3 Ways to Take an Admissions Essay from Good to Great

We are surprised by how often applicants present essays (either to professors, consultants, or even to the admissions committee) 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 client 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 business school, proper revision requires at least these three crucial steps:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.

Finally, remember this: Time is often one of the most overlooked key ingredients of great admissions essays and personal statements. If you are reading this for the first time and your admissions deadline is just days away, then there’s obviously only so much you can do. But, nothing helps you more than the ability to let your essays “rest” 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.

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