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The application essay is your only opportunity to speak about yourself. Your essay should show that you have ideas, are able to think logically, and can express yourself clearly, with economy and elegance.

Clear writing is the result of clear thinking. The first and most important task is to decide what you want to say. This is a short essay. You must be highly selective. Consider carefully what two or, at most, three points you wish to impress upon the reader. Remember the nature of your audience. It is composed of people who are probably as intelligent as you are, well educated and vastly experienced in this work. Do not try to fool or second guess your reader; you will seem silly if you do. Decide which aspects of yourself you wish to present and then stick to those few points. Each paragraph should deal with one main idea, each sentence lead inevitably to the next. The logical flow of ideas should be crystal clear, with movement and progression from one sentence to the next, throughout the piece.

When you have written a first draft, start the work of refining, simplifying, and polishing. Did you say exactly what you meant and mean exactly what you said? Is any section, sentence, or word superfluous, ambiguous, apologetic, or awkward? Are your verbs strong and active? Have you removed most of the qualifiers? Are you quite sure that each activity or interest you mention supports one of your main ideas? Remember that the reader has lists of your activities and your transcript at hand. Don't duplicate information. Do not apologize. Do not lie! Do not bore your reader by whining. You are writing as an adult who wishes to join the community of physicians. You must write as an adult, a peer, and potential member of the profession.

At this point you are the application. Correctness and style are vital. Neatness counts. Keep uniform margins; you do not wish to create a crowded and breathless impression. Check and check again your spelling, the agreement of subjects and verbs and syntax. Your thoroughness demonstrates that you have learned and mastered this art and that your future faculty will not be troubled by illiteracy or sloppiness.

The technical aspects of essay writing are important. Outstanding books to consult are: On Writing Well, William Zinisser, Harper and Row; Manual of Style, University of Chicago; Elements of Style, Strunk and White, Macmillan.

Remember to think positively about yourself. You are a serious student, and a thoughtful and interesting person. You have enjoyed a splendid undergraduate education and will be an asset to your graduate program and to your chosen profession. Your beautifully prepared essay will confirm this without a doubt.


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