College Essays – It’s Your Time To Shine— Express Yourself!

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Top 10 Hints for High Scoring Essays

From application essays to senior-year-last-final essays, you’ll spend the next 4+ years expressing yourself through the written word. Some of these essays will be personal while others will be expressive – artful even. Others will be persuasive or argumentative. Whatever the form, there are things to keep in mind as you compose and share your knowledge or experiences with others. We hope you find the “hints” below to be helpful!.

  1. Analyze the Prompt/Question
    Know what the prompt/question is actually asking. Break it down sentence by sentence or even phrase by phrase. Rephrase in your own words.
  2. Answer the Prompt/Question
    Follow the directions exactly! Address every part of the prompt/question. It does not matter how good a writer you are, if you don’t completely answer what is asked you will not receive any credit.
  3. Use Your Time Wisely
    In many instances, you will be writing under a strict time limit. Have a time-line in mind to match the time allowed. For example, if you have 25 minutes to write, plan on 2 minutes planning, 20 minutes writing, and 3 minutes revising and editing. This also applies to out-of-class essays. Don’t wait until the last minute to plan, write, and revise your work – have a plan in place and a time-line!
  4. Start Writing
    If you are stuck at the introduction stage of your essay, start with the other paragraphs. It doesn’t matter in which order you compose the sections as long as you write. You can put them in the correct order as you finish.
  5. Keep Writing
    If you get stuck, focus and take a deep breath – and move on! Don’t stare at the paper or at everything around you except the paper. Move on!
  6. Use Proper Grammar/Syntax
    Don’t write the way you speak – use correct English and make your points concisely and accurately. Don’t bring in outside knowledge or sources. The essay reviewer doesn’t care what you read on the internet about this subject.
  7. Stay on Topic
    Don’t wander off the subject or get side-tracked. You’ve planned out the essay – stick to the plan.
  8. Proofread
    Always leave time to proofread as errors are common when writing a draft for the first time or finalizing a paper that you have looked at so much that your eyes automatically correct any errors. Even if your essay is part of a standardized exam and as such will be graded as a draft, it is best to eliminate as many errors as possible.
  9. Deal With Panic
    Continue writing, don’t worry about what others are doing. Stay focused.
  10. Keep Perspective
    Do the very best you can. If you are taking a timed exam, the reviewer knows this. Relax and just write!

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