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How to Revise Your Written Responses For Private and Charter School Applications (with an Eye for Detail)

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Congratulations! If you’re reading this, odds are you have a few essays (also referred to as written responses) drafted for your school application. You’re aaaalmost to the finish line. The only thing that separates you from that “Submit” button is our tried and true revision process.

Our editing process is all about diligence and attention to detail. You’ve come all this way, and we know your brain is tired and all you can think about is taking your bike to the beach or reading your favorite series from cover to cover or watching 34 seasons of Survivor on Hulu. BUT YOU’RE ALMOST THERE. Don’t undercut all your hard work with a mispeeled wrod!! (See how distracting that is?!)

Follow these 3 steps to confirm that your short essays are ready for submission:

Revise for Clarity

It’s likely that the admissions officer reviewing your application has just a few minutes to read through your written responses, so simplification and brevity are key. Every word that appears on the page should be specific, memorable, and deliberate.

Scour your essay for clunky descriptions and explanations that may not make sense to a reader encountering your story for the first time. What details can you add or tweak to get your message across? Is there a way to communicate your message more succinctly?

Revise for Accuracy

Your device’s spelling and grammar check exists for a reason. Use it as a preliminary guide to help identify potential errors. That said, these tools are not foolproof and have many limitations. We know; it’s sad. Sometimes technology fails us.

Luckily for you, we live in the age of typing a few words into that search bar and accessing  the expertise of grammar snobs and language obsessives who spend their free time expounding upon the difference between “I could care less” and “I couldn’t care less” for the benefit of the lost grammatical souls of the world. When in doubt, look up the rule. And be sure to confirm proper spelling and grammar via multiple, reliable sources before you implement any suggestions from the internet’s many friendly wordsmithing “experts.”

This is also a good time to do a quick fact check and make sure any claims you make or data points you reference are correct. It’s not a bad idea to check general timelines and orders of events to make sure your story is easy to follow. Factual errors can be distracting to admissions and make you look careless and lazy.

Lastly, this is the time to check and make sure you have tried your best to answer the question you’re being asked (not the one you wish they’d asked). Often a few small tweaks will ensure a response hits the question’s target dead center, while preserving your central message.

Revise for Intrigue

As you review your work, pay attention to any missed opportunities for that it factor. Could you add a little humor to your statement? What about some crafty wordplay or engaging dialogue (space permitted)?

Before you send your written responses on their final journey to admissions, step away. When you get back, try reading them aloud. As much as you can, read your work with fresh eyes and hear it as others would hear it for the first time.

Show a trusted friend, mentor, or relative. Find an adult with a keen editing eye, a love of the written word, and an honest but supportive feedback style. Listen to their advice and adjust when necessary, but follow your gut. Other opinions are helpful for added perspective, but only you know how you want to be represented in the eyes of the admissions board, so you have the ultimate say.

Finally, In order to ensure your written responses are doing the most they possibly can to steer admissions toward a unanimous “YES!,” you’ll want to ask yourself the following questions:

  1. What are some finishing touches I can apply to increase my essay’s overall intrigue?
  2. How can I make cuts to achieve clarity and get my essay under the word limit (if applicable)?
  3. How can I ensure the accuracy of my facts, spelling, and grammar?

If you’re satisfied with your answers to all three questions, then pour yourself a glass of chocolate milk, because it’s time to submit. 🙂 Cheers!

Ready to submit your draft for revision?
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