Writing Tip #2: Structure and Grammar

November 28, 2019

After you have thought of your ideas and planned them on paper, it is time to start writing! Because the admissions committee includes people from different countries who speak different languages, it is important to write clearly and accurately. How do we do that?

First of all is structure. Because you are writing short responses to these questions, you do not need to worry about long introductions, paragraphing, etc. The structure for your responses is quite simple, actually: Present your main idea, explain it, and give a real life example (if relevant). Connect your sentences using linking words / phrases like (“In addition,” / “On top of that,” / “However,” / etc.) but don’t overuse them. 

Secondly is grammar and vocabulary. You are writing to a committee of experts who expect you to communicate your ideas clearly and precisely. Don’t use grammar structures that you are not comfortable with. This may cause more mistakes which will make your ideas less clear. Use a thesaurus to help you find precise vocabulary but don’t try to use fancy words that you don’t understand. Make sure you understand the meaning of the words that you choose and that they are not too complicated.

Finally use spell check and grammar check in Microsoft Word or Google Docs. Use a grammar checking website like Grammarly.com to do a final check for common mistakes. Ask a friend or teacher to check for any mistakes. Take a 30 minute break then re-read your own responses to find any little grammar mistakes.

In summary: 

  • Use a simple structure – Present your main idea, explain it, and give an example if relevant.
  • Don’t write long introductions and conclusions – just get straight to the point.
  • Use grammar and vocabulary that you are comfortable with. Don’t try to use complex language that you don’t understand, just to show off.
  • Use spell check, grammar check, friends, teachers, and yourself to check for mistakes before submitting.

Sample question: “Which of the following motivates you the most: good grades, deep knowledge, or a high salary? Why?”

How to answer the question: In your first sentence, clearly say which of these three factors motivates you the most. This should only take one sentence. For the next 4-5 sentences, explain why this motivates you more than the other factors. Most of your paragraph should be explaining why this factor motivates you the most, not explaining why the other factors don’t motivate you. In your last sentence you might want to give a real-life example. Perhaps there is a person you know who has the same attribute as the one that you chose? Perhaps you could use yourself as an example and show how this attribute has made you successful? 

Overall, focus most of your paragraph on explaining why this attribute motivates you, not describing your future goals.