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Home > Blog > Getting into Private School > Test Preparation
The Writing Sample
This means that you are going to have to do more than throw in a few SAT words to impress them. The key to writing an essay worth reading is writing an essay that has not been written before. It needs to be your own story, not the story you think they want to hear."
The question I have to write a high school admission essay, any tips? on Quora prompted a useful answer from Sophia V. Hegedus on the staff of the University of Minnesota School of Public Health:
"A2A. I agree with the other writers here. Be yourself! Now- enough of the corny- you need to demonstrate how you will contribute to this school. Take a paper, and start brainstorming (or a whiteboard at school) all experiences, or stories where you demonstrated unique qualities of character. For example, perhaps you demonstrated leadership by helping another student in your class understand a tough concept. Maybe you are creative (this was what made me unique all through high school and college) and think of creative ways to approach problems (this is all encompassing doesn’t just have to be school). Maybe you represent a diverse body of people, and you demonstrate that in your interests. Just make sure that you are giving an argument, not a forceful, aggressive, or arrogant way, but a convincing way. Everything you write in the essay should answer the questions, make sure you follow directions! Perhaps make a flow chart- I used to laugh at flowcharts when I was in grade school I would roll my eyes and say “not this stuff again.” Then I got to college and wrote my senior thesis singularly generated from a complex flow chart-you don’t have to use the whole flow chart the purpose is to generate ideas and to make connections. In this case, you are making a flow chart that would answer all the questions by providing EXAMPLES. You do not just say that you a leader- you demonstrate you are a leader. The last crucial step is to have someone look over it and edit. Plan early and don’t wait till the last minute. You can also write for 15mn a day until it is finished- I did this in college and it works wonders. Best wishes!"
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Preparing for Admissions Tests
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Blog Stories 7 Effective Application Essay Tips to Take Your Essay from Meh to Amazing
7 Effective Application Essay Tips to Take Your Essay from Meh to Amazing
In our experience, the main worry that applicants have is that their essay won’t stand out. This is a legitimate concern as you will likely compete with numerous applicants who have backgrounds similar to yours. Therefore, follow these tips to ensure that your essay shines in the competitive admissions process.
1. Analyze the prompt thoroughly
Take three minutes to think about the prompt. If needed, divide the prompt into phrases and look at each aspect. Why would the admissions officers ask this prompt? What do you think they want to know? How does that information relate to your ability to excel in college? Next, leave the prompt for a while and then return to it. Do you see something new?
With so many other things in your schedule, this process can initially seem like a waste of time. However, it will save you a lot of time in the long run. If you later realize that you misread the prompt, you might need to start the writing process from scratch.
2. Organize your writing
Like the first item, this isn’t something that should take a lot of time. This is another step that can initially seem completely skippable, but organizing your writing can save you considerable stress and frustration. A good writing plan can streamline or even eliminate the need to do any significant rewrites.
Brainstorm your anecdotes. Create a rough outline, including approximately how long each paragraph needs to be in order to complete the essay within the word count limits. Finally, figure out when you’re going to write. A paragraph a day? The whole thing next weekend? Creating a schedule, even if you need to modify it later, gets your brain in motion.
3. Show instead of telling
When selecting anecdotes for your essay, pick vivid ones that you can tell succinctly. If a story would require 450 words of a 600 word essay, then you’re not going to have a lot of space to express self-reflection and analysis of the situation. Remember that the admissions officers are more interested in your perspective of what happened than the events themselves.
In addition, keep in mind that the admissions officers don’t know you personally, and that’s why they’re reading your essay. They want to get to know you, and the essay is your first introduction. Because of this, don’t tell them that you’re passionate about public service. Show them through strong examples. Help the admissions officers envision each example as if they’re experiencing the situation alongside you.
4. Know your vocab
Your admissions essay should reflect command of college-level vocabulary. One of the most common mistakes that we see in essays is using advanced vocabulary almost correctly. Even among synonyms, there are shades of meaning. If you’re using a thesaurus, look online for examples of that word in action. Will it still fit into your sentence?
Avoid overdoing it. Advanced vocabulary should be the spice of the essay to give it flavor, so you’ll use plain language most of the time. Essays that are riddled with advanced vocabulary can seem pompous or even inadvertently comical to the reader.
5. Write succinctly
Can you say what you need to say in fewer words? Can you substitute an advanced vocabulary word for a phrase? Writing concisely expresses to the admissions officers that can organize your thoughts and that you respect their time.
6. Combine like ideas into more sophisticated sentence structures
The vast majority of the sentences in your essay should be compound, complex, or a combination of both (compound-complex sentences). Save simple sentences for instances when you need to create impact.
7. Seek qualified second opinions
You should absolutely ask others to take a look at your essay before you submit it. As we work on things, we become blind to mistakes that will be glaringly apparent to others. However, limit the number of people you ask to two or three. Asking too many people for feedback will only confuse you and result in a lower quality essay as you revise the essay according to each person’s advice. Therefore, look to individuals who have background and expertise in the college admissions process. EssayEdge is a great resource for editing services.
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