Writing

We found 61 articles

The puzzle pieces of an argument
When learning about argumentative writing, my students regularly freeze. The terms claim, reasoning, evidence, and explanation all appear to be the same. They are unsure where to start and where to end. So let’s break it down together.
Three tips for writing a persuasive essay
At some point in your academic career, you’ll likely have to write an essay where you argue for or against a specific point of view. This may be for a standardized test or for a class you’re taking, and it’s important to always follow the directions that are specific to that assignment. Still, I’m going to offer some advice about writing ...
Finding your why for your medical school statement
Applying to medical school is one of the most involved application processes that anyone can go through. The application cycle feels overwhelming. As I near the end of medical school, I can share some lessons to help you through one of the best and hardest experiences I have gone through. 
Application essays: the power of story
The blank page can be a daunting place for even the most experienced writers, and application essays can be particularly stressful. How do I encapsulate myself in something like six hundred words? What do I need to come across about myself to the reader? And how do I best convey it? It can feel like a tall order, I know. 
Med school application: tips from a former Yale Med admissions committee member
What do medical school admissions committees look for? How can an applicant truly stand out? Below are tips with specific examples on how to craft a successful application from an insider’s perspective. 
How to stand out as a medical school applicant
You’ve worked for several years to ready yourself for applying to medical school. Perhaps you’ve taken gap years to beef up your experiences or made a career change. But as you stand on the verge of applying to medical school, one question looms: will it all be enough? 
Academic inconsistencies, interruptions, and Institutional Actions
Are you applying to medical school and have inconsistencies, interruptions, or institutional actions you need to address in your application? Well, let's start with some definitions:
Why are you applying to our school? How to answer this common prompt.
Nearly every secondary application will include this question: "Why do you want to attend our school?" A unique answer can tip the scales towards acceptance, but this question can be one of the most time-consuming to answer since your response needs to be tailored to individual schools and thoughtful. The reason medical schools care so deeply ...
Secondaries: diving into the diversity prompt
Diversity has become an increasingly important factor in medical school admissions.  The future of medicine requires a diverse workforce with strong cross-cultural competencies; for instance, medical school curriculums have increasingly expanded testing on cultural sensitivity and communications [1].  Clinical research has shown that culturally ...
Make the most of your AMCAS Work and Activities
If you’re anything like me, you’ve been repeatedly told that your personal statement is one of the most important pieces of your American Medical College Application Service (AMCAS) application. It surely is important, and thus deserves much consideration and careful attention, but don’t let it overshadow the equally demanding Work and Activities ...
The dreaded “P” word
What’s the most dreaded letter that could appear on a transcript? I’ll wager that it’s not a “B,” or, gulp, a “C”, but a “P” as in “plagiarist.” In fact, if Hester Prynne were a 21st century student, instead of the protagonist of Nathaniel Hawthorne’s 19th century novel The Scarlet Letter, she’d probably be less concerned about having the letter ...
Good writers start as good readers
Writing is a conversation. Whether you anticipate your audience to be a friend, a panel of scientists, a room full of legislators, the owner of a pizza shop, the divine universe, or oneself, to write is to put forth one’s wish to be heard. By extension, to read is to be in the position of the listener. Just as we learn to speak and to express ...
Start early: tips for medical school personal statements
There are multiple pieces to the American Medical College Application Service (AMCAS). The one that most people dread, if you’re anything like me, is writing your personal statement. Thinking about personal statements for medical school can be stressful. You might find yourself asking: what do they want to know? 
Where ideas come from
A lot of people who sit down to write a story are worried they don’t have any ideas. They think people who do have ideas are very special, or different in some way to people who don’t. It’s for this reason that authors are so often asked where they get their ideas from. The people asking think that the author will reveal the magical secret of ...
Why you should join a writing circle
Whether you’re pitching a concept over email to your boss, working on a personal statement for an application, or scribbling in a personal journal, you write on a daily basis. Often, the quality of your writing is key; it can be the make-or-break factor between your stories or thoughts being compelling and understandable. Students and peers ask me ...
Writing a personal statement for dental schools
Is what I’m writing too personal or not personal enough? Should I be writing more about teeth?  How do I shorten my personal statement without omitting important details? Am I even answering the prompt!?
How to streamline a draft
One way to make sure your writing is clear (beyond writing "good sentences") is to take a look at the content of your paragraphs. The technique I'm going to detail in this post is perfect for a first draft, but can be used for final drafts too. I like to use this method when I need to cut some words to make a paper shorter, or before and after a ...
How to plan and organize historical research
Designing and executing historical research for a short essay, seminar paper, or thesis can be daunting. How do you find a primary research question, and how do you know which sources will help you answer this question? How do you read and take notes on sources once you've found them?
How to ask for feedback that will actually improve your writing
We’ve all received feedback on our writing that just wasn’t very useful. Maybe you wrote a paper for class and received back a list of grammar and spelling mistakes that you’ll never look at again. Maybe you showed your personal statement to three different people and were confused when you received three contradictory pieces of advice for ...
How to write a personal statement if you’re changing fields
Your personal statement must answer the crucial question of any graduate school application: Why are you a perfect fit for a program? To demonstrate that fit, many students craft an academic arc that traces their undergraduate experiences to their current application. But what if your path is more jagged? After switching from an undergraduate ...
How to write a diversity statement for law school admissions
Diversity statements for law school are optional. No really, they truly are optional! The purpose of a diversity statement is to explain to admissions how your past diverse experiences have contributed to your personal and professional growth. A diversity statement is not a personal statement. Personal statement focuses on why you want a law ...
Breaking down the common app personal statement
The common app personal essay can seem like a daunting task to tackle. Not only that, misconceptions abound about how to write this "all-important" essay and what to put in it. Not to worry - Cambridge Coaching is here to dispel these common misconceptions and give you some tools to start your writing on the right foot!
How to write a personal statement for doctoral/masters programs in the arts and sciences
Writing an academic personal statement for a doctoral or masters program in the arts and sciences is different than writing a college personal statement. Departments will assume that anyone interested enough to apply to graduate school (and spend, for a doctoral program, five to seven-plus years studying) is sufficiently enthusiastic about the ...
Tackling the AP English Language and Composition essays: part 1
More than any other test, the AP English Language and Composition Exam is dominated by essays. Three timed essays—the Synthesis Essay, Rhetoric Essay, and Argument Essay—will take up most of your time on the exam, and count for more than fifty percent of your score. In this three-part guide, I’ll walk you through the process of writing timed ...
How to choose the right college essay topic
Choosing the right topic for your college application essay can feel daunting. How are you supposed to make yourself stand out from the crowd? What are you supposed to do if you’re just “normal”? How can you say anything meaningful about yourself in only 650 words?
What I learned about the writing process from bread baking
Working from home means I can adapt myself to the capricious schedule of bread making. Dough waits for no one (and it will not rise more quickly if prodded!). I’ve loved baking since childhood, but I discovered bread more recently.
How to write the statement of purpose for humanities and social science PhD programs
Sometimes also referred to as a personal statement or statement of objectives, this 1,000-2,000-word document is a key part of your application to PhD programs. The faculty reads hundreds of these essays, so, for their benefit and yours, keep your statement clear and simple. There are three essential questions that need to be answered in this ...
Editing for parallelism: one writing lesson from the proverb
When I teach my students to become their own editors, I often tell them to be on the lookout for opportunities to use parallelism. Parallelism is the repetition of the same grammatical structure in successive parts of a sentence. (Grammatical structure is just a fancy way of saying some combination of nouns, verbs, and other parts of speech.)
A comprehensive guide to AMCAS: getting started on the primary application
You’ve decided to apply to medical school. Congratulations- that’s a huge step! How do you organize everything you’ve done in the past few years into a couple hundred words on your primary application? My goal is for this post to serve as a comprehensive resource as you organize yourself for a writing marathon this cycle. Take a deep breath- you ...
How to fit you into your personal statement
The question “what do you like to do for fun?” has always stressed me out. As someone who preaches work-life balance and champions new experiences, I like to imagine myself as the type of person who would quickly rattle off an impressive and well-rounded list of hobbies and activities. The truth of the matter is that each time I am confronted with ...
Authentic and vulnerable reflection in your college personal statement
The personal statement is one of the most important factors in your application. But in the end, it’s your story. Here’s the secret: it doesn’t matter what you write about; what matters is how you write it. If you write astutely and creatively, and if the story is yours, your essay will be unique and unforgettable.
Law school admissions: drafting the personal statement
The personal statement – that famous, infamous even, stress-inducing 500-750 words. What separates you from the law school of your dreams. Pages of scribbled down notes and back of the napkin insights into who you really are. Here are a few pieces of advice to help get you through it.
Top 5 pitfalls to avoid when writing the supplemental “Why college X?” essay
Many colleges require students to write school-specific supplemental essays. These are usually some variation of what I call the “Why Us?” prompt. For instance, Yale asks, “What is it about Yale that has led you to apply?” and Columbia requires 300 words on, “Please tell us what you value most about Columbia and why.”
Deciding on the diversity statement for law school admissions
Law school applicants typically see an opportunity for more – another essay, another letter of recommendation, a supplemental report – and jump at it. The more the better, right? Another opportunity to show off writing skill, or have a professor brag about your Greek mythology paper from junior year.
4 ways to beat writing anxiety on the personal statement
Writing is a daunting task. To transform your nebulous thoughts into a linear string of words requires a special kind of concentration. And when it comes to writing personal essays, like those required for most undergraduate and graduate applications, you are asked to not only concentrate but also be introspective. It’s no wonder that many of us ...
How to write with clarity and brevity
1. Harshly criticize everything you write as you write it Ask yourself: is this sentence necessary? Could it be five words instead of ten without losing meaning? Is it a digression into something you find interesting useful, or a distraction?
How to write a successful personal statement
The personal statement is an integral part of a job or school application because it showcases the applicant’s personality in an intimate way. The resume is a list of objective accomplishments and successes that the applicant has earned, but the personal statement highlights passion and aspirations that cannot be listed in simple bullet points. ...
Writing a thesis and topic sentences in your personal statement
Every applicant who needs to write a personal statement struggles with structuring their personal statement.  It is hard enough to muster the courage to brainstorm your most salient life experiences on paper; now, the most important part is structuring your personal statement with your thesis and topic sentences.
How to write a diversity essay for law school
In addition to a personal statement, many law schools also encourage applicants to submit a supplementary “diversity” statement. Applicants are often confused about how to approach a diversity essay, as law schools provide significantly more leeway and less guidelines in terms of the type of content they are looking for. Often, applicants forgo ...
Staying ahead of the curve: secondary essay pre-writing strategies
Let’s be frank: completing the primary application component of the AMCAS or the AACOMAS requires a big initial push. While everyone deserves a moment to breathe and collect themselves after this first major hurdle, it would be a mistake to let the impending flood of secondaries surprise you. In fact, there is no reason not to be prepared for the ...
The power of anecdote: creative strategies for academic writing
Many of the freshmen I instruct at CUNY enter the first few sessions of my Expository Writing class wearing metaphorical top hats and monocles, armed with—and comforted by—the five-paragraph essay structure and other basic compositional building blocks. College-level essay writing, in their understanding, requires a stuffy, exacting formality—a ...
To write a memorable college essay, tell a story
Essays Without Concrete Information Are Quickly Forgotten As I regularly tell students in my AP English classes, essays full of generalizations aren’t worth the paper they are written on.  An essay that fails to include concrete examples of the concept under discussion is forgotten the moment the reader reaches the end—if, indeed, the reader gets ...
Five elements of a killer graduate school essay
So you’ve taken the GRE/GMAT/TOEFL, got your recommendations lined up, and picked your list of top schools. Now comes the part some people get really nervous about: translating your story into a really powerful application essay that convinces the admissions committee that they just have to have you. Below are five key elements of a strong ...
How to draft a college personal statement in 4 easy steps
There is no use beating around the bush: drafting your personal statement is one of the most challenging components of the college application.  Even the most confident writers struggle to distill their identity within the bounds of a word count. The personal statement requires serious introspection about your life and long-term goals, and thus ...
How to write an excellent history paper
I love the film Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure and I've seen it more times than I can count. It is about two teenagers on the brink of failing high school, unless they ace their final history exam. The Hollywood twist? The protagonists acquire a time machine that allows them to travel through different eras of history. Throughout the film, ...
Essential components to the personal statement: how to tell your story
Sharing your story in a clear, compelling way is an important skill that will come in handy for the rest of your life, from writing personal statements to presenting yourself in interviews. It’s also a skill that’s not often emphasized in high school and college English classes, where literary analysis is highly prized. How can you hone this skill?
The tools for success on the USMLE step I exam
In this blog post, I’ll be covering an extremely important part of your USMLE step I preparation: materials. In thinking back to my Step I preparation, I realized that I needed four specific tools: primary sources, a tool to retain information, questions, and a tool for self-evaluation. The specific implementation of this doesn’t matter very much, ...
Solving a mystery: a new way to think about writing a research paper
Research papers are a staple of many high school and college history classes, and indeed are miniature versions of the work real historians do. If you’re a history nerd like me, nothing excites quite like historical research.
A guide to 4 medical school secondary application question types
If you’re applying to medical school this cycle and were able to get your primary application in by the end of June, July puts you in the first (of many) waiting game. As you are refreshing the AMCAS page to check the status of your primary application, you can make use of the downtime to prepare yourself for secondaries. Depending on how many ...
Statement of purpose vs. personal statement: knowing the difference
If you’re applying to graduate school, then you might remember the headaches of that application process that you encountered many years ago. Maybe you struggled to decide on a topic for the personal statement, maybe you debated which extracurriculars were worth listing, or maybe you were torn between taking the ACT or SAT. But for all the ...
Acing the GRE essay, part I: ingredients of a great GRE issue essay
GRE students often approach the issue essay wondering, “I know what good writing was in college, but what does the GRE want from me?” The short answer is that ETS sums up scoring criteria in rubric form and shares sample essays that show exactly what they want. The better answer is that they want to test you on certain key elements of a successful ...
The SAT essay dissected: a step-by step guide
For many students, the SAT essay is one of the most challenging parts of the exam. The short length of time means that you don't have the ability to develop a strong, well thought-out, complex essay. Fortunately, similar to other sections on the SAT, you can succeed by taking a methodical approach, and after some practice, this will come naturally.
How to answer 'tell us about yourself' on a secondary application
Even though this seems like it should be a “gimme” question (after all, what do you know more about than yourself?), many applicants consider this to be one of the toughest questions on a medical school secondary. Aside from being very broad, many people just find it uncomfortable to sell themselves, recognizing that there’s a fine line between ...
How to write a compelling personal statement
Hello, dear readers! Today, I will be talking about college admissions essays, and sharing with you some ways to help maintain perspective during the writing process. At first blush, the college admissions essay seems a very particular piece of writing—it is a hybrid form of personal narrative, argumentative prose, epic poem, and impassioned plea. ...
The 'why do you want to apply to our college?' admissions essay
One of the great (and few) advantages that applicants today have over their predecessors is the near-universal acceptance of the Common Application. Instead of having to grimly grind out a dozen colelge essays on a multitude of head-numbing topics, applicants can now take the time to polish their main essay to a high shine. The unacknowledged side ...
Writing samples for PhD applications
People often ask me what I did to get into my graduate program and assume that I must have scored very well on the GRE and probably worked with a GRE tutor.  What they don’t know, and what every potential PhD applicant in the humanities should know, is that top GRE scores are not usually the most important component of a successful application.
Help with midterm season & exam essays
Need writing help? It’s midterm season, so I am here with tips about writing exam essays. 
The expository writer: an introduction
Welcome to "The Expository Writer," a series of posts dedicated to the process of writing expository essays Over the next weeks, we will be thinking aloud in this space about every granular step of writing an expository essay, as well as different writing strategies that work for different people. While an expository essay has to hew to certain ...
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