You will be scored on how well you are able to utilize standard written English, organize and explain your thoughts, and support those thoughts with reasons and examples.
Spend the first three to five hours brainstorming out ideas. Write down any ideas you might have on the topic. The purpose is to extract from the recesses of your memory any relevant information. In this stage, anything goes down. Write down any idea, regardless of how good it may initially seem. You can use either the scratch paper provided or the word processor to quickly jot down your thoughts and ideas. The word processor is highly recommended though, particularly if you are a fast typist.
The best papers will contain diversity of examples and reasoning. As you brainstorm consider different perspectives. Not only are there two sides to every issue, but there are also countless perspectives that can be considered. On any issue, different groups are impacted, with many reaching the same conclusion or position, but through vastly different paths. Try to “see” the issue through as many different eyes as you can. Look at it from every angle and from every vantage point. The more diverse the reasoning used, the more balanced the paper will become and the better the score.
The issue of free trade is not just two sided. It impacts politicians, domestic (US) manufacturers, foreign manufacturers, the US economy, the world economy, strategic alliances, retailers, wholesalers, consumers, unions, workers, and the exchange of more than just goods, but also of ideas, beliefs, and cultures. The more of these angles that you can approach the issue from, the more solid your reasoning and the stronger your position.
Furthermore, don’t just use information as to how the issue impacts other people. Draw liberally from your own experience and your own observations. Explain a personal experience that you have had and your own emotions from that moment. Anything that you’ve seen in your community or observed in society can be expanded upon to further round out your position on the issue.
Once you have finished with your creative flow, stop and review it. Which idea were you able to come up with the most supporting information? It’s extremely important that you pick an angle that will allow you to have a thorough and comprehensive coverage of the topic. This is not about your personal convictions, but about writing a concise rational discussion of an idea.
Every garden of ideas gets weeds in it. The ideas that you brainstormed over are going to be random pieces of information of mixed value. Go through it methodically and pick out the ones that are the best. The best ideas are strong points that it will be easy to write a few sentences or a paragraph about.
Now that you know which ideas you are going to use and focus upon, organize them. Put your writing points in a logical order. You have your main ideas that you will focus on, and must align them in a sequence that will flow in a smooth, sensible path from point to point, so that the reader will go smoothly from one idea to the next in a logical path. Readers must have a sense of continuity as they read your paper. You don’t want to have a paper that rambles back and forth.
You have a logical flow of main ideas with which to start writing. Now you must expand on the issues in the sequence that you have set for yourself. Pace yourself. Don’t spend too much time on any one of the ideas that you are expanding upon. It can be a daunting task to cram a lot of information down in words in a short amount of time so don’t rush, but give yourself plenty of time. Allow yourself 1-2 days to get a good rough draft on each of your ideas.
Once you finish expanding on each idea, go back to your brainstorming session up above, where you typed out your ideas. Go ahead and delete the ideas as you write about them. This will let you see what you need to write about next, and also allow you to pace yourself and see what you have left to cover.
Your first paragraph should have several easily identifiable features.
First, it should have a quick description or paraphrasing of the topic. Use your own words to briefly explain what the topic is about.
Second, you should explain your opinion of the topic and give an explanation of why you feel that way. What is your decision or conclusion on the topic?
Third, you should list your “writing points”. What are the main ideas that you came up with earlier? This is your opportunity to outline the rest of your paper. Have a sentence explaining each idea that you will go intend further depth in additional paragraphs. If someone was to only read this paragraph, they should be able to get an “executive summary” of the entire paper.
Each of your successive paragraphs should expand upon one of the points listed in the main paragraph. Use your personal experience and knowledge to support each of your points. Examples should back up everything.
Once you have finished expanding upon each of your main points, wrap it up. Summarize what you have said and covered in a conclusion paragraph. Explain once more your opinion of the topic and quickly review why you feel that way. At this stage, you have already backed up your statements, so there is no need to do that again. All you are doing is refreshing in the mind of the reader the main points that you have made.
Panicking will not put down any more words on paper for you. Therefore, it isn’t helpful. When you first see the topic in the application folder, if your mind goes as blank as the page on which you have to type out your paper, take a deep breath. Force yourself to mechanically go through the steps listed above over the next few weeks.
It is more important to have a shorter paper that is well written and well organized, than a longer paper that is poorly written and poorly organized. Don’t keep writing about a subject just to add words and sentences, and certainly don’t start repeating yourself. Expand on the ideas that you identified in the brainstorming session.
Leave time at the end of your graduate entrance essay, to go back and check over your work. Reread and make sure that everything you’ve written makes sense and flows. Clean up any spelling or grammar mistakes that you might have made. If you see anything that needs to be moved around, such as a paragraph that would fit in better somewhere else, cut and paste it to that new location. Also, go ahead and delete any brainstorming ideas that you weren’t able to expand upon and clean up any other extraneous information that you might have typed that doesn’t fit into your paper.
As you proofread, make sure there aren’t any fragments or run-ons. Check for sentences that are too short or too long. If the sentence is too short, look to see if you have an identifiable subject and verb. If it is too long, break it up into two separate sentences. Watch out for any “big” words you may have used. It’s good to use difficult vocabulary words, but only if you are positive that you are using them correctly. Your paper has to be correct, it doesn’t have to be fancy. You’re not trying to impress anyone with your vocabulary, just your ability to develop and express ideas.
After the final rough draft allow 3-5 individuals to review your graduate school admissions essay. These individuals should have strong grammar skills and knowledge of the field you are pursuing. Allow them plenty of time to give constructive criticism on your essay before you complete your final copy. In addition, a simple outline of your situation and current application may want to be included with this final rough draft to the individuals of your choice. Basically, you are selecting a potential review panel for your essay.
Key point** If the graduate school requires more than one essay, both essays should be dynamic and captivating to the reader. An admission advisor can easily catch a student who takes time on one essay and then rushes the other.
Depending on your personality, the essay writing will probably be your hardest or your easiest section of your graduate school application. Just be thankful the process is generally not timed on the initial application. The goal of any graduate school essay is to get an interview. However, some schools will require a brief essay before or after the interview process if you are selected to visit the campus. If you don’t complete your own work on the initial essay than the admissions committee will certainly notice the discrepancy on the final review. The essay at the school is generally timed.
Focus upon each of the steps listed above. Go through the process of creative flow first, generating ideas and thoughts about the topic. Then organize those ideas into a smooth logical flow. Pick out the ones that are best from the list you have created. Decide which main idea or angle of the topic you will discuss.
Create a recognizable structure in your paper, with an introductory paragraph explaining what you have decided upon, and what your main points will be. Use the body paragraphs to expand on those main points and have a conclusion that wraps up the issue or topic.
Save a few moments to go back and review what you have written. Clean up any minor mistakes that you might have had and give it those last few critical touches that can make a huge difference. Finally, be proud and confident of what you have written!
Answer the following Questions in the final review of your essay:
Last Updated: 05/21/2014