Last Minute Essay Tips

The time to complete high school and college applications is here. You may have spent months preparing or are just now beginning to plan. With deadlines looming, it’s tempting to fall back on generic ideas, cliches and, shortcuts. Here are some last minute tips on writing the strongest essay possible.


Answer The Actual Question

Have you checked the question? Have you checked it again? Make sure you are staying on topic. Everything in the essay should be directly connected to the question. It’s easier than you think to get way off topic.

Organize Your Essay

There is no magic formula for writing a good essay, but any essay without a logical, coherent structure will probably stand out, and not in a good way. The type of organization may depend on the type of essay. If you are unsure that your essay has a structure, or how to give it one, organize the events chronologically, making sure that every event in the essay occurs in a time sequence directly after the one before it.

Don’t Be So Dramatic

A common technique in essay writing is to “Show, Don’t Tell” through scenes, action, and dialogue. This can work very well, but it can also lead to over-the-top dramatics, dialogue without context, and a lack of focus. If you present an ordinary event as a dramatic one, you will lose credibility. Everything should fall into place if you have complete control of the story and are answering the question you’ve been asked.

Think Twice About Jokes

Don’t try to be funny. A reader’s laugh will happen naturally, and most likely the writer (you) won’t have to think about it. If you start to think about it, or begin to try to make a joke, stop. Even the funniest joke could strike someone the wrong way or distract from the content of your essay.

It’s Not All About You

Don’t list your achievements again. They are already in your application in many places. The college essay is a great opportunity to show who you are through how you treat, view, and interact with others. How have you been impacted by the ideas, actions, and presence of others? How have they influenced the building of your identity and view of life.