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Grad School Essay Tips

Content provided by EssayEdge.com. Put Harvard-Educated Editors to Work for You! Graduate School Personal Statement Secrets EssayEdge.com contains thousands of pages of free admissions essay advice by Harvard-educated editors. The best way to approach your personal statement for graduate school is to imagine that you have five minutes with someone from the admissions committee. How would you go about making the best case for yourself while holding the listener's interest? What would you include and omit in your story? Figuring out the answer to these questions is critical to successfully preparing an effective statement. To arrive at these answers, you should begin by asking yourself two specific questions: Why have I chosen to attend graduate school this specific field, and why did I choose to apply to this particular school's program? What are my qualifications for admission? The answers will not necessarily come easily to you, but this exercise will have great practical benefit in readying you to write an outstanding personal statement. By answering each question thoroughly, you will have given much thought to yourself, your experiences, and your goals, thereby laying the groundwork for formulating an interesting and persuasive presentation of your own personal story. As the founder of EssayEdge.com, the Net's largest admissions essay prep company, I have seen firsthand the difference a well-written application essay can make. Through its free online admissions essay help course and 300 Harvard-educated editors, EssayEdge.com helps tens of thousands of student each year improve their essays and gain admission to graduate schools ranging from Harvard to State U. Having personally edited over 2,000 admissions essays myself for EssayEdge.com, I have written this article to help you avoid the most common essay flaws. If you remember nothing else about this article, remember this: Be Interesting. Be Concise. Why Graduate School? Graduate school is a serious commitment, and it may have been your goal for a long time. Describing your early exposure to a field can offer effective insight into your core objectives. Watch out, however, that you do not your point in such a clichéd, prepackaged way as to make your reader cringe. For example, you should not start your essay, "I have always wanted to…." or "I have always known that _______ was my calling." Instead, you should discuss specific events that led to your interest in the field. Graduate school is, of course, a means to an end, and admissions committees prefer students who know where they're going and to what use they'll put their education (though the occasional soul-searcher, who may exhibit exceptional raw potential, is welcomed). For many people, the long-term goal is to work in academia, and to differentiate yourself in such cases, you can stress more specific objectives such as your research interests. Note: Read the instructions carefully. Sometimes schools will ask for a statement of purpose describing your specific research interests in lieu of, or in addition to, a personal statement that emphasizes your character and qualities. For these types of essays, you can assume that a faculty member will be reading your statement, but it should still be accessible enough for a non-specialist to understand. Remember that such essays should also still aim to engage the reader in a way that conveys your own enthusiasm for the subject matter. Avoid mistakes like discussing the school's rank or prestige, or simply offering generic praise. Instead, mention faculty members by name and indicate some knowledge of their work. Consider contacting faculty members first and discussing their current research projects and your interest in studying under them. Then refer to these contacts in your essay. Why Am I Qualified? The way to prove your qualification is not to list attributes you believe you possess but to discuss concrete experiences that show your abilities and qualities. As always, details are paramount. The rest of your application has already summarized your accomplishments and your activities. Show the reader what you did in concrete terms, and again, highlight your active roles. The experiences that demonstrate your qualification are not necessarily distinct from those that explain your motivation. You shouldn't plan on dividing the essay into two separate sections for each, but rather organize the structure by topic and extrapolate insights as they develop. It's important that you think of the essay as an integrated whole, not as a checklist of questions you must answer. Focus on research experience, since research will be your main job for the duration of your studies. Be specific about what you did. If you worked for a year under a professor, you might consider emphasizing one particular project and exploring that in depth. The experience does not have to have been a major undertaking: Any practical experience can be used as long as you demonstrate your enthusiasm and aptitude for the field of study. Remember to keep the discussion personal. Do not get bogged down in minute details and jargon. Ultimately, the focus of the story should remain on you and your growth or success. TOP 10 GRADUATE SCHOOL ESSAY WRITING TIPS 1. Don't Write a Term Paper. As a prospective graduate student, you may be tempted to try to impress your reader with an already tight grasp of academic style. Resist this temptation! You will have plenty of time to produce labyrinthine sentences and sophisticated vocabulary. Your reader will have seen too many essays to appreciate bewilderingly advanced prose. Write clearly and personably. 2. Don't Bore the Reader. Do Be Interesting. Admissions officers have to read hundreds of essays, and they must often skim. Abstract rumination has no place in an application essay. Admissions officers aren't looking for a new way to view the world; they're looking for a new way to view you, the applicant. The best way to grip your reader is to begin the essay with a captivating snapshot. Notice how the blunt, jarring "after" sentence creates intrigue and keeps the reader's interest.  Before: I am a compilation of many years of experiences gained from overcoming the relentless struggles of life. After: I was six years old, the eldest of six children in the Bronx, when my father was murdered. 3. Do Use Personal Detail. Show, Don't Tell! Good essays are concrete and grounded in personal detail. They do not merely assert "I learned my lesson" or that "these lessons are useful both on and off the field." They show it through personal detail. "Show, don't tell" means that if you want to relate a personal quality, do so through your experiences without merely asserting it. Before: If it were not for a strong support system which instilled into me strong family values and morals, I would not be where I am today. After: Although my grandmother and I didn't have a car or running water, we still lived far more comfortably than did the other families I knew. I learned an important lesson: My grandmother made the most of what little she had, and she was known and respected for her generosity. Even at that age, I recognized the value she placed on maximizing her resources and helping those around her.  The first example is vague and could have been written by anybody. But the second sentence evokes a vivid image of something that actually happened, placing the reader in the experience of the applicant. 4. Do Be Concise. Don't Be Wordy. Wordiness not only takes up valuable space, but also confuses the important ideas you're trying to convey. Short sentences are more forceful because they are direct and to the point. Certain phrases, such as "the fact that," are usually unnecessary. Notice how the revised version focuses on active verbs rather than forms of "to be" and adverbs and adjectives. Before: My recognition of the fact that the book was finally finished was a deeply satisfying moment that will forever linger in my memory. After: Completing the book at last gave me an enduring sense of fulfillment. 5. Do Address Your Weaknesses. Don't Dwell on Them. The personal statement may be your only opportunity to explain deficiencies in your application, and you should take advantage of it. Be sure to explain them adequately: "I partied too much to do well on tests" will not help your application. The best tactic is to spin the negatives into positives by stressing your attempts to improve; for example, mention your poor first-quarter grades briefly, then describe what you did to bring them up. 6. Do Vary Your Sentences and Use Transitions. The best essays contain a variety of sentence lengths mixed within any given paragraph. Also, remember that transition is not limited to words like nevertheless, furthermore or consequently. Good transition flows from the natural thought progression of your argument. Before: I started playing piano when I was eight years old. I worked hard to learn difficult pieces. I began to love music. After: I started playing the piano at the age of eight. As I learned to play more difficult pieces, my appreciation for music deepened. 7. Do Use Active Voice Verbs. Passive-voice expressions are verb phrases in which the subject receives the action expressed in the verb. Passive voice employs a form of the word to be, such as was or were. Overuse of the passive voice makes prose seem flat and uninteresting. Before: The lessons that have prepared me for my graduate studies were taught to me by my mother.  After: My mother taught me lessons that will prove invaluable as I pursue my research interests. 8. Do Seek Multiple Opinions. Ask your friends and family to keep these questions in mind: Does my essay have one central theme? Does my introduction engage the reader? Does my conclusion provide closure? Do my introduction and conclusion avoid summary? Do I use concrete experiences as supporting details? Have I used active-voice verbs wherever possible? Is my sentence structure varied, or do I use all long or short sentences? Are there any clichés, such as "cutting-edge" or "learned my lesson"? Do I use transitions appropriately? What about the essay is memorable? What's the worst part of the essay? What parts of the essay need elaboration or are unclear? What parts of the essay do not support my main argument? Is every single sentence crucial to the essay? This must be the case. What does the essay reveal about my personality? 9. Don't Wander. Do Stay Focused. Many applicants try to turn the personal statement into a complete autobiography. Not surprisingly, they find it difficult to pack so much information into such a short essay, and their essays end up sounding more like a list of experiences than a coherent, well-organized thought. Make sure that every sentence in your essay exists solely to support one central theme. 10. Do Revise, Revise, Revise. The first step in an improving any essay is to cut, cut, and cut some more. EssayEdge.com's free admissions essay help course and Harvard-educated editors will be invaluable as you polish your essay to perfection. The EssayEdge.com free help course guides you through the entire essay-writing process, from brainstorming worksheets and question-specific strategies for the twelve most common essay topics to a description of ten introduction types and editing checklists. SAMPLE ESSAY I have been planning a career in geological sciences for several years, but as an undergraduate I concentrated on getting a solid background in math and science. After graduation, I took a job to allow myself time to thoroughly think through my plans and to expose myself to a variety of work situations. This strategy has been very valuable to me in rounding out my career plans. During the past 18 months I have had firsthand experience with computers in a wide array of business applications. This has stimulated me to think about ways in which computers could be used for scientific research. One idea that particularly fascinates me is mathematical modeling of natural systems, and I think those kinds of techniques could be put to good use in geological science. I have always enjoyed and been strong in areas that require logical, analytical thought, and I am anxious to combine my interest in earth science with my knowledge of, and aptitude for, computer-related work. There are several specific areas that I have already studied that I think would lend themselves to research based on computing techniques, including mineral phase relations in igneous petrology and several topics in structural geology. I have had both lecture/lab and field courses in structural geology, as well as a short module dealing with plate tectonics, and I am very interested in the whole area. I would like to explore structural geology and tectonics further at the graduate level. I am also interested in learning more about geophysics. I plan to focus on all these areas in graduate school while at the same time continuing to build up my overall knowledge of geology. My ultimate academic goal is to earn a Ph.D., but enrolling first in a master's program will enable me to explore my various interests and make a more informed decision about which specific discipline I will want to study in depth. As far as long-term plans, I hope to get a position at a university or other institution where I can indulge my primary impulse, which is to be involved in scientific research, and also try my hand at teaching. My decision to focus on math and science as an undergraduate and to explore the computer industry after college has equipped me with a unique set of strengths to offer this program. The depth of my interest in geology has only grown in my time away from academia, and although I have identified several possible areas of specialization through prior studies, I look forward to contributing my fresh perspective on all subjects. About EssayEdge.com - EssayEdge.com offers all users free access to the most extensive Admissions Essay Help Course on the Internet and over 300 Free Sample Admissions Essays accepted by the United States' top undergraduate, graduate, and professional programs. Named "the world's premier application essay editing service" by the New York Times Learning Network and "one of the best essay services on the Internet" by the Washington Post. Put Harvard-Educated Editors To Work For You! Special Discount Coupon Use coupon code 353353 for $5.00 off EssayEdge.com's critically acclaimed admissions essay editing services valued at $150 or more . Enter the coupon code on the order form when placing your order. Graduate School Personal Statement Tips

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College Essay Tips

Content provided by EssayEdge.com. Put Harvard-Educated Editors to Work for You! College Admissions Essay Secrets EssayEdge.com contains thousands of pages of free admissions essay advice by Harvard-educated editors Each year, Harvard rejects four out of five valedictorians and hundreds of students with perfect SAT scores, leaving applicants and parents wondering what went wrong. While there is no secret formula for gaining admission to a top school, there are many ways to ensure rejection, and the most common by far is taking the admissions essay lightly.  Over one-third of the time an admissions officer spends on your application is spent evaluating your essay. Admissions officers use the essay to compare hundreds or even thousands of applicants with similar grades, activities, and SAT scores. To stand out, your essay must not only demonstrate your grasp of grammar and ability to write lucid, structured prose, you must also paint a vivid picture of your personality and character, one that compels a busy admissions officer to accept you. Fortunately, unlike every other aspect of the application, you control your essay, and can be sure that the glimpse you give the admissions committee into your character, background, and writing ability is the most positive one possible. As the founder of EssayEdge.com, the Net's largest admissions essay prep company, I have seen firsthand the difference a well-written application essay can make. Through its free online admissions essay help course and 300 Harvard-educated editors, EssayEdge.com helps tens of thousands of student each year improve their essays and gain admission to schools ranging from Harvard to State U.  Having personally edited over 2,000 admissions essays myself for EssayEdge.com, I have written this article to help you avoid the most common essay flaws. If you remember nothing else about this article, remember this: Be Interesting. Be Concise. TOP 10 ESSAY WRITING TIPS 1. Don't Thesaurusize Your Essay. Do Use Your Own Voice. Admissions officers can tell Roget from an 18-year-old high school senior. Big words, especially when misused, detract from the essay, inappropriately drawing the reader's attention and making the essay sound contrived. Before: Although I did a plethora of activities in high school, my assiduous efforts enabled me to succeed. After: Although I juggled many activities in high school, I succeeded through persistent work.  2. Don't Bore the Reader. Do Be Interesting. Admissions officers have to read hundreds of essays, and they must often skim. Abstract rumination has no place in an application essay. Admissions officers aren't looking for a new way to view the world; they're looking for a new way to view you the applicant. The best way to grip your reader is to begin the essay with a captivating snapshot. Notice how the slightly jarring scene depicted in the "after" creates intrigue and keeps the reader's interest.  Before: The college admissions and selection process is a very important one, perhaps one that will have the greatest impact on one's future. The college that a person will go to often influences his personality, views, and career. After: An outside observer would have called the scene ridiculous: a respectable physician holding the bell of his stethoscope to the chest of a small stuffed bear. 3. Do Use Personal Detail. Show, Don't Tell! Good essays are concrete and grounded in personal detail. They do not merely assert "I learned my lesson" or that "these lessons are useful both on and off the field." They show it through personal detail. "Show don't tell," means if you want to relate a personal quality, do so through your experiences and do not merely assert it. Before: I developed a new compassion for the disabled. After: The next time Mrs. Cooper asked me to help her across the street, I smiled and immediately took her arm.  The first example is vague and could have been written by anybody. But the second sentence evokes a vivid image of something that actually happened, placing the reader in the experience of the applicant. 4. Do Be Concise. Don't Be Wordy. Wordiness not only takes up valuable space, but it also can confuse the important ideas you're trying to convey. Short sentences are more forceful because they are direct and to the point. Certain phrases such as "the fact that" are usually unnecessary. Notice how the revised version focuses on active verbs rather than forms of "to be" and adverbs and adjectives. Before: My recognition of the fact that the project was finally over was a deeply satisfying moment that will forever linger in my memory. After: Completing the project at last gave me an enduring sense of fulfillment. 5. Don't Use Slang, Yo!  Write an essay, not an email. Slang terms, clichés, contractions, and an excessively casual tone should be eliminated. Here's one example of inappropriately colloquial language. Well here I am thinking about what makes me tick. You would be surprised. What really gets my goat is when kids disrespect the flag. My father was in 'Nam and I know how important the military is to this great nation. 6. Do Vary Your Sentences and Use Transitions. The best essays contain a variety of sentence lengths mixed within any given paragraph. Also, remember that transition is not limited to words like nevertheless, furthermore or consequently. Good transition flows from the natural thought progression of your argument. Before: I started playing piano when I was eight years old. I worked hard to learn difficult pieces. I began to love music. After: I started playing the piano at the age of eight. As I learned to play more difficult pieces, my appreciation for music deepened. 7. Do Use Active Voice Verbs. Passive-voice expressions are verb phrases in which the subject receives the action expressed in the verb. Passive voice employs a form of the verb to be, such as was or were. Overuse of the passive voice makes prose seem flat and uninteresting.  Before: The lessons that prepared me for college were taught to me by my mother.  After: My mother taught me lessons that will prepare me for college. 8. Do Seek Multiple Opinions. Ask your friends and family to keep these questions in mind: Have I answered the question? Does my introduction engage the reader? Does my conclusion provide closure? Do my introduction and conclusion avoid summary? Do I use concrete experiences as supporting details? Have I used active-voice verbs wherever possible? Is my sentence structure varied, or do I use all long or short sentences? Are there any clichés such as cutting edge or learned my lesson? Do I use transitions appropriately? What about the essay is memorable? What's the worst part of the essay? What parts of the essay need elaboration or are unclear? What parts of the essay do not support my main argument? Is every single sentence crucial to the essay? This must be the case. What does the essay reveal about my personality? 9. Do Answer the Question. Many students try to turn a 500-word essay into a complete autobiography. Not surprisingly, they fail to answer the question and risk their chances of attending college. Make sure that every sentence in your essay exists solely to answer the question.  10. Do Revise, Revise, Revise. The first step in an improving any essay is to cut, cut, and cut some more. EssayEdge.com's free admissions essay help course and Harvard-educated editors will be invaluable as you polish your essay to perfection. The EssayEdge.com free help course guides you through the entire essay-writing process, from brainstorming worksheets and question-specific strategies for the twelve most common essay topics to a description of ten introduction types and editing checklists. SAMPLE ESSAY The sun sleeps as the desolate city streets await the morning rush hour. Driven by an inexplicable compulsion, I enter the building along with ten other swimmers, inching my way toward the cold, dark locker room of the Esplanada Park Pool. One by one, we slip into our still-damp drag suits and make a mad dash through the chill of the morning air, stopping only to grab pull-buoys and kickboards on our way to the pool. Nighttime temperatures in coastal California dip into the high forties, but our pool is artificially warmed to seventy-nine degrees; the temperature differential propels an eerie column of steam up from the water's surface, producing the spooky ambience of a werewolf movie. Next comes the shock. Headfirst immersion into the tepid water sends our hearts racing, and we respond with a quick set of warm-up laps. As we finish, our coach emerges from the fog. He offers no friendly accolades, just a rigid regimen of sets, intervals, and exhortations.  Thus starts another workout. 4,500 yards to go, then a quick shower and a five-minute drive to school. Then it's back to the pool; the afternoon training schedule features an additional 5,500 yards. Tomorrow, we start over again. The objective is to cut our times by another tenth of a second. The end goal is to achieve that tiny, unexplainable difference at the end of a race that separates success from failure, greatness from mediocrity. Somehow we accept the pitch--otherwise, we'd still be deep in our mattresses, slumbering beneath our blankets. In this sport, the antagonist is time. Coaches spend hours in specialized clinics, analyze the latest research on training technique, and experiment with workout schedules in an attempt to defeat time. Yet there are no shortcuts to winning, and workouts are agonizing.  I took part in my first swimming race when I was ten years old. My parents, fearing injury, directed my athletic interests away from ice hockey and into the pool. Three weeks into my new swimming endeavor, I somehow persuaded my coach to let me enter the annual age group meet. To his surprise (and mine), I pulled out an "A" time. I furthered my achievements by winning "Top 16" awards for various age groups, setting club records, and being named National First Team All-American in the 100-Butterfly and Second Team All-American in the 200-Medley. I have since been elevated to the Senior Championship level, which means the competition now includes world-class swimmers. I am aware that making finals will not be easy from here--at this level, success is measured by mere tenths of a second. In addition, each new level brings extra requirements such as elevated weight training, longer weekend training sessions, and more travel from home. Time with friends is increasingly spent in the pursuit of the next swimming objective.  Sometimes, in the solitude of the laps, my thoughts transition to events in my personal life. This year, my grandmother suffered a reoccurrence of cancer, which has spread to her lungs. She had always been driven by good spirits and independence, but suddenly my family had to accept the fact that she now faces a limited timeline. A few weeks later, on the other side of the Pacific Ocean, my grandfather--who lives in Japan--learned he had stomach cancer. He has since undergone successful surgery, but we are aware that a full recovery is not guaranteed. When I first learned that they were both struck with cancer, I felt as if my own objective, to cut my times by fractions of a second, seemed irrelevant, even ironic, given the urgency of their mutual goals: to prolong life itself. Yet we have learned to draw on each other's strengths for support--their fortitude helps me overcome my struggles while my swimming achievements provide them with a vicarious sense of victory. When I share my latest award or triumph story, they smile with pride, as if they themselves had stood on the award stand. I have the impression that I would have to be a grandparent to understand what my medals mean to them. My grandparents' strength has also shored up my determination to succeed. I have learned that, as in swimming, life's successes often come in small increments. Sometimes even the act of showing up at a workout when your body and psyche are worn out separates a great result from a failure. The difference between success and failure is defined by the ability to overcome strong internal resistance. I know that, by consistently working towards my goals--however small they may seem--I can accomplish what I set for myself, both in and beyond the swimming pool.  About EssayEdge.com - EssayEdge.com offers all users free access to the most extensive Admissions Essay Help Course on the Internet and over 300 Free Sample Admissions Essays accepted by the United States' top undergraduate, graduate, and professional programs. Named "the world's premier application essay editing service" by the New York Times Learning Network and "one of the best essay services on the Internet" by the Washington Post. Put Harvard-Educated Editors To Work For You! Special Discount Coupon Use coupon code CYB7 for $5.00 off EssayEdge.com's critically acclaimed admissions essay editing services valued at $150 or more. Enter the coupon code on the order form when placing your order. Application essay writing tips and advice. One page briefly covering the whole process.

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Med School Essay Tips

Content provided by EssayEdge.com. Put Harvard-Educated Editors to Work for You! Medical School Personal Statement Secrets EssayEdge.com contains thousands of pages of free admissions essay advice by Harvard-educated editors. Medical school admissions officers will often emphasize that they don't care what you choose to write about in your essay. They stress this because most writers try too hard to meet the expectations of their imagined readers, discarding all of their own personality in the process. Of course, there's truth in their advice: you should write with the goal of expressing your own values and conveying the qualities most important to you. But you must exercise your creativity with an eye toward the themes and points that will justify your suitability for medicine. After all, your ultimate goal is not just to stand out as a likeable person, but to obtain admission to a medical school. In addition to the challenge of crafting a fresh take on standard ideas, you face the difficulty of integrating multiple sophisticated themes into a single coherent piece. The themes can be grouped into two basic categories: those that speak to your motivation for becoming a doctor and those that demonstrate the characteristics and abilities that qualify you for the profession. As the founder of EssayEdge.com, the Net's largest admissions essay prep company, I have seen firsthand the difference a well-written application essay can make. Through its free online admissions essay help course and 300 Harvard-educated editors, EssayEdge.com helps tens of thousands of student each year improve their essays and gain admission to medical schools ranging from Harvard to State U. Having personally edited over 2,000 admissions essays myself for EssayEdge.com, I have written this article to help you avoid the most common essay flaws. If you remember nothing else about this article, remember this: Be Interesting. Be Concise. Why Medicine? Because people don't usually make career decisions based on pure reason, it can be difficult to explain why you've chosen the field you have. Moreover, your basic reasons probably look a lot like everyone else's. In this type of essay, you'll have to develop your ideas effectively and insightfully while emphasizing your uniqueness. Medicine requires such a serious commitment that few people stumble across the idea of pursuing it late in life. It's very likely that you have always wanted to be a doctor, and that's not a fact that you should hide. But don't offer your point in such a clich��d, prepackaged way as to make your reader cringe. For example, you shouldn't start your essay, "I have always wanted to be a doctor" or "I've always known that medicine was my calling." Better to describe early experiences and then let your interest unfold naturally. Describing the direct impact a doctor had on your life or the life of someone close to you can be an effective way to demonstrate what draws you to medicine. A twist on the "patient's perspective" approach is to describe a time when medicine failed to save or heal someone close to you. The purpose of this tactic would not be to rail against the medical profession, of course, but rather to show how a disappointing loss inspired you to join the struggle against disease and sickness. How Are You Qualified? The way to prove your qualification is not to list attributes you believe you possess but to discuss concrete experiences that show your abilities and qualities. As always, details are paramount. The rest of your application has already summarized your accomplishments and your activities. Show the reader what you did in concrete terms, and again, highlight your active roles. The experiences that demonstrate your qualification are not necessarily distinct from those that explain your motivation. You shouldn't plan on dividing the essay into two separate sections for each, but rather organize the structure by topic and extrapolate insights as they develop. It's important that you think of the essay as an integrated whole, not as a checklist of questions you must answer. Some degree of hospital experience is usually expected, though it's more essential to the "testing your interest" aspect we discussed in the last section of the course than to your qualifications. The main point you're trying to convey here is that you will work well with patients and in a clinical setting. Your shadowing experience might overlap this material, but the emphasis here is on what you learned through observation. A strong research background helps your case, because the laboratory is such an integral part of the medical school experience. It's not possible to prove your intellectual capability through a short description of your projects, so you should try to convey such intangible qualities as creativity, initiative, and original thinking. Focus on your contribution rather than your research topic. For example, you could describe a situation where you recognized a flaw in a procedure and had the initiative to show your supervisor how efficiency could be improved. No matter how minor your contribution seems, it's better to focus on some tangible input that you had than to describe the project as a whole. As always, the key is to delineate your active role. TOP 10 MEDICAL SCHOOL PERSONAL STATEMENT WRITING TIPS 1. Don't Resort to Clich��s. Every year, medical school admissions officers read thousands of variations of this sentence: "I want to be a doctor so I can help people." It's undoubtedly true in most instances, yet it inevitably fails because it reveals nothing unique about the individual applicant. If you demonstrate a penchant for helping others by describing specific activities--community service, for example--it will become unnecessary to declare that desire, as it will already be clear. Every doctor helps people, so focus on the specific actions you have taken. 2. Don't Bore the Reader. Do Be Interesting. Admissions officers have to read hundreds of essays, and they must often skim. Abstract rumination has no place in an application essay. Admissions officers aren't looking for a new way to view the world; they're looking for a new way to view you, the applicant. The best way to grip your reader is to begin the essay with a captivating snapshot. Notice how the blunt, jarring "after" sentence creates intrigue and keeps the reader's interest.  Before: I am a compilation of many years of experiences gained from overcoming the relentless struggles of life. After: I was six years old, the eldest of six children in the Bronx, when my father was murdered. 3. Do Use Personal Detail. Show, Don't Tell! Good essays are concrete and grounded in personal detail. They do not merely assert "I learned my lesson" or that "these lessons are useful both on and off the field." They show it through personal detail. "Show, don't tell" means that if you want to relate a personal quality, do so through your experiences without merely asserting it. Before: If it were not for a strong support system which instilled into me strong family values and morals, I would not be where I am today. After: Although my grandmother and I didn't have a car or running water, we still lived far more comfortably than did the other families I knew. I learned an important lesson: My grandmother made the most of what little she had, and she was known and respected for her generosity. Even at that age, I recognized the value she placed on maximizing her resources and helping those around her.  The first example is vague and could have been written by anybody. But the second sentence evokes a vivid image of something that actually happened, placing the reader in the experience of the applicant. 4. Do Be Concise. Don't Be Wordy.  Wordiness not only takes up valuable space, but also confuses the important ideas you're trying to convey. Short sentences are more forceful because they are direct and to the point. Certain phrases, such as "the fact that," are usually unnecessary. Notice how the revised version focuses on active verbs rather than forms of "to be" and adverbs and adjectives. Before: My recognition of the fact that we had finally completed the research project was a deeply satisfying moment that will forever linger in my memory. After: Completing the research project at last gave me an enduring sense of fulfillment. 5. Do Address Your Weaknesses. Don't Dwell on Them. At some point on your application, you will have an opportunity to explain deficiencies in your record, and you should take advantage of it. Be sure to explain them adequately: Staying up late the night before the MCAT is not a legitimate reason for a bad performance, while documented sickness could be. If you lack volunteer hospital experience, you might point out the number of hours you had to work to make college more affordable for your family. The best tactic is to spin the negatives into positives by stressing your attempts to improve; for example, mention your poor first-quarter grades briefly, then describe what you did to bring them up. 6. Do Vary Your Sentences and Use Transitions. The best essays contain a variety of sentence lengths mixed within any given paragraph. Also, remember that transition is not limited to words like nevertheless, furthermore or consequently. Good transition flows from the natural thought progression of your argument. Before: I started playing piano when I was eight years old. I worked hard to learn difficult pieces. I began to love music. After: I started playing the piano at the age of eight. As I learned to play more difficult pieces, my appreciation for music deepened. 7. Do Use Active Voice Verbs, Passive-voice expressions are verb phrases in which the subject receives the action expressed in the verb. Passive voice employs a form of the word to be, such as was or were. Overuse of the passive voice makes prose seem flat and uninteresting. Before: The lessons that have prepared me for my career as a doctor were taught to me by my mother.  After: My mother taught me lessons that will prove invaluable in my career as a doctor. 8. Do Seek Multiple Opinions. Ask your friends and family to keep these questions in mind: Does my essay have one central theme? Does my introduction engage the reader? Does my conclusion provide closure? Do my introduction and conclusion avoid summary? Do I use concrete experiences as supporting details? Have I used active-voice verbs wherever possible? Is my sentence structure varied, or do I use all long or short sentences? Are there any clich��s, such as "cutting-edge" or "learned my lesson"? Do I use transitions appropriately? What about the essay is memorable? What's the worst part of the essay? What parts of the essay need elaboration or are unclear? What parts of the essay do not support my main argument? Is every single sentence crucial to the essay? This must be the case. What does the essay reveal about my personality? 9. Don't Wander. Do Stay Focused. Many applicants try to turn the personal statement into a complete autobiography. Not surprisingly, they find it difficult to pack so much information into such a short essay, and their essays end up sounding more like a list of experiences than a coherent, well-organized thought. Make sure that every sentence in your essay exists solely to support one central theme. 10. Do Revise, Revise, Revise. The first step in an improving any essay is to cut, cut, and cut some more. EssayEdge.com's free admissions essay help course and Harvard-educated editors will be invaluable as you polish your essay to perfection. The EssayEdge.com free help course guides you through the entire essay-writing process, from brainstorming worksheets and question-specific strategies for the twelve most common essay topics to a description of ten introduction types and editing checklists. SAMPLE ESSAY His eyesight was almost completely gone, yet there he was on the diamond. I met Jason last summer in Chicago, where I volunteered at a tournament for Beep Baseball, a baseball-like sport for the visually impaired. He was my age--handsome, friendly, and athletic. But Jason was blind. Struck by glaucoma, he had begun to lose his vision in his early teens. By high school, he had become legally blind. My sympathy only intensified when I learned that, had his disease been diagnosed earlier, he almost surely would have retained partial vision. Financially strapped, Jason's family had avoided taking him to a doctor for as long as they could; when he finally visited a physician, it was too late. For years I had planned to work in technology, but my encounters with Jason and others like him convinced me that medicine is my true calling. Actually, growing up I had always planned to become a doctor, but my goals changed as I began to take computer science classes at [COLLEGE NAME]. In the first meeting of my sophomore-year class on Programming in Artificial Intelligence, Professor B joked, "You know those movies where killer robots eventually take over the world? Believe them." I did just that, placing my trust in the vast opportunities offered by computer programming. In my first computer course, I created applications that could beat a human in tic-tac-toe, calculate complex mathematical problems, and even converse with humans on a specified topic. Fascinated with the potential of these programs, I embarked on a different path, away from clinical medicine. I saw a world in which computers would change and even replace processes in every industry, and I wanted to join the researchers at the forefront of this revolution. Five years after that first class, the potential contribution of computer technology still inspires me. The possibilities are astounding. Scientists mapped the human genome years before their original deadline. Nanotechnology promises to revolutionize the way we detect and cure diseases. Still, the more I learn about technology, the more I recognize its inadequacies. Although the "psychologist" program I created faithfully reproduces human responses, I discovered that I would never want to speak with a computer about my problems. Certain interactions simply demand personal contact. As I have tutored underclassmen in math and science, worked with athletes in the Special Olympics, and visited with patients as a volunteer at Northwest Community Hospital, I have realized that the human element in such relationships is irreplaceable. While technology may shape the future of mankind, only humanity can touch individual lives. Jason's story touched mine, confirming my growing sense of the deficiencies in science and technology. Advances in medical knowledge and techniques are useless without parallel progress in healthcare accessibility, widespread education about health issues, and most importantly, strong doctor-patient relationships. The revolutionary treatment methods I imagined myself inventing might never have an impact on patients like Jason. On the other hand, the dedication of just a few volunteers allowed him to play the sport he had always loved. Science could not fix Jason's eyesight, but supportive doctors, volunteers, and friends could help him live a fulfilling life. Spending time with him and others convinced me that, in addition to my research in medical science and technology, I wanted to work directly with those whose ailments cannot currently be cured. I have thus circled back to my original path towards medicine, with no regrets about the scenic route that led me here. Indeed, I am confident that I will make good use of my computer science skills as I research potential advancements in medical technology. This summer, I began work as a research assistant to Dr. C at Northwestern's Buehler Center on Aging. With Dr. C, I am developing a computer program that determines the "quality of life" of terminally ill patients. By compiling physician diagnostics and patient responses to questionnaires, the system assesses the value of given treatments as well as the efficacy of specific pharmaceuticals. Through this project, we hope to understand and improve the current care of the terminally ill. After watching Dr. C and other doctors at the medical research facility, I can now declare with confidence that I want to follow their example in my own career, combining clinical practice and research. My work on the "quality of life" evaluation project gave me a perfect opportunity to fulfill this dual goal, and I look forward to a lifetime spent on similar pursuits. Yet I will never forget that the seeds of my current ambition arose not in the laboratory or at the health center, but on a baseball diamond filled with people playing a game they likely thought they would never play again. In my own career as a physician, I will strive to serve my patients not only as a healer, but also as a friend, supporting them in their toughest moments, and as a mentor, guiding them to live healthy lifestyles. 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