How to Write and Proofread Essays

Many students don’t like writing essays. Sometimes, they just don’t know how to get started writing an essay, a form of writer’s block. They may also feel uncomfortable with the writing process. It gets easier with practice.

These tips will make writing and proofreading an essay easier.

Choosing an Effective Essay Topic

The best essays will provide insights into you as a person. Consider what the essay tells the reader about you. Have you had to overcome adversity? How have you interacted with other people? How have they affected you? How have you affected them?

Try to tell a story, giving specific examples and anecdotes. This will yield a more interesting essay. Your essay should stand out from the crowd and be memorable in a positive way. Don’t be boring.

Start the essay with a hook that captures the reader’s attention in the first sentence or two. Then draw the reader into the essay.

Avoid controversial topics, such as politics and religion. Even if you address both sides of an argument well, the reader may react negatively to the essay. Writing about negative topics puts the reader in a negative frame of mind. You want the reader to think positively about your application.

Avoid humor, as it is difficult to execute well. What’s funny to you might not be funny to others, and can fall flat.

Don’t write about your philosophy of life, as few people have overcome enough adversity to have developed a philosophy of life that isn’t trite and preachy.

Tips on How to Write an Essay

These tips make it easier to write an essay for a scholarship competition or college admissions application:

  • Answer the essay question out loud, while recording the answer. Later, transcribe the recording.
  • Add structure by organizing the transcribed text into an outline.

This tip works because most people speak at a rate of 200 words per minute, while they write or type at 30 to 60 words per minute. So, the act of writing interferes with the flow of thought.

It takes just a few minutes of speaking to get enough material for a good essay.

This process will also yield a more passionate and personal essay because you will say what you mean directly, without interruption. When speaking out loud, you are more likely to talk about something of interest to you. Try to also talk about your impact on other people and their impact on you.

Tips on How to Proofread an Essay

Similar tips work for proofreading essays:

  • Print out the essay, so that it looks different than the way it appears on the computer screen.
  • Read the essay out loud, marking every place where you stumble.
  • Each disfluency or verbal stumble is a sign of a problem in the essay. It might be a sign of a spelling, grammar or logic error, a problem with word choice or a problem with the flow of the essay.
  • Fix the problems.
  • Repeat the process by reading the essay out loud again, until you can read it from start to finish without stumbling.

Ask your parent, guidance counselor, or a teacher to read your essay and to provide you with feedback.

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