6 Tips for Writing a Winning Scholarship Essay

scholarship essay

Essays are the mainstay of scholarship applications, and being able to write essays that stand out and woo the reader are key to winning scholarships. Scholarship essays aren’t the typical English class essay, though. You don’t get a grade based on your work, there are no good efforts in scholarship writing; you either get the scholarship or you don’t. So, to help you be more knowledgeable and more prepared for writing scholarship essays, we’ve composed some tips that you should know before writing your scholarship essays.

Use the Correct Format

Using the correct format for your essay is crucial to having a chance at getting accepted. If your format isn’t correct, your essay may simply be rejected without being read, so it is very important that you both know what format to use and that you follow it. By default, you should follow MLA format – that is, use 12 point font, double spaced, one inch margins, Times New Roman, etc. Only if a different format is required should you not follow MLA standards.   

Know Your Audience

Research the sponsor for every scholarship essay you are writing. If you know about the sponsor, you can tailor your essay, that way you look like a better candidate for their scholarship and are more likely to be accepted. Knowing nothing about the organization leads to a genericsounding essay, which will make the reader feel less connected to you and more like you don’t care that much. Research the sponsor, use that information when planning your essay, and make them feel like you’re the perfect candidate for their scholarship.   

Outline Your Essay

Outline your essay before you start writing! This is very important for writing a well-planned, concise essay, which is exactly what you want. What you don’t want is for the reader to think that your writing is all-over-the-place and unorganized. That doesn’t make for a good impression or a winning essay, so you need to plan out your essay beforehand. This includes writing a thesis – which is the topic sentence for your entire essay – and detailing each of the main points that you will be developing to support your thesis. Not only will this help you to organize your essay, but it will make writing the essay seem less daunting. Coming up with a thesis and supporting points is the hardest part about writing any essay, so get it done and the rest will come. 

Proofread Your Essay 

This one should be obvious, but is necessary to include nonetheless. It is absolutely necessary that you have no spelling mistakes whatsoever in your essay. It needs to sound fluent and be without grammatical errors as well. This will help demonstrate to the reader that you are a skilled writer and have some merit in your writing abilities. Luckily, there are software programs, like Write!, that help you not only write the essay but also count the words and spell check them in any chosen language. 

Make Your Writing Authentic

If you really want to connect with the reader – and you do – you need to make your writing sound authentic. The feeling of authenticity is created when you write your essay using real life experiences and by using emotional diction, that way you sound like a real person telling a story, not an emotionless robot. You should write a new essay for every scholarship application; do not write a single, generic essay and then turn that in to multiple organizations. This is a perfect way to sound unauthentic, which makes the reader feel like you don’t care. It also means that your writing won’t be tailored to the organization. 

Read Example Essays

This tip may seem less obvious, and like something you’re more likely to blow off, but you really should read other scholarship essays. This is like studying for a test, or watching plays in sports to try for yourself. Finding and reading good scholarship essays will show you what you need to do to impress the reader, and sound like you really know your stuff and are deserving. Just make sure that the essays you’re studying from are good essays – you wouldn’t want to study from losing essays.

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