With years of experience in the domain of editing and ideating admission essays for universities abroad, I have often come across essays that are stuffed with big words. Simply stating, most of the essays that reach us are so excessively verbose that we at times have to refer to the dictionary and read the sentence ten times to understand what the applicant wishes to say. The end result – not too good.
Fairly decent as far as vocabulary is concerned, I have often advised my students that vocabulary is hardly the first thing that catches the attention of the admission committee. Often, vocabulary is the least important aspect of your admission essays. So does that mean that it is not important at all? Well, not really.
Before we explain the importance of vocabulary in your admission essays, let us first understand by what we mean by the same. Essentially, vocabulary here refers to the many synonyms of a word. For instance, we can use various words to describe “strength” – forte, gift, talent, speciality, etc. Using the various synonyms can be important because you cannot go on and on simply referring to your strengths! It is important to use various words to describe the same thing to keep the essay interesting and non-repetitive. However, where students falter is not using too many synonyms but rather using the wrong synonym at the wrong place.
Let us explain the same with an example. Say you wish to talk about your strengths and weaknesses. “Leadership is my strong speciality” is not the right way to use the word. It simply suggests a forced use of a different word. Similarly, using the noun and the same adjective might also be a good indication to use a different word. For instance, in the same example, “Leadership is my strong strength!” is also wrong.
So when writing an admission essay, remember these pointers about vocabulary or words you use.
Do not repeat the same words over and over again. Using different synonyms of the words adds a narrative quality to your essay and makes it less repetitive.
Remember, not every synonym can replace the word in a sentence. Some words are specifically used for special circumstances. Avoid doing that mistake.
Using excessively difficult words (intrepid, knell, lurid, maverick, inveterate, etc) is not necessary. The rule you must follow – if you must refer to the dictionary to know what the word means, better avoid it altogether.
A thesaurus is a better place for you than a dictionary.
- Focus on creativity and the essays narrative rather than the vocabulary. If during editing you find the word repeated more than 5 times – it’s important to refer to the thesaurus available.