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Essay Writing

Perfecting Your Essay

Once you have an essay drafted, it’s time to start the real work: turning it into your best work.

The following tips should help you make a rough draft into your best work. Some questions to ask yourself are:

  1. Do you have a clear thesis statement? You don’t have to write in the middle school, five-paragraph format, but you should have a clear point that the rest of the essay emphasizes, and it should be the last sentence of your introduction.
  2. Does your thesis clearly address the prompt? One of the easiest mistakes to make in writing a college essay is not answering the question they ask. For example, if the question is Describe your high school experience, you shouldn’t write In high school, I attended a prestigious fellowship program at X university, for your thesis. You can instead write something like My high school experience was enhanced by several academic programs at my school, like __________, and this experience inspired me to study certain disciplines in high school, which changed my outlook on life.
  3. Do the ideas of each paragraph flow logically? The last thing you want in a college is to not make sense. Go over your body paragraphs adjust your transitions and main points so readers can follow your logic, and make the most out of your essay.
  4. Do you use elevated diction and eloquent style? Use some of those fancy words you used while studying for your SAT, and throw in a few CORRECTLY USED semicolons, colons, and dashes. 
  5. Is your message inspiring? Its definitely a challenge, but to write a great essay, you need to leave readers inspired. This can be improved most easily in the conclusion.
  6. Lastly, be mindful of the word limit you are given. Don’t think of this number as a goal to reach, because your essay will just be fluff. Think of it as a maximum space in which you try to fit as much information as possible.

You should get several reviews along the way by teachers, parents, and anyone who is willing to give you some advice. Keep in mind, though, that rewriting your essay can be a great way to improve organization, voice, and the overall tone of your essay: aspects that can be hard to tweak with just edits alone.