Even though you stayed within the word count for the scholarship essay, make sure you stay on topic and answer the question that was presented. Make sure that you don’t take a meandering approach and don’t take a strong or memorable stance. In short, the “meat” of the essay must be there. Think of it this way: sum up in one sentence what you want the reviewer to know and remember after reading your essay. Did you get that across in a clear and concise way?
Each essay should get across at least one breakout idea (aka the thesis statement) and the rest of the essay should focus on selling that point. If it’s a new, creative or off-beat idea, focus on selling and explaining that. If it’s a common idea, focus on trying to say it better than anyone else.
Here are a few more examples of what an essay writer could do wrong, without even realizing it:
- Misspellings: Misspellings are the fastest way to ensure an essay is disqualified. When combing through a stack of essays, a judge will first rule out the essays with simple misspellings. Long story short: run a spell check and have someone else you trust look over it. It’s always best to get a second set of eyes.
- Incomplete Sentences: Remember, each sentence should have a subject (someone or something) and a verb (action). Wondering if your sentence is complete? Here’s a hint: A complete sentence tells a complete thought.
- No Capitalization: It’s bad enough not to capitalize words at the beginning of a sentence, but at the beginning of a paragraph it stands out even more! Yikes!
- Missing punctuation: Make sure to have proper command over the use of commas; namely they are missing in places they should have been added and added places they are not required.
- Poor grammar and sentences that don’t make sense: Don’t use poor word choices, improper grammar and mistakes such as having too many spaces between words. Another example of poor grammar is the confusion of grammatical persons; in the beginning of your essay don’t use the first person plural (we) and toward the end, use the second person (you).
- Run-on sentences: As a rule, try to keep sentences no longer than 35 words each.
Keep these tips in mind the next time you write an essay. Remember, you don’t want to give the judges any reason to disqualify your essay right off the bat.