A college essay can be one of the most dreaded aspects of the application process. Whether you’re applying to college or looking to get into grad school, there’s no guarantee that you’ll actually get in if you don’t have good writing on your side, and nothing says good writing like an essay that sounds like it was written by a pro—not just a pro writer, but someone who knows how to write well in general.
Here are six essay writing tips that will help you write better essays, whether they’re college admissions essays or anything else.
Planning is one of those steps that most students miss when drafting their essays. If you’re in high school or college, you may even have an essay-writing teacher who lays out a step-by-step structure for you.
In any case, make sure that you’ve gone through these steps: brainstorming topics and organizing key points, writing an outline, drafting multiple rough drafts, getting input from friends and teachers and revising based on their feedback.
2) Finding information
In order to write an essay, you first need information. Collecting relevant material is easy if you already have some idea of what your topic will be. If not, take some time and examine different sources of information. The Internet is often your best bet, but books, journals and even magazines are great ways to find ideas or examples that can work well in your own essay.
So when it comes time to write, there’s no shortage of material for you to draw from!
3) Outlining your ideas
At its core, writing is about communication. And so are essays. So when you write an essay, what you’re really doing is providing information about your topic in an organized way. That’s why outlining—getting all of your ideas together and organizing them into one document—is such an important step when it comes to writing an essay. It helps you understand your point and figure out how you’re going to develop it. It also helps keep you on track as you begin to put your thoughts onto paper.
If there’s anything that can help turn a good writer into a great writer, it’s having a solid outline from which to work.
4) Adopting an essay writing formula
A simple essay writing formula can help you write more effectively. Even if your essay writing is flowing, it’s helpful to have something concrete as a guide. Most essays are in three parts—beginning, middle and end.
The beginning should engage readers with an interesting opening line and/or topic sentence; build up some evidence or reasonings that support your thesis statement (the main idea), and end by summing up what you’ve argued so far.
The body of your essay will be where you develop those ideas further. The end will be a restatement of your thesis along with some concluding thoughts on why it matters. This is often referred to as a five-paragraph essay because there are five paragraphs: one introductory paragraph, two supporting paragraphs and two concluding paragraphs. An alternative structure is called three-pronged because there are three sections: introduction, body and conclusion.
5) Drafting your essay
Before you draft your essay, you’ll want to gather as much information as possible. Start by reviewing the prompt and topic carefully. Make sure that you understand what information is being asked for and exactly how it will be evaluated. Some essays are graded on originality, meaning that students need to avoid simply rephrasing other sources in their paper; for these prompts, it’s best not to reread any of your previous research in your essay draft.
6) Polishing your essay
As you prepare your essay, read it aloud as often as possible. Read it aloud by yourself or with friends—you should hear any repetitions, grammar or spelling errors, and awkward phrasing. Finding mistakes is easier when you read your work out loud because the act of speaking forces you to slow down and consider each word individually. The more times you read your essay aloud, the more polished it will be. It might even sound good when you’re done! If not… keep reading.
Should all these be difficult for you to implement, I usually pay someone to write my paper. You can do that too.