Essay Tip: The Editing Funnel

Most of you now are — or soon will be — editing your critical application essays and personal statements. When editors review and edit your essays they go through a process I call the editing funnel. If you choose to be your own editor, you should follow a similar process.

At the top of the funnel you evaluate your essay in the context of the application. Does it add to the reader’s knowledge of you? Does it introduce the reader to a dimension not revealed in the boxes, numbers, and transcripts? If you are submitting more than one essay in your application, do they complement each other?

Going deeper into the funnel, your focus should narrow to the individual essays. Check that each essay has a clear theme and logical structure. Ensure that it addresses the question(s) posed. Finally, look for the specifics that will add life and distinctiveness to your writing and your application.

At the narrowest part of the funnel, check writing mechanics: clarity, grammar, style, word usage, spelling, punctuation, and all the nitty-gritty details of writing. You may be a little bleary-eyed at this point and almost unable to view the essay(s) objectively. To restore a little objectivity, put the draft away preferably for a couple of days; if you don’t have that much time, then at least a couple of hours. When proofing your essay, read it out loud. Doing so will slow you down and allow your ear to catch some of the little errors that your eye may miss.

Additional resources:

If you want professional editing that saves you time and guides your essay(s) through the editing funnel while maintaining your voice, please check out’s professional personal statement and application essay editing.

  • Essay

    This is an excellent way to evaluate your admission essay. The editing funnel will let you check all the necessary elements in an essay. Great!