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Posts about Writing Skills

A Four-Step Guide to Writing a Great College Admissions Essay: Part II

Contributed by: Jake Rosen

Welcome back. In last month’s newsletter, I laid out the first and second steps in this four-step guide to writing a great college admissions essay. Before reading on, I’d go back and read (or re-read) Part I, which includes Step One: Don’t Panic and Step Two: Guided Brainstorm.

Ready for more? Let’s get to it.

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Posted in College Admissions, Writing Skills

Five Things You Should Know About Taking the New ACT Writing Test

The ACT Writing section took on a new format in September 2015, which changes the way students should prepare for this optional segment of the test. Here are five things you should know about the New ACT Writing Test.

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Posted in Test Preparation, ACT, Writing Skills

ACT Writing Enhancements for Fall 2015

The optional essay section (Writing test) of the ACT is changing beginning with the September 12, 2015 test date. The revised ACT essay format was designed to provide more insights to help students become college and career ready.

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Posted in Test Preparation, ACT, Writing Skills

ACT Writing Prompts: 5 Examples to Help Your Student Prepare

If your student is a strong writer, taking the ACT Writing test is probably a no-brainer, but those who struggle with writing assignments in school may be hesitant to take this optional section of the exam. The time limit of the ACT Writing section may also be intimidating for some students. Our message is simple: Don’t sweat it!

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Posted in Test Preparation, ACT, Writing Skills

How to Write a Compelling College Admissions Essay

David W. Clark M.Ed.

The college admissions essay was first added to the college application requirements of many colleges after World War II. After standardized tests, it is the element of the college application students worry about most.

If you procrastinate and leave this task to the last minute, your discomfort will be well earned. But a simple step-by-step game plan can make it simpler and improve the essay.




Before we start, remember this:

  • Your college admissions essay will be read and in most cases it will be read and evaluated by two members of the admissions committee.
  • Your college admissions essay is unlikely to get you accepted but it may get you rejected. Put another way, the single most important factor in an admission committee's decision is the quality of the academic program you are taking, followed closely by your GPA, and then your test scores. A strong essay will not overcome weaknesses in those areas, but it could make the difference when two candidates are closely matched and space is limited in the incoming freshman class.
  • Don't over do it. Admissions committees are looking for insight into you. They are not expecting you to be the next David Foster-Wallace.

Step one: Spring of junior year and summer before senior year.

Start early. Spend several months looking for "snapshots" of your day-to-day life that reveal something about you. If you imagine your daily life over the course of several months as a movie, pick a snapshot of that "movie" (your life) that says something about you to someone who does not know you.

This snapshot should show, not tell. You should be proud of what it describes about you. When those who know you "see" this snapshot, they should immediately think, "Oh that is so.... (your name)." Have a notebook or a few 3×5 cards handy and keep a record of these snapshots as they occur to you over time.

Step two: September of senior year.

Identify the college admissions essay topics you'll need to complete for all the colleges to which you'll be applying. Note essay length requirements and any other specifications.

Step three: September & October of senior year.

Write, write and write some more. Try to spend no more than 30 minutes at a time writing, but do write at least 2-3 times a week. Just write. Don't worry yet about serious proofreading but do give attention to content (readers want to learn about you) and structure (be sure to have a beginning, a middle, and an end).Keep it simple, respond to the prompt, and use your snapshots.

Step four: Let someone else read your essays.

Now comes the hard part; let your essay be exposed to the scrutiny of another reader. Your teacher? An older sibling? Youth group leader at church? A parent?

Use the feedback you receive from other readers to revise and improve your college admissions essays. But always remember to be yourself. If you feel good about what you've written, readers on the admissions committee will enjoy reading your essay. If you're trying to be someone you're not, it will become obvious quickly.


David W. Clark, Ed.M., is an independent college admissions consultant with offices in Ardmore and Paoli who has been working with high school students for more than thirty-five years. His website www.collegesearchnow.net is worth visiting. Archived monthly e-newsletter articles can be read at http://blog.collegesearchnow.net/


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Posted in News, College Admissions, Writing Skills

April 2011 Newsletter

In This Issue:

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Posted in Educational Reference, News, College Admissions, Writing Skills

January 2011 Newsletter

In this issue:

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Posted in Free Proctored SAT and ACT Exams, News, Writing Skills

Don't Forget To Write!

Writing is the most complex activity that most students will encounter during their years in school. If you stop to think about it, writing requires students to bring to bear a wide variety of different skills, all at the same time. Here are just some of the skills required:

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Posted in Learning Styles, Writing Skills, Tutoring

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