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?