Ask An Expert: 5 Steps of Essay Writing

August 13, 2014

This week, the founder of heretoedit.com 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 heretoedit.com 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

ssen2019
Rice ‘19


Accepted to Rice, Rochester, Case, Emory, Hamilton, Pitt, Union, Miami

Experience applying as daughter of first generation US immigrants. Aspiring physician interested in double majoring in Acting and Cognitive Science.
tannar2020
Stanford ‘20


Accepted to Stanford, UC Berkeley, UC Davis, UCLA

Born in small town, interested in math, science, and literature. Attending Stanford University starting fall of 2016, planning on studying engineering or computer science, with a minor in a foreign language.
kltaylor96
Duke ‘19


Accepted to Duke, Northwestern, Elon , William & Mary, Centre, Campbell

I am someone who always shoots for the moon so that if I miss, I will land among the stars.
cjjo96
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.

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