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How To Write Your Grad School Application Essay

Updated: Feb 16, 2021

We can’t stress enough how important it is to put in the work for your graduate school application essay. While your resume gives the admission committee a clear-cut breakdown of your academic and professional trajectory, your essay or statement of purpose gives reason to your choices and gives the committee a deeper understanding of your skill-set, values and personality.

“Grad school is competitive,” shares Arya Diwase, co-founder of Application Ally, “Conducting a thorough research about the program and school, identifying your skill set and highlighting situations where these skills have been implemented, is the bedrock of a strong essay.”

“Explain how you plan to use these skills at the desired program. Exude confidence on paper, draw the line at bragging.” adds Anushka Desai, co-founder of Application Ally.

An academic statement of purpose allows you to elaborate why you’re a good choice for the program. It lets you assertively catch the admission committee’s attention; it provides proof that your academic goals align with the program and gives a peek into your communication style and most importantly, your personality and drive. It gives the admission committee insight into why you wish to join the particular program, how you’ll make the most of it once admitted and why you deserve the opportunity.

Having said that, putting pen to paper can seem like a daunting task - we understand. As education consultants, we know that it can be a tough process. As applicants with more than half Ivy League acceptances, we personally understand the workings of this process and have figured the best way to try and crack the grad school essay game. Below, you will find a round-up of tips as well as the do’s and don'ts on how to nail your SOP. Read on.

1. Do Your Research

It’s important that you sit down and brainstorm the content you wish to add to your essay. Mention anecdotes that highlight your skills followed by research about the program, school and faculty. Start with thorough research about the program and school. List them down; include the best. The key is to connect your experience and gaps in your skillset with how the particular program/school can help you.

2. Create A Rough Draft

Now that you’ve identified the parts that will come together as your story, create an outline. Format the content so that it flows well. Connect the parts so that they make sense and remember to use concise and clear language; flowery and fancy lingo should be avoided. Make sure your sentence structure is correct while outlining the first draft itself to avoid too many changes.

3. Tighten The Edit

Once you’ve hammered out your first draft it’s time to fine-tune and tighten your edit. Most grad school applications have a page limit of 1-2 pages. Make sure you include anecdotes, an introduction to yourself, your interests, a synopsis of your academic and professional choices and its relevance to the degree you’re applying to, and a conclusion that highlights why you deserve a spot. Fine tune it to active voice; it should sound motivated and competent yet humble. Try opening your essay with an anecdote - always a win.

4. Edit + Proofread

We recommend working on at least 3 drafts and sending it to 2 people to check. Getting a fresh perspective on your work is always a good idea. Rework your first draft and polish it; make sure you use connector words, maintain the flow, condense it to the given word limit, format and justify it.

Now that you have a fair idea about all the do’s of your grad school application lets get down to the don'ts, which are just as important. Here are a few things to avoid:

Avoid beginning your essay with a quote by someone famous

Skip use of generic statements like "Leaving the world a better place."

Avoid boasting. Learn the art of humble bragging

Leave out any condescending statements or value/moral judgements

Skip talking about religion or politics unless it is an integral part of your story

This is a basic point to keep in mind but let’s reiterate it - do not plagiarise

Don’t use complicated or flowery language, keep it simple

Don’t use passive voice

We understand that this process can be overwhelming. Here’s where our exclusive Writing Package can help! We help you identify your story and put it together to create a compelling and unputdownable essay. Get in touch with us to know more details about the package:

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