Try to write a complete first draft before you worry too much about editing. Otherwise you might find your creativity hampered by your analytical side. Once you have a first draft finished, set it aside for a few days or more if you have that luxury. When you return to it with a fresh perspective, you will probably notice many problems that did not occur to you before and recognize better ways of handling various points.
Do not hesitate to edit at all levels, even if it means you will be doing a lot of rewriting. Throw out entire paragraphs if you cannot recall what purpose they were serving. Replace boring passages with vivid details and banal generalizations with sharp insights. Cut and paste until you have achieved the optimal structure. Fine-tune every sentence until it is clear, concise, and graceful.
Is there such a thing as over-editing? If you begin to lose sight of your goals and can no longer distinguish between constructive and unconstructive changes, then you may begin to detract from the freshness and strength of your essay. At that point, the only course you can take is to set the essay aside again until you can read it with a clear mind.
The following checklist is divided into the basic categories that we used to organize this course: content, structure, and style.
- Are you answering the actual question given in the prompt?
- Have you been sincere and personal?
- Is your essay within the word limit?
- Will your reader find the essay interesting?
- Are you showing rather than telling?
- Does your introduction grab the reader's attention?
- Do you explore your experiences in sufficient depth?
- Does your essay contain a high level of detail and concrete evidence?
- Have you avoided unsubstantiated claims?
- Do you offer specific, personal insights rather than trite generalizations and clichés?
- Does your essay reveal anything meaningful about your character?
- Do you avoid summarizing information that can be found elsewhere on your application?
- Will your essay make you stand out?
- Does your conclusion leave a lasting impression?
- Can you identify an overarching theme? Have you articulated that theme in the essay?
- Does your theme have multiple layers and genuine depth?
- Do you have a reason for placing every paragraph where it is?
- Do your paragraphs flow smoothly? Are there any gaps or jumps?
- Does each point build upon previous points, or does your essay sound like a list?
- Have you written insightful transitions and resolutions that highlight your key themes?
- Are your stories well integrated into your essay?
- Is the essay clear and coherent? Have you strengthened its impact by using the optimal structure?
- Have you achieved a simple, straightforward style?
- Have you varied your sentence constructions?
- Have you avoided unnecessarily fancy vocabulary?
- Have you avoided passive voice?
- Have you achieved active writing through the use of strong verbs?
- Have you avoided overusing adjectives and adverbs?
- Is your tone conversational, rather than too casual or too formal?
- Have you conveyed confidence, enthusiasm, and passion?
EssayEdge Extra: Soliciting Feedback
All writers rely on outside feedback. You may want to use friends, family, and teachers as an initial resource before submitting your essay for more hands-on editing by EssayEdge. While the people you know can give you valuable suggestions based on their relationship with you, EssayEdge offers a vital perspective in providing objective criticism and expertise specific to the admissions essay.
The following is an evaluative questionnaire for you to give your readers along with the essay:
- Did my opening paragraph capture your attention?
- Did you find the statement as a whole to be interesting?
- Did you find it to be well written?
- Did it seem positive and upbeat?
- Did it sound like me?
- Do you regard it as an honest and forthright presentation of who I am?
- Did it seem to answer the question(s)?
- Can you think of anything relevant that I might have inadvertently omitted?
- Is there material within the statement that seems inappropriate?
- Did you gain any insight about me from reading this?
- Did you notice any typos or other errors?
- Do you think the statement has in any way distinguished me from other applicants?
Next: Final Steps