I see it in just about every admissions essay I read. Words like, “very” and ”always” and other phrases and adjectives to make accomplishments sound bigger and better. Only one problem: exaggeration in essays is usually not very helpful.
Sure, it gets your reader’s attention. It may even capture their interest. But it doesn’t convince the skeptics or change the minds of the unbelievers. Instead it makes them more skeptical and less likely to believe anything you wrote about.
The most important thing you can do in any essay is tell a real story. Not just a good one but also an authentic and believable one. A story that resonates with the readers, aligns with what they believe, and creates a way for them to feel connected to the plot.
But when you exaggerate, more often than not you create a story that people are not connected to and one they couldn’t imagine taking part in.
So instead of exaggerating, you should describe in detail how things happened. Summarize the background and explain how things turned out in detail. Make the reader feel like he or she was there with you. Like he or she felt the same excitement or fear. And make them experience your anxiety, realizing they would have reacted the same way and learned the same lesson.
Exaggeration doesn’t really have a strong place in such essays. On the other hand, finding common ground with your reader through persuasive yet realistic prose always has a place.