School · Writing

How To Write And Win Essay Based Scholarships

I'm not an expert by any means, but I've written my share of essays for school and scholarships.

These are my tips to increase your chances of standing out and possibly winning a scholarship.

Apply for them.

You can't win if you don't apply. Was it Einstein who said, "common sense isn't always common practice" or was it another intelligent human being? Either way, the point stands.

Brainstorm ideas.

You need to write about something. So having a couple topics to explore can't hurt. Obviously, you'll want to pick the best one and run with it.

Cut the unoriginal.

Be different, interesting. After all, sometimes you're judged on creativity or originality.

Don't repeat the essay prompt.

I'm not keen on telling people what not to do, but imagine reading 999 entries that started off by restating the prompt.

Easy reading means hard editing.

Give yourself enough time to edit your essay. At the very least, put it aside for a few days, so when you come back to your work, you see the words with fresher eyes. Even several hours between writing and editing can do wonders.

Follow the rules.

Do what's asked. Provide any necessary documentation. You might be disqualified otherwise.

Grind through it.

At times, you may feel tempted to give up. Keep going. You'll better than you think.

Help yourself.

You want to avoid sabotaging your own entry in any way. Never overlook a small detail or do something that's the opposite of smart. Answer what's asked. Fill out your contact information accurately. Review your submission for grammar and spelling mistakes.

I'm realizing this post isn't all that helpful. Go figure.

Maybe one day Herminia Chow will create useful content that isn't just spewing common sense. Today is not that day.


Writing A Research Essay  

I love writing. And I enjoy researching. But writing a research essay isn’t much fun. In fact, the entire experience is more stressful than enjoyable.

I worry about researching too much. Or not researching enough.

I fret over citations, quotations, and punctuation. 

I stress myself out because I don’t know if I’ll enough time to not only write but to edit the essay.

I’m not even at the editing stage yet, and I feel like I’ve aged ten years.


Too Much Creative Freedom

I like to have creative freedom when I’m writing but when I have too much freedom, I don’t know where to begin. Hence why I don’t start anything until a few days before something is due.

With studying, I don’t believe in cramming. With writing, I don’t believe in starting and finishing an essay in one day. So I tend to give myself enough time, not too much or too little.

Still, I shouldn’t blame creative freedom or lack thereof. I should be blaming my lazy self. But it’s easier blaming other things or people for my shortcomings.


Six Essays In Six Weeks

I’ve been procrastinating on the six essays I need to write. Funny how it works out to one being due every week. Not to mention a quiz, an article analysis, a grammar test, a take home test, a final term test, and other assessments I’m probably forgetting thrown in for good measure. My brain only has the capacity to store so much information. Similarly, I only have so much creativity. Let’s not start with my sanity, okay?

It’s overwhelming. I don’t know where to begin. I don’t know what to work on first. I don’t know how I have that many writing assignments.

For me, starting is always the hardest part. The beginning is bad for my productivity. But once I start brainstorming and writing, I tend to procrastinate less. It’s getting over that initial phase where I realize I should start and actually starting which is tough.

Also, a few days ago, I thought I only had four essays. Then earlier today I counted five. But in writing this post I finally figured out I was wrong all along. I have six essays left and they’re all due within a six week span of time.

That’s knowledge I didn’t want to acquire.

Good luck to me.


My Essay Writing Process

  1. Freak out.
  2. Freak out some more.
  3. Start to brainstorm.
  4. Generate many ideas.
  5. Hate most ideas.
  6. Pick the best worst idea.
  7. Shrug once.
  8. Scrap said idea for a better one.
  9. Try to outline.
  10. Fail to outline.
  11. Attempt to write a first draft.
  12. Edit first draft before it’s written.
  13. Write enough words to meet the word count.
  14. Delete unnecessary words.
  15. Squint at word count.
  16. Write more words.
  17. Realize there are too many words.
  18. Kill my darlings.
  19. Submit the poorly written essay.
  20. Celebrate by crying.

Forgetting How To Write Essays

I’ve forgotten how to write essays.

I only know how to write blog posts. And I can’t even do that well.

I’m supposed to have a thesis? With topic sentences to support my thesis? Then have a conclusion summarizing what I just spent several paragraphs stating?

All the while I have to write clearly, concisely, coherently?

That’s too much to ask from me.


Emails, Essays, Exams

Sometimes I wonder why I struggle more to write an email than I do an essay. 

My main issue is I want to acknowledge that I received the message and thank the sender, but I don’t want to bombard someone with another email, especially if it isn’t important or useful. 

Regardless I quite enjoy writing emails. It’s not nearly as stressful as writing an essay. Or an exam. I won’t have to deal with the latter for several more months. 

In high school I didn’t quite understand why university students got four months of summer. Now I do. 

School · Writing

On Writing Essay Based Exams

Since I wrote one essay based exam last night, I now think I’m an expert and can dole out advice.

Like so…

Answer what’s asked.

Even if you’re asked to write about a character you despise so much you wish he or she had died, write about him or her anyway. I may or may not have some anger issues I need to work out.

Use the space allotted as a guide to how much you should write.

If how many points are awarded per question, use that to your advantage as well. Use everything to your advantage, especially if you feel like you’re at a disadvantage.

Don’t write big.

It’s better to have some lines remaining than run out of space. Yes, I had extra paper in my booklet. No, I didn’t write big. I’m not that much of a hypocrite.

Note the questions that are worth the most points.

Tackle them first to ensure you have a chance at getting the majority of your marks. If they’re equal, divide your time as evenly as you can.

Fluff is fluff.

Fluff isn’t worth your writing time or the grader’s reading time. Don’t include it to begin with. Save yourself from the pain.

Be thorough but not redundant or repetitive.

Saying the same thing again and again isn’t going to help your case.

Depending on my final grade, I’ll let you know how well I did on the exam. My gut feeling is leaning towards not so well right now.

Maybe one day you’ll decide I’m very wise and my advice is worth following. Until then trust no one and nothing. Especially me and this blog.