“Are there any significant experiences you have had, or accomplishments you have realized, that have helped define you as a person?”

“Are there any significant experiences you have had, or accomplishments you have realized, that have helped define you as a person?”

This is the essay question in the College Application of the Ateneo de Manila University this 2012.

How do you best answer such as a question? First, you may do so either in English or Filipino, but never in a mixture of both. Decide on which language you can express your answer more fluently and work on your essay from there. Start writing your essay now, so that you have time to make it your best written work before the deadline for submission of applications.

Here are some practical tips on writing a college application essay:

  1. On a blank sheet of paper, write down all the facts, ideas, concepts, etc. you feel should be included in your answer. You may do this through a mind map, applying the techniques we taught you during the review program.
  2. Organize your ideas in the order in which they should appear. You don’t have to rewrite your notes into a detailed outline–you can number each note according to where you want to place it.
  3. Compose your first paragraph, working on it just as long and hard as you would do on term papers. It should summarize and introduce the key points you will make in your essay. This is where superior essay answers are made or broken.
  4. Write your essay.
  5. Reread your essay and, if necessary, add points left out, correct spelling, grammar, etc.
  6. Ask an older sibling or relative, your parents, an English teacher you know, or a professional tutor to read your essay. Ask for their feedback and comments. Improve and rewrite your essay according to their recommendations, if necessary.
  7. Read your final work aloud to yourself. Refine the sections that do not “sound” as good as you intend.
  8. Submit the most neatly handwritten or computer-printed final essay on an A4-sized bond paper, as specified on the Ateneo college application form.

(Note: Although a computer-printed essay looks neater, a handwritten one is fine. In fact, this shows that you actually wrote the essay yourself and serves as good practice for handwriting the on-the-spot essays in the actual Ateneo College Entrance Test or ACET and other admission tests).

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