Writing Tips For College Entrance Papers

by Shelly Kent ( www.shellykent.com )

College entrance papers and exams can be daunting. There are some simple ways to go about constructing your paper that will make it an effective tool in your admissions process.

Turn on your spell check.

When you are finished with your paper, review every error your computer’s spell and grammar check flags. Remember, if it is spelled correctly but is the wrong use of the word, your computer check may not pick up the error (for instance your computer may not flag the incorrect use of “wear” versus “where”).

Know your resources.

Still not sure when to use “affect” versus “effect”? A terrific online source is grammar.quickanddirtytips.com. It uses webcasts, simple explanations, and examples to solve quick grammar problems. Have your favorite writing reference tool handy.

Copy the essay question(s) into the paper and then answer each point as you write.

It is amazing how many submissions simply do not answer the question at hand. If you are having trouble formulating your answers, discuss them with a friend and ask him or her to write down the key points you make in reference to the point during your discussion.

Follow the rules.

If a college entrance paper offers writing guidelines such as font selection, number of pages, or word count, abide by these requests. Guidelines are in place for a variety of reasons, from keeping admissions papers manageable to understanding who can follow through on direction. Show them you are in the game and respect their rules.

Look at online resources and examples.

Under no circumstance should you copy another person’s work; however, there are tremendous websites that offer sample outlines and highly regarded papers for your review. See what the competition is doing, and formulate some sound points from reading others’ opinions if you are struggling for a clear direction on a question that just doesn’t seem relevant to your experience or direction.
Be yourself.

Colleges are not looking for carbon-copies in their students. Show your originality and creativity in your paper. Show them what makes you special and separates you from a crowd.

Do not abbreviate any words.

In the age of quick emails and texting, many high school and college students use common abbreviations to communicate. A college entrance paper is not the place for this. When referring to others, choose their proper name over common slang, such as “President Obama” versus “Obama.”

Don’t repeat yourself.

It’s a common mistake, and most often blamed on being overzealous with one point. Be sure to outline various points and then make those points within each paragraph. Repeat key points only within the opening or closing paragraph. 

Have a few friends, family members, or teachers you trust “edit” the paper.

We have difficulty picking out our own mistakes. It’s because we know what we mean to say and don’t often realize when it comes across as unclear. Provide someone you trust with a copy of the paper. Ask him or her to pick out potential spelling or grammatical errors, or offer key points you may want to add.

Leave it alone.

Before you send in that final draft, walk away from it and do something else. Refresh yourself and then read it out loud slowly to yourself to see if what you meant to say and what you wrote down are actually one in the same. Looking at your paper with fresh eyes and reading it out loud will allow you to pick up on mistakes you may have missed.

Most of all, relax, be yourself, and show your confidence. There is no one else like you in the world, and any college should be proud to have you!