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3 Steps to a great essay
Summary: 3 Steps to a great essay

1.  Prewriting:  Collect and organize potential ideas for your essay's focus.


List Your Strengths: Make a list of your best traits. Focus on characteristics rather than accomplishments: instead of listing "Eagle Scout," list "responsible," instead of "basketball player," say "committed."  Save your accomplishments for your Academic Resume.  Ask parents, friends and teachers what they consider your best characteristics.

List the Evidence:  For each trait, list five or six experiences from your life that prove each of your strengths.
Reflect & Connect:  Are there threads that run through several of your strengths and experiences? Is your creativity the driving force behind your participating in the annual art show and your summer job teaching crafts at camp? Is your curiosity what made being a member of the Forensics team and traveling to another place so meaningful to you? Did you learn more than skills playing volleyball or volunteering at soccer camp?

2.  Drafting:   Similar to an essay for school, there are three parts: introduction, body, and conclusion.

Introduction: Grab the reader's attention before giving the reader a concise overview of your essay. Something unexpected or vivid like "My favorite science project was a complete disaster" will capture the evaluator's interest.
Body: Present the evidence supporting your main idea. Use narration and incident to show rather than tell. Avoid listing.
Conclusion: This can be brief, just a few sentences to sum up the meaning of the experiences you've described.

3.  Editing:  Check spelling and grammar. Read your essay aloud to see if it flows comfortably.
Once you have a draft that you're pleased with, let it rest for a few days. Come back to it to confirm you've made your point in a compelling and concise way.
Get Feedback: Have someone you respect read your essay and give you constructive criticism.  Ask the person to tell you what they think you are trying to convey.

Edit Down: Your language should be simple, direct, and clear.  Make every word count, e.g., if you wrote "in society today," consider changing it to "now."

Proofread: Proofread, proofread, proofread. Careless spelling or grammatical errors, awkward language, or fuzzy logic will make your essay memorable-- in a bad way.

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