grad school essay format
The admissions essay is often the least well-understood part of the graduate school application yet it is critical to your admissions success. The graduate admissions essay or personal statement is your chance to distinguish yourself from other applicants and let the admissions committee know you apart from your GPA and GRE scores. Your admissions essay can be the deciding factor in whether you are accepted or rejected by a graduate school. Therefore, it is necessary that you write an essay that is honest, interesting, and well organized.
How well you structure and organize your application essay can determine your fate. A well-written essay tells the admissions committee that you have the capacity to write coherently, think logically, and do well in grad school. Format your essay to include an introduction, a body, and a concluding paragraph. Essays are often written in response to prompts posed by the grad school. Regardless, organization is key to your success.
Get accepted to your top choice graduate school with your compelling personal statement.
Absolutely! One way of dealing with the headache of personal statements is to avoid them completely! Below, find some of the most popularly applied-to graduate schools that may not require personal statements:
- Check your message.
Think back to the beginning of this process, to the message you decided you wanted to get across. Is your essay or letter communicating that message? Is it clear? If you’re not sure, consider having somebody else read it over.
- Check your organization.
If you started with an outline, compare your finished draft to your original outline. Is your essay organized the way you planned? If so, read through it and make sure that it makes sense and has a logical flow.
- Make sure your paragraphs make sense.
Each paragraph should have a clear topic or message, and support for that topic. Make sure it’s clear what each paragraph is trying to say, and that each one is organized.
- Check your style.
Double check to make sure your tone isn’t too casual. If you included any slang, for example, now is the time to remove it. Then check your sentence structure. Avoid fragments and run-on sentences, and make sure to vary your sentence structure to keep the reader engaged. Try and remove any instances of passive voice, when you can. Reading your essay aloud could be one way to catch any awkward writing you might have missed.
- Fix your grammar and punctuation
This is the last and possibly most important step. Make sure you catch any errors in grammar and punctuation. Pay careful attention to common errors, like mixing up your/you’re, and there/their/they’re. Also make sure to check your subject/verb agreement, number agreement, capitalization, and punctuation. Finally, double check spelling, especially when it comes to important names. One strategy to avoid missing anything is to read your essay backwards, starting with the final sentence. That will help force your brain to focus on each individual sentence, instead of skimming over mistakes by accident.
This subject-specific book is a guide to writing personal statements for graduate school. It includes tons of tips and examples to help students write their application essays.
Inspiration may strike at any time. Students can make sure they’re prepared to jot down any personal statement ideas, gather inspiration and organize their thoughts with Evernote, a popular note-taking app.
Dedicate a paragraph to each one of those ideas, add an attention-grabbing opener and a tidy conclusion, and you’re almost there! The following best practices will take you the rest of the way to a winning grad school application essay.
In a crowd of candidates who also love this field (presumably), what sets you apart? As you consider possible graduate admission essay topics, look for the story only you can tell. Just remember, even some personally meaningful experiences, like the loss of a loved one or a life-changing volunteer experience, don’t really stand out in graduate admission—they’re too common. So if you are considering a potentially well-tread topic, try to approach it in a unique way. You’re trying to give the graduate admission committee a sense of who you are and what you value. Show them your passion for your field of study. Why do you love it? Why do you want to contribute to it? What about it challenges and excites you?