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Essay Tips Part II: Formatting & Editing

Now that you have outlined your essay and completed the first draft, you can celebrate the the next step with these tips for formatting, editing, and proofreading to make sure your essay is PREPPED for excellence.

We frequently receive formatting and style questions from students about the scholarship application essay. While we do not require the essay to use any specific style, such as APA or MLA, our readers do expect you to follow basic essay formatting. This includes, but is not limited to, the following:
• Writing in complete sentences
• Creating appropriate paragraphs
• Ensuring that the essay flows cohesively

This means not answering the three parts of the essay with bullet points or fragments. For example, if your educational goal is to complete a Bachelor’s in Early Childhood Education and teach on your reservation, it is not recommended to format your answer like this:

• Educational Goals: BA in Early Childhood Education, plan to teach on the reservation

Instead, use full sentences and allow your personality and passions to come forward, like this:

It is my dream to complete my Bachelor’s in Early Childhood Education in order to teach the next generation of leaders on my reservation. I believe that foundational life skills can be taught at a young age, and I want to be a part of empowering these learners through my degree.

Once you have typed out your entire essay, the real fun can begin. With a solid edit and thorough proofreading process, you will be amazed at how polished your essay becomes.

Proven tips to ensure a successful editing process can be easily remembered by being PREPPED. PREPPED stands for Passion, Readability, Every Question, Punctuation and Grammar, Printout Spellcheck, Examples, and Double Take. Here’s how to use this checklist to finish those final touch-ups and tweaks to make it your best essay yet:

Passion: Read over your essay and ask yourself if your passions are evident in your writing. Are you writing something because you think it is what the readers want to hear or are you genuinely passionate about your goals and dreams?
Readability: Does your essay flow? Are the paragraphs and thoughts laid out in a cohesive way that leads the reader through your essay from start to finish? Are there any sentences that sound awkward or out-of-place? Are they necessary and if so, where could they be better situated?
Every Question: Did your essay completely answer each of the three questions? Does it include a solid introduction and a clean conclusion?
Punctuation and Grammar: Is your grammar on track? Did you place commas in the correct spots? Do your possessive nouns include the apostrophe properly? Have you used the correct form of commonly misused words, such as they, they’re, their and affect, effect?
Printout Spellcheck: To avoid submitting an essay that says “Richard is my best fried,” as even Microsoft Word will not catch that error, print out a copy of your essay and perform a manual spellcheck. In addition, read your work out loud; you will be surprised how many grammar, punctuation, and spelling mistakes you can catch that way!
Examples: Did you provide specific examples to better explain your statements? Are these examples relevant to the essay questions and the point you are trying to make? Do they make sense in the context of your essay?
Double Take: Now that you have gone through the finer details of editing and proofreading, ask a friend, instructor, tutor, or family member to read through your essay. Ask them to use the PREPPED checklist to ensure you have included all the necessary parts. Once they have read it over and provided feedback, edit your essay again to reflect any changes and go through this checklist one last time.

Congratulations! You are now PREPPED and your essay is ready for submission!