When you are required to answer multiple questions, there is often a strict word limit for each answer. But even though each essay is short, each one requires as much attention as long essays. The best way to approach a short essay is to write a regular, full-length essay and then cut it down. Let yourself write as long as you feel inspired, without time limits or length constraints. After you have the ideas on paper, go back and look for the pieces of gold buried under all of the words. Begin by reducing the introduction and the conclusion from one paragraph to one sentence each. Choose only the clearest, most direct parts.
Some schools require you to write a series of short essays rather than submit a single personal statement. If this is the case for you, then you should consider the impact that your essay set will have as a whole. You need to balance the structure and content of the set as much as you do within each essay individually. Yet, with these challenges come several advantages. More essays means more opportunity to sell yourself. Multiple essays give you ample space to do justice to all the different areas of your life, avoiding the pitfall of cramming too many points into one essay. And, you can take more risks being creative in one essay, while providing other traditional essays, thus appealing to readers with different tastes.
What immediately strikes the reader about this set-before even reading it-is the balance between the essays. Each answer contains only one paragraph, each of approximately equal length. The solid structure of each essay and the focus of each reflects this outward balance. Each one focuses on a completely different area of its writerâs life, another striking detail. The first focuses on his career goals, the second on his interest in history, the third on his interest in the visual arts, and the fourth on wrestling. This is a perfect example of the jigsaw puzzle approach. When put together, you have a well-rounded individual with passion, depth, and involvement in many different areas.
Some short-answer questions ask for lists of activities, jobs, or honors. There are two approaches to answering such a question: the list and the paragraph. For each, provide complete information about the items you are listing, following the same format for each list. Include the activity, your involvement, and the time commitment. Make it clear that your activities have involved responsibility and effort. And don't worry about the number of activities you list -- when it comes to quality, less is often more.