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  • Writer's pictureBrooke Early

How to Write Your Personal Essay

Updated: Nov 28, 2022

A Personal Essay provides you the opportunity to stand out as an individual, allowing you to tell your unique story and how it relates to your application at a U.S. university. Personal Essays are a place you can use to discuss your subject interests, academic motivations, personal growth, interests, and experiences.

Watch this interview with Michael Goodine, an expert at helping test takers achieve success, and our CEO, Marlowe Johnson, as they talk about key factors to help you stand out when writing your personal essay!

Michael Goodine has taught TOEFL preparation classes in Paraguay, Korea, and China. He has worked as a writer and researcher for Hackers Education Group in Seoul. In that capacity, he contributed to several bestselling TOEFL and TOEIC preparation books. Currently, he teaches and writes about the TOEFL at Test Resources.


What is a Personal Essay?

A Personal Essay is a short essay where you can explain your intentions on choosing a particular university and/or why you are best suited for the program of choice. It is your opportunity to not only stand out and describe why you would be an outstanding student joining their campus community but also showcase your personal interests and what makes you unique.

Brainstorm a Plan of Action

Before you begin your Personal Essay, develop a plan, whether it is a list or a roadmap detailing topics you want to focus on. You can start by answering any of the following questions:

  • Why do you want to study abroad in the U.S.?

  • What are your specific and unique interests?

  • What subject do you want to study, and why?

  • What are your current interests and skills?

  • What are your long-term career goals?

Create a layout

This is your essay so take creative liberty with the content but setting up a layout will help with the flow of your Personal Essay. Here is a basic framework to follow:

  • Introduction

  • Your Interest in the University and Studying Abroad

  • Any skills or Experience

  • Extracurricular Interests

  • Achievements

  • Conclusion

How to write an authentic Personal Essay

This is your chance to make a clear and consistent impression. Get right to the point while enthusiastically communicating why you want to study abroad at a U.S. university!

  • Focus: Be sure to stay on topic, explain why you want to enter the program and why you would be successful at it

  • Share your enthusiasm: Don’t be afraid to explain why you’re passionate about a specific subject, and what brought you to that point

  • Show off: Now isn’t the time to be shy. Highlight your achievements and why they relate to your future success in the program

  • Showcase YOUR writing skills: You should be doing the writing to give a first-hand understanding of who you are and why you should be accepted.

Take your time

Don’t rush, take the time to think about the most important things to you, how it's shaped you into the person you are today and why it makes your personal story interesting. Reflect on an impactful experience or event that has had a significant influence on your life.

A helpful tip is to read your essay out loud to yourself and others or have them read it on their own. This helps identify any inconsistencies or mistakes within the essay. Make yourself aware of the personal essay deadline as this will help with any procrastination and will give you enough time to seek feedback from others.

We encourage you to remember to make this essay your own viewpoint, ideas, and voice. Describe your previous experiences, clarify your future goals, relate to your application, and have fun while doing so. Yes, this is an essay, but it is your chance to be creative and show off your current skills and passions!

We’ll review your Personal Essay

At EdAgree, our goal is to help you identify your path to academic success at a U.S. university. That includes helping you identify events and topics you are passionate about to include in your Personal Essay and a complete review with feedback.

Create your free EdAgree profile today to start your path to the right university for your future!

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