Report: Black & Latino Students Are Reconsidering College Education

3 Grammar Tips For Admissions Essays

When it comes to college admissions, essays play an integral role. Experts say a strong college admissions essay can easily make the difference between getting accepted and getting denied.

“At top-tier colleges, many of the candidates are already excellent students who have stellar grades, test scores, and extracurricular activities, so essays provide an additional way to differentiate candidates and understand their entire profiles and personalities,” according to CollegeVine. “As a result, essays are extremely important at these schools, even for those with stellar academics.”

But writing a strong essay can be tough—especially if writing isn’t your strong-point.  Tiffany Sorensen, a contributor at US News and tutor at Varsity Tutors, recently offered a few grammar tips on how to write the most compelling college admissions essay.


Using active voice helps make writing clearer for readers. Active voice will always lead with the subject performing an action. Here’s a good example of active voice by Grammarly:

“The dog chases the ball.”

The subject, dog, is performing the action, chase. Versus passive voice, which would say: “the ball is being chased by the dog.”

“While the passive voice has its place in writing, the active voice is usually more desirable on college applications,” Sorensen says. “Not only is it more concise, but it also reads as more powerful and proactive.”


Admissions officers read hundreds of essays per day. The best essays do more with less.

Readers — admissions counselors, in particular — like to see relative uniformity, or balance, in writing. Because these individuals often skim hundreds of essays a day, coming across a particularly long paragraph can be daunting,” Sorensen says. “So, keep your paragraphs on the shorter end of the spectrum. Try to limit them to five to seven sentences each, or fewer if your sentences are long. Your paragraphs do not all need to be the same length, but you should avoid significant differences in length that could be jarring.”


A common mistake many applicants make when writing is trying to sound formal or overly professional in their essay. And overusing the thesaurus, while helpful, can actually hurt your essay overall.

“Your essay should sound like something you wrote, but have a few sophisticated words peppered throughout it,” Sorensen says. “To that end, you may wish to consult a thesaurus a few times as you craft your essay or after you are finished. This step will help you to substitute common words for more elegant ones. However, you should not change so many words that readers would need a dictionary to make sense of your essay.”

Sources: US News, CollegeVine, Grammarly

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