College Admission Essays – What Are They Looking For?
The college admission essay proves to be the trickiest aspect of the college admission process. It is the only section where you can truly unleash your creative instincts. However, it is also the part that can get you into the college of your choice or leave you baffled about your rejection. It is therefore an extremely important part of the application process that defines your destiny. So how should you go about penning your essay?
The best approach is to give the selection committee what it is looking for. Here are a few pointers that can help you structure your essay for a sure winner.
What is the College Selection Committee looking for?
To cut the long and painful story short, they are looking for an insight into your personality, character and goals. This is the section where open ended questions are asked with the intention to gauge your maturity and intellect besides academics. This is the part where you talk about those aspects of your life that have not been covered elsewhere in the application form!
The best essays are known to be styled as excerpts – specific incidents from your life that brought about a major change in you or other similar noteworthy instances from your life. The reader of your essay has no personal experience with you and is looking to learn about you only through your essay. Your word choices, content and writing style reflects your true personality and character – more so than you can imagine! A well-documented logical explanation that links a specific incident to your character traits can go a long way in building a promising picture of you in the minds of your readers.
The essay serves as a tool to estimate your depth and broadmindedness as a person. It is the only piece of paper that represents the real you and sets you apart from your competition. In the mountainous piles of applications, there may be people sharing similar or higher qualifications than you. A well-constructed essay can give you the upper edge you deserve. So use it well!
What the College Selection Committee is NOT looking for?
Talking about oneself is not a problem. However, it is easy for you to lose track while doing so. Here are a few pointers you should keep in mind in order to limit the scope of your essay for maximum impact.
- They are not looking for information that is irrelevant or have not been asked. For instance, praising the college will not help in building your image as the reader already knows it!
- They do not want repeated information. The academics section is sufficient enough to reflect your performance thereof.
- They are not looking for longwinded complex answers that often do not seem to make sense. So you need to be simple and straightforward while answering and also keep your thesaurus at bay!
- They are not looking for a jumbled up account of your life that has no direction. So stick with one or two incidents and try to avoid overdoing the self-expression.
- They are not looking for an essay that seems to have been written by a fifth grader. So read and proofread your essay a couple of times to remove all spelling, typographical and grammatical errors.
- They are not looking for an essay that is painful to read. Rather, they are looking for something that touches their hearts and makes an impact that compels them to select you. So let your creativity flow and win you their decision.
So you are ready for your GRE exams? A little extra preparation never hurts!
The GRE exam is quite basic and does not demand a lot of professional or advanced level preparation. It has three sections – verbal reasoning, quantitative reasoning and analytical writing. Of these three, the analytical writing section proves to be quite a challenge as there is no singularly correct method of solving the problem. It tests your deduction, creative and analytical skills to get the best out of you and on to the paper!
The analytical writing section is divided into two parts – “Analysis of an Issue”, and “Analysis of an Argument”. Here, we will only be talking about the former part “Analysis of an Issue”.
What Is Involved In This Section?
This section involves a situation or topic of general interest. You are required to analyze it critically and express your thoughts about the topic. Since the topics can be attempted in an infinite number of ways, it is important to read the instructions carefully and approach the question with the right direction. More often, you will be required to take a stance in favor or against the topic under deliberation and justify your decision with arguments and logical deductions.
How to Attempt?
This section lasts for about 30 minutes. Needless to say, you do not have a lot of time to toil around the topic or try to reattempt the topic if you realize halfway you are not headed on the right course. It is important to divide your time in the best possible manner.
Devote ample time in reading and understanding the problem. Once you have understood what the examiner is looking for, formulate your strategy of answering and jot down the structure briefly. You are now ready to write your essay.
The best way to structure your essay is to give an introduction paragraph followed by at least three reasons to support your choice and a short conclusion. It is important to proof read your essay for possible errors and spelling mistakes in order to improve your scoring chances. If you think you will not have time in the end to reread your essay, try to proofread your article while writing it.
How to Prepare for “Analysis of an Issue”?
There is a list of possible topics given of GRE’s official website that can give you an idea about what to expect in the examination hall. There is no better way to prepare for the test other than practicing on the given topics.
Take time out of your busy schedule to attempt the questions. Make sure you mark the time you spend on a question so you can improve on it and thereby perform better in the actual examination.
A Handful of Helpful Tips
There are a few things you might want to keep in mind while attempting the questions. For instance,
- Make sure your essay has a proper focus. You need not beat about the bush. Be clear and straightforward in putting forth your points and reasoning out with the examiner to vote in your favor. Also, make sure your response is relevant to the question being asked. It is easy to lose track while writing about reasons. Make sure you do answer the question that was asked rather than the question you liked to answer!
- Keep the organization intact. There should be a continuous flow throughout the essay. Good points put forth in a random order will not be able to create the impact you need to do in order to win the examiner’s heart.
- You want the reader to be engaged in the essay. The last thing you need is to put the examiner to sleep while reading your essay. Keep the sentences short and assertive while also using connectors. Make sure you do emphasize your choice at the end of each reason/paragraph.
“Analysis of an Argument” – A Snapshot
Looking for ideas and advice to get you through one of the most difficult parts of the GRE and GMAT – the analytical writing section? Admittedly, this section poses to be quite challenging due to its artistic nature. The realm of writing cannot be restricted. This is one of the main reasons why people may feel intimidated especially by this section.
For GRE the analytical writing section is divided into two broad categories – “Analysis of an Issue” and “Analysis of an Argument”. Here, we will only be talking about the latter – Analysis of an Argument. GMAT writing section comprises of only the “Analysis of Argument” section.
What Does It Contain?
This section aims to test your contemplation, evaluation and analytical skills regarding a topic. You will be provided with a topic – a passage that deliberates on a general concern and creates an argument pertaining to it. In addition to this, you will be provided with instructions about what is expected of you while answering the problem.
You will be required to read the passage, understand what it says and does not say, evaluate its arguments according to your thoughts and come up with a critical answer that assesses its logic and validity. In other words, you will be required to judge the ideas put forth by another writer and justify whether you were convinced by the theory or not.
You will not be provided with any choices regarding the topic you would like to choose. Thus it is best to be prepared for all kinds of questions in this section.
How to Go About Answering This Question?
This first thing you need to do while trying to attempt this question is to understand what is provided to you. This means breaking down the passage into simple, comprehendible and clear sentences. Make sure you identify what is being explicitly stated, what is implied, what is assumed (if at all) and what evidence is used to support the argument. Once you have identified these specific parts, you will automatically understand the passage better and hence be in a better position to evaluate it critically.
Do keep in mind that you have only 30 minutes to attempt this question. So you cannot waste time on unnecessary tasks. You need to be apt at understanding the topic.
In your response, you may be expected to approach the situation from one of the following dimensions.
- How the evidence supports the argument? Whether it strengthens it or weakens it.
- What are the assumptions in the given passage and how these support or weaken the argument?
- Are the recommendations and/or suggestions viable in the light of the argument? You will be required to justify you answer through logical reasoning.
- Identify the areas where information is missing and that which would greatly help in making better decisions/recommendations. This may comprise of certain statistical data and/or other critical information regarding the subject.
- Predict the outcome of the proposed recommendations and identify whether these will be aligned with the goals or not.
- Propose alternative solutions and justify your propositions. Make sure you counter the proposed solutions intelligently.
- Identify informational deficiencies and justify how such information can alter the situation in favor of the objective or against it.
This will be explicitly mentioned with the instructions of the passage. Make sure you read these carefully and are absolutely sure of what the examiner is trying to ask before answering the question.
There is a list of possible questions given on the GRE & GMAT’s official website. Make sure you go through this list and also try to answer a few of these within the prescribed time limit. This will prepare you for the stress you will be facing while in the examination hall. You stand a better chance of coping with stress if you have been through it previously!