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Dare to be Descriptive: The Key to an Attention-Retaining Personal Statement

Here’s a fantastic guest post from with a great approach to writing your personal statement. Enjoy!

Which of the following sounds more appealing?

I went down the block to the bakery, which smelled good, and bought a cookie that I enjoyed.

I strolled down the block as bakery fragrances wafted through the air. I then bought the best chocolate macadamia nut cookie I have ever tasted.
I think we both know the answer to this question—the more descriptive you are the better your writing. Now being descriptive does not require using a lot of words. It does require using the right words — words that show the reader what you are describing.

To write descriptively and succinctly, use active, vivid verbs. They do the heavy-lifting of descriptive, distinctive writing and transform mundane, dull passages intomemorable images. Use them to relate the excitement of a seminal moment, thedazzle of a fascinating deed, or the inspiration of an eye-opening vista.

Here are a few examples of descriptive verb usage:
BORING: I performed in my first Broadway production.
VIVID: I blew the audience away in my Broadway debut.

BORING: I ran a marathon, but was quite sore after I finished.
VIVID: Ignoring aches and blisters, I soared across the marathon finish line.

BORING: I won a chess tournament despite the odds against me.
VIVID: Despite the odds, I trounced my chess tournament opponents.

Use these examples as a guide while writing your personal statement and application essay. When you complete a paragraph, read it through and ask yourself: Have I brought my experiences to life with vivid verbs?
You have remarkable stories and thoughts to share with an admissions committee, so dare to be descriptive!

By Linda Abraham, president and founder of, the premier admissions consultancy and essay editing company that has helped applicants around the world gain admissions to over 450+ top schools since 1994.

By the way, students who use Magoosh GRE improve their scores by an average of 8 points on the new scale (150 points on the old scale.) Click here to learn more.

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