At some point in the admissions' process, your child is going to have to write an essay sometimes referred to as The Writing Sample. Here's how to cope with that challenge.
At some point in the admissions' process, your child is going to have to write an essay otherwise known as The Writing Sample. Don't be unduly fazed by this requirement. It is simply one more piece of the private school admissions puzzle. Interestingly enough, writing samples are often part of the admissions process for college and graduate school. Learning how to write well at a young age will benefit her in the future in a great many ways.
What is the Purpose of the Writing Sample?
Very simple really. All the school wants to do is determine how well your child can express herself in her writing. Many schools will split this part of the application up into a series of questions. The Madeira School application
, for example, asks her to answer five questions in Part 2. By the way, Part 2 of Madeira's application is to be completed by the candidate. This is very important. The school wants to hear what your child has to say. Not what her uncle or father has to say. One thing you must never do, no matter how tempted, is to use the services of an essay writing company such as EssayEdge
. Most of the time it isn't possible anyway, because the two places where an essay is required are on the SSAT test itself and during the interview at the school. So, put that thought out of your mind right now. The school wants to hear what your child thinks, it wants to see how she writes and all in her own words, not somebody else's.
Practice Makes Perfect
The secret to writing effortlessly is to practice as much as you can. Encourage your child to keep a journal. Show her how to write a blog. Get her to write. Every day ideally. Show her how to model her writing after the best examples. Yes, that means that she needs to read great literature. As in books. Don't just watch the movie version. Get in the habit of setting aside time for reading. Make it an enjoyable experience with no distractions such as your iPod or TV on in the background. If you haven't bought a Kindle for her, do so. She'll take it everywhere with her and begin to read voraciously.
Tips for Writing
Your daughter is going to be nervous. Tell her not to fuss about grammar and syntax. If she has those skills, then she needs to use them. It's more important for her to express herself. The school wants to see and feel the real her, not some persona which she thinks they want to see. She is unique. Let that uniqueness shine. Remember: the writing sample or essay is merely one more piece of the admissions puzzle. But it is an important part of that puzzle. Give it some thought and preparation and your child will be fine.
Some Practical Advice
Allison Clark makes an important point in How to Write a Private High School Application Essay Worth Reading
when she states: "The biggest mistake students make when writing an essay is that they forget who their audience is. Your audience, be it a teacher, an administrator, or an admissions committee, has likely read hundreds if not thousands of student’s admissions essays.
This means that you are going to have to do more than throw in a few SAT words to impress them. The key to writing an essay worth reading is writing an essay that has not been written before. It needs to be your own story, not the story you think they want to hear."
The question I have to write a high school admission essay, any tips? on Quora prompted a useful answer from Sophia V. Hegedus on the staff of the University of Minnesota School of Public Health:
"A2A. I agree with the other writers here. Be yourself! Now- enough of the corny- you need to demonstrate how you will contribute to this school. Take a paper, and start brainstorming (or a whiteboard at school) all experiences, or stories where you demonstrated unique qualities of character. For example, perhaps you demonstrated leadership by helping another student in your class understand a tough concept. Maybe you are creative (this was what made me unique all through high school and college) and think of creative ways to approach problems (this is all encompassing doesn’t just have to be school). Maybe you represent a diverse body of people, and you demonstrate that in your interests. Just make sure that you are giving an argument, not a forceful, aggressive, or arrogant way, but a convincing way. Everything you write in the essay should answer the questions, make sure you follow directions! Perhaps make a flow chart- I used to laugh at flowcharts when I was in grade school I would roll my eyes and say “not this stuff again.” Then I got to college and wrote my senior thesis singularly generated from a complex flow chart-you don’t have to use the whole flow chart the purpose is to generate ideas and to make connections. In this case, you are making a flow chart that would answer all the questions by providing EXAMPLES. You do not just say that you a leader- you demonstrate you are a leader. The last crucial step is to have someone look over it and edit. Plan early and don’t wait till the last minute. You can also write for 15mn a day until it is finished- I did this in college and it works wonders. Best wishes!"
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