Improve Your Writing Skills for Applications and Essays

Here's how to improve your writing skills for applications and essays

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Writing, no matter the purpose, can be difficult at times. While there is no perfect system to writing for every single person, utilizing your resources can help you along the way. Read on to discover ways to help you improve your writing skills.

Outline Your Ideas

Starting with an outline can help you throughout the entire writing process. You can make it simple or as complex as you like. The beauty of an outline is that you have the ability to change it as you see fit. If you get stuck while writing, you can always refer back to your outline.

Edit, edit, edit

The first version of anything you write will likely be less than perfect. The best writers spend time editing their words (and editing their college essays), and sometimes have others help them. It can be worth it to wait a while after finishing your first draft before looking at it again. When you do go through and edit your writing, try to consider another perspective as you read. What would your professor think? Your grandmother? Be sure to also consider the perspective of your intended audience.

Word choice

Choosing the best words to use can be tough. Again, knowing your intended audience can guide you in the right direction. Using sensory-related words can be more enticing, as doing so tends to pull the reader in and leave them wanting more. Try to be as descriptive as possible, without overloading the reader with too many words. Choose words that aren’t used every day to give your reader a breath of fresh air.

If you’re writing in a more formal manner, make an effort to stay away from using contractions. Contractions are considered informal and should not be used in scholarly publications. With formal writing, the writer should stay objective and detach from the topic by staying in the third person. Informal writing can exude empathy and take on a more personal tone.


The best writers are avid readers too. While you may have a favorite go-to genre, consider picking up something out of your normal realm of reading. The writing style you see in a news magazine is going to be different from that in a young adult science fiction book. Challenge yourself through a variety of reading materials. Work to understand the style used and the message the author is trying to convey through that style.

There are a variety of resources to assist you in growing your comfort level with writing. We have a few more great articles, such as how to make writing a paper easier, writing an essay, and tips to save you time while writing. These are just a handful of the tips we’ve come up with for you. Be sure to check out our college match tool to see what schools around the country may be the best fit for you.