Admission essays hints: multiple revisions

You’ve battled anxiety, stress, and writer’s block, but you’ve finally completed what you feel is a great admissions essay. Don’t rush off to the mailbox (or your email outbox) just yet, though. Before attaching your essay to your completed application and sending it off for review by an admissions committee, you should take the time to revise it—and it shouldn’t be revised just once, but several times.

Why should admissions essays be revised?

Your admissions essay is your first (and unless you’re accepted, only) chance to impress the admissions committee with something other than facts and numbers. It’s almost a guarantee that hundreds or even thousands of other students have applications similar to yours in every way excepting their essays. Your transcripts are a dry record of your academic accomplishments, but your admissions essay is designed to bring those transcripts to life and convince your school that you’re going to be as asset as a person, not just a number. That means your admissions essay must be the very best you’re capable of, and it follows that it should be revised to ensure just that.

Why revise your essay multiple times?

Your essay should be revised more than once not because it’s likely to be full of errors, but because a thorough revision process involves several stages:

  • Your initial self-revision
  • Feedback from trusted friends, instructors, or fellow students
  • Your final revision

First Revision

Your first revision is simple. Read over your essay, and change any instances of awkward phrasing or rambling. Note any usage of passive voice and change it to active voice. Make sure you’re consistent with your use of present, past, and future tense, and that if you transition between tenses, it makes sense to do so.

Second Revision

Your second revision should be undertaken by someone else, or by multiple others whose opinions you value. Make a couple of copies of the essay and give them to fellow students or friends and ask them for their feedback. Tell them they can make notes and change whatever they want. You don’t need to agree with their changes, it will simply give you another perspective.

Final Revision

For your final revision, look over the feedback you received from your other editors. Highlight those changes which you like, and incorporate them into your final draft. Once you’ve added the changes you like, see if there are other adjustments to be made. Now you’re ready to submit it!