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Do Essay Questions Require An Actual Essay

In 300 words or fewer, write on one of the two essay topics below. In addition to writing on your chosen topic, upload an audio file, video, image, or document you have created that is meaningful to you and relates to your essay. Above your essay, include a one-sentence description of what you have submitted.

  • What do you most enjoy learning?
  • Reflect on your engagement with a community to which you belong. How do you feel you have contributed to this community?

Please limit your upload to the following file types: mp3, mov, jpeg, word, pdf. Note that advanced editing of audio/video/image/documents is not necessary. While we are not providing limits to the length of the material you upload, the Admissions Office may not have time to review the entirety of your submission. Sometimes, less is more.

Uploads provided via the Coalition Application will be reviewed by the Admissions Office only. If you wish to submit material that may be evaluated by Yale faculty, please see our Supplementary Material instructions.

Optional Engineering and Computer Science Essay

If you selected one of the computer science or engineering majors, please tell us more about what has led you to an interest in this field of study, what experiences (if any) you have had in computer science or engineering, and what it is about Yale’s program in this area that appeals to you. (Please answer in 500 words or fewer.)

4 things to do before you start writing an essay

As tempting as it might be to just launch into the process of writing, there are important steps to take before actually setting pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard, as it were). These four steps in essay preparation should give you a solid footing before you start the essay-writing process.

1. Plan out your time

Plotting out a schedule for how you plan to approach writing the essay is a crucial first step. You will want to set aside time for effective brainstorming, as well as time for doing the appropriate research. You should also set aside plenty of time for the actual writing of the essay, making sure to leave a one-day gap between first and second drafts.

For an example schedule, see ‘How to plan time for essay writing’.

2. Understand the essay question

This might sound obvious, but grasping the full implications of the essay question or prompt is an important part of the process. Make sure that you set time aside to explore the meaning of the question and think about what you are being asked to do.

Another helpful way to approach an essay question is to break it down. For instance, a standard essay question might include words like analyze, contrast, and illustrate. Spelling out the meaning of these words may help in properly exploring the essay question; for instance, you might think about ‘breaking down an issue into its main features and looking at them in detail’ instead of just ‘analyzing’.

For more of these common essay words and how to better understand them, see the list on ‘How to understand the essay question’.

3. Plan and execute your research

Your research for an essay topic should be systematic rather than general. In other words, you should not worry about learning everything that has to do with the subject of your essay. You should target the information that is relevant to the essay question.

Deciding how much research is necessary for the essay is a major consideration. How many books or articles will you need to read? What sorts of online resources will you need to explore? Are there audio/visual sources that you will need to locate?

You will also want to consider what sort of primary sources you might need, and whether or not you should set aside time for gathering original data or planning museum/gallery visits.

For a list of specific research tactics, see ‘How to do research for an essay’.

4. Organize your material

At this point, you have finished with your research, and have collected all the material needed to write the essay. However, before you begin you should take a moment to step back and re-evaluate the essay question or topic. Consider your approach to the question, the main themes or ideas that are emerging, the arguments you can pursue, and the kind of evidence that you need.

Another important step is outlining the structure of the paper. You are probably aware that an essay needs an introductory paragraph, a main section, and a conclusion, but that basic format should be expanded upon in your specific essay plan. Think about creating an outline of headings for the main section based on the different themes and points you plan to touch on. You might also consider adding drafting notes under these headings to help you once you begin writing.

For more tips on how to approach outlining your essay, see ‘How to organize material for your essay’.

Next steps

Of course, planning is important, but the actual writing is, too. Visit ‘Writing essay drafts’ and ‘Top tips for writing better essays’ for further help.

  • The opinions and other information contained in OxfordWords blog posts and comments do not necessarily reflect the opinions or positions of Oxford University Press.

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