Think of the essay as the face of your application. An application without an essay is a statistic—just another faceless person in a crowd. An application with a poorly written essay does not give admissions officers the chance to care about you. Use simple psychology: make them feel that they know you, and it will be harder for them to reject you. Make them know you AND LIKE YOU, and they might accept you despite your weakness in other areas. Understanding the importance of the essay is a necessary first step toward perfecting your application. If you are normally a procrastinator, you should understand that your success depends entirely on the amount of time and effort you put into the essay writing process. If all of this has you sweating, you can relax now. Taking this process seriously is the first step. This course will help you get through the other steps.

Admissions essay questions tend to be very broad and difficult to tackle. Yet, it is imperative that you actually answer the question in your essay. It should go without saying, but if your essay does not address the question, then everything you learn in the rest of this course is for naught.

While looking at your application, you are probably asking yourself: “Why in the world are these admissions people asking me this question? What do they want me to write about?” While there is no single answer to either of these questions, there is some reason behind the most popular questions posed by applications.

Continue on for Question-Specific Strategies on the most common application questions and Sample Essays with comments by admissions officers.

Who will be reading your essay?

Many admissions officers will be just a few years out of college. You don’t have to write something in a stilted and impersonal fashion to appeal to a tenured professor of 40 years.

The readers of your essay will also reflect the culture at the law school to which you are applying. Write an essay that would appeal to them. You want to be appealing and likable. They will resent applicants who sound arrogant or overly confident. They want to see that you are a real human being who they could relate to. It’s a good idea to test your essays on recent graduates of your target law schools to get a feel for the right tone and content.