How to Write your Personal Statement in Four Easy Steps

1. Pick a topic you’re passionate about.

Your writing will be both easier and more genuine if you write about what you want to write about, instead of writing about what you think colleges want to hear. The most successful essays describe a moment of personal growth, difficulty, strength, or confidence, all of which people experience in vastly different ways.

If you are serious about your college essay, you will most likely be spending a fair amount of time brainstorming, writing, and editing until you make it as near perfect as possible. Understandably, this process will proceed quicker if you actually enjoy the topic you are writing about.

More importantly, if you love the topic you choose, your reader will see it in your writing: the more passion you feel for a subject, the easier it will be to express yourself. So if your greatest personal growth story occurred as you were picking out socks for the day, so be it. Perhaps you managed to find courage on a stage in front of two thousand, or maybe just two people.

Remember that this is your personal statement, your only chance to differentiate yourself as a unique individual to colleges apart from grades, test scores, and resumes. Write about a topic that excites you, and you will excite your reader.

2. Engage your reader from the first sentence.

Regardless of the topic you choose, your reader’s interest must be captured in the first sentence. Out of thousands of essays, why should yours stand out? A perfect introduction will leap out to the reader and grab their attention.

The best way to do this is through as much detail as you can muster. If you have chosen a sport or activity you excel in, show your reader through your words a split second of what participating in the activity is like. Write as if you are telling a story: what was the setting? What was the weather like? Were there other people there? What emotions were coursing through you at that exact moment?

Many students will begin their essays, “The most life-changing/important/difficult moment in my life has been___.” Over time, admissions officers will lose steam over the constant repetition, and all essays that begin as such will fail to make an impact.

Make it easier for your reader to remember you by writing a story as your introduction. The more specific detail you add in, the more the reader will get into the story and the more sold they’ll be on you.

3. Ask yourself “So What?”

As with any good essay, you should spend at least a paragraph explaining the “so what?” aspect of your essay. If you have chosen a specific activity to write about, in addition to writing about the activity itself, colleges want to know why this particular activity has made an impact on your life.

So you’ve been playing baseball for the last ten years, so what? Perhaps playing baseball taught you teamwork, or made you appreciate the value of practice and determination in achieving your goals. As this is a college essay with a point to make about your character, a substantial portion of your essay should answer the “so what?” question.

Colleges want to know how you have grown as a person through your own experiences and how they have changed you, and stating why such experiences were important to you aid in convincing admissions officers that their school could use more students like you.

If your detail and story-like aspect of your essay comes at the beginning, your “so what?” moment should wrap up your essay, connecting your activity in question with the purpose behind your choice of topic.

4. Read through your essay out loud.

It goes without saying that you should spell-check your essay before sending it off to colleges. As your personal statement is one you will presumably be using for the majority of your college applications (if your colleges use CollgeApp), there is no excuse for sending off an essay that is not completely free of mechanical and grammatical errors.

In addition to the automatic spellcheck on Microsoft Word, set time aside to read over your paper out loud. This will allow you to catch things your mind might otherwise overlook; because you are able to hear any wrong grammar or sentence structure, you are less likely to skip over it.

It is also wise to ask for a second opinion: let your parents read it, your English teacher or your friends. Ask them to read it and tell you what they thought the central message they got out of it was; if it is the same message you were hoping to send to admissions officers, your essay has succeeded.

Best free software for writing: 10 programs to unleash your creativity – Part Two

6. Storybook

Storybook is a versatile tool which aims to help you properly structure a novel, screenplay or other complex written work.

You’ll start by creating strands, one for each plotline. These have multiple scenes, telling your story. Each scene will be set in a defined location, with your choice of characters or items. And you can add, edit or rearrange any of this whenever you like.

While this sounds like a lot of work, it does help you to visualise and better understand your story. It’s easy to discover and fix problems. And the option to organise your scenes into chapters should help when you move on to writing the book.

7. wikidPad

Fully understanding your topic is a vital part of any writing project, and that’s where wikidPad can help. The program is a personal wiki, an interesting offline tool which helps you to link your ideas, and it’s surprisingly easy to use.

If you’ve just realised Steven Spielberg has to be covered in your piece, for instance, just type his name as one word, in mixed case – StevenSpielberg – and wikidPad will automatically turn your word into a link. Double-click this link at any time to create a Spielberg page, then repeat the process elsewhere to quickly build your own document outline.

The program can do much more, too – download it and see for yourself. (Please note, though, if you get an error message when launching the program then you should try running it as an administrator.)

8. FocusWriter

Most editors have a cluttered interface, packed with buttons and toolbars – but FocusWriter is different. Launch it and the program gets rid of all distractions by clearing the screen entirely, so you can concentrate on your writing.

Move your mouse cursor to the top of the screen, though, and menus appear with the usual editing basics: text formatting, search and replace, alignment, indents, spell check and so on.

Extra options include the ability to set yourself a daily goal (work for an hour, say, or write a certain number of words), while the program status bar shows you how close you are to achieving this.

If you need real editing power, then, FocusWriter won’t be for you. But if you just need to write, and will sort out all the layout complexities later, its distraction-free approach could help. (Q10 [] is another good example, while Writer [] is an online equivalent.)

9. yWriter5

YWriter5 is a small but very comprehensive tool which helps you to plan your novel.

Set up your various deadlines, for instance, and the program’s Work Schedule report will let you know how much you’ll have to do, each day, to finish on time.

Enter your characters, locations and items and you can freely organise them into scenes.

Put these in the right order and you’ll have a basic outline for the book, but you’re still free to change anything you like. So you can move a scene back a chapter, drop one character, add someone else, whatever you like.

And if you decide you’re going in the wrong direction, no problem – yWriter5 keeps all your previous scenes, and you can review or restore them as required.

10. Evernote

If there’s one essential research and note tool for writers (and everyone else, really), it has to be Evernote.

The program allows you to create detailed notes, with formatting and images, and save them to your online account.

You can also record web content: URLs, a snippet of text, a full page. And it’s just as easy to include images and attach files.

Evernote runs on just about every platform there is – Windows, Mac, iPad, iPhone, Android, Blackberry, Windows Phone and more – and can be used from a browser for everyone else.

You can even share your notes with others, perfect if you’re collaborating on a big project.

Best free software for writing: 10 programs to unleash your creativity

In theory, if you’re hoping to write that novel you’ve been thinking about for years, then you could just launch your favourite word processor and start typing.

In practice, it’s not that simple. You’ll need to prepare first, take notes and organise your ideas.

It takes time and effort to make sure your work is properly structured. And an editor you’ll use to produce a letter, say, almost certainly isn’t the best choice for a big writing project – opting for a more specialist tool could make a real difference to your productivity.

Don’t give up just yet, though, this isn’t as bad as it seems. There are plenty of excellent free tools to help simplify the mechanics of the writing process. And choosing the right ones will leave you free to focus on what really matters: bringing your ideas to life.

1. LibreOffice Writer

Every writer needs a good word processor for at least some tasks, and LibreOffice has one of the best free offerings around.

Auto-completion, auto-formatting and the spell checker work as you write, delivering great results with minimal hassle.

If you need a little more then it’s easy to extend your document with embedded images, footnotes and endnotes, indexes, bibliographies and more. It’s straightforward to export your work as a PDF file, ready to share with others.

And this is all presented in a familiar, Word 2007-style interface. You’ll feel at home right away.

2. TheSage

TheSage is a very powerful dictionary and thesaurus and a stack of useful features.

For example, a one-click lookup in most applicatons will get you a definition, an example sentence, a pronuciation guide (with matching audio to hear it spoken out loud), and any synonyms, hypernyms, hyponyms and meronyms.

You don’t know how to spell a word? No problem, TheSage will offer Google-like alternatives if you get something wrong.

All your searches are stored in a history list for easy reference later. There’s also an anagram solver. And the program can even run web searches on your term at Wikipedia, Wiktionary and Google.

3. Sigil

Ideal for e-book authors, Sigil is a capable EPUB editor with a stack of essential features.

If you’re new to e-books then you’ll appreciate the WSIWYG Book view, for instance, which works much like any other editor. But experienced users can fine tune their project by directly tweaking EPUB code.

A powerful search tool helps you to update text and formatting; tools to create a table of contents and index give your project a professional touch; and the bundled FlightCrew EPUB validator checks that your book conforms to the EPUB standards.

4. TreeSheets

TreeSheets is an interesting note-taking program which takes an unusual approach to organising your ideas.

It works a little like a spreadsheet, but each cell can contain lots of data, images, formatted text and more.

So you might have a list of items, each of which contains contains further tables and images, creating something like an outliner tool with an extra dimension.

The TreeSheets interface is a little unconventional, and that will put plenty of people off. If you like the basic idea, though, it’s well worth persevering, as once you’ve mastered the basics the program is a great way to record and arrange your thoughts.

5. Kiwix

You’ve busy on an important project, and need to look something up. You turn to the web, of course – but your internet connection is down. So now what?

If you’ve installed and set up Kiwix beforehand then this doesn’t have to be a disaster. That’s because the program allows you to download huge amounts of content – like all the text of Wikipedia pages (though no images) – for viewing offline.

You’ll need to be patient at first, because these are big downloads (5-10GB). And they’re only updated every year or so. But the files will also be easily accessible, whatever the state of your internet connection, and that could be really useful.

How to quote in an essay?

Quoting passages in books, essays, research papers and other articles depends on two things: (1) the appropriateness of the passage you want to quote and (2) the idea of your paragraph where you want to include the quotation. There are also at least two basic rules that you should follow when you are putting sentences directly from your source such as a book to your essay, for example. One, you should put the proper citation at the end of the direct quote. Two, you should always insert quotation marks at the beginning and at the end of your quote to indicate that the sentence in your paragraph is borrowed from another source.


Secondhand smoke is one of the primary causes of lung-related ailments including asthma. A scholar writes that “secondhand smoke may even be more dangerous than firsthand smoke” (Walberg, 2007).

Miller (2003) wrote that “secondhand smoke is one of the primary culprits of lung cancer” (p. 84). If he is right, it is therefore safe to assume that smokers should refrain from smoking in public places in order to save others from the dangers of lung-related ailments.

It is important to note that your citation for your direct quotes should follow the citation format required by your instructor. The examples given follow the APA 5th format.

It is also important that you should carefully select the quotes you want to incorporate into your essay, making sure that each direct quote is highly relevant to your paragraph’s main idea. Otherwise, your quoted line will make your argument or research weak.

As a general rule, note that quoted sentences or phrases that are more than four sentences should be inserted in your paper as a block text rather than as a part of the paragraph you are writing. Also, be sure if your instructor has imposed a limit on the length of direct quotations that you can use.

You should also provide a list of references or a works cited page at the end of your article which should include the sources where you borrowed the quotes.

Lastly, here are a few guide questions you can ask yourself before you decide to find and choose a line from an outside source that you want to quote:

  • Is the quote relevant to the paragraph I am writing?
  • Does the quote support or weaken the ideas in my paragraph?
  • Is the source material credible?
  • Are there better quotes in other articles that I can borrow?

Stop Procrastinating and Complete Your Dissertation!

The hardest parts of writing your dissertation is starting and staying on track. So how do you write your dissertation? Read on for tips on how to write your dissertation and successfully complete your graduate program.

Start Anywhere

In terms of completing your list of dissertation tasks, it is not necessary to start at the beginning. In fact, believing that one starts the dissertation proposal by writing his or her introduction and thesis and ends with the plan for analyses will detain progress. Begin where you feel comfortable and fill in the gaps. You will find that you gain momentum with the completion of each small task. Feeling overwhelmed by any particular task is a sign that you have not broken it down into small enough pieces.

Make consistent progress writing every day, even if only for a short period.
Set aside periods of time to write on a regular basis. Establish a firm schedule. Train yourself to write in short blocks, for at least an hour a day. All too often we insist that we need large blocks of time to write. Blocks of time certainly help the writing process, but the ABD often lacks such resources.

For example, when I was writing the dissertation, I taught 5 classes as an adjunct at 4 different schools; blocks of time were difficult to find, other than over the weekend. Aside from pragmatics, writing at least a little every day keeps the thesis topic fresh in your mind, leaving you open to new ideas and interpretations. You may even find yourself thinking about it and making conceptual progress as you complete mundane tasks such as driving to and from school and work.

Use incentives to assist you in overcoming procrastination.

Writing requires consistent, well-organized effort and a system of self-imposed incentives to overcome procrastination. What kind of incentives work? Although it depends on the individual, a safe bet is time off from working. I found vegetation time such as time spent playing computer games to be helpful as an incentive to reinforce progress.

Methodically break through writer’s block.

When it is difficult to write, talk through your ideas to anyone who will listen, or just talk out loud to yourself. Write out your thoughts without criticizing them. Take time to warm up, by writing to clear your thoughts. Get the ideas out without scrutinizing each sentence; it is often easier to edit than it is to write.

Work through your ideas by writing, THEN edit extensively. You will write many drafts of each section of the dissertation; a first (second, or even third) draft need not approach perfection. In addition, it is acceptable to use dashes to mark when you cannot find the appropriate word to express your idea, but want to go on; just remember to fill in the dashes later. The important thing is that you develop a pattern of producing some output regularly that output can be edited or even thrown out, but it is important to produce something.

Recognize and accept the fact that writing is a time consuming process. Don’t rush yourself.

No draft will be perfect that first time around. Expect to go through several drafts of each section of your dissertation. Once you feel comfortable with a particular section, take time away from it. Ask others to read your writing and consider their comments and criticisms with an open mind. After a few days or a week, reread the section and edit again; you may be quite surprised by the impact of a fresh perspective.

Writing the dissertation is much like running a marathon. The seemingly insurmountable may be attained through a series of small goals and deadlines. Accomplishing each small goal may provide additional momentum. Make consistent progress each day, use incentives to assist you in attaining your goals, and acknowledge that the dissertation will require time, hard work, and patience. Finally, consider the words of Dag Hammarskjold: “Never measure the height of a mountain, until you have reached the top. Then you will see how low it was.”

10 Ways to Write an Essay More Effectively

Your deadline’s just around the corner and you still feel like you have nothing to write. The clock is ticking and you’re cramming again.

Don’t let this happen to you again. Here are 10 ways to write an essay more effectively and avoid that late-night writing cram sessions.

1.Write about a specific topic

If your teacher gave you a topic to write about, stick to it and research more on it, if needed. On the other hand, if your teacher gave you a broad, general topic to write about (ex: music), try to narrow it down into a specific topic (ex: Rock Music of the ’70s). Focusing on a specific topic makes it easier for you to write an essay.

2. Brainstorm and plan your essay

Think before you write! Draft an outline for yourself so your essay will be more organized and easy to follow.

3. Write a clear thesis statement

A thesis statement is a sentence that tells your readers what your essay is all about. DO be clear when writing your thesis statement. DON’T write “My essay is about…” or “I will write about..” this just makes your essay weak.

4. Make sure you complete the three parts of the essay

The three parts are:

Introduction: this is the first paragraph of your essay and it introduces the readers to what you will discuss. You can write a quote from a famous person (if you think it will help your essay), you can write an anecdote, a joke, or an alarming statistic to capture your reader’s attention.

Body: this is the middle part of your essay. This is where you will write your PIE. What is PIE? P-point; I-information; E-example. Each PIE should have its own paragraph (ex: you have three points, you should also have three paragraphs for your body.

Conclusion: this is the last paragraph of your essay. This summarizes or reiterates all the points you mentioned in your body. DO paraphrase your points and your thesis statement here. DON’T write “To conclude this paper,….” unless you are writing 10-pages or more.

5. Details… details.. details…

in real estate, it’s “location..location.. location”. In writing, it’s all about details. Add more details to make your essay stronger.

6. Do your research and write citations

Especially if your teacher asks you to do a research paper! Do not just copy paste from a website and claim it as your own. This is called plagiarism and is frowned upon by teachers. Be honest and cite your sources well.

7.Use vocabulary words appropriate for your grade level

This is your time to shine. Let the teacher know that you know vocabulary words suitable or even higher than your grade level. But make sure you know the meaning and how to use it correctly!

8. Proofread

After you write your essay, read it. Proofread for spelling and grammar errors and check if your ideas relate to your main topic.

9. Revise

Add or delete ideas the way you see fit. Make sure you spell the words correctly and make sure you use the correct punctuations.

10. Ask others to read your essay

Ask your mom, your dad, your sister or your brother to read your essay and ask their opinions about it. They might see errors that you missed.

Writing shouldn’t be a daunting task, even if you’re writing a school essay. Just remember these 10 tips and you’ll be good to go. :)

How To Proofread Text and Layout

The grammar and spellchecker in some software catches only some mistakes. To catch other less obvious errors you need to visually proofread your document. Visual proofreading of text and layout occurs at many stages, from early drafts to prepress and press proofs of the final typeset document.

Time Required: 30 mins or longer – Proofreading text and layout time varies by length and complexity of document

Here’s How:

Read before proofing.
Read the entire document through once to get an overall feel for content and layout before you proofread for errors.

Proofread text.
Proofread the document checking for punctuation and spelling irregularities (including consistent use of alternate spellings based on any style guide used by the organization).

Read aloud.
Proofread the entire document, including headlines and other text by reading it aloud. If possible, have another person listen and read along while you read aloud. This is a good way to catch missing words or doubled words.

Read backwards.
Proofread headlines, subheads, decks, kickers, pull-quotes, and call-outs backwards focusing on the words instead of trying to read for comprehension.

Doublecheck names.
Check spelling of all names and company names.

Doublecheck numbers.
Check all numbers carefully. Call phone numbers to verify. If addition, subtraction, or other math operations appear in text, doublecheck the figures.

Look for inconsistencies.
Check for consistent use of small caps for abbreviations and acronyms as well as consistent use of italics (for book titles, foreign phrases, etc.).

Proof graphics and captions.
Check artwork and ensure that it is placed correctly. Proofread captions and look at artwork to ensure the correct captions are with each photo.

Look at the fonts.
Check for changes in fonts within text and consistent font usage for headlines and captions.

Look at spacing.
Check for consistent spacing between elements such as headlines and body copy or gutters between columns of text.

Look for trapped white space.
In justified text, especially, look for rivers of white space and awkward hyphenation.

Work from beginning to end.
When making corrections to text that includes changing line endings (tracking, font size changes, etc.) start at the beginning of the document and work towards the end.

Have a proofreading partner.
If possible, have another person proofread or assist you when you proofread your own work.


Proof from a printed source.
It is best to print your document and proofread a hard copy rather than relying on the on-screen representation, even when proofreading Web pages.

What is a proofreading service

Only the people that have every written a book that wanted to publish know how difficult and complex publishing could be. There are so many things to be done, and to go through so many stages till the work is finished, designers to be contacted, proofreading services to be used and so on, that if people knew about it they would have probably given it up long ago.

You finally come up with the plot of a very interesting book and you manage to finish the content and it turns out that of have done only half of the work. Then comes the more difficult and more important part – the publishing of the book. You need to contact as many publishing companies as possible in order for one of them to like your work and agree to issue it. Then you have to see if they also offer proofreading services or you will have to find them themselves.

Of course, the first option is much more preferable, because proofreading is both complex and very crucial. It will take you much time to do a research on the available services before you can be sure to trust your work with someone else. After all the job of the proofreader is the final stage of the publishing so he will be responsible for the last version of your book. That’s why you should do a very thorough research on the proofreading services available before you hire someone to do it.

It is much easier if the publishing company offers proofreading service as well, just like this one – Proofreading service. Then they will have to take care of everything and you will have nothing to worry about. In the end you will only have to approve of the last version and you are ready.

You will also need to work closely with a graphic designer from the publishing company, who will be in charge to make the appearance and cover of your book. This is also a very important thing that you should pay good attention to, although it is not as important as the proofreading. But still, despite the popular saying not to judge a book by its cover, there are still many people out there, for whom the look of a book is very important. So make sure that you pay enough thought and attention to each of the stages of the publishing.

Essays as a part of university graduation

Many universities in Europe do not follow the traditional ways of valuating students’ knowledge like requiring them to do tests, answer questions, etc., but prefer to check their knowledge on certain matter by making them write an essay.

Although at first it may seem as an easier job, in fact it requires much a broader view on the problem.
One of the advantages of essay writing is that it shows not only the students’ knowledge on the given matter, but also their ability to analyze and draw conclusions, or in other words, to think.

Everyone can learn mere facts, statistics, history, etc., but not everyone can but their knowledge into practice, making the gathered information actually valuable. Thus writing an essay which is good and get a high level requires much more than simply reading your student books.

Another advantage of the essay writing is that it gives the students the opportunity to wing it. In other words even if you do not know all the details or cannot understand it all, if you have good writing skills then you can still make your way through it. If you have a good common sense on the matter then you can still leave the reader with the impression that you know the problem in detail.

Furthermore, if you have learned how to write good essays then it will be much easier for you to graduate since you can always put these skills into practice, regardless of the subject that you have to take.

Essay writing has its down sides, too. Definitely the biggest of them all is the fact that the evaluation is quite subjective and entirely depends on the reader. For one evaluator it may be an excellent essay, for another it may not have any academic value whatsoever. The problem with all that is that the student cannot pretend for a higher score, since he cannot prove that his vision is the right one. Another disadvantage of writing essay is that you need to know some basics about writing, which in other situation would not be required (for example if you have to take a test and answer closed questions). Not everyone is good at writing and that would put these students in a hard situation, even though they may be smart and know a lot on the subject.

Nevertheless, essay writing has started to become more and more popular not only in Europe, but in the USA as well. It is considered to be a much more accurate way to evaluate the students’ knowledge, taking in mind each of their personalities and views.

Should you look for help when writing your essays?

When I was younger, I used to use a lot of essay help in school. The reason for this I was that I was very lazy – I was maybe the worst student in my class and always had poor marks. I, however, did not care about that at all – I had other thing to think about, which for me were more important at the time.

For example, going to the fitness club and train as hard as I can, so I can be better at fighting and make people more afraid of me. I could also look more appealing to the girls, who were and have always been a very important part of my life. That’s why I did not want to deal with homework and used to pay a very nice lady for the essay help – she would do my home works when it came to writing, because I was quite bad at it. Thankfully, I was naturally good at mathematics and other science subjects, so I could have average marks without studying at all.

As time passed I got so accustomed to using essay help that even when I had free time and was actually interested in the theme, I still would not write it myself. The lady did not require much money since I was her regular customer and that fitted us both perfectly. For my great horror, however, one day the lady called me and said that she is going to live abroad and could not write my essays anymore. I was so angry and frustrated in the beginning. I did not know what to do and who to turn for help to.

That’s when it happened. I sat down and wrote my first essay. It took me about two days to finish, although it was only 350-400 letters. I put all of my efforts and, for my surprise, I quite enjoyed that. It was even better then I got my essay back and had an “A” mark.

I felt so proud of myself. I hurried to say that to the lady and she was very proud of me. She said that for my best I should not find another person for essay help so that I won’t be tempted to contact them whenever I did not like the subject or did not feel like writing. And so I did – I became very serious about writing and actually my literature classes became my favorite time at school. The teacher did not detect any difference, because I have always gotten A-level marks because of the essay help, but now whenever I saw this mark I felt amazing, rather than ashamed.

I then understood that everything is possible when a person puts his whole heart and desire in it.