Compiled for Pope John XXIII high School by



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In general, there are 2 types of essays.

  • In general, there are 2 types of essays.
  • Type 1: Open ended
    • Promotes creative writing
      • Ex: “Step outside and describe how you would change what you see. Why?”
  • Type 2: The personal statement

Provides a portrait of the applicant beyond what is evident on academic record

  • Provides a portrait of the applicant beyond what is evident on academic record
  • May be used in lieu of a resume to describe extracurricular activities and service
  • Helps the college assess critical thinking, writing abilities, interests, experiences, values, attitudes, and expectations
  • Can help determine how creative and resourceful a student can be when confronted with a difficult topic

Colleges are increasingly asking for graded writing samples in addition to or in the place of an essay.

  • Colleges are increasingly asking for graded writing samples in addition to or in the place of an essay.
  • These are assignments that you have completed for a class and have been turned in to your teacher, graded and returned.
  • The writing sample shows the student’s ability to write in an academic setting, as well as the teacher’s assessment of that writing.

Provide reasonable straightforward responses

  • Provide reasonable straightforward responses
  • Demonstrate your best writing abilities
  • Provide vivid, clear impressions of yourself
  • Avoid broad, unsupported statements about yourself
  • Allow the reader to draw his or her own conclusion

Do keep your focus narrow

  • Do keep your focus narrow
    • Prove a single point; the reader should be able to follow your main idea from beginning to end
  • Do provide proof
  • Do be specific
    • Rather than tell the reader that you had a life changing event, describe the event and how it changed you

Do NOT tell the readers what you think they want to hear

  • Do NOT tell the readers what you think they want to hear
    • Be original, and be YOURSELF
  • Do NOT forget to proofread
    • Typos and grammatical errors reflect poorly on the writer, and can be interpreted as carelessness.
    • Do not trust your computer’s spell check. Ask someone to look over your essay.
  • Writing Ability
    • Want to see if you can write at the college level
    • Avoid using words that you don’t understand
    • Understand sentence and paragraph structure
    • Keep a good pace; flow logically and have a good conclusion
    • Make it believable
    • Keep it relatively brief and coherent

Insight into who you are

  • Insight into who you are
    • Do not make it sound like a marketing piece
    • Make it sound like how you talk (but with good grammar)
    • Again, be yourself, not someone you think the college wants to see
    • Write about something you actually care about
    • Essay should provide why you love what you love, believe what you believe, and are what you are
    • This shows that you know how to reflect and analyze

Sex, drugs, violence

  • Sex, drugs, violence
  • Travelogues
  • The News
  • Swearing
  • Humor/ sarcasm



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