Ask An Expert: 5 Steps of Essay Writing

August 13, 2014

This week, the founder of shares the most crucial five steps you should follow every time you attack an essay for the college application.

1. Create a Timeline

You need to give yourself enough time to produce a quality essay. Don’t wait until the very last minute to write it because you’ll be stressed out and you may not be able to create a polished essay by your deadline. Make sure you schedule time to plan, write, and review your essay to avoid any procrastination-related issues.

2. Analyze the Essay Question

Don’t jump into writing without fully knowing what you’re supposed to write about. Read over the essay question to get a general idea of what it says, and then read it again to confirm your understanding. If you have any questions then ask your teacher for more clarification.

3. Brainstorm and Make an Outline

Now that you’ve processed the question, start brainstorming.  Write all your ideas down on a piece of paper and try to connect them to each other. A more thorough way of brainstorming is to make an outline, which will allow you to develop your thoughts in more detail. You can try brainstorming or outlining with a friend or fellow student so that you can share ideas with someone before writing.

4. Put Everything in Writing

Start writing and use your outline as your guide. Don’t focus on organizing the essay right now, but make sure you get everything out of your head and into your computer. If you’re stuck on how to start your application essay, read example essay intros here.

5. Refine

After you’ve written down everything you can think of, go through your rough draft and structure your essay. Make sure you have a solid thesis statement and concise, coherent paragraphs. Fix any run-on sentences and correct all grammar and spelling issues. After you’ve finished this process, give your brain a rest (take a nap or get a good night’s sleep to refresh your eyes and your brain). Before submitting your essay, review it as much as you can in order to catch any errors you might’ve missed.

The author, Chikaodili Okaneme, is the founder of Here to Edit and a graduate of Cornell University and the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism. Here to Edit is an online editing service that helps customers produce higher quality essays, resumes, letters, applications, and more. All submissions are thoroughly reviewed, edited with feedback, and returned promptly. Please visit for more information, and, in a few easy steps, your work can look better than ever!

Next week’s blog: Joie of College Prep 360 answers “Whom should you ask to look at your essays?” Have a question you’d like answered in a following blog post? Let us know in our Contact Us form!

Keep Reading: Application Essay Tips from a UPenn Student

Browse Successful Application Files

USC ‘20

Accepted to USC, Dartmouth, Emory, UMich, Rochester, Lehigh, Miami, Alabama, Ole Miss

Hi! I'm a college freshman who was accepted to some of the best universities in the country (most likely due to my essays). Feel free to ask any questions!
Harvard ‘19

Accepted to Harvard, SD State, USD, Yale, Drake

Harvard '19. President's Interagency Task Force on Human Trafficking. Global Health and Health Policy Concentrator. Legal and political background.
Barnard ‘18

Accepted to Barnard

Barnard '18 | My passions lie in education, psychology, and human rights, all from the lens of an African Studies major. My transcript and application were far from conventional, but neither am I.
Stanford ‘20

Accepted to Stanford, Wheaton, Pomona

I love languages, exercising, and eating!

New Posts

Student Reviews: Dartmouth College's Location & Culture
Student Reviews: Dartmouth College’s Location & Culture
March 12, 2018

Thinking about applying or enrolling at Dartmouth College? Look beyond Dartmouth’s Ivy League reputation and see what current Dartmouth students have to say about going to school in Hanover. 1. Dartmouth’s Campus & CultureStudent...

The 10 Stages Of Waiting For College Decisions
The 10 Stages Of Waiting For College Decisions
March 08, 2018

Nothing feels more like a judgment of who you are as a person and what you’ve accomplished than college admissions results. As you oscillate between crushing self-doubt and steeled confidence about how your application...

Class of 2022 Regular Decision Notification Dates
Class of 2022 Regular Decision Notification Dates
March 06, 2018

College decisions are drawing closer. With so many different notification dates to keep track of, we’ve put together a list of Class of 2022 release dates to help you manage it all. March 14th, 2018Massachusetts...

Load More Posts