College Essay Checklist From the New York Times
Directions: Use this checklist as a guide. Check off each item when you are sure the essay has satisfied the criteria.
Write out the prompt you are responding to:
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□ Does the essay fully and clearly address the prompt?
□ Has the writer used the prompt to come up with ideas that are unique and interesting?
□ As a whole, does the essay “work”? Does it keep the reader’s interest throughout?
□ Does the essay take any creative risks?
□ What is the overarching main idea, theme or thesis statement?
□ Does each paragraph have a main idea that further develops the overall theme?
□ Are all main ideas supported by details that are concrete, lively and interesting?
□ Does the writer stay on task and avoid unnecessary tangents?
□ Is the writer’s voice and tone consistent and interesting throughout?
□ Does the essay reveal something about the writer?
□ Does the essay have a definite beginning, middle and conclusion?
□ Are transitions in place between sentences and paragraphs, making for a smooth read?
□ Do all sentences “pull their weight”?
□ Is the essay free of grammatical, spelling and mechanical errors?
□ Does the essay communicate that the writer is a strong candidate for admission?