Writing the personal statement is one of the most important, yet difficult aspects of the college application process. The elusive perfect personal statement is deeply moving, expertly written, rich with details of accomplishments or inspiring life stories, and fits neatly into a 650-word limit. These constraints can leave many struggling to fit what they want to say in so few words. But what many fail to realize when writing the personal statement is that admissions officers are evaluating more than just the story you have to tell. They’re also examining your writing style and ability to convey the abstract qualities that make you the perfect candidate in an eloquent, clear way. Therefore, you should be focused on not only what you’re saying, but also how you’re saying it.
It’s crucial to acknowledge that a personal statement should contain, at its core, an argument. We don’t mean an argument in the same way you might write a debate or an SAT essay – there’s no need for a rigid evidence and analysis structure here. However, you are setting forth a case to the office of undergraduate admissions at your school of choice that you’ll contribute substantially to their community; by telling your story, highlighting your personal strengths, and displaying how you’ve grown into the person you are today, you are essentially arguing that you’re a great candidate for admission. Like any great argument, your personal statement should contain the same rhetorical strategies you would employ when trying to write a persuasive essay or speech. The difference is that the subject matter isn’t some topic your teacher assigned – it’s you!
An exceptionally written personal statement that successfully employs rhetorical strategies can elevate your application enormously; it’s an opportunity to display creativity, strong writing skills, and personal depth that can’t be conveyed through a stellar GPA or strong test scores. Additionally, a personal statement is not a piece of academic writing. It’s meant to be personal – it should give the reader as clear an idea of who you are as possible in 650 words. So don’t agonize over grammar conventions, formal speech, and populating your essay with as many vocabulary words as possible. Rather, take the opportunity to showcase your creativity and make the most of it!
While any rhetorical devices used in your essay will elevate the quality of your writing and strengthen your argument, there are some that work particularly well for the purpose of the personal statement. Below are a few of our favorite rhetorical devices and how you can use them to set your essay apart.
Conceits: A conceit is a metaphor that extends throughout the length of a piece of writing. A well-developed conceit will leave a strong impression on readers and immediately make your essay distinctive and memorable. If you can assign a metaphor to the narrative of your personal essay that you can extend throughout, it will make your essay not only more interesting to read, but also more unique – and standing out is, of course, of utmost importance in the college admissions process. For example, if you’re struggling to explain a powerful emotional experience like depression, consider using a conceit to develop the idea:
“In television and magazine advertisements, depression is often depicted as a small, feeble raincloud, showering its sufferer with negative thoughts and tiny anxieties. In reality, however, depression is more like a vast ocean; expansive, terrifying, impossibly powerful and seemingly invincible. Depression thrashes one mercilessly against the rocks one moment, only to suffocate one with silent, infinite waves the next. I spent two years of my life lost at sea, but through the turbulent journey, I have come to…”
Comparisons to natural entities like water, fire, storms, etc., work well (if you ignore clichés), but feel free to be creative; what’s most important is that whatever comparison you draw is logical and does not seem contrived, nonsensical, or immature. Consider opening and closing your essay with 2-4 sentences relating to your conceit, and make sure the tone throughout your essay is consistent too.
Anecdotes: Another engaging, memorable way to open an essay is with a personal anecdote, or story. Specific sensory details setting a scene immediately capture the reader’s interest and immerse them in your story. For instance, if you plan to write about how being captain of the varsity soccer team has shaped you, try opening your essay with a vivid description of your state of mind when you’re playing a game:
“As I sprint across the field, savoring the sensation of my cleats cutting through the earth beneath me, I notice a gap in the opposing team’s defense that’s practically begging me to take the shot. The raucous soundtrack of the game – parents screaming, players shouting to one another, children crying – fades into white noise as I focus solely on the black and white ball stained with bright green grass, the glaring red of the goalkeeper’s gloves. The moment I kick, time seems to slow and then stop entirely; the ball hangs suspended in the air for a brief moment, hanging high above the players’ heads like the sun, before grazing just past the tips of the goalkeeper’s fingers…”
Beginning essays with anecdotes heavy with sensory language like the one above provide you with an opportunity to display both your writing skills and your passion about a specific topic. Anecdotes can be intense, humorous, tragic, joyful – no matter what they describe, they are a guaranteed way to catch a reader’s attention and offer an alternative to beginning with a sentence like, “all my life, I’ve loved playing soccer.”
Anaphora: Anaphora is the repeated use of a certain word or phrase at the beginning of separate sentences or clauses. Consider the example below:
“Today, I am immensely proud of my family’s culture. Today, I can speak publicly with my parents in our native language without fear of judgment from others.”
Anaphora is extremely effective in emphasizing a specific emotion or idea. The deliberate repetition is dramatic and emotionally moving, an obvious superior alternative to the awkwardness and dullness of rewording the same idea in different ways repeatedly in order to avoid reusing the same words. Anaphora is also useful when highlighting a transition into a new mindset or environment, as in the sample above.
These are only a select few of the vast array of rhetorical devices that can be used to enhance an essay. Try browsing a list of devices and attempting to incorporate several into the latest draft of your personal statement. The greatest advantage of rhetorical devices is that they are incredibly effective in lending an essay a strong emotional appeal, also known as pathos. The ability to skillfully appeal to emotion in an essay while also clearly communicating your accomplishments and personality will be invaluable as you complete your applications.
Managing Editor at CollegeVine Blog
Anamaria is an Economics major at Columbia University who's passionate about sharing her knowledge of admissions with students facing the applications process. When she's not writing for the CollegeVine blog, she's studying Russian literature and testing the limits of how much coffee one single person can consume in a day.
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In the rhetorical analysis essay, you’ll have to write about the writing. You would think it is something complicated, but our article is ready to help. This type of writing assignment requires you to disrupt phrases and words of the author in order to find out the real sense. In such a way, you’ll distinguish the unique writing style of the author. It will be possible to define strategies which he used to interact with the reader. Only with the help of his own style combined, he can get a reaction. Persuasive methods also matter in creating an impression.
If you have to write a rhetorical analysis essay, probably you will analyze the speeches of politicians, artists or other influential figures. If you have to analyze the text, find out its strategies, and give an explanation:
- How do all of the parts of the persuasive phrases work together?
- Do they have the right effect on target audience?
Make Your Paper A+!
How to Write a Rhetorical Analysis Essay: Preparation Stage
If you want to succeed with your rhetorical analysis essay on the exam, the efficient preparation is needed. AP exam always has strict time limits. That’s why a well-conducted preparation can ensure high test score. Don’t waste your time on just reading. Take the notes! You have not much time for reading. It’s important to allocate time for analyzing before writing. If you take notes from the very beginning of your reading, it can significantly simplify the presence of analysis. It’s better for you to keep in mind such questions as:
- Who was the author of the text?
- What did he intend to say?
- Who was the reader of chosen analyzed piece?
- What was the particular purpose of the text?
- What was the expected result plus forecast?
Keep all these questions in your mind and try to give the answers. All author’s strategies and persuasive phrases will be in a full view.
If you don’t know where to get a great rhetorical analysis essay example, you can find support on this website.
SOAPSTone: What Does It Stand for in Rhetorical Analysis Example Essay?
Define your SOAPSTone. This abbreviation includes six critical elements:
- The speaker identifies author’s initials. When there are any credentials that point to the writer’s authority on the subject, you must take it into account as well. Mind that the narrator and writer might be different, so you may refer to both of them.
- The occasion is the type of the content along with its context. A student can notice a significant difference between a research paper developed for the scientific conference and a memo composed to an expert in the studied field. An essay may be written on different occasions.
- The target audience consists of your readers. The information you provide and techniques used depend on whom you wish to impress. The information may be given to other students to understand some topic. Information given to field professionals should include more facts. In other words, audience and occasion are interrelated. To present a rhetorical analysis paper to the right reader, the writer has to focus on scientists, researchers, or field experts as in the example above.
- The original purpose is all about the main point of the paper. What do you want readers to know? For what reason have you conducted a research on particular topic? Selling a product/service is the possible purpose of your article.
- The subject is simply the topic of your essay, article, or research paper.
Strategies you implement are usually defined as the tone of your information. Here is the summary of tone types:
- Diction + Tropes
- Syntax + Schemes
- Details + Lack of Details
Explaining Ethos, Logos, and Pathos on the Rhetorical Analysis Essay Example
Pathos, logos, and ethos (a.k.a. modes of persuasion) have different senses based on the beginnings of a human mind: sensual, mental and moral parts of the personality.
Logos usually appeals to logic. It communicates with the rational part of the mind. The author uses rational thinking methods to reach out to the audience and to persuade the reader using rational reasons.
“Centuries of history has taught people that there are peaceful ways to achieve mutual understanding.”
The pathos communicates through emotions. In this part of writing, the author talks with the readers’ emotions. He uses the special way of expressing feelings.
“The committee will accept your ideas as they are all based on the credible evidence from the official company’s report.”
The ethos sentences call to human’s ethics.
“Chiefs from Japan recommend this version of receipt while cooking fish!”
In every English AP exam, the text would necessarily contain at least one persuasive method. You’ll have to figure it out and analyze its effect.
10 Most Effective Rhetorical Analysis Essay Topics of All Times
Need a great topic before start working on your rhetorical analysis essay example?
- Thank People for Smoking
- What about the role of three witches in “Macbeth?”
- Analysis of the Presidential speech by Obama. What mood did it have?
- Analyze information presented in Emancipation Proclamation by Abraham Lincoln
- William Wallace Believes in His Men
- Did Martin Luther King Believe in ‘His Dream?”
- Tattoos, piercing, and rock clothing symbolize freedom and human right to choose
- Persuade students in the importance of school uniforms
- Provide an analysis of the moving speech you have personally experienced
- Analyze “The Raven” by Edgar Allen Poe
Some of these rhetorical analysis examples may generate specifically precise vocabularies to convey meaning.
Quick Help with Any Topic
Rhetorical Analysis Essay Outline
When you finish reading and analyzing, it’s time for making an outline of the analysis. Use lecture notes, find out all strategies. If we talk about the essay structure, it’s better to follow common rules and to include 5 or 6 paragraphs in your text. It is a quite reliable writing technique. Use it to satisfy the application commission/jury. Make sure that the paragraphs are approximately equal.
How to Write an Introduction to a Rhetorical Analysis Essay
Body Paragraphs of the Rhetorical Analysis Essay
Explain the thesis and persuasive statements of the author. Devote each paragraph to a particular strategy. Your successful analysis and explanation of the thesis should always answer next questions:
- What is the strategy?
- Does the strategy actually work?
- Are there any working examples of the strategy?
- What was this particular strategy used for?
- Did this strategy have an effect on the audience?
- What feeling does this strategy provoke?
Take into account also diction and tone and don’t forget about the length of sentences.
Rhetorical Analysis Conclusion
Main Rhetorical Analysis Tips
You’ve finished writing your text, but it’s too early to relax. You still have to read some useful information on how to write a rhetorical analysis essay. If you have at least 5 minutes before the exam is over, you can use them in order to make your essay as perfect as possible. Here comes the detailed checklist going through which any writer will have a great opportunity to raise his essay’s quality!
Do not overload your rhetorical essay with unnecessary information. The introductory paragraph and conclusion should be the shortest parts. The best size would be around 500-750 words (if the teacher did not mention word count in the requirements).
Use all diversity of your vocabulary. It is a good way to get some additional points from your professor. It will show you as a well-skilled student who can write in different ways and can meet all requirements.
Don’t consider this point dull. It may seem too obvious, but nobody, including course professor, likes to read a text with grammar and punctuation errors. Check your text for any problems with sentence structure. Alternate long and short sentences with smart balance. Try to avoid all kinds of abbreviations.
Rhetorical Analysis Essay Example:
- Use Present Tense Mostly
It will be better to use Present Tense in your rhetorical essay. It is an unspoken rule for academic assignments. Just make sure that you build your arguments in the present tense, and you’ll avoid any confusions. Besides, it makes the reader of the writing piece feel like all happens at the exact moment.
Choose the right writing style and the correct transition words. It is important to understand that the smoother the text seems when it is read, the clearer the statements and the content will be. Use only correct punctuations when it is needed. Build strong and clear transitions as your text must flow like a river. Be consistent: don’t jump from one point to another. Stick to the general logic of every persuasive argument.
- Using Up-to-Date Techniques
Try to select the most recent sources as well as writing techniques. It is important to dedicate some time to learn different strategies used by the modern writers and scholars. Don’t make your analysis essay too strict and boring. Keep to the point, but try to enrich the text with some unexpected ideas.
- Gaining Experience from the Great Examples
Start searching for the great examples of rhetorical analysis essays from the very beginning. Find one on the topic similar to your main point. Follow the given outline or even rewrite the whole text using your original approach.
- Strong Supporting Words to Apply
Any example of rhetorical analysis includes strong arguments made of powerful descriptive adverbs and adjectives. Write down the following adjectives to describe the analyzed article or speech:
It is the last but not the least point. When you write the rhetorical analysis essay, remember that its main aim is to explain the impact of every device that was used by the author. Don’t list the arguments and devices. Analyze and explain their effectiveness.
- Always Proofread and Edit
Revision is one of the most important parts of writing an academic essay. There are many ways to make your final draft clear and free of mistakes in English. Various software may help to fix errors. Ask your parents or mates to help you with your assignment. You can also order editing from the English-speaking writers online.
We understand that it may seem not so easy. This sort of essay writing is a confusing and complicated option. Students have to take some practice to complete A+ writing piece. But if you have no time to practice and want to submit successful writing piece, it’s not a problem anymore. Nerdymates, the most reliable essay writing service on the web, provides an opportunity to get guaranteed great essay. They have a team of professional writers with a huge experience. They deal with all existing persuasive arguments, strategies, and literature/research methods. That’s why their help can’t be overestimated. Make a request on the official website of this service, talk to a member of Nerdymates’ team or assigned writer, and be sure that everything would be under control!