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How to Write an Essay

Last Updated: April 2, 2024 Fact Checked

This article was co-authored by Christopher Taylor, PhD and by wikiHow staff writer, Megaera Lorenz, PhD . Christopher Taylor is an Adjunct Assistant Professor of English at Austin Community College in Texas. He received his PhD in English Literature and Medieval Studies from the University of Texas at Austin in 2014. There are 18 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page. This article has been fact-checked, ensuring the accuracy of any cited facts and confirming the authority of its sources. This article has been viewed 7,964,298 times.

An essay is a common type of academic writing that you'll likely be asked to do in multiple classes. Before you start writing your essay, make sure you understand the details of the assignment so that you know how to approach the essay and what your focus should be. Once you've chosen a topic, do some research and narrow down the main argument(s) you'd like to make. From there, you'll need to write an outline and flesh out your essay, which should consist of an introduction, body, and conclusion. After your essay is drafted, spend some time revising it to ensure your writing is as strong as possible.

Understanding Your Assignment

Step 1 Read your assignment carefully.

  • The compare/contrast essay , which focuses on analyzing the similarities and differences between 2 things, such as ideas, people, events, places, or works of art.
  • The narrative essay , which tells a story.
  • The argumentative essay , in which the writer uses evidence and examples to convince the reader of their point of view.
  • The critical or analytical essay, which examines something (such as a text or work of art) in detail. This type of essay may attempt to answer specific questions about the subject or focus more generally on its meaning.
  • The informative essay , that educates the reader about a topic.

Step 2 Check for formatting and style requirements.

  • How long your essay should be
  • Which citation style to use
  • Formatting requirements, such as margin size , line spacing, and font size and type

Christopher Taylor, PhD

Christopher Taylor, PhD

Christopher Taylor, Professor of English, tells us: "Most essays will contain an introduction, a body or discussion portion, and a conclusion. When assigned a college essay, make sure to check the specific structural conventions related to your essay genre , your field of study, and your professor's expectations."

Step 3 Narrow down your topic so your essay has a clear focus.

  • If you're doing a research-based essay , you might find some inspiration from reading through some of the major sources on the subject.
  • For a critical essay, you might choose to focus on a particular theme in the work you're discussing, or analyze the meaning of a specific passage.

Step 4 Ask for clarification if you don't understand the assignment.

  • If you're having trouble narrowing down your topic, your instructor might be able to provide guidance or inspiration.

Planning and Organizing Your Essay

Step 1 Find some reputable sources on your topic.

  • Academic books and journals tend to be good sources of information. In addition to print sources, you may be able to find reliable information in scholarly databases such as JSTOR and Google Scholar.
  • You can also look for primary source documents, such as letters, eyewitness accounts, and photographs.
  • Always evaluate your sources critically. Even research papers by reputable academics can contain hidden biases, outdated information, and simple errors or faulty logic.

Tip: In general, Wikipedia articles are not considered appropriate sources for academic writing. However, you may be able to find useful sources in the “References” section at the end of the article.

Step 2 Make notes...

  • You might find it helpful to write your notes down on individual note cards or enter them into a text document on your computer so you can easily copy, paste , and rearrange them however you like.
  • Try organizing your notes into different categories so you can identify specific ideas you'd like to focus on. For example, if you're analyzing a short story , you might put all your notes on a particular theme or character together.

Step 3 Choose a question to answer or an issue to address.

  • For example, if your essay is about the factors that led to the end of the Bronze Age in the ancient Middle East, you might focus on the question, “What role did natural disasters play in the collapse of Late Bronze Age society?”

Step 4 Create a thesis...

  • One easy way to come up with a thesis statement is to briefly answer the main question you would like to address.
  • For example, if the question is “What role did natural disasters play in the collapse of Late Bronze Age society?” then your thesis might be, “Natural disasters during the Late Bronze Age destabilized local economies across the region. This set in motion a series of mass migrations of different peoples, creating widespread conflict that contributed to the collapse of several major Bronze Age political centers.”

Step 5 Write an outline...

  • When you write the outline, think about how you would like to organize your essay. For example, you might start with your strongest arguments and then move to the weakest ones. Or, you could begin with a general overview of the source you're analyzing and then move on to addressing the major themes, tone, and style of the work.
  • Introduction
  • Point 1, with supporting examples
  • Point 2, with supporting examples
  • Point 3, with supporting examples
  • Major counter-argument(s) to your thesis
  • Your rebuttals to the counter-argument(s)

Drafting the Essay

Step 1 Write an introduction...

  • For example, if you're writing a critical essay about a work of art, your introduction might start with some basic information about the work, such as who created it, when and where it was created, and a brief description of the work itself. From there, introduce the question(s) about the work you'd like to address and present your thesis.
  • A strong introduction should also contain a brief transitional sentence that creates a link to the first point or argument you would like to make. For example, if you're discussing the use of color in a work of art, lead-in by saying you'd like to start with an overview of symbolic color use in contemporary works by other artists.

Tip: Some writers find it helpful to write the introduction after they've written the rest of the essay. Once you've written out your main points, it's easier to summarize the gist of your essay in a few introductory sentences.

Step 2 Present your argument(s) in detail.

  • For example, your topic sentence might be something like, “Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes stories are among the many literary influences apparent in P. G. Wodehouse's Jeeves novels.” You could then back this up by quoting a passage that contains a reference to Sherlock Holmes.
  • Try to show how the arguments in each paragraph link back to the main thesis of your essay.

Step 3 Use transition sentences between paragraphs.

  • When creating transitions, transitional phrases can be helpful. For example, use words and phrases such as “In addition,” “Therefore,” “Similarly,” “Subsequently,” or “As a result.”
  • For example, if you've just discussed the use of color to create contrast in a work of art, you might start the next paragraph with, “In addition to color, the artist also uses different line weights to distinguish between the more static and dynamic figures in the scene.”

Step 4 Address possible counterarguments.

  • For example, if you're arguing that a particular kind of shrimp decorates its shell with red algae to attract a mate, you'll need to address the counterargument that the shell decoration is a warning to predators. You might do this by presenting evidence that the red shrimp are, in fact, more likely to get eaten than shrimp with undecorated shells.

Step 5 Cite your sources...

  • The way you cite your sources will vary depending on the citation style you're using. Typically, you'll need to include the name of the author, the title and publication date of the source, and location information such as the page number on which the information appears.
  • In general, you don't need to cite common knowledge. For example, if you say, “A zebra is a type of mammal,” you probably won't need to cite a source.
  • If you've cited any sources in the essay, you'll need to include a list of works cited (or a bibliography ) at the end.

Step 6 Wrap up with...

  • Keep your conclusion brief. While the appropriate length will vary based on the length of the essay, it should typically be no longer than 1-2 paragraphs.
  • For example, if you're writing a 1,000-word essay, your conclusion should be about 4-5 sentences long. [16] X Research source

Revising the Essay

Step 1 Take a break...

  • If you don't have time to spend a couple of days away from your essay, at least take a few hours to relax or work on something else.

Step 2 Read over your draft to check for obvious problems.

  • Excessive wordiness
  • Points that aren't explained enough
  • Tangents or unnecessary information
  • Unclear transitions or illogical organization
  • Spelling , grammar , style, and formatting problems
  • Inappropriate language or tone (e.g., slang or informal language in an academic essay)

Step 3 Correct any major problems you find.

  • You might have to cut material from your essay in some places and add new material to others.
  • You might also end up reordering some of the content of the essay if you think that helps it flow better.

Step 4 Proofread your revised essay.

  • Read over each line slowly and carefully. It may be helpful to read each sentence out loud to yourself.

Tip: If possible, have someone else check your work. When you've been looking at your writing for too long, your brain begins to fill in what it expects to see rather than what's there, making it harder for you to spot mistakes.

google how do you write an essay

Expert Q&A

Christopher Taylor, PhD

You Might Also Like

Plan an Essay Using a Mind Map

  • ↑ https://www.yourdictionary.com/articles/essay-types
  • ↑ https://students.unimelb.edu.au/academic-skills/resources/essay-writing/six-top-tips-for-writing-a-great-essay
  • ↑ https://owl.purdue.edu/owl/general_writing/common_writing_assignments/research_papers/choosing_a_topic.html
  • ↑ https://writingcenter.fas.harvard.edu/tips-reading-assignment-prompt
  • ↑ https://library.unr.edu/help/quick-how-tos/writing/integrating-sources-into-your-paper
  • ↑ https://advice.writing.utoronto.ca/researching/notes-from-research/
  • ↑ https://writingcenter.fas.harvard.edu/pages/developing-thesis
  • ↑ https://writingcenter.fas.harvard.edu/pages/outlining
  • ↑ https://lsa.umich.edu/sweetland/undergraduates/writing-guides/how-do-i-write-an-intro--conclusion----body-paragraph.html
  • ↑ https://owl.purdue.edu/owl/general_writing/academic_writing/essay_writing/argumentative_essays.html
  • ↑ https://writingcenter.unc.edu/tips-and-tools/transitions/
  • ↑ https://lsa.umich.edu/sweetland/undergraduates/writing-guides/how-do-i-incorporate-a-counter-argument.html
  • ↑ https://www.plagiarism.org/article/how-do-i-cite-sources
  • ↑ https://writingcenter.unc.edu/tips-and-tools/conclusions/
  • ↑ https://www.utsc.utoronto.ca/twc/sites/utsc.utoronto.ca.twc/files/resource-files/Intros-Conclusions.pdf
  • ↑ https://owl.purdue.edu/owl/general_writing/the_writing_process/proofreading/steps_for_revising.html
  • ↑ https://open.lib.umn.edu/writingforsuccess/chapter/8-4-revising-and-editing/
  • ↑ https://writing.ku.edu/writing-process

About This Article

Christopher Taylor, PhD

If you need to write an essay, start by gathering information from reputable sources, like books from the library or scholarly journals online. Take detailed notes and keep track of which facts come from which sources. As you're taking notes, look for a central theme that you're interested in writing about to create your thesis statement. Then, organize your notes into an outline that supports and explains your thesis statement. Working from your outline, write an introduction and subsequent paragraphs to address each major point. Start every paragraph with a topic sentence that briefly explains the main point of that paragraph. Finally, finish your paper with a strong conclusion that sums up the most important points. For tips from our English Professor co-author on helpful revision techniques, keep reading! Did this summary help you? Yes No

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Knowing how to write an essay can help you out significantly in both, your academic and professional life. An essay is a highly versatile nonfiction piece of writing that not only tests your knowledge of a topic but also your literary and argumentative skills.     

Each essay requires the same basic process of planning, writing, and editing. Naturally, we’ve used these stages to group our steps on how to write an essay. So w ithout further ado, let’s get into it! Here are the eight steps to write an essay:

Stage 1: Planning

1. Pick an appropriate research topic

In certain cases, your teacher or professor may assign you a topic. However, in many cases, students have the freedom to select a topic of their choice. Make sure you choose a topic that you’re well versed in and have significant knowledge of. 

Having prior knowledge of the topic will help you determine the subsequent steps to write an essay. It will also make your research process considerably easier.

2. Form an appropriate thesis statement

A thesis statement is the central idea or premise your essay is based on. It is usually a sentence or two long and is included in the introduction of the essay. The scope of your thesis statement depends on the type of your essay and its length.

For instance, the scope of the thesis statement for a 500–1000 word school essay will be narrower than a 1000–5000 word college essay. A rule of thumb is that your essay topic should be broad enough to gather enough information, but narrow enough to address specific points and not be vague. Here’s an example: 

The invention of the airplane by the Wright Brothers in 1903 revolutionized transportation and paved the way for modern aviation. It represents a monumental achievement in human history that forever changed the course of human civilization.

3. Create an essay outline

Creating a well-organized essay outline not only gives structure and flow to your essay but also makes it more impactful and easy to understand. The idea is to collect the main points of information that support or elaborate on your thesis statement. You can also include references or examples under these main points. 

For example, if your thesis statement revolves around the invention of the airplane, your main points will include travel before the invention of the airplane, how it was invented, and its effects on modern-day travel. Take a look:

The Wright Brothers’ invention had a massive impact on modern-day travel. The subsequent growth of the aviation industry led to increased accessibility of air travel to the general public.

Stage 2: Writing

4. Write a comprehensive introduction

After creating the basic outline, it is important to know how to write an essay. Begin your essay by introducing your voice and point of view to the reader. An introduction is usually a paragraph or two long and consists of three main parts:

  • Background information
  • Thesis statement

Let’s better understand this with the help of an example:

The Wright Brothers’ invention of the airplane in 1903 revolutionized the way humans travel and explore the world. Prior to this invention, transportation relied on trains, boats, and cars, which limited the distance and speed of travel. However, the airplane made air travel a reality, allowing people to reach far-off destinations in mere hours. This breakthrough paved the way for modern-day air travel, transforming the world into a smaller, more connected place. In this essay, we will explore the impact of the Wright Brothers’ invention on modern-day travel, including the growth of the aviation industry, increased accessibility of air travel to the general public, and the economic and cultural benefits of air travel.

Let’s understand how to construct each of these sections in more detail.

A. Construct an attractive hook

The opening sentence of an essay, also known as the hook, should include a powerful or startling statement that captures the reader’s attention. Depending on the type of your essay, it can be an interesting fact, a surprising statistic, or an engaging anecdote. 

B. Provide relevant background information

While writing the introduction, it’s important to provide context or background information before including the thesis statement. The background information may include the time before a groundbreaking invention, the pros and cons of a significant discovery, or the short- and long-term effects of an event.

C. Edit the thesis statement

If you’ve constructed your thesis statement during the outlining stage, it’s time to edit it based on the background information you’ve provided. Observe the slight changes we’ve made to the scope of the thesis statement in the example above. This accommodates the bits of information we’ve provided in the background history.

5. Form relevant body paragraphs

Body paragraphs play a crucial role in supporting and expanding the central argument presented in the thesis statement. The number of body paragraphs depends on the type of essay as well as the scope of the thesis statement.

Most school-level essays contain three body paragraphs while college-level essays can vary in length depending on the assignment.

A well-crafted body paragraph consists of the following parts:

  • A topic sentence
  • Supporting information
  • An analysis of the information
  • A smooth transition to the next paragraph

Let’s understand this with the help of an example. 

The Wright Brothers’ invention of the airplane revolutionized air travel. They achieved the first-ever successful powered flight with the Wright Flyer in 1903, after years of conducting experiments and studying flight principles. Despite their first flight lasting only 12 seconds, it was a significant milestone that paved the way for modern aviation. The Wright Brothers’ success can be attributed to their systematic approach to problem-solving, which included numerous experiments with gliders, the development of a wind tunnel to test their designs, and meticulous analysis and recording of their results. Their dedication and ingenuity forever changed the way we travel, making modern aviation possible.

Here’s a detailed overview of how to construct each of these sections.

A. Construct appropriate topic sentences

A topic sentence is the title of the body paragraph that elaborates on the thesis statement. It is the main idea on which the body paragraph is developed. Ensure that each topic sentence is relevant to the thesis statement and makes the essay flow seamlessly. 

The order of topic sentences is key in creating an impactful essay. This order varies depending on the type of essay you choose to write. These sentences may be arranged chronologically, in the order of importance, or in a cause-and-effect format.

B. Provide supporting information

It is necessary to provide relevant supporting information and evidence to validate your topic statement. This may include examples, relevant statistics, history, or even personal anecdotes.

You should also remember to cite your sources wherever you use them to substantiate your arguments. Always give researchers and authors credit for their work!

C. Analyze the supporting information

After presenting the appropriate evidence, the next step is to conduct an in-depth analysis. Establish connections and provide additional details to strengthen the link between your topic sentence and the supporting information. 

Depending on the type of essay, this step may also involve sharing your subjective opinions and key takeaways.

D. Create a smooth transition

In case you plan to create multiple body paragraphs, it is crucial to create a seamless transition between them. Transitional statements not only make the essay less jarring to read but also guide the reader in the right direction.

However, these statements need not be too lengthy and complicated. Use words such as “however”, “in addition to”, and “therefore” to convey transitions.

6. Construct an impactful conclusion

An impactful conclusion creates a lasting impression on the mind of the reader. Although it varies in length depending on the specific essay, the conclusion is typically a paragraph long.

It consists of

  • A restated thesis statement
  • Summary of the main points
  • The broader implications of the thesis statement

Here’s an example of a well-structured conclusion:

The Wright Brothers’ invention of the airplane forever changed history by paving the way for modern aviation and countless aerospace advancements. Their persistence, innovation, and dedication to problem-solving led to the first successful powered flight in 1903, sparking a revolution in transportation that transformed the world. Today, air travel remains an integral part of our globalized society, highlighting the undeniable impact of the Wright Brothers’ contribution to human civilization.  

Let’s take a closer look at how to construct each of these sections.

A. Restate the thesis statement

Your conclusion should call back to your original argument or thesis statement.

However, this does not mean repeating the thesis statement as is. The essence of your argument should remain the same, but it should also be modified and evolved as per the information presented in your essay.

B. Summarize important points

A powerful conclusion not only lingers in the reader’s mind but also provokes thought. You can create a strong impression on the reader by highlighting the most impactful points of your essay.

C. State the greater implications

End your essay with the most powerful and impactful part: the larger perspective. This can‌ include a question you’d like to leave the reader with, the broader implications and impact of your thesis statement, or the long-term, lingering effects of your experience. 

Make sure to include no new evidence or arguments, or to undermine your findings in any way. 

Stage 3: Editing

7. Review your essay

Knowing how to write an essay is just one part of essay writing. Properly reviewing and editing your essay is just as important. Make sure to spend enough time going over your essay and adding any bits of information that you’ve missed. 

This is also a good time to make minor structural changes in your essay.

8. Thoroughly proofread your essay

After making the necessary structural changes, recheck your essay word by word. It is important to not only correct major grammatical and spelling errors but also minor errors regarding the phrasing or tone of voice.

You can either choose to do this by yourself, ask a friend for assistance, or hire an essay proofreading service to go over your writing. To construct a fool-proof, error-free essay, it is helpful to have a trained pair of eyes go over it. Professional proofreaders can spot errors that are not visible to most people and set the right tone for your essay. 

Now that you know the basics of how to write an essay, it’s time to learn about the specifics. Feel free to dig into the articles below and keep reading!

  • How to Write an Essay Header in 4 Steps
  • How to Write an Essay Outline
  • What is an Expository Essay?
  • How to Start an Essay

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the steps to write an essay, what is the best essay writing style, how do i start an essay introduction, what are the tips for effective essay writing, what makes a good essay.

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The writer of the academic essay aims to persuade readers of an idea based on evidence. The beginning of the essay is a crucial first step in this process. In order to engage readers and establish your authority, the beginning of your essay has to accomplish certain business. Your beginning should introduce the essay, focus it, and orient readers.

Introduce the Essay.  The beginning lets your readers know what the essay is about, the  topic . The essay's topic does not exist in a vacuum, however; part of letting readers know what your essay is about means establishing the essay's  context , the frame within which you will approach your topic. For instance, in an essay about the First Amendment guarantee of freedom of speech, the context may be a particular legal theory about the speech right; it may be historical information concerning the writing of the amendment; it may be a contemporary dispute over flag burning; or it may be a question raised by the text itself. The point here is that, in establishing the essay's context, you are also limiting your topic. That is, you are framing an approach to your topic that necessarily eliminates other approaches. Thus, when you determine your context, you simultaneously narrow your topic and take a big step toward focusing your essay. Here's an example.

 was published in 1899, critics condemned the book as immoral. One typical critic, writing in the  , feared that the novel might "fall into the hands of youth, leading them to dwell on things that only matured persons can understand, and promoting unholy imaginations and unclean desires" (150). A reviewer in the   wrote that "there is much that is very improper in it, not to say positively unseemly."

The paragraph goes on. But as you can see, Chopin's novel (the topic) is introduced in the context of the critical and moral controversy its publication engendered.

Focus the Essay.  Beyond introducing your topic, your beginning must also let readers know what the central issue is. What question or problem will you be thinking about? You can pose a question that will lead to your idea (in which case, your idea will be the answer to your question), or you can make a thesis statement. Or you can do both: you can ask a question and immediately suggest the answer that your essay will argue. Here's an example from an essay about Memorial Hall.

The fullness of your idea will not emerge until your conclusion, but your beginning must clearly indicate the direction your idea will take, must set your essay on that road. And whether you focus your essay by posing a question, stating a thesis, or combining these approaches, by the end of your beginning, readers should know what you're writing about, and  why —and why they might want to read on.

Orient Readers.  Orienting readers, locating them in your discussion, means providing information and explanations wherever necessary for your readers' understanding. Orienting is important throughout your essay, but it is crucial in the beginning. Readers who don't have the information they need to follow your discussion will get lost and quit reading. (Your teachers, of course, will trudge on.) Supplying the necessary information to orient your readers may be as simple as answering the journalist's questions of who, what, where, when, how, and why. It may mean providing a brief overview of events or a summary of the text you'll be analyzing. If the source text is brief, such as the First Amendment, you might just quote it. If the text is well known, your summary, for most audiences, won't need to be more than an identifying phrase or two:

, Shakespeare's tragedy of `star-crossed lovers' destroyed by the blood feud between their two families, the minor characters . . .

Often, however, you will want to summarize your source more fully so that readers can follow your analysis of it.

Questions of Length and Order.  How long should the beginning be? The length should be proportionate to the length and complexity of the whole essay. For instance, if you're writing a five-page essay analyzing a single text, your beginning should be brief, no more than one or two paragraphs. On the other hand, it may take a couple of pages to set up a ten-page essay.

Does the business of the beginning have to be addressed in a particular order? No, but the order should be logical. Usually, for instance, the question or statement that focuses the essay comes at the end of the beginning, where it serves as the jumping-off point for the middle, or main body, of the essay. Topic and context are often intertwined, but the context may be established before the particular topic is introduced. In other words, the order in which you accomplish the business of the beginning is flexible and should be determined by your purpose.

Opening Strategies.  There is still the further question of how to start. What makes a good opening? You can start with specific facts and information, a keynote quotation, a question, an anecdote, or an image. But whatever sort of opening you choose, it should be directly related to your focus. A snappy quotation that doesn't help establish the context for your essay or that later plays no part in your thinking will only mislead readers and blur your focus. Be as direct and specific as you can be. This means you should avoid two types of openings:

  • The history-of-the-world (or long-distance) opening, which aims to establish a context for the essay by getting a long running start: "Ever since the dawn of civilized life, societies have struggled to reconcile the need for change with the need for order." What are we talking about here, political revolution or a new brand of soft drink? Get to it.
  • The funnel opening (a variation on the same theme), which starts with something broad and general and "funnels" its way down to a specific topic. If your essay is an argument about state-mandated prayer in public schools, don't start by generalizing about religion; start with the specific topic at hand.

Remember.  After working your way through the whole draft, testing your thinking against the evidence, perhaps changing direction or modifying the idea you started with, go back to your beginning and make sure it still provides a clear focus for the essay. Then clarify and sharpen your focus as needed. Clear, direct beginnings rarely present themselves ready-made; they must be written, and rewritten, into the sort of sharp-eyed clarity that engages readers and establishes your authority.

Copyright 1999, Patricia Kain, for the Writing Center at Harvard University

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How To Write An Essay: Beginner Tips And Tricks

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Updated: June 19, 2024

Published: June 22, 2021

How To Write An Essay # Beginner Tips And Tricks

Many students dread writing essays, but essay writing is an important skill to develop in high school, university, and even into your future career. By learning how to write an essay properly, the process can become more enjoyable and you’ll find you’re better able to organize and articulate your thoughts.

When writing an essay, it’s common to follow a specific pattern, no matter what the topic is. Once you’ve used the pattern a few times and you know how to structure an essay, it will become a lot more simple to apply your knowledge to every essay. 

No matter which major you choose, you should know how to craft a good essay. Here, we’ll cover the basics of essay writing, along with some helpful tips to make the writing process go smoothly.

Ink pen on paper before writing an essay

Photo by Laura Chouette on Unsplash

Types of Essays

Think of an essay as a discussion. There are many types of discussions you can have with someone else. You can be describing a story that happened to you, you might explain to them how to do something, or you might even argue about a certain topic. 

When it comes to different types of essays, it follows a similar pattern. Like a friendly discussion, each type of essay will come with its own set of expectations or goals. 

For example, when arguing with a friend, your goal is to convince them that you’re right. The same goes for an argumentative essay. 

Here are a few of the main essay types you can expect to come across during your time in school:

Narrative Essay

This type of essay is almost like telling a story, not in the traditional sense with dialogue and characters, but as if you’re writing out an event or series of events to relay information to the reader.

Persuasive Essay

Here, your goal is to persuade the reader about your views on a specific topic.

Descriptive Essay

This is the kind of essay where you go into a lot more specific details describing a topic such as a place or an event. 

Argumentative Essay

In this essay, you’re choosing a stance on a topic, usually controversial, and your goal is to present evidence that proves your point is correct.

Expository Essay

Your purpose with this type of essay is to tell the reader how to complete a specific process, often including a step-by-step guide or something similar.

Compare and Contrast Essay

You might have done this in school with two different books or characters, but the ultimate goal is to draw similarities and differences between any two given subjects.

The Main Stages of Essay Writing

When it comes to writing an essay, many students think the only stage is getting all your ideas down on paper and submitting your work. However, that’s not quite the case. 

There are three main stages of writing an essay, each one with its own purpose. Of course, writing the essay itself is the most substantial part, but the other two stages are equally as important.

So, what are these three stages of essay writing? They are:

Preparation

Before you even write one word, it’s important to prepare the content and structure of your essay. If a topic wasn’t assigned to you, then the first thing you should do is settle on a topic. Next, you want to conduct your research on that topic and create a detailed outline based on your research. The preparation stage will make writing your essay that much easier since, with your outline and research, you should already have the skeleton of your essay.

Writing is the most time-consuming stage. In this stage, you will write out all your thoughts and ideas and craft your essay based on your outline. You’ll work on developing your ideas and fleshing them out throughout the introduction, body, and conclusion (more on these soon).

In the final stage, you’ll go over your essay and check for a few things. First, you’ll check if your essay is cohesive, if all the points make sense and are related to your topic, and that your facts are cited and backed up. You can also check for typos, grammar and punctuation mistakes, and formatting errors.  

The Five-Paragraph Essay

We mentioned earlier that essay writing follows a specific structure, and for the most part in academic or college essays , the five-paragraph essay is the generally accepted structure you’ll be expected to use. 

The five-paragraph essay is broken down into one introduction paragraph, three body paragraphs, and a closing paragraph. However, that doesn’t always mean that an essay is written strictly in five paragraphs, but rather that this structure can be used loosely and the three body paragraphs might become three sections instead.

Let’s take a closer look at each section and what it entails.

Introduction

As the name implies, the purpose of your introduction paragraph is to introduce your idea. A good introduction begins with a “hook,” something that grabs your reader’s attention and makes them excited to read more. 

Another key tenant of an introduction is a thesis statement, which usually comes towards the end of the introduction itself. Your thesis statement should be a phrase that explains your argument, position, or central idea that you plan on developing throughout the essay. 

You can also include a short outline of what to expect in your introduction, including bringing up brief points that you plan on explaining more later on in the body paragraphs.

Here is where most of your essay happens. The body paragraphs are where you develop your ideas and bring up all the points related to your main topic. 

In general, you’re meant to have three body paragraphs, or sections, and each one should bring up a different point. Think of it as bringing up evidence. Each paragraph is a different piece of evidence, and when the three pieces are taken together, it backs up your main point — your thesis statement — really well.

That being said, you still want each body paragraph to be tied together in some way so that the essay flows. The points should be distinct enough, but they should relate to each other, and definitely to your thesis statement. Each body paragraph works to advance your point, so when crafting your essay, it’s important to keep this in mind so that you avoid going off-track or writing things that are off-topic.

Many students aren’t sure how to write a conclusion for an essay and tend to see their conclusion as an afterthought, but this section is just as important as the rest of your work. 

You shouldn’t be presenting any new ideas in your conclusion, but you should summarize your main points and show how they back up your thesis statement. 

Essentially, the conclusion is similar in structure and content to the introduction, but instead of introducing your essay, it should be wrapping up the main thoughts and presenting them to the reader as a singular closed argument. 

student writing an essay on his laptop

Photo by AMIT RANJAN on Unsplash

Steps to Writing an Essay

Now that you have a better idea of an essay’s structure and all the elements that go into it, you might be wondering what the different steps are to actually write your essay. 

Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. Instead of going in blind, follow these steps on how to write your essay from start to finish.

Understand Your Assignment

When writing an essay for an assignment, the first critical step is to make sure you’ve read through your assignment carefully and understand it thoroughly. You want to check what type of essay is required, that you understand the topic, and that you pay attention to any formatting or structural requirements. You don’t want to lose marks just because you didn’t read the assignment carefully.

Research Your Topic

Once you understand your assignment, it’s time to do some research. In this step, you should start looking at different sources to get ideas for what points you want to bring up throughout your essay. 

Search online or head to the library and get as many resources as possible. You don’t need to use them all, but it’s good to start with a lot and then narrow down your sources as you become more certain of your essay’s direction.

Start Brainstorming

After research comes the brainstorming. There are a lot of different ways to start the brainstorming process . Here are a few you might find helpful:

  • Think about what you found during your research that interested you the most
  • Jot down all your ideas, even if they’re not yet fully formed
  • Create word clouds or maps for similar terms or ideas that come up so you can group them together based on their similarities
  • Try freewriting to get all your ideas out before arranging them

Create a Thesis

This is often the most tricky part of the whole process since you want to create a thesis that’s strong and that you’re about to develop throughout the entire essay. Therefore, you want to choose a thesis statement that’s broad enough that you’ll have enough to say about it, but not so broad that you can’t be precise. 

Write Your Outline

Armed with your research, brainstorming sessions, and your thesis statement, the next step is to write an outline. 

In the outline, you’ll want to put your thesis statement at the beginning and start creating the basic skeleton of how you want your essay to look. 

A good way to tackle an essay is to use topic sentences . A topic sentence is like a mini-thesis statement that is usually the first sentence of a new paragraph. This sentence introduces the main idea that will be detailed throughout the paragraph. 

If you create an outline with the topic sentences for your body paragraphs and then a few points of what you want to discuss, you’ll already have a strong starting point when it comes time to sit down and write. This brings us to our next step… 

Write a First Draft

The first time you write your entire essay doesn’t need to be perfect, but you do need to get everything on the page so that you’re able to then write a second draft or review it afterward. 

Everyone’s writing process is different. Some students like to write their essay in the standard order of intro, body, and conclusion, while others prefer to start with the “meat” of the essay and tackle the body, and then fill in the other sections afterward. 

Make sure your essay follows your outline and that everything relates to your thesis statement and your points are backed up by the research you did. 

Revise, Edit, and Proofread

The revision process is one of the three main stages of writing an essay, yet many people skip this step thinking their work is done after the first draft is complete. 

However, proofreading, reviewing, and making edits on your essay can spell the difference between a B paper and an A.

After writing the first draft, try and set your essay aside for a few hours or even a day or two, and then come back to it with fresh eyes to review it. You might find mistakes or inconsistencies you missed or better ways to formulate your arguments.

Add the Finishing Touches

Finally, you’ll want to make sure everything that’s required is in your essay. Review your assignment again and see if all the requirements are there, such as formatting rules, citations, quotes, etc. 

Go over the order of your paragraphs and make sure everything makes sense, flows well, and uses the same writing style . 

Once everything is checked and all the last touches are added, give your essay a final read through just to ensure it’s as you want it before handing it in. 

A good way to do this is to read your essay out loud since you’ll be able to hear if there are any mistakes or inaccuracies.

Essay Writing Tips

With the steps outlined above, you should be able to craft a great essay. Still, there are some other handy tips we’d recommend just to ensure that the essay writing process goes as smoothly as possible.

  • Start your essay early. This is the first tip for a reason. It’s one of the most important things you can do to write a good essay. If you start it the night before, then you won’t have enough time to research, brainstorm, and outline — and you surely won’t have enough time to review.
  • Don’t try and write it in one sitting. It’s ok if you need to take breaks or write it over a few days. It’s better to write it in multiple sittings so that you have a fresh mind each time and you’re able to focus.
  • Always keep the essay question in mind. If you’re given an assigned question, then you should always keep it handy when writing your essay to make sure you’re always working to answer the question.
  • Use transitions between paragraphs. In order to improve the readability of your essay, try and make clear transitions between paragraphs. This means trying to relate the end of one paragraph to the beginning of the next one so the shift doesn’t seem random.
  • Integrate your research thoughtfully. Add in citations or quotes from your research materials to back up your thesis and main points. This will show that you did the research and that your thesis is backed up by it.

Wrapping Up

Writing an essay doesn’t need to be daunting if you know how to approach it. Using our essay writing steps and tips, you’ll have better knowledge on how to write an essay and you’ll be able to apply it to your next assignment. Once you do this a few times, it will become more natural to you and the essay writing process will become quicker and easier.

If you still need assistance with your essay, check with a student advisor to see if they offer help with writing. At University of the People(UoPeople), we always want our students to succeed, so our student advisors are ready to help with writing skills when necessary. 

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At UoPeople, our blog writers are thinkers, researchers, and experts dedicated to curating articles relevant to our mission: making higher education accessible to everyone.

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How to Write an Academic Essay in 6 Simple Steps

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Written by  Scribendi

Are you wondering how to write an academic essay successfully? There are so many steps to writing an academic essay that it can be difficult to know where to start.

Here, we outline how to write an academic essay in 6 simple steps, from how to research for an academic essay to how to revise an essay and everything in between. 

Our essay writing tips are designed to help you learn how to write an academic essay that is ready for publication (after academic editing and academic proofreading , of course!).

Your paper isn't complete until you've done all the needed proofreading. Make sure you leave time for it after the writing process!

Download Our Pocket Checklist for Academic Papers. Just input your email below!

Types of academic writing.

With academic essay writing, there are certain conventions that writers are expected to follow. As such, it's important to know the basics of academic writing before you begin writing your essay.

Read More: What Is Academic Writing?

Before you begin writing your essay, you need to know what type of essay you are writing. This will help you follow the correct structure, which will make academic paper editing a faster and simpler process. 

Will you be writing a descriptive essay, an analytical essay, a persuasive essay, or a critical essay?

Read More: How to Master the 4 Types of Academic Writing

You can learn how to write academic essays by first mastering the four types of academic writing and then applying the correct rules to the appropriate type of essay writing.

Regardless of the type of essay you will be writing, all essays will include:

An introduction

At least three body paragraphs

A conclusion

A bibliography/reference list

To strengthen your essay writing skills, it can also help to learn how to research for an academic essay.

How to Research for an Academic Essay

Step 1: Preparing to Write Your Essay

The essay writing process involves a few main stages:

Researching

As such, in learning how to write an academic essay, it is also important to learn how to research for an academic essay and how to revise an essay.

Read More: Online Research Tips for Students and Scholars

To beef up your research skills, remember these essay writing tips from the above article: 

Learn how to identify reliable sources.

Understand the nuances of open access.

Discover free academic journals and research databases.

Manage your references. 

Provide evidence for every claim so you can avoid plagiarism .

Read More: 17 Research Databases for Free Articles

You will want to do the research for your academic essay points, of course, but you will also want to research various journals for the publication of your paper.

Different journals have different guidelines and thus different requirements for writers. These can be related to style, formatting, and more. 

Knowing these before you begin writing can save you a lot of time if you also want to learn how to revise an essay. If you ensure your paper meets the guidelines of the journal you want to publish in, you will not have to revise it again later for this purpose. 

After the research stage, you can draft your thesis and introduction as well as outline the rest of your essay. This will put you in a good position to draft your body paragraphs and conclusion, craft your bibliography, and edit and proofread your paper.

Step 2: Writing the Essay Introduction and Thesis Statement

When learning how to write academic essays , learning how to write an introduction is key alongside learning how to research for an academic essay.

Your introduction should broadly introduce your topic. It will give an overview of your essay and the points that will be discussed. It is typically about 10% of the final word count of the text.

All introductions follow a general structure:

Topic statement

Thesis statement

Read More: How to Write an Introduction

Your topic statement should hook your reader, making them curious about your topic. They should want to learn more after reading this statement. To best hook your reader in academic essay writing, consider providing a fact, a bold statement, or an intriguing question. 

The discussion about your topic in the middle of your introduction should include some background information about your topic in the academic sphere. Your scope should be limited enough that you can address the topic within the length of your paper but broad enough that the content is understood by the reader.

Your thesis statement should be incredibly specific and only one to two sentences long. Here is another essay writing tip: if you are able to locate an effective thesis early on, it will save you time during the academic editing process.

Read More: How to Write a Great Thesis Statement

Step 3: Writing the Essay Body

When learning how to write academic essays, you must learn how to write a good body paragraph. That's because your essay will be primarily made up of them!

The body paragraphs of your essay will develop the argument you outlined in your thesis. They will do this by providing your ideas on a topic backed up by evidence of specific points.

These paragraphs will typically take up about 80% of your essay. As a result, a good essay writing tip is to learn how to properly structure a paragraph.

Each paragraph consists of the following:

A topic sentence

Supporting sentences

A transition

Read More: How to Write a Paragraph

In learning how to revise an essay, you should keep in mind the organization of your paragraphs.

Your first paragraph should contain your strongest argument.

The secondary paragraphs should contain supporting arguments.

The last paragraph should contain your second-strongest argument. 

Step 4: Writing the Essay Conclusion

Your essay conclusion is the final paragraph of your essay and primarily reminds your reader of your thesis. It also wraps up your essay and discusses your findings more generally.

The conclusion typically makes up about 10% of the text, like the introduction. It shows the reader that you have accomplished what you intended to at the outset of your essay.

Here are a couple more good essay writing tips for your conclusion:

Don't introduce any new ideas into your conclusion.

Don't undermine your argument with opposing ideas.

Read More: How to Write a Conclusion Paragraph in 3 Easy Steps

Now that you know how to write an academic essay, it's time to learn how to write a bibliography along with some academic editing and proofreading advice.

Step 5: Writing the Bibliography or Works Cited

The bibliography of your paper lists all the references you cited. It is typically alphabetized or numbered (depending on the style guide).

Read More: How to Write an Academic Essay with References

When learning how to write academic essays, you may notice that there are various style guides you may be required to use by a professor or journal, including unique or custom styles. 

Some of the most common style guides include:

Chicago style

For help organizing your references for academic essay writing, consider a software manager. They can help you collect and format your references correctly and consistently, both quickly and with minimal effort.

Read More: 6 Reference Manager Software Solutions for Your Research

As you learn how to research for an academic essay most effectively, you may notice that a reference manager can also help make academic paper editing easier.

How to Revise an Essay

Step 6: Revising Your Essay

Once you've finally drafted your entire essay . . . you're still not done! 

That's because editing and proofreading are the essential final steps of any writing process . 

An academic editor can help you identify core issues with your writing , including its structure, its flow, its clarity, and its overall readability. They can give you substantive feedback and essay writing tips to improve your document. Therefore, it's a good idea to have an editor review your first draft so you can improve it prior to proofreading.

A specialized academic editor can assess the content of your writing. As a subject-matter expert in your subject, they can offer field-specific insight and critical commentary. Specialized academic editors can also provide services that others may not, including:

Academic document formatting

Academic figure formatting

Academic reference formatting

An academic proofreader can help you perfect the final draft of your paper to ensure it is completely error free in terms of spelling and grammar. They can also identify any inconsistencies in your work but will not look for any issues in the content of your writing, only its mechanics. This is why you should have a proofreader revise your final draft so that it is ready to be seen by an audience. 

Read More: How to Find the Right Academic Paper Editor or Proofreader

When learning how to research and write an academic essay, it is important to remember that editing is a required step. Don ' t forget to allot time for editing after you ' ve written your paper.

Set yourself up for success with this guide on how to write an academic essay. With a solid draft, you'll have better chances of getting published and read in any journal of your choosing.

Our academic essay writing tips are sure to help you learn how to research an academic essay, how to write an academic essay, and how to revise an academic essay.

If your academic paper looks sloppy, your readers may assume your research is sloppy. Download our Pocket Proofreading Checklist for Academic Papers before you take that one last crucial look at your paper.

About the Author

Scribendi Editing and Proofreading

Scribendi's in-house editors work with writers from all over the globe to perfect their writing. They know that no piece of writing is complete without a professional edit, and they love to see a good piece of writing transformed into a great one. Scribendi's in-house editors are unrivaled in both experience and education, having collectively edited millions of words and obtained numerous degrees. They love consuming caffeinated beverages, reading books of various genres, and relaxing in quiet, dimly lit spaces.

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How to Write an Essay: Step by Step Guide With Examples

How to write an essay, examples of an essay

An essay is a brief piece of writing that explains, analyzes, and interprets a topic; it’s also a summary of a particular subject in which the author expresses an opinion.

Does the essay need a title? How many paragraphs does an essay have? Does it have headings and a conclusion? Does the essay have a full stop? Are the introduction, body and conclusion on separate pages? How do you make the cover of an essay?

Here, we will address these frequent questions that come up when you need to write an essay.

What is an essay

The difference between an essay and informational text, like what you might find in an encyclopedia, is that an essay is freer, and its parts are not separated by headings.

The format of an essay and most common doubts

The essay does have each of these parts but they are not identified as in a monographic work, but rather they are written one after another. An example of an essay can be seen at the end of this article.

Justified text, Justified text, Justified text, Justified text, Justified text, Justified text, Justified text, Justified text, Justified text.Not Justified, Not Justified, Not Justified, Not Justified, Not Justified, Not Justified, Not Justified, Not Justified, Not Justified, Not Justified, Not Justified, Not Justified, Not Justified, Not Justified, 

The parts or structure of an essay

Introduction , body of the essay, form and organization the body, conclusion .

Here goes the author’s personal opinion, (You, the person doing the essay, your opinion) an essay has, of course, personal opinions in its body, however, in the conclusion these must be emphatic.

How to write a reference in APA format

Author(s) Last Name, First Initial. Middle Initial. (Year of Publication). Title of Book. Publisher. (Optional: Edition)

Author(s) Last Name, First Initial. Middle Initial. (Year of Publication, Month Day). Title of Webpage. Retrieved from Website URL

Example of an essay

University (Name of the university, or college, school, as the case may be)

Administration and Accounting Area (The subject can go here)

The administrative process

A process can be defined as a set of successive steps, phases or actions of a natural or artificial phenomenon. In the context of the study and practice of management, there are different approaches that have contributed to this discipline with a large number of theories, ideas or concepts from different points of view.

Administration has been studied through experience, decision-making, human relations, it has been studied as a social system, also with a quantitative approach and through the tasks performed by the professionals in the field.

Today, the concept of the administrative process is a fundamental part of management theory. Each one of the functions must be understood and carried out correctly by the management professional, and they have factors, principles, or aspects that, if not taken into account, the administrative process could not fulfill its objectives.

Having said that, the process begins with its first phase, which is planning. Organizations seek to achieve a goal in the future, and there are questions such as: What actions should be taken? How to reach that goal? When? Where? Why? Planning is thinking before acting, it is a decision-making process that takes into account internal and external factors that can influence the achievement of the objective. External factors are not directly controlled and come from the environment, for example, the economy, government regulations and competition. On the other hand, internal factors are controllable, such as the human and technological factor.

The body of the essay continues… When all the topics have been explained, you write the conclusion.

To conclude, it highlights that the administrative process is related to each activity of the company and that the planning, organization, direction, and control are all part of the functions carried out there, such as marketing, finance, production, and personnel management and I can think it’s evident that none of its principles or factors can’t be ignored if the organization wants to be successful.

The stages are not isolated actions, but they make up a whole, i consider that the process is very easy to understand and also, it is easy to adapt and apply in all areas of life, because beings Humans have objectives both inside and outside the organization, they use resources and need to give effectiveness and efficiency to their actions to accelerate their achievement and satisfy their needs, so it is important both as business professionals and as individuals to know the functions of management that constitute the basic and important process explained in this essay.

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Getting College Essay Help: Important Do's and Don’ts

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College Essays

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If you grow up to be a professional writer, everything you write will first go through an editor before being published. This is because the process of writing is really a process of re-writing —of rethinking and reexamining your work, usually with the help of someone else. So what does this mean for your student writing? And in particular, what does it mean for very important, but nonprofessional writing like your college essay? Should you ask your parents to look at your essay? Pay for an essay service?

If you are wondering what kind of help you can, and should, get with your personal statement, you've come to the right place! In this article, I'll talk about what kind of writing help is useful, ethical, and even expected for your college admission essay . I'll also point out who would make a good editor, what the differences between editing and proofreading are, what to expect from a good editor, and how to spot and stay away from a bad one.

Table of Contents

What Kind of Help for Your Essay Can You Get?

What's Good Editing?

What should an editor do for you, what kind of editing should you avoid, proofreading, what's good proofreading, what kind of proofreading should you avoid.

What Do Colleges Think Of You Getting Help With Your Essay?

Who Can/Should Help You?

Advice for editors.

Should You Pay Money For Essay Editing?

The Bottom Line

What's next, what kind of help with your essay can you get.

Rather than talking in general terms about "help," let's first clarify the two different ways that someone else can improve your writing . There is editing, which is the more intensive kind of assistance that you can use throughout the whole process. And then there's proofreading, which is the last step of really polishing your final product.

Let me go into some more detail about editing and proofreading, and then explain how good editors and proofreaders can help you."

Editing is helping the author (in this case, you) go from a rough draft to a finished work . Editing is the process of asking questions about what you're saying, how you're saying it, and how you're organizing your ideas. But not all editing is good editing . In fact, it's very easy for an editor to cross the line from supportive to overbearing and over-involved.

Ability to clarify assignments. A good editor is usually a good writer, and certainly has to be a good reader. For example, in this case, a good editor should make sure you understand the actual essay prompt you're supposed to be answering.

Open-endedness. Good editing is all about asking questions about your ideas and work, but without providing answers. It's about letting you stick to your story and message, and doesn't alter your point of view.

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Think of an editor as a great travel guide. It can show you the many different places your trip could take you. It should explain any parts of the trip that could derail your trip or confuse the traveler. But it never dictates your path, never forces you to go somewhere you don't want to go, and never ignores your interests so that the trip no longer seems like it's your own. So what should good editors do?

Help Brainstorm Topics

Sometimes it's easier to bounce thoughts off of someone else. This doesn't mean that your editor gets to come up with ideas, but they can certainly respond to the various topic options you've come up with. This way, you're less likely to write about the most boring of your ideas, or to write about something that isn't actually important to you.

If you're wondering how to come up with options for your editor to consider, check out our guide to brainstorming topics for your college essay .

Help Revise Your Drafts

Here, your editor can't upset the delicate balance of not intervening too much or too little. It's tricky, but a great way to think about it is to remember: editing is about asking questions, not giving answers .

Revision questions should point out:

  • Places where more detail or more description would help the reader connect with your essay
  • Places where structure and logic don't flow, losing the reader's attention
  • Places where there aren't transitions between paragraphs, confusing the reader
  • Moments where your narrative or the arguments you're making are unclear

But pointing to potential problems is not the same as actually rewriting—editors let authors fix the problems themselves.

Want to write the perfect college application essay?   We can help.   Your dedicated PrepScholar Admissions counselor will help you craft your perfect college essay, from the ground up. We learn your background and interests, brainstorm essay topics, and walk you through the essay drafting process, step-by-step. At the end, you'll have a unique essay to proudly submit to colleges.   Don't leave your college application to chance. Find out more about PrepScholar Admissions now:

Bad editing is usually very heavy-handed editing. Instead of helping you find your best voice and ideas, a bad editor changes your writing into their own vision.

You may be dealing with a bad editor if they:

  • Add material (examples, descriptions) that doesn't come from you
  • Use a thesaurus to make your college essay sound "more mature"
  • Add meaning or insight to the essay that doesn't come from you
  • Tell you what to say and how to say it
  • Write sentences, phrases, and paragraphs for you
  • Change your voice in the essay so it no longer sounds like it was written by a teenager

Colleges can tell the difference between a 17-year-old's writing and a 50-year-old's writing. Not only that, they have access to your SAT or ACT Writing section, so they can compare your essay to something else you wrote. Writing that's a little more polished is great and expected. But a totally different voice and style will raise questions.

Where's the Line Between Helpful Editing and Unethical Over-Editing?

Sometimes it's hard to tell whether your college essay editor is doing the right thing. Here are some guidelines for staying on the ethical side of the line.

  • An editor should say that the opening paragraph is kind of boring, and explain what exactly is making it drag. But it's overstepping for an editor to tell you exactly how to change it.
  • An editor should point out where your prose is unclear or vague. But it's completely inappropriate for the editor to rewrite that section of your essay.
  • An editor should let you know that a section is light on detail or description. But giving you similes and metaphors to beef up that description is a no-go.

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Proofreading (also called copy-editing) is checking for errors in the last draft of a written work. It happens at the end of the process and is meant as the final polishing touch. Proofreading is meticulous and detail-oriented, focusing on small corrections. It sands off all the surface rough spots that could alienate the reader.

Because proofreading is usually concerned with making fixes on the word or sentence level, this is the only process where someone else can actually add to or take away things from your essay . This is because what they are adding or taking away tends to be one or two misplaced letters.

Laser focus. Proofreading is all about the tiny details, so the ability to really concentrate on finding small slip-ups is a must.

Excellent grammar and spelling skills. Proofreaders need to dot every "i" and cross every "t." Good proofreaders should correct spelling, punctuation, capitalization, and grammar. They should put foreign words in italics and surround quotations with quotation marks. They should check that you used the correct college's name, and that you adhered to any formatting requirements (name and date at the top of the page, uniform font and size, uniform spacing).

Limited interference. A proofreader needs to make sure that you followed any word limits. But if cuts need to be made to shorten the essay, that's your job and not the proofreader's.

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A bad proofreader either tries to turn into an editor, or just lacks the skills and knowledge necessary to do the job.

Some signs that you're working with a bad proofreader are:

  • If they suggest making major changes to the final draft of your essay. Proofreading happens when editing is already finished.
  • If they aren't particularly good at spelling, or don't know grammar, or aren't detail-oriented enough to find someone else's small mistakes.
  • If they start swapping out your words for fancier-sounding synonyms, or changing the voice and sound of your essay in other ways. A proofreader is there to check for errors, not to take the 17-year-old out of your writing.

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What Do Colleges Think of Your Getting Help With Your Essay?

Admissions officers agree: light editing and proofreading are good—even required ! But they also want to make sure you're the one doing the work on your essay. They want essays with stories, voice, and themes that come from you. They want to see work that reflects your actual writing ability, and that focuses on what you find important.

On the Importance of Editing

Get feedback. Have a fresh pair of eyes give you some feedback. Don't allow someone else to rewrite your essay, but do take advantage of others' edits and opinions when they seem helpful. ( Bates College )

Read your essay aloud to someone. Reading the essay out loud offers a chance to hear how your essay sounds outside your head. This exercise reveals flaws in the essay's flow, highlights grammatical errors and helps you ensure that you are communicating the exact message you intended. ( Dickinson College )

On the Value of Proofreading

Share your essays with at least one or two people who know you well—such as a parent, teacher, counselor, or friend—and ask for feedback. Remember that you ultimately have control over your essays, and your essays should retain your own voice, but others may be able to catch mistakes that you missed and help suggest areas to cut if you are over the word limit. ( Yale University )

Proofread and then ask someone else to proofread for you. Although we want substance, we also want to be able to see that you can write a paper for our professors and avoid careless mistakes that would drive them crazy. ( Oberlin College )

On Watching Out for Too Much Outside Influence

Limit the number of people who review your essay. Too much input usually means your voice is lost in the writing style. ( Carleton College )

Ask for input (but not too much). Your parents, friends, guidance counselors, coaches, and teachers are great people to bounce ideas off of for your essay. They know how unique and spectacular you are, and they can help you decide how to articulate it. Keep in mind, however, that a 45-year-old lawyer writes quite differently from an 18-year-old student, so if your dad ends up writing the bulk of your essay, we're probably going to notice. ( Vanderbilt University )

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Now let's talk about some potential people to approach for your college essay editing and proofreading needs. It's best to start close to home and slowly expand outward. Not only are your family and friends more invested in your success than strangers, but they also have a better handle on your interests and personality. This knowledge is key for judging whether your essay is expressing your true self.

Parents or Close Relatives

Your family may be full of potentially excellent editors! Parents are deeply committed to your well-being, and family members know you and your life well enough to offer details or incidents that can be included in your essay. On the other hand, the rewriting process necessarily involves criticism, which is sometimes hard to hear from someone very close to you.

A parent or close family member is a great choice for an editor if you can answer "yes" to the following questions. Is your parent or close relative a good writer or reader? Do you have a relationship where editing your essay won't create conflict? Are you able to constructively listen to criticism and suggestion from the parent?

One suggestion for defusing face-to-face discussions is to try working on the essay over email. Send your parent a draft, have them write you back some comments, and then you can pick which of their suggestions you want to use and which to discard.

Teachers or Tutors

A humanities teacher that you have a good relationship with is a great choice. I am purposefully saying humanities, and not just English, because teachers of Philosophy, History, Anthropology, and any other classes where you do a lot of writing, are all used to reviewing student work.

Moreover, any teacher or tutor that has been working with you for some time, knows you very well and can vet the essay to make sure it "sounds like you."

If your teacher or tutor has some experience with what college essays are supposed to be like, ask them to be your editor. If not, then ask whether they have time to proofread your final draft.

Guidance or College Counselor at Your School

The best thing about asking your counselor to edit your work is that this is their job. This means that they have a very good sense of what colleges are looking for in an application essay.

At the same time, school counselors tend to have relationships with admissions officers in many colleges, which again gives them insight into what works and which college is focused on what aspect of the application.

Unfortunately, in many schools the guidance counselor tends to be way overextended. If your ratio is 300 students to 1 college counselor, you're unlikely to get that person's undivided attention and focus. It is still useful to ask them for general advice about your potential topics, but don't expect them to be able to stay with your essay from first draft to final version.

Friends, Siblings, or Classmates

Although they most likely don't have much experience with what colleges are hoping to see, your peers are excellent sources for checking that your essay is you .

Friends and siblings are perfect for the read-aloud edit. Read your essay to them so they can listen for words and phrases that are stilted, pompous, or phrases that just don't sound like you.

You can even trade essays and give helpful advice on each other's work.

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If your editor hasn't worked with college admissions essays very much, no worries! Any astute and attentive reader can still greatly help with your process. But, as in all things, beginners do better with some preparation.

First, your editor should read our advice about how to write a college essay introduction , how to spot and fix a bad college essay , and get a sense of what other students have written by going through some admissions essays that worked .

Then, as they read your essay, they can work through the following series of questions that will help them to guide you.

Introduction Questions

  • Is the first sentence a killer opening line? Why or why not?
  • Does the introduction hook the reader? Does it have a colorful, detailed, and interesting narrative? Or does it propose a compelling or surprising idea?
  • Can you feel the author's voice in the introduction, or is the tone dry, dull, or overly formal? Show the places where the voice comes through.

Essay Body Questions

  • Does the essay have a through-line? Is it built around a central argument, thought, idea, or focus? Can you put this idea into your own words?
  • How is the essay organized? By logical progression? Chronologically? Do you feel order when you read it, or are there moments where you are confused or lose the thread of the essay?
  • Does the essay have both narratives about the author's life and explanations and insight into what these stories reveal about the author's character, personality, goals, or dreams? If not, which is missing?
  • Does the essay flow? Are there smooth transitions/clever links between paragraphs? Between the narrative and moments of insight?

Reader Response Questions

  • Does the writer's personality come through? Do we know what the speaker cares about? Do we get a sense of "who he or she is"?
  • Where did you feel most connected to the essay? Which parts of the essay gave you a "you are there" sensation by invoking your senses? What moments could you picture in your head well?
  • Where are the details and examples vague and not specific enough?
  • Did you get an "a-ha!" feeling anywhere in the essay? Is there a moment of insight that connected all the dots for you? Is there a good reveal or "twist" anywhere in the essay?
  • What are the strengths of this essay? What needs the most improvement?

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Should You Pay Money for Essay Editing?

One alternative to asking someone you know to help you with your college essay is the paid editor route. There are two different ways to pay for essay help: a private essay coach or a less personal editing service , like the many proliferating on the internet.

My advice is to think of these options as a last resort rather than your go-to first choice. I'll first go through the reasons why. Then, if you do decide to go with a paid editor, I'll help you decide between a coach and a service.

When to Consider a Paid Editor

In general, I think hiring someone to work on your essay makes a lot of sense if none of the people I discussed above are a possibility for you.

If you can't ask your parents. For example, if your parents aren't good writers, or if English isn't their first language. Or if you think getting your parents to help is going create unnecessary extra conflict in your relationship with them (applying to college is stressful as it is!)

If you can't ask your teacher or tutor. Maybe you don't have a trusted teacher or tutor that has time to look over your essay with focus. Or, for instance, your favorite humanities teacher has very limited experience with college essays and so won't know what admissions officers want to see.

If you can't ask your guidance counselor. This could be because your guidance counselor is way overwhelmed with other students.

If you can't share your essay with those who know you. It might be that your essay is on a very personal topic that you're unwilling to share with parents, teachers, or peers. Just make sure it doesn't fall into one of the bad-idea topics in our article on bad college essays .

If the cost isn't a consideration. Many of these services are quite expensive, and private coaches even more so. If you have finite resources, I'd say that hiring an SAT or ACT tutor (whether it's PrepScholar or someone else) is better way to spend your money . This is because there's no guarantee that a slightly better essay will sufficiently elevate the rest of your application, but a significantly higher SAT score will definitely raise your applicant profile much more.

Should You Hire an Essay Coach?

On the plus side, essay coaches have read dozens or even hundreds of college essays, so they have experience with the format. Also, because you'll be working closely with a specific person, it's more personal than sending your essay to a service, which will know even less about you.

But, on the minus side, you'll still be bouncing ideas off of someone who doesn't know that much about you . In general, if you can adequately get the help from someone you know, there is no advantage to paying someone to help you.

If you do decide to hire a coach, ask your school counselor, or older students that have used the service for recommendations. If you can't afford the coach's fees, ask whether they can work on a sliding scale —many do. And finally, beware those who guarantee admission to your school of choice—essay coaches don't have any special magic that can back up those promises.

Should You Send Your Essay to a Service?

On the plus side, essay editing services provide a similar product to essay coaches, and they cost significantly less . If you have some assurance that you'll be working with a good editor, the lack of face-to-face interaction won't prevent great results.

On the minus side, however, it can be difficult to gauge the quality of the service before working with them . If they are churning through many application essays without getting to know the students they are helping, you could end up with an over-edited essay that sounds just like everyone else's. In the worst case scenario, an unscrupulous service could send you back a plagiarized essay.

Getting recommendations from friends or a school counselor for reputable services is key to avoiding heavy-handed editing that writes essays for you or does too much to change your essay. Including a badly-edited essay like this in your application could cause problems if there are inconsistencies. For example, in interviews it might be clear you didn't write the essay, or the skill of the essay might not be reflected in your schoolwork and test scores.

Should You Buy an Essay Written by Someone Else?

Let me elaborate. There are super sketchy places on the internet where you can simply buy a pre-written essay. Don't do this!

For one thing, you'll be lying on an official, signed document. All college applications make you sign a statement saying something like this:

I certify that all information submitted in the admission process—including the application, the personal essay, any supplements, and any other supporting materials—is my own work, factually true, and honestly presented... I understand that I may be subject to a range of possible disciplinary actions, including admission revocation, expulsion, or revocation of course credit, grades, and degree, should the information I have certified be false. (From the Common Application )

For another thing, if your academic record doesn't match the essay's quality, the admissions officer will start thinking your whole application is riddled with lies.

Admission officers have full access to your writing portion of the SAT or ACT so that they can compare work that was done in proctored conditions with that done at home. They can tell if these were written by different people. Not only that, but there are now a number of search engines that faculty and admission officers can use to see if an essay contains strings of words that have appeared in other essays—you have no guarantee that the essay you bought wasn't also bought by 50 other students.

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  • You should get college essay help with both editing and proofreading
  • A good editor will ask questions about your idea, logic, and structure, and will point out places where clarity is needed
  • A good editor will absolutely not answer these questions, give you their own ideas, or write the essay or parts of the essay for you
  • A good proofreader will find typos and check your formatting
  • All of them agree that getting light editing and proofreading is necessary
  • Parents, teachers, guidance or college counselor, and peers or siblings
  • If you can't ask any of those, you can pay for college essay help, but watch out for services or coaches who over-edit you work
  • Don't buy a pre-written essay! Colleges can tell, and it'll make your whole application sound false.

Ready to start working on your essay? Check out our explanation of the point of the personal essay and the role it plays on your applications and then explore our step-by-step guide to writing a great college essay .

Using the Common Application for your college applications? We have an excellent guide to the Common App essay prompts and useful advice on how to pick the Common App prompt that's right for you . Wondering how other people tackled these prompts? Then work through our roundup of over 130 real college essay examples published by colleges .

Stressed about whether to take the SAT again before submitting your application? Let us help you decide how many times to take this test . If you choose to go for it, we have the ultimate guide to studying for the SAT to give you the ins and outs of the best ways to study.

Want to improve your SAT score by 160 points or your ACT score by 4 points?   We've written a guide for each test about the top 5 strategies you must be using to have a shot at improving your score. Download them for free now:

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Anna scored in the 99th percentile on her SATs in high school, and went on to major in English at Princeton and to get her doctorate in English Literature at Columbia. She is passionate about improving student access to higher education.

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The Complete College Essay Handbook: A Step-by-Step Guide to Writing the Personal Statement and the Supplemental Essays

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Brittany Maschal

The Complete College Essay Handbook: A Step-by-Step Guide to Writing the Personal Statement and the Supplemental Essays Paperback – July 19, 2021

Want to write memorable college application essays in less time, with less stress? This book will guide you through the process, with hands-on activities, practical tips, and tons of real application essays—personal statements and supplemental essays—by real students!

Finally—the book you’ve been waiting for! The Complete College Essay Handbook demystifies the entire college essay writing process with easy-to-follow directions and hands-on activities that have worked for hundreds of students. Maschal, a former admissions officer, and Wood, a professional writer and writing teacher, draw on their combined expertise to help students craft a successful set of application essays for every school on their list. Supplemental essays in particular can seem overwhelming—some schools ask students to write as many as six essays in addition to the personal statement. Maschal and Wood identify four types of supplemental essays, walking students through how to write each one and then how to recycle these essays for other schools.

The Complete College Essay Handbook walks students through:

  • What makes an essay stand out, drawing on sample essays by real students to illustrate main points
  • Brainstorming activities to find the best topics for the personal statement and supplemental essays
  • How to write the two central components of every application essay: scene and reflection
  • Editing and revision—including techniques to cut down or expand an essay to hit the word limit
  • The four types of supplemental essays and how to decode the different essay prompts, using actual essay questions
  • The strategy behind a well-rounded set of application essays

The Complete College Essay Handbook is a no-frills, practical guide that will give students the confidence and know-how they need to craft the best essays for every single school on their list—in less time and with less stress.

This book is for students, high school teachers and counselors, parents, and anyone else who wants to help students through the college essay writing process.

  • Print length 212 pages
  • Language English
  • Publication date July 19, 2021
  • Dimensions 6 x 0.48 x 9 inches
  • ISBN-10 173731598X
  • ISBN-13 978-1737315988
  • See all details

Product details

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ 1 (July 19, 2021)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Paperback ‏ : ‎ 212 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 173731598X
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1737315988
  • Item Weight ‏ : ‎ 12.2 ounces
  • Dimensions ‏ : ‎ 6 x 0.48 x 9 inches
  • #286 in College Guides (Books)
  • #431 in College Entrance Test Guides (Books)

About the author

Brittany maschal.

Dr. Brittany Maschal is the founder of Brittany Maschal Consulting, LLC, an educational consulting firm that works with students applying to college and graduate school.

Brittany has held positions in admissions and student services at the University of Pennsylvania at Penn Law and The Wharton School; Princeton University (undergraduate) and the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs; and the Johns Hopkins University-Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS). She has served on admissions committees with American Councils for International Education and International Research and Exchanges Board; as an invited speaker to numerous community programs in the US and abroad; and as an alumni interviewer and admissions representative for the Graduate School of Education at the University of Pennsylvania. Brittany was also an Executive Board member and Membership Director of the Penn GSE Alumni Association.

Brittany received her doctorate in higher education from the George Washington University in 2012. Prior, she attended the University of Pennsylvania for her master’s, and the University of Vermont for her bachelor’s degree—a degree she obtained in three years. Brittany is a member of the Independent Educational Consultants Association and a member of the Professional Association of Resume Writers and Career Coaches.

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How not to write your college essay.

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If you are looking for the “secret formula” for writing a “winning” college essay, you have come to the wrong place. The reality is there is no silver bullet or strategy to write your way to an acceptance. There is not one topic or approach that will guarantee a favorable outcome.

At the end of the day, every admission office just wants to know more about you, what you value, and what excites you. They want to hear about your experiences through your own words and in your own voice. As you set out to write your essay, you will no doubt get input (both sought-after and unsolicited) on what to write. But how about what NOT Notcoin to write? There are avoidable blunders that applicants frequently make in drafting their essays. I asked college admission leaders, who have read thousands of submissions, to share their thoughts.

Don’t Go In There

There is wide consensus on this first one, so before you call on your Jedi mind tricks or predictive analytics, listen to the voices of a diverse range of admission deans. Peter Hagan, executive director of admissions at Syracuse University, sums it up best, saying, “I would recommend that students try not to get inside of our heads. He adds, “Too often the focus is on what they think we want.”

Andy Strickler, dean of admission and financial aid at Connecticut College agrees, warning, “Do NOT get caught in the trap of trying to figure out what is going to impress the admission committee. You have NO idea who is going to read your essay and what is going to connect with them. So, don't try to guess that.” Victoria Romero, vice president for enrollment, at Scripps College adds, “Do not write about something you don’t care about.” She says, “I think students try to figure out what an admission officer wants to read, and the reality is the reader begins every next essay with no expectations about the content THEY want to read.” Chrystal Russell, dean of admission at Hampden-Sydney College, agrees, saying, “If you're not interested in writing it, we will not be interested when reading it.” Jay Jacobs, vice provost for enrollment management at the University of Vermont elaborates, advising. “Don’t try to make yourself sound any different than you are.” He says, “The number one goal for admission officers is to better understand the applicant, what they like to do, what they want to do, where they spend the majority of their time, and what makes them tick. If a student stays genuine to that, it will shine through and make an engaging and successful essay.”

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Don’t Be Artificial

The headlines about college admission are dominated by stories about artificial intelligence and the college essay. Let’s set some ground rules–to allow ChatGPT or some other tool to do your work is not only unethical, it is also unintelligent. The only worse mistake you could make is to let another human write your essay for you. Instead of preoccupying yourself with whether or not colleges are using AI detection software (most are not), spend your time focused on how best to express yourself authentically. Rick Clark is the executive director of strategic student success at Georgia Institute of Technology, one of the first institutions to clearly outline their AI policy for applicants. He says, “Much of a college application is devoted to lines, boxes, and numbers. Essays and supplements are the one place to establish connection, personality, and distinction. AI, in its current state, is terrible at all three.” He adds, “My hope is that students will use ChatGPT or other tools for brainstorming and to get started, but then move quickly into crafting an essay that will provide insight and value.”

Don’t Overdo It

Michael Stefanowicz, vice president for enrollment management at Landmark College says, “You can only cover so much detail about yourself in an admission essay, and a lot of students feel pressure to tell their life story or choose their most defining experience to date as an essay topic. Admission professionals know that you’re sharing just one part of your lived experience in the essay.” He adds, “Some of the favorite essays I’ve read have been episodic, reflecting on the way you’ve found meaning in a seemingly ordinary experience, advice you’ve lived out, a mistake you’ve learned from, or a special tradition in your life.” Gary Ross, vice president for admission and financial aid at Colgate University adds, “More than a few applicants each year craft essays that talk about the frustration and struggles they have experienced in identifying a topic for their college application essay. Presenting your college application essay as a smorgasbord of topics that ultimately landed on the cutting room floor does not give us much insight into an applicant.”

Don’t Believe In Magic

Jason Nevinger, senior director of admission at the University of Rochester warns, “Be skeptical of anyone or any company telling you, ‘This is the essay that got me into _____.’ There is no magic topic, approach, sentence structure, or prose that got any student into any institution ever.” Social media is littered with advertisements promising strategic essay help. Don’t waste your time, energy, or money trying to emulate a certain style, topic, or tone. Liz Cheron is chief executive officer for the Coalition for College and former assistant vice president of enrollment & dean of admissions at Northeastern University. She agrees with Nevinger, saying “Don't put pressure on yourself to find the perfect, slam dunk topic. The vast majority of college essays do exactly what they're supposed to do–they are well-written and tell the admission officer more about the student in that student's voice–and that can take many different forms.”

Don’t Over Recycle

Beatrice Atkinson-Myers, associate director of global recruitment at the University of California at Santa Cruz tells students, “Do not use the same response for each university; research and craft your essay to match the program at the university you are interested in studying. Don't waste time telling me things I can read elsewhere in your application. Use your essay to give the admissions officer insights into your motivations, interests, and thinking. Don't make your essay the kitchen sink, focus on one or two examples which demonstrate your depth and creativity.” Her UC colleague, Jim Rawlins, associate vice chancellor of enrollment management at the University of California at San Diego agrees, saying “Answer the question. Not doing so is the surest way we can tell you are simply giving us a snippet of something you actually wrote for a different purpose.”

Don’t Overedit

Emily Roper-Doten, vice president for undergraduate admissions and financial assistance at Clark University warns against “Too many editors!” She says, “Pick a couple of trusted folks to be your sounding board when considering topics and as readers once you have drafts. You don’t want too many voices in your essay to drown you out!” Scripps’ Romero agrees, suggesting, “Ask a good friend, someone you trust and knows you well, to read your essays.” She adds, “The goal is for the admission committee to get to know a little about you and who better to help you create that framework, than a good friend. This may not work for all students because of content but helps them understand it’s important to be themselves.” Whitney Soule, vice provost and dean of admissions at The University of Pennsylvania adds, “Avoid well-meaning editorial interference that might seem to polish your writing but actually takes your own personal ‘shine’ right out of the message.” She says, “As readers, we connect to applicants through their genuine tone and style. Considering editorial advice for flow and message is OK but hold on to the 'you' for what you want to say and how you want to say it.”

Don’t Get Showy

Palmer Muntz, senior regional admissions counselor at the University of Alaska Fairbanks cautions applicants, “Don’t be fancier than you are. You don’t need to put on airs.” He adds, “Yes, proofread your work for grammar and spelling, but be natural. Craft something you’d want to read yourself, which probably means keeping your paragraphs short, using familiar words, and writing in an active voice.” Connecticut College’s Strickler agrees, warning, “Don't try to be someone you are not. If you are not funny, don't try to write a funny essay. If you are not an intellectual, trying to write an intellectual essay is a bad idea.”

Anthony Jones, the vice president of enrollment management at Loyola University New Orleans offers a unique metaphor for thinking about the essay. He says, “In the new world of the hyper-fast college admission process, it's become easy to overlook the essential meaning of the college application. It's meant to reveal Y...O...U, the real you, not some phony digital avatar. Think of the essay as the essence of that voice but in analog. Like the completeness and authenticity captured in a vinyl record, the few lines you're given to explain your view should be a slow walk through unrestrained expression chock full of unapologetic nuances, crevices of emotion, and exactness about how you feel in the moment. Then, and only then, can you give the admissions officer an experience that makes them want to tune in and listen for more.”

Don’t Be A Downer

James Nondorf, vice president and dean of admissions and financial aid at The University of Chicago says, “Don’t be negative about other people, be appreciative of those who have supported you, and be excited about who you are and what you will bring to our campus!” He adds, “While admissions offices want smart students for our classrooms, we also want kind-hearted, caring, and joyous students who will add to our campus communities too.”

Don’t Pattern Match

Alan Ramirez is the dean of admission and financial aid at Sewanee, The University of the South. He explains, “A big concern I have is when students find themselves comparing their writing to other students or past applicants and transform their writing to be more like those individuals as a way to better their chances of offering a more-compelling essay.” He emphasizes that the result is that the “essay is no longer authentic nor the best representation of themselves and the whole point of the essay is lost. Their distinctive voice and viewpoint contribute to the range of voices in the incoming class, enhancing the diversity of perspectives we aim to achieve.” Ramirez simple tells students, “Be yourself, that’s what we want to see, plus there's no one else who can do it better than you!”

Don’t Feel Tied To A Topic

Jessica Ricker is the vice president for enrollment and dean of admissions and financial aid at Skidmore College. She says, “Sometimes students feel they must tell a story of grief or hardship, and then end up reliving that during the essay-writing process in ways that are emotionally detrimental. I encourage students to choose a topic they can reflect upon positively but recommend that if they choose a more challenging experience to write about, they avoid belaboring the details and instead focus on the outcome of that journey.” She adds, "They simply need to name it, frame its impact, and then help us as the reader understand how it has shaped their lens on life and their approach moving forward.”

Landmark College’s Stefanowicz adds, “A lot of students worry about how personal to get in sharing a part of their identity like your race or heritage (recalling last year’s Supreme Court case about race-conscious admissions), a learning difference or other disability, your religious values, LGBTQ identity…the list goes on.” He emphasizes, “This is always your choice, and your essay doesn’t have to be about a defining identity. But I encourage you to be fully yourself as you present yourself to colleges—because the college admission process is about finding a school where your whole self is welcome and you find a setting to flourish!”

Don’t Be Redundant

Hillen Grason Jr., dean of admission at Franklin & Marshall College, advises, “Don't repeat academic or co-curricular information that is easily identifiable within other parts of your application unless the topic is a core tenant of you as an individual.” He adds, “Use your essay, and other parts of your application, wisely. Your essay is the best way to convey who your authentic self is to the schools you apply. If you navigated a situation that led to a dip in your grades or co-curricular involvement, leverage the ‘additional information’ section of the application.

Thomas Marr is a regional manager of admissions for the Americas at The University of St Andrews in Scotland and points out that “Not all international schools use the main college essay as part of their assessment when reviewing student applications.” He says, “At the University of St Andrews, we focus on the supplemental essay and students should avoid the mistake of making the supplemental a repeat of their other essay. The supplemental (called the Personal Statement if using the UCAS application process) is to show the extent of their passion and enthusiasm for the subject/s to which they are applying and we expect about 75% of the content to cover this. They can use the remaining space to mention their interests outside of the classroom. Some students confuse passion for the school with passion for their subject; do not fall into that trap.”

A Few Final Don’ts

Don’t delay. Every college applicant I have ever worked with has wished they had started earlier. You can best avoid the pitfalls above if you give yourself the time and space to write a thoughtful essay and welcome feedback openly but cautiously. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself to be perfect . Do your best, share your voice, and stay true to who you are.

Brennan Barnard

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What's Project 2025? Unpacking the Pro-Trump Plan to Overhaul US Government

For several months, we received a flood of reader inquiries asking if project 2025 was a real effort to “reshape america.” here’s the answer., nur ibrahim, aleksandra wrona, published july 3, 2024.

  • Project 2025 is a conservative coalition's plan for a future Republican U.S. presidential administration. If voters elect the party's presumed nominee, Donald Trump, over Democrat Joe Biden in November 2024, the coalition hopes the new president will implement the plan immediately.
  • The sweeping effort centers on a roughly 1,000-page document  that gives the executive branch more power, reverses Biden-era policies and specifies numerous department-level changes.
  • People across the political spectrum fear such actions are precursors to authoritarianism and have voiced concerns over the proposal's recommendations to reverse protections for LGBTQ+ people, limit abortion access, stop federal efforts to mitigate climate change — and more.
  • The Heritage Foundation — a conservative think tank operated by many of Trump's current and former political allies — is leading the initiative. President Kevin Roberts once said  the project's main goals are "institutionalizing Trumpism" and getting rid of unelected bureaucrats who he believes wield too much political influence.
  • The Trump campaign's goals and proposals within Project 2025 overlap. However, the former president has attempted to distance himself from the initiative. In a July 5, 2024, post on Truth Social , he wrote: " I know nothing about Project 2025. I have no idea who is behind it. I disagree with some of the things they're saying and some of the things they're saying are absolutely ridiculous and abysmal. Anything they do, I wish them luck, but I have nothing to do with them."
  • In other words, it's unknown if, or to what extent, Trump's campaign is talking to leaders of the initiative. Many political analysts and the Biden administration believe Project 2025 is a good indication of Trump's vision for a second term.
Here at Snopes, the internet's premiere fact-checking site, we believe in unbiased, fact-driven reporting to help guide people's everyday lives. And when it comes to voting in elections, we hold that responsibility high. We call out candidates' mistruths, contextualize campaign claims and pull back the curtain on efforts shaping political parties' agendas. Our hope is to give voters the knowledge they need to mark ballots without any distorted sense of reality. Below is an example of that work — a months-long analysis of an all-encompassing effort to reshape the American bureacracy following the 2024 U.S. presidential election. If you'd like to support this type of journalism,  we'd love your help .   —  Jessica Lee ,  senior assignments editor,  snopes.com

As the U.S. 2024 presidential election nears, U.S. President Joe Biden's reelection campaign has been sending foreboding emails to supporters, invoking "Trump's Project 2025" to tap into anxieties over another four years with Donald Trump in the White House and to raise campaign money.

According to some of the emails, "Project 2025" calls for proposals that would separate "mothers away from their children," a reference to border policies during Trump's administration, or result in "higher housing costs and rampant discrimination."

The Biden campaign is not alone in its concern over the policy initiative. Critics including legal experts and former government employees have described Project 2025 as a precursor to authoritarianism — albeit a difficult one to implement — and a wave of social media  posts  are expressing  fear over the initiative, calling it a " fascist " and " extremist " plan for Trump to " reshape America." Numerous reports have also called this conservative effort to reshape the government unprecedented in its scale. 

But what exactly is Project 2025? Are the messages from critics rooted in fact or fear-mongering? What should people know about the alleged policy plan? Over the past year, Snopes has received a flood of inquiries from readers asking if Project 2025 was real and what it entails, and if American politicians plan to implement it.

Under the leadership of the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank, Project 2025 is indeed a real, all-encompassing initiative to transform the American bureaucracy if, or when, a conservative president takes over the White House. Project leaders are hoping to put it into motion as early as November 2024 if voters elect former President Donald Trump. 

Politico once described the policy initiative as an effort to make a "MAGA" conservative government by reshaping how federal employees work, and the  creators themselves have framed it as a push to institutionalize " Trumpism " —  that is,  Trump's political agenda — at every level of federal government. On Truth Social, a Trump-owned social media platform, users have described it as a return to "constitutional" values.

In June 2024, House Democrats launched a task force to make plans for a potential future in which Project 2025's recommendations could become reality.

The growing interest in Project 2025 coincided with the progression of Trump's presidential campaign. A  June 2024  NPR/PBS News/Marist poll found the presidential race to be extremely tight, with Biden and Trump almost tied, echoing a months-long trend of national surveys. ( Historically , polls at this stage of campaigns are not indicative of actual election outcomes.)

Leaders and supporters of the initiative declined to be interviewed for this story or did not respond to Snopes' inquiries.

What is Project 2025?

Project 2025 has four parts, according to its website : 

  • A roughly 1,000-page document titled " Mandate for Leadership 2025: The Conservative Promise ."  That report details supporters' proposals for federal departments, as well as their overall agenda for a conservative government.
  • A purported transition plan for federal departments. Project 2025 leaders say they have a 180-day transition plan for each federal agency to quickly adapt to a Trump presidency should he win in November. As of this writing, the contents of that plan were unknown.
  • A new database that aims to fill federal jobs with conservative voices. Spencer Chretien, associate director of Project 2025, once called the online system to screen potential new hires the " conservative LinkedIn ." It's currently active on the Project's website.
  • A new system to train potential political appointees . Called the " Presidential Administration Academy ," the system aims to teach skills for "advancing conservative ideas" as soon as new hires join the administration. The lessons touch on everything from budget-making to media relations and currently consist of 30- to 90-minute online sessions. Project 2025 leaders say they will host in-person sessions as the election nears. 

There's reportedly another facet to Project 2025 that's not detailed on its website: an effort to draft executive orders for the new president. According to a November 2023 report by The Washington Post that cites anonymous sources, Jeffrey Clark (a former Trump official who sought to use the Justice Department to help Trump's efforts to overturn 2020 election results) is leading that work, and the alleged draft executive orders involve the Insurrection Act — a law last updated in 1871 that allows the president to deploy the military for domestic law enforcement. Speaking to the Post, a Heritage spokesperson denied that accusation. (We were unable to independently corroborate The Washington Post's reporting due to its anonymous sourcing and our unsuccessful attempts to interview members of The Heritage Foundation.)

While many of Project 2025's proposals simply need the president's executive order to become reality, others would need Congressional approval, even as the Project seeks to expand presidential authority. In other words, lawmakers would need to write and approve legislation that details the changes to the government's existing structure, or establishes new systems. Come November, voters will choose who will fill  435 seats in the Republican-led House and 34 positions  in the Senate.

Key Points of The Roughly 1,000-Page Document

Speaking to Politico , Russell Vought, who served as the director of the Office of Management and Budget under Trump and is now a leading adviser for Project 2025, once described the effort as "more systematic than it is just about Trump," adding, "We have to be thinking mechanically about how to take these institutions over" in reference to federal departments.

Project 2025's document lays out in great detail how supporters want to do that. As of early June 2024, about 855,000 people had downloaded the document, The New York Times reported . 

Among its numerous recommendations, it calls for the following (in no particular order):

  • Changing how the FBI operates. According to the plan, the agency is "completely out of control," and the next conservative administration should restore its reputation by stopping investigations that are supposedly "unlawful or contrary to the national interest." Also, the document calls for legislation that would eliminate term limits for the FBI's director and require that person to answer to the president. 
  • Eliminating the Department of Education. The plan explicitly proposes, "Federal education policy should be limited and, ultimately, the federal Department of Education should be eliminated." The report also calls for bans on so-called " critical race theory" (CRT) and "gender ideology" lessons in public schools, asking for legislation that would require educators who share such material to register as sex offenders and be imprisoned. 
  • Defunding the Department of Justice. Additionally, the document proposes prosecuting federal election-related charges as criminal, not civil, cases. Otherwise, the document says, "[Voter] registration fraud and unlawful ballot correction will remain federal election offenses that are never appropriately investigated and prosecuted." 
  • Reversing Biden-era policies attempting to reduce climate change. The document's authors call for increasing the country's reliance on fossil fuels and withdrawing from efforts to address the climate crisis — such as "offices, programs, and directives designed to advance the Paris Climate Agreement ." 
  • Stopping cybersecurity efforts to combat mis- and disinformation. The document recommends the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency to stop its efforts to curtail online propaganda campaigns, arguing the federal government should not make judgment calls on what's true and what isn't.
  • Changing immigration policies. Authors want the federal government to deprioritize DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals), the program that temporarily delays the deportation of immigrants without documentation who came to the U.S. as children; phase out temporary work-visa programs that allow seasonal employers to hire foreign workers; impose financial punishments on so-called "sanctuary cities" that do not follow federal immigration laws, and divert tax dollars toward security at America's border with Mexico. (While the Biden campaign claims Project 2025 calls for "ripping mothers away from their children" at the border, there's no explicit mention of separating families. Rather, it calls for stronger enforcement of laws governing the detainment of immigrants with criminal records and restricting an existing program that tracks people in deportation proceedings instead of incarcerating them. In some cases, those changes could possibly play a role in border control agents detaining a parent while their child continues with immigration proceedings.)
  • Restricting access to abortion. The plan wants the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to stop promoting abortion as health care. Additionally, Project 2025 recommends the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) to stop promoting, and approving, requests for manufacturing abortion pills. "Alternative options to abortion, especially adoption, should receive federal and state support," the document states.
  • Removing LGBTQ+ protections. The plan calls for abolishing the Gender Policy Council , a Biden-created department within the White House that aims to "advance equity in government policy for those who face discrimination." Also, the proposal wants the federal government to remove terms such as "sexual orientation" and "gender identity" from records and policies, as well as rescind policies that prohibit discrimination on the basis of "sexual orientation, gender identity, transgender status, and sex characteristics."
  • Cutting ties completely with China. For instance, the document advocates for restricting people's access to TikTok because of its China-based parent company; prohibiting Confucius Institutes, cultural institutions at colleges and universities funded by the Chinese government, and blocking other Chinese entities from partnering with U.S. companies. 
  • Reversing protections against discrimination in housing. The Biden campaign emails reference a portion of the document that calls for repealing a decades-old policy—strengthened under Biden—that attempts to prevent discrimination and reduce racial disparities in housing. Project 2025 also recommends making it easier to sell off homes used for public housing — a benefit to real estate developers — but result in fewer cheap housing options for poor and low-income families. 

Here's a PDF of the full report :

(www.project2025.org)

Changing Federal Job Classifications 

To execute the above-listed objectives, the roughly 1,000-page document calls for a federal government operated by political appointees equipped to "carry out the President's desires." 

Put another way, Roberts, president of the Heritage Foundation, said in a July 2023 interview with The New York Times that Project 2025 leaders want to dismantle independent federal agencies that do not answer to the president. Then, they want to fill positions with people who subscribe to conservative politics — including jobs that are currently merit-based hires, not politically appointed.

Under the current system, the federal government's administrative sector is made up of two employee groups: political appointees and career civil servants. When a new administration takes over the Oval Office, it selects similarly minded people to fill high-ranking positions (political appointees), and those people leave the jobs when a new president takes over. According to the Brookings Institution , a public policy think tank, around 4,000 political appointees run the executive branch.

Meanwhile, tens of thousands of positions that run day-to-day operations are hired through a merit-based system — that is, a hiring process that is designed to prioritize applicants' specialized expertise or experience , not their personal beliefs or affiliations. Those people are career civil servants. 

Project 2025 proposes turning up to 50,000 career civil servant jobs into politically appointed positions. 

To do that, Project 2025 wants the president to reissue Schedule F, a Trump-era executive order that Biden rescinded when he became president. Generally speaking, the order would recategorize career civil servants into at-will employees, giving higher-level workers the ability to terminate employment for any reason without warning and fill those jobs with new people.

Additionally, Project 2025 recommends revamping the existing appeals process for employee dismissals, arguing the current system prevents managers from firing or hiring the right employees. 

The plan also proposes a freeze on hiring top-career civil service positions at the beginning of the administration. By doing so, the plan argues, the new administration will prevent today's administration's leaders (later on "outgoing" political appointees) from "burrowing-in"— that is, hiring left-leaning career bureaucrats across federal agencies for the purpose of undermining the next president. 

Keeping Track of Potential Employees' Opinions

In addition to expanding government leaders' abilities to hire and fire at will, Project 2025 calls for a new federal database to gather information on potential new hires. The database contains people's answers to questions on social issues , such as abortion and immigration, allowing for department leaders to easily fill job vacancies with applicants who lean conservative.

"Our current executive branch was conceived of by liberals for the purpose of promulgating liberal policies," John  McEntee , who is leading Project 2025's personnel database project, told The New York Times in mid-2023, citing then-U.S. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt's (who was a Democrat) 1930s New Deal as the last major reorientation of the government. "There is no way to make the existing structure function in a conservative manner. It's not enough to get the personnel right. What's necessary is a complete system overhaul." 

By submitting resumes and answering questionnaires , applicants sign up to be vetted by Project 2025 leaders. According to the questionnaire , participants answer whether they "agree" or "disagree" with statements such as, "Life has a right to legal protection from conception to natural death," and "The U.S. should increase legal immigration."

If the participants pass that screening, Project 2025 intends to recommend them to department leaders for hiring. (We are unable to determine what would happen with applicants' data if Trump does not win the 2024 election, or if his potential administration does not want to use it.)

Project 2025 leaders partnered with technology company Oracle to set up the system, according to The New York Times . Several thousand potential recruits had applied, as of April 2023. 

Former presidents have established similar systems, including Barack Obama, according to Kevin Kosar, a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, a center-right public policy think tank. "They [The Obama administration] created a massive online jobs bank , where you could apply."

Also, during Obama's first term (January 2009 - January 2017), his administration required extensive vetting of applicants for high-ranking, politically appointed positions. Like Project 2025's program, that process included a questionnaire. That form asked participants to elaborate on past public statements, social media posts and potential conflicts of interests, as well as share things about their personal lives , like whether they own guns. (We found no evidence of the Obama administration circulating a similar questionnaire during his second term.)

Asked about that Obama-era questionnaire, a Biden aide said it was not comparable to Project 2025's system. The latter was a "loyalty test" to Trump, the aide said, while Obama's survey was more of a background check.

Trump Hasn't Publicly Endorsed Project 2025

Many former Trump administration members and current allies are working on the initiative. 

For example, the Center for Renewing America (CRA) — a think tank that formed in 2021 with ties to Trump through its founder, Russell Vought — is a "coalition partner." Vought was the director of the Office of Management and Budget when Trump was president. Should Project 2025 be a part of the next presidential administration, Vought will be in charge of implementing  its proposals, according to Politico. (In November 2023, The Washington Post reported he was in regular contact with Trump and could be a candidate for a high-ranking position in his potential future administration.) Also, Vought is policy director for the 2024 Republican National Convention's Platform Committee.

Reportedly , some people affiliated with Project 2025 are assisting Trump's reelection campaign behind the scenes.

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(The groups that conceptualized, or are currently pushing, Project 2025 include a number of former Trump administration members and current allies.)

However, in terms of public-facing actions, Trump hasn't officially connected himself to the initiative. In speeches at campaign rallies and interviews, he hasn't mentioned Project 2025, and, on July 5, 2024 , he attempted to publicly distance himself by posting on Truth Social (his social media site):

I know nothing about Project 2025. I have no idea who is behind it. I disagree with some of the things they're saying and some of the things they're saying are absolutely ridiculous and abysmal. Anything they do, I wish them luck, but I have nothing to do with them.

Trump's campaign is at the very least aware of the initiative. Campaign officials once told Politico Project 2025's goals to restructure government, which are outlined in a publicly available document , indeed align with Trump's campaign promises.

But in a November 2023 statement, the Trump campaign said: "The efforts by various non-profit groups are certainly appreciated and can be enormously helpful. However, none of these groups or individuals speak for President Trump or his campaign." Without naming Project 2025, they said all policy statements from "external allies" are just "recommendations."

Concurrently, in an interview with the conservative outlet The Daily Wire , a Project 2025 representative said the Trump campaign and Project are separate "for now."  McEntee , a former Trump staffer and leader of Project 2025's personnel database project, said : 

I think the candidate and the campaign need to keep their eye on the ball. They need to be totally focused on winning. We're totally focused on what happens after [...] Obviously, there will need to be coordination and the president and his team will announce an official transition this summer, and we're gonna integrate a lot of our work with them. 

That said, given overlap between Project 2025's proposals and the Trump campaign's agenda , political analysts and the Biden campaign believe the coalition's effort is a good indication of Trump's vision for a second term. Among the similarities are proposals to change how the administration fills tens of thousands of government jobs and overhaul  the DOJ. According to The Heritage Foundation's own reporting, Trump adopted and seriously considered about two-thirds of the organization's policy prescriptions in 2018, for example.

In an interview with Snopes, James Singer, a Biden campaign spokesperson, said:

Project 2025 is the extreme policy and personnel playbook for Trump's second term that should scare the hell out of any American voter. The Trump team's pathetic denials fall flat when Project 2025 staff and leadership are saying they are connected to the Trump team, leading the RNC policy platform and part of Trump's debate prep, campaign, and inner circle.

But the extent to which Project 2025 leaders and Trump campaign officials are communicating is unclear. According to Kosar, at the American Enterprise Institute, no one outside of the two circles knows how closely they're working together. "[What] is the level of coordination? We have no idea." 

From the view of Cecilia Esterline, an immigration research analyst at the Niskanen Center, a think tank  with libertarian-right roots, Project 2025 is a good indicator of Trump's plans for a potential second term. "Given the people involved putting their names on this and the author portions of this report, and the success of [past] implementation, it's a good indicator of where Trump is at."

The Forces Behind Project 2025

Heritage Foundation President Kevin Roberts launched Project 2025 in April 2022, a few months before Trump officially announced his reelection campaign.

Since then, the number of groups backing the initiative has grown. As of now, Project 2025's advisory board and so-called "coalition partners" include: the Conservative Partnership Institute (CPI), a nonprofit that aims to connect conservative applicants to congressional jobs and is led by Trump's former chief of staff, Mark Meadows; Turning Point USA, a far-right student advocacy group that is led by Charlie Kirk; America First Legal , a legal advocacy group that supports conservative-backed lawsuits and is led by Trump stalwart Stephen Miller. (According to a June 2024 Politico report, Miller was part of private meetings with Trump to help him prepare for upcoming televised debates against Biden.) 

Furthermore, in May 2024, Reuters interviewed what the news outlet described as unnamed Trump allies working on a plan to restructure the Department of Justice (DOJ) and fill currently nonpartisan jobs there with people who identify as conservatives. While the allies group wasn't named, Reuters reported it was tied to Project 2025. 

Lastly, many authors of the roughly 1,000-page document outlining Project 2025's policy proposals have connections to Trump. They include Ben Carson , William Perry Pendley , Jonathan Berry , Diana Furchtgott-Roth , Rick Dearborn , Adam Candeub , Ken Cuccinelli , Mandy Gunasekara , Dennis Dean Kirk , Gene Hamilton , Christopher Miller , Bernard L. McNamee , Mora Namdar , Peter Navarro , Roger Severino , Paul Dans , Kevin Roberts , among others. 

These Types of Pre-Election Efforts Aren't Uncommon

In the months or years before U.S. presidential elections, it's routine for nonprofit research groups to prepare plans for a potential presidential transition, according to Landon Storrs, a political history professor at the University of Iowa. 

And, according to Kosar, numerous think tanks want Trump's ear as he plans his potential return to the White House. "Whenever there is a new executive coming into the White House, [many] groups are trying to get in there."

According to the Heritage Foundation's website , the organization mostly operates on individual donations and does not take money from the government. However, how exactly it divvies up its money for Project 2025 was unclear. The New York Times reported Project 2025 was a $22 million operation.

Project 2025 authors built their proposals on an idea popular during former President Ronald Reagan's time: the "unitary executive theory." That's the belief that Article II of the U.S. Constitution gives the president complete power over the federal bureaucracy and all levels of government report to him. 

In 1980, the Heritage Foundation developed similar policy prescriptions for Reagan, who was a presidential candidate at the time. Some of the organization's recommendations aligned with Reagan's campaign promises , and, when he later assumed office, he put the ideas to action. Heritage once described its effort as putting "the conservative movement and Reagan on the same page."

However, according to Politico , the present-day initiative by the Heritage Foundation was more "ambitious" than any other such proposal. The New York Times  said Project 2025 was operating at "a scale never attempted before in conservative politics." Its efforts are a contrast to the 1930s Democrat-led New Deal under then-U.S. President Roosevelt, which gave the federal government an unprecedented role in social and economic affairs on the belief that it would get the country out of the Great Depression.

Critics' Logistical Concerns, Worries

If some of Project 2025's ideas turn into formal policy recommendations or laws, experts in government and history have concerns over how they could be implemented. Such drastic changes would come with big logistical hurdles and have a ripple effect on agencies overseeing day-to-day governance, several such experts said. 

For example, Project 2025's proposal to reclassify tens of thousands of federal workers' positions — that is, change career bureaucrats into jobs that can be politically appointed — would have widespread effects, according to Storrs, of the University of Iowa. She said:

When [Project 2025's] intention is to install officials based on their loyalty to the president rather than on their qualifications, [the result] is even more damaging to effective administration. [...] The President already has authority over who heads the agencies. But below them, people are simply trying to collect taxes, get social security checks out — there is a lot that shouldn't be disrupted.

Kosar, of the American Enterprise Institute, expressed concern over skills required for jobs that aren't currently appointed. "These positions have a serious degree of expertise attached. You can't just plug in a private sector businessman into the department of transportation. It's going to be a challenge to match the people and the competencies and the expertise." 

Esterline, the Niskanen Center analyst, said with presidential administrations changing every four to eight years, government agencies rely on the expertise of continually employed civil servants — employees with institutional knowledge — to make the transitions as smooth as possible. "[If] we suddenly disrupt that balance of political appointees to civil servants, it will be a much rougher transition." 

Among other aspects of Project 2025, Esterline is attempting to raise the alarm on its prescriptions for specific regulatory changes. "[Project 2025] is a meticulous outline of how they will crumple the system simultaneously through minute changes."

Meanwhile, some former government officials are particularly concerned about the initiative's plans for the DOJ and FBI. For instance, in an interview for The Guardian , Michael Bromwich, a former DOJ inspector general, said the proposals to turn the departments into "instruments" to fulfill Trump's political agenda "should send shivers down the spine of anyone who cares about the rule of law."

Overall, critics including legal experts and former government employees have zeroed in on Project 2025's goal to give the executive branch more power, describing it as a precursor to authoritarianism.

However, the initiative's push to increase executive power may be part of a deeper trend in American politics, Peter Strauss, a professor at Columbia Law School, said in a  lecture  on Faculti, a research video platform. He said momentum to increase executive authority has been steadily increasing over many presidential administrations: 

We have seen in the United States a steadily expanding presidential claim of authority to control not only tenure but also ordinary acts of government. This has been happening at least since the presidency of Ronald Reagan and it reached a peak with President Trump and his first term, and he's promised that he's going back there. 

Our Reporting

For this report, we repeatedly tried to interview representatives of the Heritage Foundation — the conservative think tank that conceptualized Project 2025 — as well as the Trump campaign and other supporters of the effort. All either declined to be interviewed or did not respond to our inquiries. 

For example, we reached out to dozens of groups on Project 2025's advisory board — a collection of groups under the Heritage Foundation's oversight that have co-signed the effort, given feedback on its proposals or promoted it to government officials. The groups include Center for Renewing America , Turning Point USA , The American Conservative , and  American Cornerstone Institute . We asked the organizations about the nature of their involvement in the initiative, proposals they support, and more. As of this writing, none has responded.

After we initially reached out to the Heritage Foundation for this story, a spokesperson responded asking for more specifics on our reporting. We responded with key points, including requests to comment on project leaders' communication with former U.S. President Donald Trump, concerns from legal experts about the initiative's proposed changes and general criticism. The Heritage Foundation did not respond to that message. Later, after informing the organization of our writing deadline, a spokesperson said no one was available.

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Kosar, Kevin. Phone Interview.

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July 5, 2024: This post was updated to include Trump's July 5, 2024, post on Truth Social.

By Nur Ibrahim

Nur Nasreen Ibrahim is a reporter with experience working in television, international news coverage, fact checking, and creative writing.

By Aleksandra Wrona

Aleksandra Wrona is a reporting fellow for Snopes, based in the Warsaw area.

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  • Knowledge Base
  • How to conclude an essay | Interactive example

How to Conclude an Essay | Interactive Example

Published on January 24, 2019 by Shona McCombes . Revised on July 23, 2023.

The conclusion is the final paragraph of your essay . A strong conclusion aims to:

  • Tie together the essay’s main points
  • Show why your argument matters
  • Leave the reader with a strong impression

Your conclusion should give a sense of closure and completion to your argument, but also show what new questions or possibilities it has opened up.

This conclusion is taken from our annotated essay example , which discusses the history of the Braille system. Hover over each part to see why it’s effective.

Braille paved the way for dramatic cultural changes in the way blind people were treated and the opportunities available to them. Louis Braille’s innovation was to reimagine existing reading systems from a blind perspective, and the success of this invention required sighted teachers to adapt to their students’ reality instead of the other way around. In this sense, Braille helped drive broader social changes in the status of blindness. New accessibility tools provide practical advantages to those who need them, but they can also change the perspectives and attitudes of those who do not.

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Table of contents

Step 1: return to your thesis, step 2: review your main points, step 3: show why it matters, what shouldn’t go in the conclusion, more examples of essay conclusions, other interesting articles, frequently asked questions about writing an essay conclusion.

To begin your conclusion, signal that the essay is coming to an end by returning to your overall argument.

Don’t just repeat your thesis statement —instead, try to rephrase your argument in a way that shows how it has been developed since the introduction.

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Next, remind the reader of the main points that you used to support your argument.

Avoid simply summarizing each paragraph or repeating each point in order; try to bring your points together in a way that makes the connections between them clear. The conclusion is your final chance to show how all the paragraphs of your essay add up to a coherent whole.

To wrap up your conclusion, zoom out to a broader view of the topic and consider the implications of your argument. For example:

  • Does it contribute a new understanding of your topic?
  • Does it raise new questions for future study?
  • Does it lead to practical suggestions or predictions?
  • Can it be applied to different contexts?
  • Can it be connected to a broader debate or theme?

Whatever your essay is about, the conclusion should aim to emphasize the significance of your argument, whether that’s within your academic subject or in the wider world.

Try to end with a strong, decisive sentence, leaving the reader with a lingering sense of interest in your topic.

The easiest way to improve your conclusion is to eliminate these common mistakes.

Don’t include new evidence

Any evidence or analysis that is essential to supporting your thesis statement should appear in the main body of the essay.

The conclusion might include minor pieces of new information—for example, a sentence or two discussing broader implications, or a quotation that nicely summarizes your central point. But it shouldn’t introduce any major new sources or ideas that need further explanation to understand.

Don’t use “concluding phrases”

Avoid using obvious stock phrases to tell the reader what you’re doing:

  • “In conclusion…”
  • “To sum up…”

These phrases aren’t forbidden, but they can make your writing sound weak. By returning to your main argument, it will quickly become clear that you are concluding the essay—you shouldn’t have to spell it out.

Don’t undermine your argument

Avoid using apologetic phrases that sound uncertain or confused:

  • “This is just one approach among many.”
  • “There are good arguments on both sides of this issue.”
  • “There is no clear answer to this problem.”

Even if your essay has explored different points of view, your own position should be clear. There may be many possible approaches to the topic, but you want to leave the reader convinced that yours is the best one!

  • Argumentative
  • Literary analysis

This conclusion is taken from an argumentative essay about the internet’s impact on education. It acknowledges the opposing arguments while taking a clear, decisive position.

The internet has had a major positive impact on the world of education; occasional pitfalls aside, its value is evident in numerous applications. The future of teaching lies in the possibilities the internet opens up for communication, research, and interactivity. As the popularity of distance learning shows, students value the flexibility and accessibility offered by digital education, and educators should fully embrace these advantages. The internet’s dangers, real and imaginary, have been documented exhaustively by skeptics, but the internet is here to stay; it is time to focus seriously on its potential for good.

This conclusion is taken from a short expository essay that explains the invention of the printing press and its effects on European society. It focuses on giving a clear, concise overview of what was covered in the essay.

The invention of the printing press was important not only in terms of its immediate cultural and economic effects, but also in terms of its major impact on politics and religion across Europe. In the century following the invention of the printing press, the relatively stationary intellectual atmosphere of the Middle Ages gave way to the social upheavals of the Reformation and the Renaissance. A single technological innovation had contributed to the total reshaping of the continent.

This conclusion is taken from a literary analysis essay about Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein . It summarizes what the essay’s analysis achieved and emphasizes its originality.

By tracing the depiction of Frankenstein through the novel’s three volumes, I have demonstrated how the narrative structure shifts our perception of the character. While the Frankenstein of the first volume is depicted as having innocent intentions, the second and third volumes—first in the creature’s accusatory voice, and then in his own voice—increasingly undermine him, causing him to appear alternately ridiculous and vindictive. Far from the one-dimensional villain he is often taken to be, the character of Frankenstein is compelling because of the dynamic narrative frame in which he is placed. In this frame, Frankenstein’s narrative self-presentation responds to the images of him we see from others’ perspectives. This conclusion sheds new light on the novel, foregrounding Shelley’s unique layering of narrative perspectives and its importance for the depiction of character.

If you want to know more about AI tools , college essays , or fallacies make sure to check out some of our other articles with explanations and examples or go directly to our tools!

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Your essay’s conclusion should contain:

  • A rephrased version of your overall thesis
  • A brief review of the key points you made in the main body
  • An indication of why your argument matters

The conclusion may also reflect on the broader implications of your argument, showing how your ideas could applied to other contexts or debates.

For a stronger conclusion paragraph, avoid including:

  • Important evidence or analysis that wasn’t mentioned in the main body
  • Generic concluding phrases (e.g. “In conclusion…”)
  • Weak statements that undermine your argument (e.g. “There are good points on both sides of this issue.”)

Your conclusion should leave the reader with a strong, decisive impression of your work.

The conclusion paragraph of an essay is usually shorter than the introduction . As a rule, it shouldn’t take up more than 10–15% of the text.

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    Revised on July 23, 2023. An essay outline is a way of planning the structure of your essay before you start writing. It involves writing quick summary sentences or phrases for every point you will cover in each paragraph, giving you a picture of how your argument will unfold. You'll sometimes be asked to submit an essay outline as a separate ...

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    Step 2: Pick one of the things you wrote down, flip your paper over, and write it at the top of your paper, like this: This is your thread, or a potential thread. Step 3: Underneath what you wrote down, name 5-6 values you could connect to this. These will serve as the beads of your essay.

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    Again, we'd recommend sticking with standard fonts and sizes—Times New Roman, 12-point is a standard workhorse. You can probably go with 1.5 or double spacing. Standard margins. Basically, show them you're ready to write in college by using the formatting you'll normally use in college.

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