is considered safe to drink. I started organizing my schoolmates immediately after learning this news, and I put together a petition to the school board. With my Hydroflask in tow, I stood before the board and made our case.(( The writer focuses on the latter part of the prompt to answer the question: “How did you manage the situation?” By focusing on the efforts rather than the problem, the student maintains a “more phoenix, fewer ashes” approach that highlights their strengths rather than the problem.)) Unsafe water in our schools was unacceptable, and the board needed to prioritize the health of its students and staff members. We needed renovations.

After weeks of deliberation, the school board announced its decision to delay renovations. They were concerned about budget constraints. My entire community felt betrayed and disheartened. Not one to settle, I decided if the current board members wouldn’t prioritize our health, then we would elect board members who would. Since then, I have been volunteering with two board campaigns, canvasing our neighborhood, and continuing to organize my classmates to advocate for our health.(( Even though the problem became worse, the writer continues to focus on their actions instead.))

There’s not much I can do about the lead I’ve already consumed, but I’ll continue fighting to keep future CHS students safe.

Interested in seeing even more supplemental essay examples? We've got some of our favorites in our list of college essay examples .

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My Greatest Challenge Essay Example

My Greatest Challenge Essay Example

  • Pages: 2 (380 words)
  • Published: March 22, 2017
  • Type: Essay

My greatest challenge would have to be going back to school to get a better education. I know that I need to go to college and get a degree in something that pays descent, so that I wouldn’t have to worry if I was going to have a job from one day to the next. So, I enrolled into the LPN classes at LBW. I have been going to school for two semesters now and everything is running smooth so far, but I have been told by so many people that it doesn’t get hard until the third or fourth semester.

So, I guess I will be alright until the third semester comes around. Then, I will be running around like a chicken with its head cut off. I know, by going back to scho

ol I will be able to support my family the way a husband and father should. I still have a long road ahead of me, but I know as long as I study hard, and do what I am told, their will be no problem finishing the program with flying colors.

My family and friends are all proud of me and will help me along the way if I ever need them. As a father and husband, I believe that it is my duty to make sure that my daughter and wife have everything they will ever need in life. I know that going back to school is a big challenge for someone that has been out of school for a while but I know that if I try hard, I can come out on top. After I graduate from college and start

my new job, my wife plans on going back to school also.

She doesn’t know what she will go back for but she knows that it will be something that pays descent. It makes me feel good knowing that my wife and I will both have a degree in something that pays descent and I know that with both of us bringing home some money we will be able to make it thru anything that might come along. With that being said, I think this is going to be the greatest challenge I have ever overcome in my whole life.

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  • Never Give Up
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Greatest Challenge

Greatest Challenge

Since the third grade my challenge has been the FACT. I was determined not to let this test defeat me again. This assessment has affected me in several ways. My third grade teacher’s thoughts about me passing the FACT were not good. She made accusations, evaluations, and predictions that I had a learning disability. She believed I was withdrawn socially, basically, stating that I had no social skills.

The FACT was a challenge within its own having a teacher who was negative and had no drive in believing in me and in assisting me. This made me wonder and question myself. This assessment test the “FACT,” gave me high anxiety. It was like d©J¤ iv. The same challenge from elementary school; here again to be a pain in my life, I felt that this assessment withdraw me from having a future. I built myself up! I began using strategies to resolve my issue with the FACT. It began with reading books, tutoring, unseeing, and praying.

This test continued to test me. I failed. Failed the FACT; yes, in the tenth grade. I was devastated. Knowing that I failed the FACT saddened me and caused major depression. I came close to passing the test in eleventh grade and missed it by ten points. I was livid. This test was attempting to discourage me again from third grade; through my high school years tenth and eleventh could have stripped me from having my high school diploma. Ultimately, I focused on myself and I challenged myself, and I sacrificed myself to pass this test.

I chose to prepare myself for ACT and SAT; another test that could out weight the FACT test and place me in a neutral place of gaining my diploma. My life was hopeful’ and I was now winning again! This called for excitement. After a few attempts I passed the ACT with high numbers. I began to focus on applying to colleges. Currently, I am transition from high school graduation and becoming a college student. I am so blessed in proving the non believers that I am capable of success.

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  • How to write an argumentative essay | Examples & tips

How to Write an Argumentative Essay | Examples & Tips

Published on July 24, 2020 by Jack Caulfield . Revised on July 23, 2023.

An argumentative essay expresses an extended argument for a particular thesis statement . The author takes a clearly defined stance on their subject and builds up an evidence-based case for it.

Table of contents

When do you write an argumentative essay, approaches to argumentative essays, introducing your argument, the body: developing your argument, concluding your argument, other interesting articles, frequently asked questions about argumentative essays.

You might be assigned an argumentative essay as a writing exercise in high school or in a composition class. The prompt will often ask you to argue for one of two positions, and may include terms like “argue” or “argument.” It will frequently take the form of a question.

The prompt may also be more open-ended in terms of the possible arguments you could make.

Argumentative writing at college level

At university, the vast majority of essays or papers you write will involve some form of argumentation. For example, both rhetorical analysis and literary analysis essays involve making arguments about texts.

In this context, you won’t necessarily be told to write an argumentative essay—but making an evidence-based argument is an essential goal of most academic writing, and this should be your default approach unless you’re told otherwise.

Examples of argumentative essay prompts

At a university level, all the prompts below imply an argumentative essay as the appropriate response.

Your research should lead you to develop a specific position on the topic. The essay then argues for that position and aims to convince the reader by presenting your evidence, evaluation and analysis.

  • Don’t just list all the effects you can think of.
  • Do develop a focused argument about the overall effect and why it matters, backed up by evidence from sources.
  • Don’t just provide a selection of data on the measures’ effectiveness.
  • Do build up your own argument about which kinds of measures have been most or least effective, and why.
  • Don’t just analyze a random selection of doppelgänger characters.
  • Do form an argument about specific texts, comparing and contrasting how they express their thematic concerns through doppelgänger characters.

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greatest challenge essay examples

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An argumentative essay should be objective in its approach; your arguments should rely on logic and evidence, not on exaggeration or appeals to emotion.

There are many possible approaches to argumentative essays, but there are two common models that can help you start outlining your arguments: The Toulmin model and the Rogerian model.

Toulmin arguments

The Toulmin model consists of four steps, which may be repeated as many times as necessary for the argument:

  • Make a claim
  • Provide the grounds (evidence) for the claim
  • Explain the warrant (how the grounds support the claim)
  • Discuss possible rebuttals to the claim, identifying the limits of the argument and showing that you have considered alternative perspectives

The Toulmin model is a common approach in academic essays. You don’t have to use these specific terms (grounds, warrants, rebuttals), but establishing a clear connection between your claims and the evidence supporting them is crucial in an argumentative essay.

Say you’re making an argument about the effectiveness of workplace anti-discrimination measures. You might:

  • Claim that unconscious bias training does not have the desired results, and resources would be better spent on other approaches
  • Cite data to support your claim
  • Explain how the data indicates that the method is ineffective
  • Anticipate objections to your claim based on other data, indicating whether these objections are valid, and if not, why not.

Rogerian arguments

The Rogerian model also consists of four steps you might repeat throughout your essay:

  • Discuss what the opposing position gets right and why people might hold this position
  • Highlight the problems with this position
  • Present your own position , showing how it addresses these problems
  • Suggest a possible compromise —what elements of your position would proponents of the opposing position benefit from adopting?

This model builds up a clear picture of both sides of an argument and seeks a compromise. It is particularly useful when people tend to disagree strongly on the issue discussed, allowing you to approach opposing arguments in good faith.

Say you want to argue that the internet has had a positive impact on education. You might:

  • Acknowledge that students rely too much on websites like Wikipedia
  • Argue that teachers view Wikipedia as more unreliable than it really is
  • Suggest that Wikipedia’s system of citations can actually teach students about referencing
  • Suggest critical engagement with Wikipedia as a possible assignment for teachers who are skeptical of its usefulness.

You don’t necessarily have to pick one of these models—you may even use elements of both in different parts of your essay—but it’s worth considering them if you struggle to structure your arguments.

Regardless of which approach you take, your essay should always be structured using an introduction , a body , and a conclusion .

Like other academic essays, an argumentative essay begins with an introduction . The introduction serves to capture the reader’s interest, provide background information, present your thesis statement , and (in longer essays) to summarize the structure of the body.

Hover over different parts of the example below to see how a typical introduction works.

The spread of the internet has had a world-changing effect, not least on the world of education. The use of the internet in academic contexts is on the rise, and its role in learning is hotly debated. For many teachers who did not grow up with this technology, its effects seem alarming and potentially harmful. This concern, while understandable, is misguided. The negatives of internet use are outweighed by its critical benefits for students and educators—as a uniquely comprehensive and accessible information source; a means of exposure to and engagement with different perspectives; and a highly flexible learning environment.

The body of an argumentative essay is where you develop your arguments in detail. Here you’ll present evidence, analysis, and reasoning to convince the reader that your thesis statement is true.

In the standard five-paragraph format for short essays, the body takes up three of your five paragraphs. In longer essays, it will be more paragraphs, and might be divided into sections with headings.

Each paragraph covers its own topic, introduced with a topic sentence . Each of these topics must contribute to your overall argument; don’t include irrelevant information.

This example paragraph takes a Rogerian approach: It first acknowledges the merits of the opposing position and then highlights problems with that position.

Hover over different parts of the example to see how a body paragraph is constructed.

A common frustration for teachers is students’ use of Wikipedia as a source in their writing. Its prevalence among students is not exaggerated; a survey found that the vast majority of the students surveyed used Wikipedia (Head & Eisenberg, 2010). An article in The Guardian stresses a common objection to its use: “a reliance on Wikipedia can discourage students from engaging with genuine academic writing” (Coomer, 2013). Teachers are clearly not mistaken in viewing Wikipedia usage as ubiquitous among their students; but the claim that it discourages engagement with academic sources requires further investigation. This point is treated as self-evident by many teachers, but Wikipedia itself explicitly encourages students to look into other sources. Its articles often provide references to academic publications and include warning notes where citations are missing; the site’s own guidelines for research make clear that it should be used as a starting point, emphasizing that users should always “read the references and check whether they really do support what the article says” (“Wikipedia:Researching with Wikipedia,” 2020). Indeed, for many students, Wikipedia is their first encounter with the concepts of citation and referencing. The use of Wikipedia therefore has a positive side that merits deeper consideration than it often receives.

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An argumentative essay ends with a conclusion that summarizes and reflects on the arguments made in the body.

No new arguments or evidence appear here, but in longer essays you may discuss the strengths and weaknesses of your argument and suggest topics for future research. In all conclusions, you should stress the relevance and importance of your argument.

Hover over the following example to see the typical elements of a conclusion.

The internet has had a major positive impact on the world of education; occasional pitfalls aside, its value is evident in numerous applications. The future of teaching lies in the possibilities the internet opens up for communication, research, and interactivity. As the popularity of distance learning shows, students value the flexibility and accessibility offered by digital education, and educators should fully embrace these advantages. The internet’s dangers, real and imaginary, have been documented exhaustively by skeptics, but the internet is here to stay; it is time to focus seriously on its potential for good.

If you want to know more about AI tools , college essays , or fallacies make sure to check out some of our other articles with explanations and examples or go directly to our tools!

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  • Sunk cost fallacy

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An argumentative essay tends to be a longer essay involving independent research, and aims to make an original argument about a topic. Its thesis statement makes a contentious claim that must be supported in an objective, evidence-based way.

An expository essay also aims to be objective, but it doesn’t have to make an original argument. Rather, it aims to explain something (e.g., a process or idea) in a clear, concise way. Expository essays are often shorter assignments and rely less on research.

At college level, you must properly cite your sources in all essays , research papers , and other academic texts (except exams and in-class exercises).

Add a citation whenever you quote , paraphrase , or summarize information or ideas from a source. You should also give full source details in a bibliography or reference list at the end of your text.

The exact format of your citations depends on which citation style you are instructed to use. The most common styles are APA , MLA , and Chicago .

The majority of the essays written at university are some sort of argumentative essay . Unless otherwise specified, you can assume that the goal of any essay you’re asked to write is argumentative: To convince the reader of your position using evidence and reasoning.

In composition classes you might be given assignments that specifically test your ability to write an argumentative essay. Look out for prompts including instructions like “argue,” “assess,” or “discuss” to see if this is the goal.

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My Biggest Challenge Essay Example

One of the biggest challenges I've faced in my lifetime thus far occurred during my Junior year of high school. I signed up for a heavy academic load my first semester that I was well capable of finishing on a normal school year—four AP courses and one Honors course. At the same time, I played violin in the high school orchestra, swam on the varsity swim team, and played violin in the Knoxville Symphony Youth Orchestra- a prestigious orchestra near my hometown. I have always pushed myself as a student and for the most part, I excelled in academics. Unfortunately, my Junior year proved to be an exception to the common.

Within the first few weeks of the fall semester, my health began to deteriorate. I suffered from body aches, exhaustion, and several other symptoms that were both frightening and troublesome. My parents sought medical treatment from my pediatrician and specialists at my local Children's Hospital and even specialists from several hours away. It took several months to get a final diagnosis. During that time, I was hesitantly diagnosed with Crohn's Disease but not treated because of the uncertainty of what was wrong with me. After many more tests and doctor visits, I was finally diagnosed with an autoimmune disorder—Hashimoto's Thyroiditis.

Over the course of the fall semester, although I worked diligently as much as my body would allow, I remained very weak and my grades suffered. I was able to reduce my schedule, but at the end of the year, I had two Ds and one F. I had been an honors student throughout my school career—over a 4.0 at the beginning of the year. I was devastated and humiliated to find myself struggling to stay afloat physically and academically, surrounded by peers who were healthy and excelling in school. As a younger student I would get mad at myself for not getting the highest grade or not doing well on a test. I was ashamed to receive those grades at the end of the semester. I thought my chances of getting into colleges were diminished and my hope of getting to enjoy a job I loved in the future started to dwindle as well. Through these struggles and fears during the school year I learned to relax a little and be easier on myself. I am now repeating my AP United States History class with a room full of juniors, so I'm reminded every day of my struggles from last year. But through my struggles of the year, I have learned to relax and enjoy myself while doing well in the class I am repeating.

Although I have always prided myself in being an independent overachiever, this ailment has taught me that I need to be willing to ask for help and support from those around me. I have also learned that I am allowed to fail and make mistakes without the catastrophical happening. As my health has been improving I have been able to get a job during the summer and I worked thirty to fifty hours per week. I am still not feeling 100% better but I am dong much better in my academics and am currently acing all of my classes. With what I have learned over the past year, I will be able to maintain a good balance between my academic load, my extracurricular activities, my part-time job, and my health and well being.

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Greatest accomplishment essay example and topic ideas.

greatest accomplishment essay example

Developing a college essay on accomplishment may seem easy on the surface, but a hard nut on the inner. Why? Most students have not developed the necessary skills and tactics needed to give such an essay a perfect look it deserves. Nevertheless, we are here to help you develop that and make your essay one of the best achievements ever made. At the end of this post, you will be more proud that Isaac Newton, who saw a mango falling from a tree.

An accomplishment essay should have the following components :

  • The challenge
  • The outcome
  • The significance

First things first, we will start with an accomplishment essay example, which will form the basis of our discussion. Let’s do this!

The Greatest Accomplishment Essay: How I Made it in Life “When I was growing up, I had one purpose in mind, to be my boss. Well, many may find it absurd that a young lad who barely knew all the letters of the alphabet would dream of such. As crazy as it may sound, that was my dream, and I had no intention of looking back. The same urge still burned in me ten years later. No doubt that my passion for leadership was in my DNA, and nothing could stop me from achieving it. What is success? One person defined it as the accomplishment of a purpose or an aim. We create success on our own, and this is how I made my success story. I grew up in a humble background, with my mother taking both parental roles. We lived from hand to mouth, and there are times when we would go for two or three fortnights without a meal. Being a single mother, she had to ensure that her two children were well fending for with the little that she could afford. She would take up any job position; a cleaner, a homemaker, a cook, and even one time, a garbage collector. All these were for the best of her children. Don’t think that I was blind to all these sufferings. There are times that she would take me on these jobs, and I had a first-hand experience of how difficult they were. That is where I started developing a longing for a better life. Not just for me, but my family and all the others who were going through the same ordeal. From the little pennies I collected, I began my little savings account. A bank wouldn’t accept my little coins, and so I had a metallic tin, which I dubbed, “my treasure box.” As time went by, my little treasure box began being heavy. One day I decided to open it when I counted the amount; it was kind enough to buy a few packets of sweets. I bought the first three packets, and lucky enough, all of them sold out. The urge to buy more packs of sweets developed, and within no time, I had a small kiosk. Through several ups and downs, I managed to open a small shop with not just sweets but also other essential commodities. The shop did well, and I moved to a mini-market where I would do wholesale and retail services. I eventually opened a supermarket, and that is where my fortune came. Due to the excellent progress of this supermarket, I opened another branch, and the business began expanding. From a sweet seller to the director of a supermarket with branches nationwide! That is how I became my boss by creating opportunities for people like me who did not have a source of income.”

A personal accomplishment essay is as simple as that. You do not have to hustle for the so-called “great” stories. Look for that one achievement in your life and give it your best shot.

Topic Ideas for Writing the Greatest Accomplishment Essay

Show the great strides you made in your education and the accolades you received for the same.

Describe how your interest in medicine drove you to become a doctor

How does one not achieving a specific goal contribute to his/her failure?

  • The Importance of Accomplishment Discuss the privileges, results, and social impact of an accomplishment

Things to Avoid in an Accomplishment Essay

A good essay on accomplishment should not:

  • Be of an ancient achievement
  • Involve a friend, family, or marriage unless the story is genuinely distinctive and has a substantial impact.

To sum up, writing one of the most significant accomplishment essays bears a couple of requirements in mind. You should critically ask yourself specific questions and, after that, reflect on the experiences that answer those questions. If you have a problem on how to do this, we have experts with years of experience who can help you navigate through.

We also offer professional wring assistance with more essay samples for your inspiration. Contact us today.

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Home — Essay Samples — Life — Life Experiences — Challenges

greatest challenge essay examples

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greatest challenge essay examples

College Application Essays and Admissions Consulting

2023 Ultimate Guide: 20 UC Essay Examples

by Winning Ivy Prep Team | Mar 8, 2023 | UC Admissions , UC Personal Insight Essay Examples

20 UC Essay Examples

Additional UC essay resources:

  • Official UC Personal Insight Question prompts are here.
  • Read our UC Essay / UC Personal Insight Essay Tips

Table of Contents

UC Personal Insight #1 Examples

greatest challenge essay examples


  1. My Greatest Challenge Essay Example

    greatest challenge essay examples

  2. Challenges facing college student Free Essay Example

    greatest challenge essay examples

  3. Biggest Challenges Young Adults Face Today Free Essay Example

    greatest challenge essay examples

  4. How To Overcome Challenges Essay

    greatest challenge essay examples

  5. Personal Challenge Experience Essay Example

    greatest challenge essay examples

  6. The Most Challenging Obstacle to Overcome Essay Example

    greatest challenge essay examples


  1. Any name ideas? [CHECK DESC]

  2. Avoid This Terrible College Essay Topic

  3. Finishing a essay last minute: #shortsvideo #funny

  4. It’s very Essay challenge #shorts #tiktok #ytshorts

  5. Essay

  6. Essay Writing Secrets Every Student Needs to Know! 💡📝


  1. How to Write the "Overcoming Challenges" Essay + Examples

    Writing Tips Overcoming Challenges Essay Examples Where to Get Your Essay Edited While any college essay can be intimidating, the Overcoming Challenges prompt often worries students the most. Those students who've been lucky enough not to experience trauma tend to assume they have nothing worth saying.

  2. 21 Best 'Describe a Challenge You Faced and How You Overcame It' Examples

    Example #1: Filling a Role You Never Held Before At my first job, I worked as the on-site customer service rep for the store. I was right out of school and did not have any customer service experience until this point. I answered phone and email concerns, forwarded complaints to specific departments, and tried to find workable resolutions.

  3. 8 Overcoming Challenges College Essay Examples

    Essay 1: Becoming a Coach "Advanced females ages 13 to 14 please proceed to staging with your coaches at this time." Skittering around the room, eyes wide and pleading, I frantically explained my situation to nearby coaches. The seconds ticked away in my head; every polite refusal increased my desperation. Despair weighed me down.

  4. College Essay Series: Writing the Personal Challenge Essay (UC Prompt #5)

    What's my "greatest challenge?" Don't let these words get in your head. You don't need to have the greatest challenge ever, or the greatest challenge of anyone you know, or even what you think others will agree is a great challenge.

  5. How to Write an Overcoming Challenges Essay

    An example challenges essay with analysis How to avoid sounding like a sob story (Part 2: Technique) How to know if your challenges essay is doing its job By the end of this post, you should be all set to write. Differences between a college essay/personal statement and a typical English class essay

  6. Essays About Challenges: Top 11 Examples and Prompts

    1. Personal Challenges by Delores Goodwin "A challenge will tell an individual more about themselves than anything else in life. Am I a quitter? How much adversity can I take? How badly do I want this? What is my breaking point? Where does my loyalty end? Challenge can ask us hundreds of questions and forces us to answer honestly.

  7. How to Write the "Most Significant Challenge" UC Essay

    For example, writing about a time that your parents refused to purchase something for you would not reflect very well on you and make you sound spoiled. On the flip side, you also don't want to choose an outsized challenge that doesn't resonate you. Your topic should be genuine and authentic.

  8. How to Nail Your Overcoming a Challenge Essay

    Examples of "overcoming a challenge" essays. In order to give you a better idea of what these essays look like, let's review some actual "overcoming a challenge" college prompts. The first example is from the Common Application and requires students to respond to the following question with a 650-word limit.

  9. My Greatest Challenge Essay Example For FREE

    My Greatest Challenge I can still remember, maybe when I was five or six years old, the bickering scene of my parents. At the time I was too young to really know what was going on. As I grew older I generally accepted it as the everyday custom of my home, and downplayed it again and again.

  10. My greatest challenge

    This work, titled "My greatest challenge" was written and willingly shared by a fellow student. This sample can be utilized as a research and reference resource to aid in the writing of your own work. Any use of the work that does not include an appropriate citation is banned. ... Our essay sample database helps hundreds of students with their ...

  11. Interview Question: "What Was Your Biggest Challenge as a Student?"

    Interview Question: "What Was Your Biggest Challenge as a Student?" By Alison Doyle Updated on December 3, 2022 Reviewed by Amy Soricelli In This Article View All What the Interviewer Wants to Know How To Answer, "What Was Your Biggest Challenge as a Student?" Examples of the Best Answers Tips for Giving the Best Response What Not To Say Photo:

  12. How to Write a Personal Challenge Essay (with Examples)

    Step 2: Brainstorm some challenges. Since picking the right kind of challenge is important to writing a good Personal Challenge supplemental essay, it's probably a good idea to brainstorm a few different options. This structured brainstorming chart might help you sort through different areas of your life to identify particular challenges.

  13. My Greatest Challenge Essay Example

    My Greatest Challenge Essay Example Available Only on StudyHippo Topics: Challenges Pages: 2 (380 words) Published: March 22, 2017 Type: Essay View Entire Sample Download Sample Text preview My greatest challenge would have to be going back to school to get a better education.

  14. Greatest Challenge

    Sample details Subject: Challenges Plagiarism scanner Do the Check Writing help Ask for Help Read my essay Go to Read Greatest Challenge Since the third grade my challenge has been the FACT. I was determined not to let this test defeat me again. This assessment has affected me in several ways.

  15. Greatest obstacle/challenge secondary essay

    1. Juggling classes, research, and taking my father to physical therapy after he got into a car accident and broke his elbow. 2. My junior year with a clinically depressed, suicidal roommate. 3. Getting a tutoring club started, geared towards high school students. Or this one: I recently got into a car accident, was my brother's car, which now ...

  16. The greatest challenge of my life essay Free Essays

    Greatest Challenge YOU ANTICIPATED BEING YOUR GREATEST CHALLENGE Since the third grade my challenge has been the FCAT. I was determined not to let this test defeat me again. This assessment has affected me in several ways. My third grade teacher's thoughts about me passing the FCAT were not good.

  17. How to Write an Argumentative Essay

    Example: Open argumentative essay prompt What is the greatest challenge facing young people today? Argumentative writing at college level. At university, the vast majority of essays or papers you write will involve some form of argumentation. For example, both rhetorical analysis and literary analysis essays involve making arguments about texts.

  18. My Biggest Challenge Essay Example

    One of the biggest challenges I've faced in my lifetime thus far occurred during my Junior year of high school. I signed up for a heavy academic load my first semester that I was well capable of finishing on a normal school year—four AP courses and one Honors course. At the same time, I played violin in the high school orchestra, swam on the ...

  19. Greatest Accomplishment Essay Example And Topics

    An accomplishment essay should have the following components: The challenge; The action; The outcome; The significance; First things first, we will start with an accomplishment essay example, which will form the basis of our discussion. Let's do this! The Greatest Accomplishment Essay: How I Made it in Life

  20. Essays About Challenges

    384 words | 1 Page. Challenges are a part of everyday life for everyone, shaping our achievements and identity. Challenges build upon us making us stronger and more knowledgeable. Although, many tend to believe that a challenge comes as an obstacle towards our path an adversity however gives an individual...

  21. 20 UC Essay Examples

    Prompt 5: Overcoming a Challenge UC Essay Example #13: "Breaking Up With Mom" Prompt 6: Inspiring Academic Subject UC Essay Example #14 UC Essay Example #15 Prompt 7: Community Service UC Essay Example #16: "House of Pain" UC Essay Example #17 Prompt 8: Strong Candidate UC Essay Example #18: "Jungle Confidence Course"

  22. How to Generate Strong Essay Topics, With 30 Topic Examples

    Here are a few examples of essay topics and accompanying thesis statements: Topic: Changing the legal voting age. Thesis statement: When nations lower the legal voting age to 16, youth civic participation increases. To combat low voter turnout among young adults, the United States should reduce the voting age to 16.

  23. 2023 Ultimate Guide: 20 UC Essay Examples

    UC Essay Example 1: Leader of school choir It's a convoluted masterpiece: 64-pages plastered with musical symbols and Latin. Though Rutter's "Requiem" sounds rather grotesque (and shrieky) when I'm straining to hit an A5, our debut at Carnegie Hall was a hit!

  24. Example Of Greatest Challenge Essay

    Example Of Greatest Challenge Essay - Accelerated Courses. Accelerated courses that allow you to earn your Bachelor's degree in just over 3 years or your Master's degree in 14 to 24 months.