How to Revise Your College Application Essay

Here's how to revise your first draft of your college application essay

Flickr user Benjamin Solah

You’ve done it. You have a first draft of your college application essay. You feel good about it, about the point you are making for the admissions officers. But it’s only a first draft. Now it’s time to buckle down and revise. Here are some tips on how.

Read It Out Loud

You’d be amazed how many spelling and grammar errors you can catch just by reading something out loud. It forces your brain to slow down. In addition, you might find sentences that are not as great as you thought they were. If it sounds awkward out loud, you can tweak it.

Ask Someone to Go Over Your Essay

A fresh set of eyes tends to see the little issues that your brain misses, which makes sense: You wrote it, you know what it should say. Your friend or editor can also tell you if you’ve made your point effectively.

Make Sure It’s Your Voice

Your application essay is your best shot for admissions officers to get to know you. Therefore, it has to be your voice. This is still a formal essay, but you shouldn’t write to sound “grown up” or “adult”. You don’t have to be. Never allow your editor to supersede your examples or your story. Let your voice shine through.

Cut Out Unnecessary Words When You Revise

If you’re over the word count (and let me tell you, 500 is not a lot of space), it’s time to get rid of adverbs. Unless they enhance your sentence, they just clog up the flow. Read over your lengthier sentences: Do any of them have less wordy versions of themselves?

Refer to the Prompt

Sometimes it happens that our writing takes unexpected directions. That’s not always a bad thing. However, you should consistently check with the prompt. Are you staying on point? Are you answering the question? Also check that you are within the word count and that your formatting is correct.

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