Before You Start to Write

Before you start to write:

1. Begin thinking of essay topics early in the fall.
2. Write a time-line of your life, noting special dates and important events.
3. Make a list of five or six possible essay topics and discuss them with your friends, parents and teachers.
4. Find a quiet place and "write" the essay in your mind.

While you are writing:

1. Make sure you are answering the question appropriately.
2. Have a dictionary and a thesaurus handy.
3. Try different atmospheres. Write in silence or with music.
4. If you get "writer's block," first try writing the whole essay the way you would say it.
Or, "talk" the essay into a tape recorder. Write whatever you are thinking.
5. Seek assistance from an English teacher.
6. Let your essay sit for a few days, then re-read it. You'll probably find a number of improvements you can make.

Before you finalize and mail it:

1. Double-check for spelling, grammar and punctuation mistakes.
2. Check for wordiness. Most essays could make their point more effectively if they were about half as long.
3. Make sure the essay looks neat.
4. Make sure you are satisfied with the essay. Does it reflect your personality and how you want to present yourself? Can you say, "This sounds like me?" 5. Ask an adult to proofread your essay.
6. Make sure your name and social security number are on each page of your essay before photocopying.


The above are tips from "Essays That Worked", edited by Boykin Curry and Brian Kasbar.