It is shocking how often applicants present essays that are nothing more than glorified drafts. Crafting an essay is a time intensive process that requires a great deal of revision in order to write with economy, power, and persuasion. You will almost certainly go through multiple revisions with your consultant, but the applicant who takes the time to execute multiple drafts on their own will be leaps and bounds ahead when it comes time to take the next step.
Whether you are drafting admissions essays for college or for graduate school, proper revision requires at least these three crucial steps:
- On Screen. Review your work on your computer screen and make changes as you go. Doing so will clean up the bulk of your original errors and the most obvious misuses of style and structure.
- On Paper. Walk away from your work and give it some time before sitting down and reviewing the document carefully in printed form. Doing so not only allows you to read from a fresh perspective, but also to lavish more attention on the finer points, such as transition words, passive voice and indexing.
- Read Aloud. While most people take the time to review their own work, few actually read it out loud. Reading aloud forces you to read each word and ensure proper inflection, and it also represents an ideal way to spot excess words, misplaced modifiers and other issues that will trip up a reader.
There’s more great advice in the Veritas Prep Guide to Great Writing, our 10-step resource that enables you to create a starting point for effective, impactful essays. This free guide gives you techniques that you can perfect (with practice) to elevate the art of your writing to the highest possible level. Succeed in doing this, and you significantly increase the likelihood that admissions officers will come away from your essays with a clear view of who you are as an applicant.
Oh, and one final piece of advice: Time is often one of the most overlooked key ingredients of great admissions essays and personal statements. If you are reading this and your admissions deadline is just days away, then there is obviously only so much you can do. But, nothing helps you more than the ability to let your essays “soak” for a few days, after which you can read them with a fresh pair of eyes and read what the essays actually say, rather than what they should say. This is a powerful technique for catching typos, and it can also help you identify where your essays might miss the mark in a bigger, strategic sense.
We hope these ten tips help you in your journey. A finished product is only as good as its starting point, so be sure to take these tips to heart and truly put in the effort to become a great writer!