How to Make Your College Application Essay the Best Writing You’ve Ever Done (#10 of 25)

Here is another purely technical approach to making your college application essay the best writing you’ve ever done.

#10. Vary Your Sentence Structure and Word Choice

This is basic “good writing,” but as students stew in the cauldron of stress surrounding their college application essays, it can be easily overlooked.

To make sure your essay doesn’t fall into a pattern of repetitive sentence structures, focus at least one full draft to monitoring and improving that aspect of your writing. Don’t read for content, just carefully check that no two consecutive sentences have the exact same structure and if they do, vary it. This can mean starting with a prepositional phrase or transitional word instead of a subject, breaking the sentence into two shorter ones, or turning the structure of the sentence around, while still maintaining its meaning. This variety will make the essay easier and more enjoyable to read, and give your writing a polished sheen.

Word choice is another area where repetition can make your essay seem flat and monotonous. Readers may not even be aware of it but if they come across the same word more than once, especially in an essay with a fixed word count, they can begin to view the essay as disappointing, and lacking in originality. If they do become aware of multiple uses of the same word, it will detract from the effectiveness of the essay, no matter how strong your overall message might be.

Again, it’s worth the time to do a draft strictly devoted to varying your choice of words. At times, this can even improve the writing, as choosing a different word can lead the writer to make other adjustments. In general, it’s best not to load up on adjectives or adverbs in your essay but when you do use them, be sure they are forceful, descriptive and fresh.

For more personal help with the Common Application essay, supplemental or any other college application essays, please contact Craig Heller at, or 818-340-1276.

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