Guide to the ApplyTexas Application Portal

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The ApplyTexas portal allows students to apply to every public school in Texas, as well as a number of Texas private schools. While it is similar to the Common App in some ways, it differs in key areas. The purpose of this guide is to help students and parents understand what the application is asking, and some of the strategies behind the answers.

This guide complements ApplyTexas’ guide, which explains in detail how to fill out each field. Instead, this guide will focus more on strategy: what to say, what to avoid, and how to phrase responses for maximum impact.

Create an Account

After selecting “Create New Account” on the ApplyTexas homepage, you will be asked for biographical and contact information. One thing to be careful of here is your email address; make sure it is appropriate, and that colleges will believe they are dealing with a mature adult when they see it.

Once you have logged in, you will be asked to complete your profile. Much like the profile on the Common App, this contains information that will be sent out to every school you apply to. You will need to complete this profile before you can complete the applications required by individual schools. You will be able to go back and edit this profile once you have filled it out.

We’ll now go through the various sections of the profile, then comment on the individual applications for UT Austin and Texas A&M.

Biographical Information: Pages 1-7

Make sure you enter your social security number, this allows schools to connect your application with your test scores, and with your financial aid applications. If you have changed your name, be sure to enter that information as well.

Your citizenship, both American and state residency, matters in admissions for many colleges in Texas, and should be answered honestly. 

You are not required to enter your demographic information, and it can be advantageous at times to leave this blank. If you are caucasian or Asian, we recommend not entering race or ethnicity information.

Make sure you verify your address after you enter it. This is a separate button you will need to click. While colleges have moved many things online, traditional mail is still an important way to reach students. You will need to do this again if your physical address differs from your permanent address (if you are attending boarding school for instance).

After you submit your phone number, make sure your voicemail is set up, or consider using a home phone. Make sure any voicemail message which is set up is appropriate.

Always hit save when you come to the end of a page or section; if you leave the application unattended for too long it will automatically end your session and log you out, and all of your hard work will be lost. 

Educational Background Pages 8-9

Using the “Find your high school” button will allow you to auto-populate information about your high school instead of typing it all out. If you have attended more than one high school, you will have to enter each one.

The portal allows you to submit any college credits earned before graduating high school. This includes dual enrollment, summer programs, or online courses, but not AP or IB classes. This includes classes you are currently in.

You must provide a list of any colleges you have received dual credit coursework or other college credits from. If you answered yes to the question on college credit hours, make sure to include the information about the college awarding the credit. If you do list an institution due to dual credit, they will also need to send a transcript to any colleges you are applying to.

Residency Information Page 10

Most of the ApplyTexas schools need to know whether a student is a Texas resident for tuition purposes. Some schools will also have automatic admission standards for Texas students.

School Applications

Once you have completed the profile, you will be able to apply to individual schools. Click “My Applications” at the top of the page, and then select “Start a New Application.” You will be prompted for what school you wish to apply to, and then which term you intend to enter.

UT Austin

You will be prompted for which school you wish to apply to, and which major within that school is your first choice. You also have the opportunity to input your second choice school and major, though this is optional. We recommend you do this if you are applying to a very competitive major such as Computer Science.

Once this is done, a plaque will appear on the screen for each application created. You may click on this to input various parts of the application. The first section questions you and your background. The second is questions specific to the school, and the third is for any of the ApplyTexas essays the school requires.

Freshmen Questions Pages 1-7

Once you’ve answered these questions for one school, they will be copied over for each new application you begin. We suggest starting with UT Austin, as they are quite thorough in the questions they require. Do not start a new application until you have finished all seven pages, to ensure the information copies over.

Page 1

Input information on your parent’s education carefully. Don’t guess-ask your parents if you are unsure of the right answers.

For the question about language fluency, only add a language if you would be comfortable speaking it for an interview. If you can’t answer a question in that language, don’t put it down.

Family income should be answered honestly; this information will be reported to the schools anyway through FAFSA. If you are not planning to apply for financial aid, you can leave this section blank. For household size, ask your parents or guardian if you are unsure what to put.

If you have family obligations that prevent you from participating in extracurriculars, select yes for this question. You will be able to clarify this in the additional information section. Colleges look for students with a wide array of backgrounds and experiences; needing to help your family won’t hurt your chances of admission, for example, if you had to watch your siblings or couldn’t participate in extracurriculars due to cost.

Page 2

If you are planning to enter a preprofessional program, enter that information here. This is also the page on which you should enter test scores if you are going to submit them. While schools have gone test-optional for 2021-22, they are still accepting test scores. You can enter scores here, and then ask for them not to be considered later in UT Austin’s application if you want them to be seen by another school you are applying to. You should also send score reports directly to schools you are submitting test scores to, in addition to self-reporting.

If you are applying from abroad, or do not speak English as your first language, you may be required to submit an English proficiency test score.

Page 3

On this page, enter all of the courses you are currently enrolled in. We recommend doing this with a copy of your transcript or schedule in front of you, to make sure there aren’t any careless errors.

Page 4-7 Extracurriculars, Volunteering, Honors, and Employment

The extracurricular activities section is for anything you participated in outside the classroom that is not one of the other options offered. Anything that isn’t a job or volunteering is entered here. Hobbies count for this section, not just organized activities. Volunteering is listed on page 5, Honors are listed on page 6, and Employment is entered on page 7, with each following similar formats.



Awards and Honors


If your activities require expanded explanation, consider including an additional resume. This is a better option on ApplyTexas than the Common App, as there is less room to explain your participation in each activity (only 70 characters). The section will allow you to give admissions officers the first glimpse of your interests and accomplishments (the resume will give you room to expound on them). 

You don’t need to fill every activity slot, and you will be able to get into college even if you leave some blank. Only include activities you have actually participated in, and don’t exaggerate or otherwise inflate your accomplishments.

National Honors Society (NHS) fits better in awards and honors than in extracurriculars, especially if you were not very actively involved in running the organization. 

For honors, be sure to list which organization distributes the award, if appropriate.

Employment includes anything you were paid to do, including less formal jobs like babysitting.

Custom Questions

While the first set of questions will copy over, the second set is intentionally unique for each institution. This allows each school to gain information they specifically want to know.

Page 1

UT Austin asks for four additional essays from all applicants. Each of these is 250-300 words. It’s best to draft these essays in a separate word document or google doc and then paste them into the application once you have finished writing and editing it, rather than trying to write and edit it directly within the application.

These essays are on: what you want to major in, how you have displayed leadership, how UT Austin will benefit you, and academic challenges you have faced (including Covid-19).

You must also agree to UT Austin’s honor code, and consent to be emailed by the school. You can opt-in to receiving text messages if you wish.

Page 2

If you are planning to participate in the ROTC program, indicate as much here. There isn’t harm in sharing your information with the scholarship service; it’s up to you if you think it’s the right choice for you.

If you are uncertain what kind of diploma you will receive, ask your high school counselor.

UT Austin requires students to meet certain minimums for coursework. If you are uncertain how some of your high school classes count, ask your high school counselor. We recommend completing this section with your transcript in front of you, to make sure there aren’t errors.

If you think you qualify for fee waivers on the application fees, ask your school counselor for advice on qualifications. We recommend printing out a copy for your records, and also recording your applicant ID in case you need it later. 

Page 3

If you are related to any member of the Board of Regents in any way, answer the question honestly. UT Austin had a scandal about improper admissions in the early 2010s, and questions like this are in response to that.

This is also where you indicate class rank, which is how UT Austin determines eligibility for automatic admission.

Page 4

Honors College programs require additional essays. You should do due diligence and check your chosen school’s website to see which Honors essays are required. You enter the essays on this page, but as with the other essays, we recommend drafting and editing them in a separate document first.


Each school you apply to will indicate which essays are required or optional. Even if all the essays are marked as optional, consider submitting one anyway, especially if you had to write it for another school. UT Austin and Texas A&M both require prompt A, which overlaps neatly with the personal statement required by the Common App.

Texas A&M

The freshmen questions are the same for Texas A&M as they are for UT Austin, and if you have already completed them, they will copy them over when you complete a new application. We do recommend going through them again, just to check your answers.

Custom Questions

Texas A&M has its own set of custom questions, and none of your answers will carry over. 

Answer truthfully on any involvement you’ve had with A&M in the past. You may also either opt in or out of text message communications.

If you think you qualify for fee waivers on the application fees, ask your school counselor for advice on qualifications. We recommend printing out a copy for your records, and also recording your applicant ID in case you need it later. 

If you are related to any member of the Board of Regents in any way, answer the question honestly.

The highest level of math you have completed may determine which courses you are eligible to take, or what prerequisites you will need to complete to participate in your desired major.

Texas A&M requires three essays, each of up to 300 words. These are on diversity, a person who has impacted you, and a life event you feel has prepared you for college. We recommend drafting responses to these in a separate document, and then copy and paste them into the boxes provided.


Some schools also use ApplyTexas for scholarship applications, notably Texas A&M. You can complete this information at the same time as the rest of your application, or submit it later.

If the school does not offer scholarship applications through ApplyTexas, you should check on their individual websites for their scholarship policies. Most schools will require you to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).


Once you have submitted, the schools you have applied to will send you school-specific portals to sign up for. These will allow you to submit additional documents and fill out other information the schools require. 

If you change schools or add or drop a course after submitting, you will need to notify each school you are applying to, either by email or snail mail. This will need to include your ApplyTexas ID number and signature (if you send physical mail). 

Need help with college admissions?

Download our "Guide to Everything," a 90-page PDF that covers everything you need to know about the college admission process.

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