Write an essay where you tell us what test preparation practices work best for you and why.

Academically, I have continually proven myself to be hard working, proactive, and capable. I achieved the highest grades in the University of Manchester’s BA Geography programme in both my first and second years, receiving two awards for highest module scores. I currently hold offers from Berkeley and Stanford for Graduate Journalism.

The key to my academic accomplishments has been balance and organisation. I believe that a well-rounded work-life balance is a central tenet of success in one’s scholastic endeavours, giving both the time and space to retract from work and then to immerse oneself more fully. Focus is vital - time spent working is not as important as achieving tangible goals, though generally I find that focussed working yields both fruitful and time-efficient results. Avoiding distractions in the moment of focus is critical, even for just half an hour at a time.

The ability to compartmentalise tasks is also at the heart of my strategy. I often write down my goals in a list in order to visualise them holistically, allocate time to them and approach assignments in an organised, regimented manner. To me, careful planning is the cornerstone of writing a powerful essay. Although this approach may require more patience and resolve, the capacity to take one’s time, consider an issue and ruminate on its various nuances at slightly greater length gives rise to a far more insightful, sharper and meaningful paper. The structure thus falls into place in a more logical and measured fashion, which lends the writing tightness and panache that in turn hones the thrust of the central argument.

Finally, evaluating marking criteria is an enlightening means of targeting the most valuable aspects of any task. An essay that is brilliant in many ways but does not adhere to the professor’s expectations is ultimately futile. Through this target-driven, organised and rational approach, even the grandest assignment can be managed simply and effectively.

Max from California
College Junior
University of Manchester, United Kingdom