How to Write a Winning Scholarship Essay

How to Write a Winning Scholarship Essay

Improving your writing techniques can greatly improve your chances of obtaining a scholarship!


Have a key theme

When writing a personal statement or scholarship essay, think of a theme and stick with it.  Your ideas and examples should all relate back to your main theme for a coherent answer. For example, if your strengths lie in your athletic achievement and the award you are applying for is a sports scholarship, keep all your answers related to this theme. You may speak about how you demonstrate leadership in sports (e.g. you are the captain of the team and organize weekly practices). You may think it will improve your chances by writing about all your other activities (e.g. volunteer experience at a senior home, involvement in your school’s jazz band), but this will seem irrelevant to the judges.


Pay attention to the question

Be sure to read the question carefully, ensure your answer relates back to the question, and that you are meeting the given guidelines. For example, in our Young Scholar Award application, we asked applicants to talk about “a unique achievement”. Notice that the question asks for only one achievement. Be sure to pay close attention to the question and do not add unnecessary detail.


Writing failed to show the extent of your impact

In our Young Scholar Award application, we asked applicants about their impact. One of the most common mistakes applicants made was saying how the organization they worked with “changed their lives for the better”. The question is asking about your impact on the organization, and not their impact on you.


Inefficient writing style

The available spaces that you can write in are valuable. Use it efficiently. In our Young Scholar Award application, applicants were asked about how they demonstrate leadership. Many applicants spent half a paragraph explaining what they think leadership is. It only shows to the judges the incompetency of these applicants in understanding the question. Rather, students should go straight to the point and give solid examples that demonstrate their leadership qualities.


Ineffective writing style

Some applicants try to “fill up” the available spaces with information. For example, they simply listed out all their participated activities in the past. What do you think this unorganized data would mean to the panel of judges? In fact, your writing objective is to impress your judges by organizing your information such that the most impressive and significant activities will be highlighted with details and supported data.


Proofread your work

Spelling and grammar mistakes can very easily distract the reader from your achievements. You need to articulately convey your ideas. Proofreading your own work and getting others to proofread your work will allow you to catch your own mistakes before submitting your application.


Excessive personal feelings

Highlighting significant personal experiences can help you stand out from the other applicants. However, a few applicants added too much personal feelings when answering the questions. Remember, we are not writing a fiction here. A sentence or two of personal feelings is fine for enhancing your answer with emotion elements. However, your answer to these questions should mostly contain facts and supported data.



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