SAT Vocabulary: College Admissions Essay Writing Tips (Part 1)


When applying to college SAT test preparation is important, but there is more to the college admissions process than standardized test preparation and SAT scores. The college essay gives you the opportunity to share a part of yourself that an SAT score or high school transcript cannot reveal. Dean of Admission and Financial Aid at Harvard College, William R. Fitzsimmons, recently wrote in a piece for The New York Times, “One of the great clichés of college admissions is the exhortation that students find their own voices in the essay (and interviews)—and ‘be themselves.’ It’s a cliché because it’s good advice” ( 

The early stages of college essay writing, brainstorming and outlining, are perhaps two of the most important. If your teacher assigns you a 5 page paper, when you (finish procrastinating and…) finally sit down to begin, you’ll often find that it’s difficult to start putting your thoughts to paper, or perhaps that you’ve said everything you wanted to say after just one page. A little forethought could help you avoid these frustrating situations. Taking the time to brainstorm and outline will not only help you to save time in the end, but to write a better, more organized essay. Consider the suggestions below: 

  • College Essay Writing—BRAINSTORMING: You’re generally given some degree of choice when it comes to the college essay. Whether you get to choose your own essay topic, or just the direction in which you take the college’s topic, make it your own. Brainstorm! Think about what you want to say, how you want to say it, and how you’re going to turn your thoughts into the words that will fill the number of pages the application requires. Use the choices you have to write about something that you’re passionate about, something that inspires you, or something that has contributed to making you the person that you are. If you do this, chances are you’ll have a lot more to say and you’ll be able to write with a lot more feeling because the subject has significance to you. This is your chance to show college admissions officers who you are. Really think it through for the best results.
  • College Essay Writing—OUTLINING: After you’ve brainstormed to find your subject matter and what you’d like your colleges to know about you, outlining can really help with the organization of your college essay. How will your essay be structured? What’s your thesis, or the general idea you’re trying to get across in your essay? What are the most important points of your argument or message? What are the sub-points of your topic? Remember: You may not be able to say everything you want to say because you’re often limited by length requirements, so choose the sub-topics that serve to support your position best. Outlining to create the basic framework of your essay offers invaluable assistance throughout the writing process.   

The college admissions essay could be one of the most important essays you ever write. Taking the time to write it well, to really find your voice in your subject matter, could pay off—big time.

If you found this advice helpful and would like some more assistance with college essay writing check out Vocab Videos and College Essay Organizer ( Look out for The College Admissions Essay and why it Matters, Part 2!


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