(Continuing my series on essays that sound like baby talk and are frequently application killers.)
This is such a common error!
Applicants so many times ask, " What does the admissions reader want?" They want the answer to their question. And too frequently you don’t provide what they want.
If the question asks you to discuss a failure, somewhere in that essay you must discuss a time when you really blew it. And then what you learned and if appropriate a nice dose of how you successfully handled a similar subsequent situation. But the starting point has to be an answer to the question posed.
If the question asks why you want to attend a given program, you need to provide specifics about that program that relate to your interests and goals. Don’t respond with an answer that could apply to all programs in your field. That is a non-answer, non-starter, and probable ding. Don’t tell them why you are more qualified than anyone else to attend their program. Just answer the question.
What if it’s an open-ended question with just general instructions, then follow the general instructions and enjoy the luxury of writing about what interests you and best presents your qualifications.
But keep that application alive. Answer the question.