Most applicants – whether applying to med school, law school, business school, or any other grad school or college program – need to deal with rigid character or word limits when writing their application essays or personal statements. You may start out thinking that you have nothing to write, but generally, once applicants begin writing, they find they have too much to say!
To keep within those pesky word limits, you need to make sure you keep your writing succinct. How? Check your verbs. Poor usage of verbs creates verbosity. Effective use contributes to concision.
5 ways to manage your word limits
Here are a few techniques, followed by examples:
- Get rid of unnecessary helping verbs.
Verbose: She is going to be applying to ten medical schools. (10 words)
Succinct: She will apply to ten medical schools. (7 words)
Verbose: She is a skillful negotiator. (5 words)
Succinct: She negotiates skillfully. (3 words)
- Replace adverbs that assist prosaic verbs with a simple, expressive verb.
Verbose: He responded enthusiastically… (3 words)
Succinct: He enthused… OR He gushed… (2 words)
- Forget about “taking advantage of the opportunity to do X.”
Verbose: I took advantage of the opportunity to do research on… (10 words)
Succinct: I researched… (2 words)
- Seek the verbs in nouns.
Verbose: I came to the conclusion… (5 words)
Succinct: I concluded… (2 words)
- Minimize use of the passive voice.
Verbose: Experience A has been complemented by experience B. (8 words)
Succinct: Experience B complements experience A. (5 words)
Why these tips are so important
These editing techniques will help you trim your long-winded, verbose, never-ending essays into concise, engaging, and highly readable admissions masterpieces.
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