Essay writing lesson 6: Editing and revising

“If one thing could be perfect, it should be the essay.” – Admissions Officer Writing is not a one-time act. Writing is a process. Memorable writing comes more from rewriting than it does from the first draft. By rewriting you will improve your essay — guaranteed. If you skimp on the rewriting process, you significantly reduce the chances that your essay will be as good as it could be. Once you have taken a break from your essay, come back and read it through one time with a fresh perspective. Analyze it as objectively as possible based on the following three components: substance, structure, and interest. Do not worry yet about surface errors and spelling mistakes; focus instead on the larger issues. Consider reordering your supporting details, delete irrelevant sections, and make clear the broader implications of your experiences. Allow your more important arguments to come to the foreground. Take points that might only be implicit and make them explicit. In order to figure out where revisions are necessary, you are going to need as many different sets of eyes to read your essay as possible. Whether it is you or one of your friends, family members or teachers, these questions will help guide your revision process. What To Look For When Revising SUBSTANCE Substance refers to the content of the essay and the message you send out. It can be very hard to gauge in your own writing. One good way to make sure that you are saying what you think you are saying is to write down, briefly and in your own words, the general idea of your message. Then remove the introduction and conclusion from your essay and have an objective reader review what is left....

Essay writing lesson 5: Introductions and conclusions...

Surprised to see introductions as the topic of our second-to-last lesson? Most writers find that it is nearly impossible to craft an essay by beginning with the introduction. The best leads often develop during and after writers have written the remainder of the essay. Maybe a fantastic introduction or conclusion is caught floating around in the middle of your rough draft. Maybe you find that your essay does not even need an introduction or conclusion (see sidebar). More likely, however, it is in these later stages that you have a good sense of the way your essay is shaping up, all the way to the nitty-gritty details. Since beginnings and endings can be the most challenging and important part of any piece of writing, you will want to take advantage of a completed rough draft. Part of the reason why introductions and conclusions are so difficult is that writers tend to worry about them too much. Writing teachers give so much attention to the need for a thorough introduction and a sharply drawn conclusion that anxious essayists compensate by going overboard. They feel that in order to appear mature and worldly, their essays must contain profound insights and sweeping observations. While your introduction and conclusion need not provide the answers to every worldly problem, they do need to be engaging. Admissions officers may spend just a few minutes reading your essay. Your introduction must grab their interest from the beginning and your conclusion must make a lasting impression. EssayEdge Extra: No Introduction??!! Most applicants assume that a good essay must have an introduction and conclusion. While most essays do require these bookends, there are some instances in which an introduction and conclusion can actually diminish the quality of your...

Essay writing lesson 4: Style and Tone

Over the years, our editors have seen some amazing stories become dreadfully boring and some ridiculously dry topics transform into an exciting read. The culprit (or hero): writing style. Witness the advice of some admissions officers: Use a conversational style and easy-to-understand language to project a genuine, relaxed image. Make sure that your essay is readable. Don’t make us work. Give your essay momentum-make sure that the parts work together and move to a point, carrying the reader along. Don’t bore us. More often it is the monotonous style, and not the subject matter, that makes these essays dull. A large majority of the corrections made by our editors fall into one of five categories: 1.- Sentence variety Many students think that the longer the sentence they write, the better the sentence. This is far from the truth. You do not need long, complicated sentences to show that you are a good writer. In fact, short sentences often pack the most punch. The best essays contain a variety of sentence lengths, mixed within any given paragraph. Try reading your essay out-loud, pausing at every period. Listen to the rhythm of your prose. Are all of the sentences the same length? If each of your sentences twists and turns for an entire paragraph, or you run out of breath at any point, break them up into smaller statements. You may also want to try a more methodical approach: EXERCISE Once you have completed your essay, try labeling each sentence “short” (under 10 words), “medium” (under 20 words), or “long” (20 or more words). A nice paragraph might read something like M S M L M S. A dry essay would be S S S M L L L. 2.- Word...

Essay writing lesson 3: Structure and outline

The easiest way to sabotage all the work you have done so far is to skip this lesson. Writing is as much a discipline as it is an art, and to ensure that your essays flow well and make sense, you need to construct solid outlines before you write. Unless you conscientiously impose structure around your ideas, your essay will be rambling and ineffective. An outline should make sense on its own; the ideas should follow logically in the order that you list them. As you add content around these main points, these words should support and reinforce the logic of the outline. Finally, the outline should conclude with an insightful thought or image. Make sure that the rest of your outline reinforces this conclusion. The body paragraphs should consist of events, experiences, and activities you have already organized in chronological order or in order of importance. In many of the essays that our editors read, the order of paragraphs seems to have been chosen at random. Make clear why one point follows another: each point in your outline should connect with the next; each main category should be linked to your introduction or thesis; and each sub-category should be linked to the main category. As you make your outline you should be able to see where there are holes in your essay. Descriptions and Examples of Popular Essay Styles and Structures Example Structure The Example Structure follows the rules of a traditional academic essay: begin with a main argument or thesis statement, follow this with three pieces of evidence that support the argument, and wrap up by stating what the essay has shown. This is a good structure to use when making a single, strong point. Its power...

Essay writing lesson 2: Brainstorming a topic

Choosing an essay topic can be one of the most difficult aspects of the entire admissions process. Questions often ask you to think about your entire life, pick just one thing, and talk about it in great depth. Even the most reflective writers are left wondering: “How am I supposed to know the ONE event that has changed my life or the one thing that represents my entire personality.” In all likelihood there isn’t just one. But there probably is one that you can write about most passionately and effectively. The most important part of your entire essay is finding this one subject. Without a topic you feel passionate about, without one that brings out the defining aspects of you personality, you risk falling into the trap of sounding like the 90 percent of applicants who will write boring admissions essays. Coming up with this idea is difficult and will require a great deal of time. But whatever you do, don’t let this part stress you out. Have fun! EssayEge Extra: One Essay, Multiple Applications By now, you have figured out that you can save time by submitting the same or similar essays for the applications to various schools. If you are creative, you will be able to plug in many of your answers into some not so similar questions, too. It is fine to lift whole paragraphs or even entire essays and apply them to different questions-as long as you do so seamlessly. Be absolutely sure that you have answered the question asked. Pay special attention to the introductions and conclusions-this is where cutting and pasting is most evident. Thorough proofreading is imperative if you take shortcuts like these. If a school notices that you have obviously swapped...

Essay writing lesson 1: Tackling the Question

Think of the essay as the face of your application. An application without an essay is a statistic – just another faceless person in a crowd. An application with a poorly written essay does not give admissions officers the chance to care about you. Use simple psychology: make them feel that they know you, and it will be harder for them to reject you. Make them know you AND LIKE YOU, and they might accept you despite your weakness in other areas. Understanding the importance of the essay is a necessary first step toward perfecting your application. If you are normally a procrastinator, you should understand that your success depends entirely on the amount of time and effort you put into the essay writing process. If all of this has you sweating, you can relax now. Taking this process seriously is the first step. This course will help you get through the other steps. Admissions essay questions tend to be very broad and difficult to tackle. Yet, it is imperative that you actually answer the question in your essay. It should go without saying, but if your essay does not address the question, then everything you learn in the rest of this course is for naught. While looking at your application, you are probably asking yourself: “Why in the world are these admissions people asking me this question? What do they want me to write about?” While there is no one answer to either of these questions, there is some reason behind the most popular questions posed by applications. Most common application questions and Sample Essays with comments by admissions officers: Why M.B.A.? Questions  Contribution and Diversity Questions  Accomplishment Questions  Leadership Ability Questions  Hobby and Extracurricular Questions  Role Model...