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Do's and don'ts of application essay writing

Writing an application essay isn't easy. Making sure you use the relevant information and sell yourself well is vital if you want to make the most of your opportunity. We asked application experts EssayEdge for their tips on how to write the perfect application essay.

DO give yourself time. Two weeks is ideal, but twelve days would work too. Even if you’re only a day or two away from your deadline, starting now is always better than starting later. Don’t expect to write your essay from start to finish in one sitting. You need to take breaks in between to give yourself a chance to refocus, gain a new perspective, and ultimately produce your best work.
 
DON’T plagiarise. Using someone else’s work will kill your chance of admission.
 
DO be honest. Trying to make a four-week internship that you spent mainly answering phones sound like you were the CEO of a Fortune 500 firm for a year won’t improve your standing in the eyes of the admissions committee.
 
DON’T exceed the length limit. Admissions officers have heard every excuse in the book for why a particular applicant desperately needs 700 words when the maximum specified was 500. The simple fact is that there is never a good reason to go over, and doing so will reflect poorly on you.
 
DO be descriptive. The easiest way to do this is by using active verbs and dynamic nouns. “The red car stopped directly in front of my friend,” is nothing compared to, “The Ferrari squealed to a halt inches from Steve’s face,” and both use the exact same number of words.
 
DON’T write a resume in essay form. If your essay or statement reads like a narrative listing of your various courses, clubs, jobs, and accomplishments over the past several years, it isn’t serving its intended purpose.
 
DO respond to the prompt. It’s amazing how many applicants write essays that, while generally solid, aren’t actually relevant to the prompt at hand. If the prompt asks a specific question (or several), make sure your essay provides an answer.
 
DON’T rely on spell check. Automatic functions in programs like Microsoft Word are helpful tools, but they’re not infallible. Mistakes can make it though unchecked. See?
 
DO have someone else review your work. Whether a close friend, parent, teacher, counselor, or professional, having someone else read through your essay will give you valuable feedback. Sometimes it takes a new perspective to spot problem areas that you would otherwise miss.
 
DON’T completely stress out. Yes, this is important, and yes, it takes a lot of work, but it’s not the end of the world. Make sure you still find time for relaxation and the things that are important in your life.
 
Visit the EssayEdge blog for more essay and personal statement writing tips!

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