Tips for Editing the College Essay

  1.  Evaluate the strength of your first sentence. Is it clear? Does it create interest? Does it encourage the reader to read the second sentence?


  1. Underline the first 3 words in each sentence. Look for patterns. Do you start multiple sentences in a similar fashion? If so, use sentence starters. Try to diversify your presentation.


  1. Mark your verbs. Evaluate your verbs. Are your verbs active or passive? Are your verbs visual? Do they push the action of your sentence?


  1. Circle all your 2 letter words. Do you need all those 2 letter words? Look for places where you can compress your language.


  1. Do you vary your sentence structure? Do you have dynamic syntactical structure? Pick at least 5 sentences in consecutive order and count your words. Label each sentence with a word count. If your numbers are too close (within 5 words) spend time varying your sentence structure.


  1. Highlight an excerpt from your writing where you clearly address the demands of the prompt.


  1. Highlight/count your personal pronouns (I, me, my). Use personal pronouns in moderation.


  1. Mark your use of sensory imagery. Do you appeal to the reader’s 5 senses? Do you make the reader a part of your experience?


  1. Observe your paragraph structure. Are your paragraphs varied and dynamic? Or are your paragraphs similar in length and presentation?


  1. Would a line or two of dialogue enliven your essay?


  1. Mark where you reflect on your experience(s). Does your essay show personal growth or an “a -ha!” moment?