Four Tips to Improve Your Application Essay

App Tips IconWhen it comes to writing a strong application essay, it can be more complicated than dotting your i’s and crossing your t’s.

Today, we’re highlighting four things you can do write right now to improve your application essay:

1. Focus on 1-2 ideas.

Unfortunately, 650 words is not enough to tell your complete life story. But that’s okay! We can still get a sense of who you are if you focus your essay on just one or two overarching ideas. Keep in mind that it’s important to have a clear beginning, middle, and end to your essay.

Ask yourself: When someone finishes reading my essay, what is the one thing I want them to remember about me? Use the answer to this question as your common thread throughout your essay to convey the primary point you want readers to understand about yourself.

2. Let your voice shine through.

It can be tempting to use a thesaurus to make your essay sound more sophisticated. Although a thesaurus can be a useful tool, be careful not to rely on it too much. Avoid unnatural words — we want to your voice to shine through!

  • Unnatural: I invariably find myself ambushed beneath copious volumes of course-work, laboring to inhale air.
  • Natural: I always seem to be trapped beneath copious amounts of homework, struggling to grab a breath of air.

3. Pay close attention to your grammar.

An essay with major errors (or even consistent minor mistakes!) will make it difficult for readers to focus on the story you are trying to tell them about yourself.

Spelling: The spell check feature in your word processing program (e.g., Microsoft Word) is your first defense. Keep in mind that a misspelled word may itself be the correct spelling of a completely different word — your spell check may not catch these types of errors. A good resource is the Merriam-Webster Dictionary. Than/then, we’re/were, there/their, and effect/affect are all examples of common misspellings.

Punctuation: The Grammarly Handbook includes separate tutorials on individual punctuation marks. Be particularly mindful of how you use commas, semicolons, and dashes, and be careful not to overuse the latter two.

  • Incorrect grammar: This is the first time, I had ben told I was special; I wasnt about to let this opportunity slip away as i watched.
  • Correct grammar: This was the first time I had been told I was special and I wasn’t about to let this opportunity slip away as I watched.

4. Revise, revise, revise.

You should plan on going through many drafts. Ask as many people for help as you can. Reach out to teachers, mentors, family, friends, and any other people in your life who will be able to give you valuable advice on your essay. The more tips you can get, the better! You don’t have to take all the advice they give you — go with what you think will be most helpful.

Want more tips? Our Essay Writing Resource provides detailed information to help you write a strong essay.

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