How To Polish Your Personal Essay

So, you've written your personal essay and you want to know how to polish and refine it, so that it really stands out from your fellow students. Follow these easy steps:

  1. Ask friends and family to read it through firstly for content. Once they've read it, ask them to describe in a few brief sentences what it tells them about you? Is this what you hoped they'd say? It should ideally show that you've learned/developed as a person as a result of an experience and your reflections on this. Does your personality shine through your writing? If so, great. If not, you maybe need to work on re-phrasing your essay, and placing greater emphasis on other parts.
  2. Ask friends and family to read your essay through to ensure that it all flows smoothly, it is clear and unambiguous, contains no spelling or grammatical errors? Work that is a pleasure to read makes it easier for people to quickly understand the content of what you're saying, without trying to decipher poorly phrased error-laden sentences.
  3. Have you carefully looked at the essay title, and really pulled out the key-words to ensure that you're answering it fully and answering exactly what it's asking for? Look for 'key words' in the essay title such as 'analyse', 'evaluate', 'critical' and 'discuss' and ensure that you have done this. Definitely be wary of simply being 'descriptive' as it is being more analytical that will get you much higher marks and be better received. It is one thing to describe something, quite another to carefully and reflectively think about the impact and influence of this.
  4. A personal essay is looking to tell the reader something about you. The reader is looking for your characteristics, qualities, skills, and experiences that show you will fit in with the course, and have the right sort of attitude and will contribute to the course and make a difference. Depending on what course you intend to study, these skills may differ slightly, but most places will want excellent communication skills, team-working skills, someone who is hard-working, with sound ethics/morals, who has respect for diversity. The essays are often geared at showing you have the ability to act, then reflect and review your actions - this is essentially how we learn, grow and continuously seek to improve and develop. The reader wants to know you're capable of self-analysis and life-long learning.

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