Think you can’t shorten your college essay to fit the word limit? Nonsense!
At Wow Writing Workshop, we’ve never seen a college application essay or grad school personal statement weakened by the editing process. Here are five simple tips for trimming your stories without compromising content.
1. Before you begin editing, open a new document. Instead of cutting and pasting your original essay, print it out and retype it so you can really see your work. You will be more likely to notice redundancies, passive voice and unnecessary words.
2. Now search for adverbs. These include “very” and many “ly” words, such as really, extremely, completely and absolutely. Highlight them. Make sure you really need them. Take out the rest. You can always put them back later.
3. Cut helping verbs and replace them with shorter, active descriptions. Example: Replace“is going to be attending” with “will attend.”
4. Delete “to be” verbs. Rather than saying “I am a voracious reader,” try “I read voraciously.”
5. Use active voice when you can. Start by turning some nouns into verbs: “I concluded” is better than “I came to the conclusion.”
When you are done editing, don’t forget to proofread. Read your essay out loud; read it backward. Whatever you do, don’t rely on spell check. You can tell a great story in a few hundred words.
This blog post was originally published on StudentAdvisor.com.
Kim Lifton is president of Wow Writing Workshop. Wow offers standardized test writing workshops, classroom and online college essay workshops, and Wow Online – College Essay, the first self-guided online tutorial for college application essay writing.