Writing Tips | How to Write an Essay

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Writing Tips | How to Write an Essay

How to Write an Essay


Before you get started on your essays, read a few of the following persuasive essay writing tips. It's a good idea to review them from time to time while you are writing. Also, don't forget to read the Essay-Writing Absolute Don'ts and Totally Dumb Topics sections in Chapter 5 of Get Into Any College: Secrets Of Harvard Students before you start writing your persuasive essay. Guides like these can be great resources as you learn how to write an essay.

Writing Tips -How to Write an Essay That WIns your Audience


Be Yourself. It is important to show the admissions officers the real you. You want to show why you think or act the way you do, what drives you, or what has moved you. As we said in previous writing tips, choose only the topics that are truly meaningful to you. Speak in your own voice. If you felt secretly happy that your evil opponent lost the quiz bowl, say so. By explaining how you really felt and not how you think the admissions committee would like for you to have felt, you will not only be truthful but will also help to insure that your essay is original.


Razzle, Dazzle, And Captivate Your Audience. When you begin writing, keep in mind that you need to write a truly memorable and persuasive essay. You want your essay to razzle, dazzle, and captivate your audience. To do this, you need to draw the admissions officers into your essay with a quick, catchy, and creative introduction. You want to pique their curiosity by posing questions they will want the answers to and dilemmas they too have faced. Most importantly, you want the admissions officers to be able to relate to your essay (not necessarily to the actual events but to the feelings involved).


Ignore writing tips that encourage you to embellish and provide excessive vocabulary. How you write is just as important as what you write. You should constantly ask yourself if you would be interested in your essay if you were the reader. Imagine yourself as the admissions officer as you read the first few paragraphs and ask yourself what makes you want to finish it? Do not just rely on your opinion. Seek the opinions of others. If your essay does not captivate, does not compel the reader to finish, you will need to rework it.


How to write an essay that grabs the reader’s attention-Create some mystery at the forefront. Start your essay with an introduction that surprises the readers and makes them want to read past the first sentence. For example, you could start your essay with a description of your fear of the sounds of heavy artillery and roaring rapids when you are talking not about your latest trek to the firing range or your summer trip down the Colorado River but actually about your phobia of visiting the dentist. Keep in mind, however, that you have a limited space and therefore your introduction will have to be fairly brief. Do not get too carried away with your own creativity. One of the best writing tips is K.I.S.S. Keep it simple stupid.  It’s a bit tongue in cheek, but the point is a good one. Sometimes less is more when deciding how to write an essay


Raise Intriguing Questions Or Dilemmas. Ponder questions to which you think the admissions officers would be interested in finding the answers. If you raise a question or a dilemma you faced, ask yourself if the reader would be interested in knowing the results of your decision. Putting yourself in the reader’s place will teach you how to write an essay that not only keeps people’s attention, but also gets remembered.


Use Original Language. Try to describe people, places, and events in a unique--but not awkward--style. Appeal to the different senses. What can the reader see from your essay? Hear? Smell? (Hopefully nothing rotten.) By adding rich detail you can often turn an ordinary topic into a one-of-a-kind masterpiece. The more you can bring the reader into your essay by using description the better. Try to think of language as a toy, and play with it. Just make sure that if you use unfamiliar words, you use them correctly. It is better to use ordinary language correctly than to use roller coaster-exciting language incorrectly.


Be Witty, But Only If You Can. Showing your sense of humor will help to make your essay memorable. If you can make the admissions officers laugh or giggle, it will be a definite plus for your application. But, do not go overboard with the humor and remember to have someone else check to make sure that what you think is funny really is funny. Admissions officers love essays that make them laugh. However, admissions officers also despise essays that intentionally try to be funny but are not or that use humor that is simply silly or immature. Our advice is to forget about trying to be funny and just tell an interesting story. If your story is well told and interesting, chances are that any inherent humor in it will show through.


By keeping these points in mind, you should be able to write a decent first draft toward your ultimate goal of creating that irresistible essay. Remember that an irresistible essay is an original that employs a unique angle, addresses a meaningful question or dilemma, and is crafted with thoughtful language.


Want more writing tips? Learn how to write an essay in our College Admissions section


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