a personal essay outline

How to Write a Personal Essay: Your Easy 2023 Guide

a personal essay outline

The power of a well-written personal essay should never be underestimated. Inspiring readers with your experiences, lessons learned from past mistakes, or simply describing the joy you felt from doing a fun activity can literally change people's lives. Take a moment to reflect upon this. How much influence you can have on your audience with just a pen and paper in your hand and thoughts flowing through your head is insane.

To take the reins of your floating thoughts and put them into perspective, you need to know how to write a personal essay. Otherwise defined as a nonfiction narrative story, the personal essay format differs slightly from other kinds of writing with its implicit structure. Once we touch upon those, we will also explore some personal essay topics with our online essay writing service . After reading this article, we promise you'll be so confident writing your personal statement that you might want to craft many personal essays in one go!

Proper Format

When trying to understand what is a personal essay, you must start with the formatting specifics. And no, we didn't mean to scare you off if this sounded too complicated! The format for personal essay can be similar to most academic tasks with just a few distinct aspects. Let's examine the details from our paper writer :

personal essay format

  • Font : Unless required to write in a Harvard essay format , you can use any readable fonts - Times New Roman, Arial, or Calibri in size 12.
  • Margins : Just like in most writings, set your margins to one inch on all sides.
  • Spacing : This is a classic! Use double-spacing throughout the essay, including between paragraphs.
  • Indentation : Indent the first line of each paragraph by 0.5 inches or use the tab key. This might be a little too specific, but it's a true-and-tried method!
  • Page numbers : Include page numbers in the top right corner of each page. You don't have to do this necessarily, but it can add more spark to your paper!
  • Title : Include a title that reflects the theme or subject of your essay. Center the title on the page. Did we really have to elaborate on this?
  • Header : Include a header with your last name and the page number in the top right corner of each page. After all, it's your personal story; why would you want to miss your name here?
  • Length : The length of a personal essay can vary but typically ranges from 500 to 2,000 words. Well, unless you're discussing healing from a generational trauma... Then you'd probably need a few more extra pages.
  • Tone : The tone of a personal essay should be conversational, reflective, and sincere. At least, this is what we recommend not to sound dull.
  • Personal pronouns : Use first-person pronouns such as 'I,' 'me,' and 'my.' Remember, the spotlight is directed at you as you're the true hero of the story.

Personal Essay Topics

If you have got a lot of exciting stories to tell, your personal essay can shine brightly by interactively engaging the reader. Put in a little extra effort and dig deeper to find a unique or interesting experience or an unusual moment in your life.

Looking at a life lesson from another angle can turn into deep and purposeful subject matter. If you decide to pick a topic from a huge list of personal essay topics that you found in the internet, be precise and careful because not all of them can meet the requirements of your professor.

Personal Narrative Essay Topics

In this type of writing, try to explore a unique experience that created a sense of conflict in your life. Explore how and why you were confused, annoyed, or hurt by the experience. Imagine your piece of paper as a place where you can freely express your emotions, discuss significant moments, & reflect their impact on your life. This tip can help you to create a bunch of really good essay topics, but if you need a motivation, you can find some examples below.

Examples:20 Good Personal Essay Topics

We're sure you have got a lot of exciting stories to tell. So, let your personal essay shine brightly by interactively engaging the reader. Put in a little extra effort and dig deeper to find a unique or interesting experience or an unusual moment in your life.

Looking at a life lesson from another angle can turn it into a deep and purposeful subject matter. If you need extra encouragement, pick an idea from our list of personal essay topics below from our ' write research paper for me ' service.

In this type of writing, try to explore a unique experience that creates a sense of conflict in your life. Explore how and why you were confused, annoyed, or hurt by the experience. Imagine your piece of paper as a place where you can freely express your emotions, discuss significant moments, & reflect on their impact on your life. This tip can help you create many really good essay topics, but if you need motivation, you can find some examples below.

  • 'One small step that helped me skyrocket in my career!'
  • 'Why controlling urges teaches you to master self-control.'
  • 'People only learn from their own mistakes.'
  • 'Life is not a one-dimensional path: it is curvier than a snake!'
  • 'What I learned about conquering my fears.'
  • 'The moment when I should have made a better choice.'
  • 'The moment I overcame my public speaking fear.'
  • 'How I conquered adversity with strength.'
  • 'The impact of mentorship: valuable lessons learned from my mentor.'
  • 'My journey to finding a place to belong.'

Personal Essay Topics on Specific Emotions

You may also talk about a specific event in your life that left a long-lasting impression on you. Usually, this type of essay reflects an incident that took place in your life and shifted it in some way. Dive deeper into your mind and find an event that is unique and personal to you. The weirder the occurrence, the more likely the essay will be engaging to read.

  • 'How I ran away from fear: the power of exercising.'
  • 'How I overcame the trauma through painting.'
  • 'My quest to reclaim my cultural identity
  • 'How I tackled cultural shock while studying abroad.'
  • 'The year I went from being an amateur to a professional artist.'
  • 'The best solo hike of my life
  • 'The moment I beat my eating disorder and learned to love my true self.'
  • 'How practicing gratitude helped me find beauty in the ordinary.'
  • 'The power of letting go of toxic relationships
  • 'How I lived up to my family's legacy.'

If you have not noticed, each of these titles can bring a fascinating vibe to the table. The names grab your attention, but you can only honestly know what they are about when reading them. That is the secret to a provocative title!

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Crafting an Outline for Personal Essay

Like most academic tasks, the personal essay can be easily structured into 5 paragraphs . This is one of the most important steps of personal narrative essay writing at any level. Your outline for personal essay will serve as a navigator, so you don't want to get off track. Understanding how to start a personal essay, what to write in body paragraphs, and how to conclude it appropriately will be important.

How to Start a Personal Essay?

Start your writing with an introductory paragraph. As it gives your reader a clear understanding of what the story will be about. Employ a hook sentence to catch their attention and motivate them to read the rest of the paper with a whimsical thesis statement. It can be a narrative thesis, for example. But it must be written in one concise sentence that will bring the reader to the starting point of your essay.

Don't leave your readers in the dark in the introduction by explaining the important things such as:

  • Who are the major characters?
  • When and where is it taking place?
  • What kind of story is it?

Creating the Personal Essay Body 

After creating an introduction, you must formulate three body paragraphs supporting your thesis statement. Each new point should contain its own body paragraph. Don't forget to make transitions from one paragraph to another to make sure that everything flows smoothly.

Usually, the body section is presented in the form of your experiences and your reflections on these events. You should also note the passage of time in your body sections, so make sure that the reader is aware of when and how each specific chapter took place.

How to Write a Conclusion Paragraph for Personal Essay?

Ultimately, it will be essential to wrap everything up and give your audience a sense of completeness by writing a proper conclusion. Restate your thesis, summarize the main points you have stated in body paragraphs, and leave your reader with a specific emotion, depending on the subject of your paper.

Readers should also discover a life lesson by going through the story. It is a moment where you show what you have learned from your experiences or how previous events have changed your life.

Tips for Personal Essay Writing Process

If you think you already possess sufficient knowledge of personal essays, we've yet to supply you with more information. Now let's explore the various stages of personal essay writing. Follow the list of valuable tips and advice from our skilled personal essay writer without skipping a beat!

write a personal essay

Start with an Engaging Opening Sentence

Open your personal essay with an introductory section that will be engaging and interesting for your reader. In the opening section, introduce the principal characters of the story as well as the central theme or themes. It should also present the fundamental question of the essay.

Write from Your Unique Point of View

You are free to write from your point of view or in your own unique style. In contrast to other types of essays, writing from your perspective or in your personal manner is welcomed. For instance, if you are writing about a trip adventure, you might express your individual writing style by describing the sights and sounds that captured your attention. As a result, your writing will be more interesting and genuine and will better convey your experiences and feelings.

Take the Characters into Account

Be sure to describe your characters from all angles. Even though it is your real-life experience, you should still consider storytelling elements like the plot and characters. Using these ingredients in your writing will keep your reader engaged and help your essay flow smoothly.

Shed Light on a Deep Truth

Discuss your background experience with honesty and curiosity. Don't be afraid to uncover a hidden truth or a truth you didn't know was there at the time. Expose a thing that is uncomfortable or difficult for you to discuss. No matter who will read your essay. Whether it will be a teacher or somebody else, they will definitely appreciate your honesty and strive to share your experience.

Write a Rough Draft & Submit

After you have completed all the previous steps, it's time to write a rough draft. Writing a rough draft lets you get new ideas for a personal essay. Moreover, it's a great place to polish your essay and correct small grammar, spelling, and other types of mistakes. Get a second pair of eyes: No one can rate your writing as well as a neutral party. Once you have checked everything, you can start writing the final paper.

Before submitting your personal essay, double-check everything once again and make sure to present the central theme. After it, go through it and proofread your entire piece. Reading an essay full of grammatical mistakes is somewhat frustrating, which can be easily avoided. You can ask your classmate for help, so in that way, you will save each other. Don't forget to meet the deadline - and you're officially finished!

Personal Essay Examples

In our time it’s much more easier to find things on the Internet, and examples are not an exception. Remember one simple thing: not everything that you can find on the Internet is done correctly. If you need some inspiration to get started, you can find several examples of personal essays below, or you can use our free essay samples to sharpen your skills on any type of writing.

As we scratched the surface of the personal essay writing process and delved deep into the specific stages of creating a flawless paper, we hope you gained some valuable insights. These tips are all you'll ever need to inspire readers or even WOW the admissions officers!

If you want our experienced writers to help you with any writing assignment, whether a persuasive essay , creative nonfiction, or any type of college essay, hit us up with your ' do my homework for me ' request and consider it done with the highest caliber!

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How to Write a Personal Essay for Your College Application

a personal essay outline

What does it take to land in the “accept” (instead of “reject”) pile?

How can you write an essay that helps advance you in the eyes of the admissions officers and makes a real impression? Here are some tips to get you started.

  • Start early.  Do not leave it until the last minute. Give yourself time when you don’t have other homework or extracurriculars hanging over your head to work on the essay.
  • Keep the focus narrow.  Your essay does not have to cover a massive, earth-shattering event. Some people in their teens haven’t experienced a major life event. Some people have. Either way, it’s okay.
  • Be yourself.  Whether writing about a painful experience or a more simple experience, use the narrative to be vulnerable and honest about who you are. Use words you would normally use. Trust your voice and the fact that your story is interesting enough in that no one else has lived it.
  • Be creative.  “Show, don’t tell,” and that applies here — to an extent. The best essays typically do both. You can help your reader see and feel what you are describing by using some figurative language throughout your piece.
  • Make a point. As you finish your final body paragraphs ask yourself “So what?” This will help you hone in on how to end your essay in a way that elevates it into a story about an insight or discovery you made about yourself, rather than just being about an experience you had.

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We’ve all heard about the dreaded “college essay,” the bane of every high school senior’s existence. This daunting element of the college application is something that can create angst for even the most accomplished students.

What exactly goes into writing a great college essay, and more importantly, what does it take to write one that stands out from thousands of others, landing itself in the “Accept” vs. “Reject” pile?

Breaking Down the College Essay

Let’s start by breaking it down into manageable parts and examining the required elements.

What’s the point of the college essay?

Almost every standard college application requires first-year applicants to submit a personal essay. If you are one of these applicants, you may be wondering, what’s the point?

With so many colleges deciding to go test-optional, (many do not require standardized tests and instead focus solely on your transcripts, essay, and recommendations), the essay is the one place in your application where you can illuminate your character in words and ideas, rather than in numbers and percentages. It is your chance to show schools who you are, what makes you tick, and why you stand out from the crowd.

Admissions counselors will read your essay and try to determine whether or not they want you at their school. While reading, they will be asking themselves, “What will this person bring to our community? Will they make our school a more valuable place?”

What are the prompts?

There are seven personal essay prompts in the Common Application. You may choose to write about obstacles you’ve encountered, your accomplishments and realizations, moments when you experienced extreme gratitude, or select your own topic.

No one prompt is considered “better” than another, but they can vary slightly from year to year, so be sure to read through all of them for your application cycle. At the end of the day, if there is something you feel really passionate about, you can likely adapt it to fit a prompt.

How long should your essay be?

The essay should be 650 words, which might sound like a lot at first, but you will be surprised by how quickly you reach that limit once you get going. Most of the students I work with end up making cuts to shorten their essays before submitting. The word limit is non-negotiable. You will not be able to submit an essay that’s even one word over the limit.

Writing the College Essay

Start early..

Your parents, teachers, and guidance counselors know what they are talking about when they tell you to get started on the essay during the summer before your senior year. Don’t leave it until the last minute. Once senior year starts, life is a whirlwind. Give yourself time when you don’t have other homework or extracurriculars hanging over your head to work on the essay. Aim to start in July or August before senior year.

Starting can be as easy as creating a document where you generate an ongoing list of potential topics. You will want to draft your essay in a separate document anyway. You can copy and paste it over into the Common Application once you have a final, edited version.

Additionally, starting doesn’t always mean sitting down in front of a computer and typing. Talk about topic ideas out loud with anyone who will listen. Discuss ideas for topics with your family members over dinner or on car rides with friends. Think about ideas when you are out for a run or bike ride. Almost all colleges and universities have samples of “College Essays That Worked” in the admissions section of their websites. Reading through these may inspire you.

Keep the focus narrow.

Do not think too big. Your essay does not have to cover a massive, earth-shattering event. Some people in their teens haven’t experienced a major life event. Some people have. Either way, it’s okay.

That leads to another suggestion: Don’t write about Covid-19. Your essay might touch on something that’s an offshoot of your time spent in quarantine or a loss connected to Covid, but it should not be about the pandemic specifically. There’s no question Covid-19 had, and still has, a major impact on all of us, but that topic has been written about by many students from every angle possible. Colleges want to read something different.

The Common Application has added an optional question that gives all applicants a place to address the impact that Covid has had on them personally and educationally. If you feel you have a story you must tell connected to the pandemic, this is the place to share it.

So, what should you write about?

When brainstorming topics, think about challenges you have faced and how you’ve handled them. You can also ask people who know you best how they would describe you in a few words and why. Their responses can be great jumping off points for writing your essay.

Some students choose to write about seemingly small, ordinary topics that illuminate their character beautifully, and are both poignant and thought-provoking. One student I worked with wrote about growing up hiking with her parents from the time when she was a baby in a backpack carrier, to a grumpy middle schooler, to an appreciative, nature-loving young adult who found outdoor experiences were an essential part of who she was at her core.

Other students choose to describe major life events, or especially challenging experiences that have impacted them deeply. An essay that comes to mind is one written by a student who battled loneliness and isolation due to anxiety and depression, and ultimately found invaluable reprieve in the arts, a passion that they hoped to continue to pursue at the college level.

Whether writing about a painful experience or a more simple experience, be sure the essay rises above a strict recounting of a story. Instead, use the narrative to reveal your true self. It’s okay to be vulnerable and honest; in fact, it’s critical you do so. Admissions counselors will not judge you negatively for depicting moments of weakness or fear, or for having different politics than they might. More likely, they will be impressed by your level of self-awareness, emotional intelligence, and introspection.

Be authentic.

Admissions counselors want value-adders. What adds value to a college campus? Students who display energy, resilience, leadership, passion, inclusivity, unique outlooks, and people who can inspire others. Your essay should tell a story that highlights traits like these. No one else has lived your life or experienced what you have in the way that you have; tell your unique story. Use a voice that’s real to you.

This is not the time to experiment with overly formal academic nor romantic, flowery language. Use words you would normally use and show the reader what makes you, you. There is no need to over-inflate things. Trust your voice and the fact that your story is interesting enough in that no one else has lived it.

Be creative.

The college essay is not like a typical English paper. It’s a true blend of the creative and the literary. In creative writing classes you often hear the advice, “Show, don’t tell,” and that applies here — to an extent. The best essays typically do both. You can help your reader see and feel what you are describing by using some figurative language throughout your piece. Describe sights, smells, tastes, tactile sensations, and sounds as you write.

That said, just because you are being creative does not mean your essay should lack structure. This is not the time to experiment with a completely outlandish form. You don’t want to make your readers work to understand what you are trying to say. You want them to be entirely absorbed in the story you are telling. The easiest way to do this is by making your essay easy to read.

Think of the typical five paragraph structure for English papers. Your essay should have an introductory paragraph with a thesis/hook, supporting body paragraphs, and a conclusion that ties everything together. Your story might lend itself to six or seven paragraphs instead of five, depending on where the natural narrative breaks lie, and that’s fine. Just make sure it has a clear beginning, middle, and end.

Be flawless.

Your essay should not have any spelling, formatting, or grammatical errors. Mistakes do not put your best foot forward to admissions counselors, and they are distracting.

Be sure to read, re-read, and share your submission with others to prevent the possibility of mistakes. Use tools like spell and grammar check, and ask at least two other people to read your essay and offer feedback. You can ask a trusted family member to take a look, or even reach out to a friend with exceptionally good writing skills. We often get so close to our own words that we miss obvious errors. Even the best writers in the world rely on editors to help catch mistakes.

Another option is to ask your English teacher or guidance counselor to review your essay. In some schools, students will work on the college essay in English class during the fall of their senior year. This gives them a chance to receive both teacher and peer feedback, which can be incredibly valuable.

Finally, read your essay aloud before hitting submit. It may feel silly, but you will be amazed at the errors you will catch this way.

Make a point.

By the time you reach your conclusion, be sure your essay makes some sort of point. This is what will separate it from the competition. Ask yourself what you want your reader to walk away thinking and knowing about you, and allude to that in your final sentences. A strong conclusion that helps tie the entire essay together, and also points to the bigger picture, is key.

To achieve this, as you finish your final body paragraphs ask yourself “So what?” This will help you hone in on how to end your essay in a way that elevates it into a story about an insight or discovery you made about yourself, rather than just being about an experience you had. Above all, remember that the conclusion should not be an afterthought, nor should it simply summarize the previous few paragraphs.

In many ways, the conclusion is the most important part of your essay as it’s the last thing people will read. Be sure to give it the time, effort, and energy it deserves. You want your readers to pause and reflect at the end of your essay. You want them to feel something, versus just moving on to the next essay on their list.

Finally, remember….

While some students are able to afford pricey college counselors to help guide them through the application process, at the end of the day, there is no magic formula that someone can pay thousands of dollars for when it comes to writing the college essay. Everyone has a unique story to tell and that is priceless. As long as you give yourself the time to brainstorm, and write and then rewrite, as well as ask for feedback from others along the way, you can end up with a solid final product.

One lesson you will learn at college is that the world is full of a wide array of brilliant, interesting, diverse individuals who all have unique life experiences. You are one of those people. Enjoy the process of telling your story, and then relish the opportunity you will have to create more stories as you move onto the next chapter of your life.

  • AA Amy Allen is a writer, educator, and lifelong learner. Her freelance writing business,  All of the Write Words , focuses on providing high school students with one-on-one feedback to guide them through the college application process and with crafting a thoughtful personal essay. A dedicated poet, Amy’s work has also been published in several journals including  Pine Row Press ,  Months to Years,  and  Atlanta Review .

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How to Write a Personal Essay: Topics, Structure, & Examples

Even though a personal essay seems like something you might need to write only for your college application, people who graduated a while ago are asked to write it. Therefore, if you are a student, you might even want to save this article for later!

Our specialists will write a custom essay on any topic for 13.00 10.40/page

A personal essay is a first-person narrative that describes a writer’s life experience and its influence . You may think that writing such an essay is easy-peasy. There is so much freedom regarding the topic, isn’t it? However, soon enough, you realize that it’s more of a curse than a blessing. Custom-writing.org experts understand it’s super confusing as you don’t know where to start. But this simple yet comprehensive guide on how to write a personal essay is here to help you out!

❔ What Is a Personal Essay?

🚦 how do you start a personal essay.

  • 🙋 Essay Topics
  • 📑 Personal Essay Types

🔗 References

A personal essay is just what you think it is: a piece of writing that presents some experience from your perspective . It doesn’t need to be extraordinary, but it has to show how you changed thanks to the experience you got. Such an essay also creates a feeling of intimacy.

A typical personal essay consists of a 1-paragraph introduction, a 3-paragraph body, and a 1-paragraph conclusion.

Long story short, it is a first-person narrative that describes a writer’s life experience and its influence. This type of essay allows you to use any writing style you want and usually has an informal tone. It helps the reader to gain a connection with you.

There is a wide variety of topic options: you may want your writing to be inspiring or, on the contrary, warning so that others could avoid your mistakes. However, the most important thing is sticking to the general guidelines.

The most popular personal essay outline would consist of three parts:

  • Start with an introduction . It should include only one paragraph
  • Continue with the main body . It should be at least three paragraphs long
  • Write a conclusion . Don’t make it too long, one paragraph is enough

Let’s also note that typically you would write a personal essay as a part of the college application process. However, it’s not rare that this type of writing can help employers understand if the candidate meets the job requirements.

👀 Personal Essay Examples

To give you some inspiration, we included a list of excellent examples ranked as the most successful personal essays by The New York Times , The New Yorker , and America’s top universities.

The first and the most important thing you need to do when you are about to write a personal essay is to determine its purpose . When you know your audience, it becomes easier to find an appropriate topic for your writing. After that, you can draft an outline, which is the foundation of your future essay!

🙋 Personal Essay Topics

By now, you might have understood the idea of the personal statement. Your goal is to show off your personality from the good side. However, there is an endless amount of options on how to do it. The most popular way is to tell the story from the past. It can be either something you achieved or an obstacle you managed to overcome. Either way, it needs to highlight the lesson you learned.

Next, you can make your writing even more inspirational by revealing your future goals, showing that you have potential and determination. But remember to focus on things that the whole community can benefit from because just getting rich is a lame objective!

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Last but not least, be yourself and use creativity! Show your potential employers and college administration how much you can contribute to their development. You should convince them that it can be a mutually beneficial experience.

Here, we prepared some of the best personal essay topics for you:

  • How did the most significant loss of your life make you stronger?
  • Who would you like to switch live with, and why?
  • The time when you think you made the wrong choice.
  • How would you spend a million dollars?
  • Is there anything you have never shared with anyone?
  • A special friend that influenced your life.
  • One morning that has changed your life forever.
  • The time when you had to deliver devastating news.
  • A near-death experience and how it felt.
  • Describe the longest minute of your life.
  • Something you can’t resist and keep doing.
  • A meaningful event that is hard to explain.
  • Would you start a charity foundation if you could?
  • The most precious gift you ever received.
  • The wrong choice you never regret making.
  • A secret place that gives you peace of mind.
  • Something you’ve seen and wish you could forget.
  • A hidden talent no one knows you have.
  • A day when you felt like the unluckiest person in the world.
  • The most beautiful thing you’ve seen.
  • A skill you have that robots will never learn to do.
  • What is the one thing you want to change about yourself?
  • Where would you like to live?
  • The most important discovery you made.
  • What if you were a teacher?
  • The most fantastic movie scene that changed the world.
  • What would you like to change in schools?
  • Describe something you love about yourself and why.
  • Where do you see yourself in ten years?
  • Time with your family that you cherish the most.
  • The achievement you’re proud of.
  • Describe the time when you learned something from a child.
  • The words that made you hopeful again.
  • Write about the time when you were at the bottom.
  • A stranger that had an influence on you.
  • What would you do if you could go back in time?
  • Would you like to redo something in your life, would you?
  • The superpower you wish you had.
  • The person you would be grateful to at the end of your life.
  • The time when you avoided danger.
  • Family celebrations, and what do they mean to you?
  • Write about the time when you saw your mother crying.
  • Did you disappoint anyone?
  • Is there anyone you are not fond of?
  • A place that you try to keep away from.
  • How did you overcome your fear?
  • The most challenging choice you had to make.
  • The time you felt like an outsider.
  • When did you realize you’re not a child anymore?
  • Why does your hobby interest you?

📑 Personal Essay about Yourself: Main Types

Personal essays on hobbies.

Writing an essay on a hobby is not as easy as it seems. Take a look at any hobbies essay sample, and you will be likely to see a widespread thing: these essays can be boring, which is an easy way to get a low grade.

Below are some common problems with hobby essays (and their solutions).

No matter what, make sure the focus is on you. When you are writing about a personal hobby, you should aim to make yourself the star by essentially telling your reader about yourself through an interest of yours.

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Life-changing Experience Essays

The purpose of a life-changing experience essay is obvious: simply put, you need to tell the reader about a specific event that changed your life . Note that it also works for a closely related type of essay, the personal narrative essay .

Three essential elements should be clear to readers of any life-changing experience writing:

  • The reader should understand the event — both what happened and how it made you feel at the time.
  • The reader should understand what the event changed about you. It is best to tell the reader about your condition before the event and after it. However, this depends on the essay’s length.
  • The reader should understand how you feel about the event now.

If you need personal experience essay ideas, focus on events that you can write about to meet the three above criteria. If your assignment is very free form, take a look at a list of prompts for personal writing.

Education Essays

As a student, you will be asked to write an education essay eventually. It is important to remember that personal writing is about setting yourself apart. Tell the reader what made your educational experience unique.

How can you make your educational essay stand out? First, go beyond generic stories of overcoming an academic weakness by avoiding essays that take the following form: “I was terrible at subject X, but through hard work, I became quite excellent at subject X!”

Instead, focus on an assignment or subject that captured your attention — the more unusual the situation, the better. Use storytelling to enhance your essay. The best education essays can be essays about life-changing education experiences; for example, many great educational stories focus on the teacher or class that changed the author’s life.

Biographies

Writing a short biography is easy. All you need to do is to use a very basic biography template. But first: remember that you need to keep the attention of your reader. Tell a good story about yourself ! Learning how to write a biography is about learning how to tell a good story .

A Biography Template

A solid biography is a solid story. For this reason, the biography template is essentially the template of a well-crafted story, which is typically divided into three specific parts:

  • Establish the characters. In this case, these are people that play important roles in your life. For example, if your autobiographical essay includes family members, you need to describe them briefly before anything exciting happens.
  • Build tension. If you write about your family, you can describe a problem that exists there.
  • Describe a resolution. Not that it is not the same thing as a problem being solved. For example, when a loved one dies, there is no solution to that problem. Instead, you grieve and learn to live without that person in your life.

If your biography manages to achieve all three of these elements, you will indeed have one of the class’s strongest essays.

Personal Statements

The last type of personal writing is probably the most important. When faced with their first college application, most students go to the web to find a personal statement format.

If you learn from examples, the best thing to do is check out several strong personal statement examples. As mentioned in the second section, many universities post essays from accepted students. Or perhaps you should read a breakdown of portions of a personal statement. The point is, read what others have done for inspiration.

Sometimes colleges offer personal statement templates. However, they often use freeform personal statements to identify focused, articulate students. Thus, the top tip for these is to write a clear thesis statement . A thesis statement for an essay without a prompt should be so clear that it sounds like it addresses a writing prompt. When there is no prompt, this is the time you should specifically use the standard 5-paragraph essay . Your discipline will impress your readers, which is exactly what you want.

However, an open-ended essay prompt is sometimes just too much to handle in time, but that is alright. It happens to everyone, and our writing experts can help, luckily. You can work with one of their expert writers or editors to create the perfect personal essay.

  • Personal Essays – Georgia Tech Admissions
  • The Personal Statement // Purdue Writing Lab
  • Application Essays – UNC Writing Center
  • How To: Write Your Personal Essay
  • Essays | Penn Admissions
  • Writing the Personal Statement | Berkeley Graduate Division
  • Personal Insight Questions – UCLA Undergraduate Admission
  • Essay Topics | Yale College Undergraduate Admissions
  • Complete Your Application: Indiana University Bloomington
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At 82, I am assuredly a ‘mature student.’ However, I wanted to thank you for being the most helpful resource I have discovered on ‘google’ to look at how I can consider writing an autobiography to perhaps leave my children.

Custom Writing

Penny, I’m happy you found the article useful!

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a personal essay outline

“What a Saint Mary’s education means to me is that people don’t underestimate you.”

a personal essay outline

Personal Statement: Sample Outline

Sample outline, a sample outline for personal statements.

This outline is meant to be a guide to writing a personal statement. It does not represent the only format for a personal statement. Take the information that is most helpful to you and adapt it to meet your specific needs!

Introductory Paragraph Although you may be tempted to jump right into a narrative of your earliest accomplishments, begin instead by focusing on why the law school/med school/grad school has attracted your interest and why you consider yourself an able candidate for the position. This opening paragraph need not be extensive, but it should sketch out your view of yourself as a capable individual who has the necessary confidence, maturity, and talent to success in this venture. Somewhere in your introductory paragraph, either in your first or last sentence, you should define yourself in a succinct way (this corresponds to the function of a thesis statement in an ordinary essay).

The Body of the Personal Statement, Part 1: The Recent Past Saint Mary’s students generally tend to be reluctant to beat their own drum, either out of politeness or humility. But remember that only you can put your best foot forward and that all other candidates will do the same. A personal statement should not be egotistical, but it should not be modest. Your readers will be looking for reasons to stop reading your essay, so use all your ammunition (it isn’t bragging if you can back up your assertions with facts). When you write about your educational and/or employment background in the next two or three paragraphs, emphasize how these experiences and activities helped to shape the person you have become (in addition, of course, to family and other influences—but keep those references to a minimum to keep the spotlight on you). Find ways to illustrate the value of your educational and work experiences, providing as much detailed commentary as you can to make your experiences interesting to the reader.

The Body of the Personal Statement, Part 2: The Present Add a paragraph or two presenting yourself as you are now. Stress the qualities that you believe best characterize you such as confidence, maturity, intellectual curiosity, and the determination to succeed. This part of your essay will answer the following question: who are you now and why? Once again, the more concrete you can be regarding your positive self-image, the more likely the reader is to accept what you say about yourself as more than mere rhetoric.

The Body of the Personal Statement, Part 3: The Future In a paragraph or two, present a positive forecast of your future developement in relation to the specific career or profession you wish to pursue. Obviously, you will feel more confident and have a more specific idea about your immediate future, rather than your long-range plans, but visualizing your professional identity two or three decades from now demonstrates both vision and determination. In this part of the personal statement you may wish to address some of the following questions: How will the grad school/law school/med school you are presently pursuing be an important stepping stone leading to your life’s work? What do you hope to accomplish in life? What are your personal goals and/or career objectives? How do you see yourself evolving in the next several years?

The Concluding Paragraph After forecasting your future, you may be tempted to end your personal statement on that visionary note. But a brief conclusion will help by summarizing, for the reader’s benefit, your past accomplishments, your present sense of identity, and your future goals. Try to make your last sentence a real clincher so that the reader has a vivid impression of you.

The Most Important Step Now that you have written the first draft of your personal statement, prune it mercilessly so that only the most essential points remain. Edit your work thoroughly, as well, to make your sentences more concise and declarative. Remember, not everything in this guideline sheet will be applicable to every potential audience, so tailor your personal statement to the specific task at hand. Above all, don’t be discouraged by any rejections. Your diligence and belief in yourself will eventually be rewarded. Good luck!

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personal-essay

The Ultimate Guide to Personal Essay Writing

personal-essay

Personal essay is not about college admission only:

Twain, Hemingway, Fitzgerald, and other  famous essayists  wrote them often to share their experiences, thoughts, and reflections. Some employers ask candidates to write personal essays before inviting them to a job interview. And even when you share a story in your blog, you write a somewhat personal essay, telling your followers about your experience.

But more often than not, a search intent of most students googling the information about these essays is about how to write a personal statement for college. Right?

So, here we are!

In this ultimate guide, you’ll find everything about personal essay writing: what topics to choose for it, how to outline and format it, how to write it step by step, and what examples to consider for writing a stellar essay about yourself.

Table of Contents:

  • What is a personal essay?
  • How to start a personal essay
  • Personal essay outline
  • Personal essays conclusions
  • Personal essay topics
  • Personal statement for college: format
  • Personal essay examples

What is a Personal Essay? 

A  personal essay is a type of creative nonfiction serving to describe the author’s life experience and lessons (conclusions) he or she has made after it.

Reasons for personal essay writing can be different.

Fiction and nonfiction writers craft them to share stories, enlighten or inspire the audience, or warn others to avoid their mistakes. As to students, they write this essay when entering college or university: Officers ask applicants to write a personal statement (college admission essay) to get the idea of their worldview, critical thinking, and communication skills.

As a rule, such essays describe some event in your life that was significant to you and influenced your personality development. You write it from a first-person perspective and in a conversational tone to create a connection with your reader.

But for all that, personal essays have a definite structure. As well as other essay types, they need an  introduction , a few paragraphs body, and a powerful  conclusion  to impress readers. Also, your personal narrative essay should have a clear objective: It explains to admissions officers why you would be an excellent fit for their college or university .

The importance of writing a personal essay

A student needs to be able to create a personal essay because it is an opportunity to talk about yourself and show your skills and abilities. It is also an excellent method to show you can learn from mistakes and analyze actions or events. Such works are valued among teachers and allow them to make the correct opinion about you, especially if it is an admission essay. Therefore, the skill of writing a good personal essay is essential and requires a high level of concentration. Try to learn more information from our material, and you will be able to write such papers without any problems.

How to Write a Personal Essay

For those wondering how to write a personal statement for college, there’s #1 rule to remember:

Despite its conversational tone, it should have a definite structure. The standard length here is five paragraphs, though your essay can be longer or shorter if still containing all primary sections. These sections are:

  • Introduction.  This is the first paragraph of your article, with a  hook  and a  thesis statement  you will describe and prove in the essay body.
  • Body.  It’s your story itself, with its points and evidence supporting your thesis statement. Here you explain how this or that event shaped your perspective and share your reflections on the lessons learned.
  • Conclusion.  It’s the last paragraph, restating your thesis and telling the moral of your story. Here you say why your essay matters and sum up the things you want others to take away from your personal narrative essay.

Need more details on how to write an essay about yourself?  Check our most detailed guide on how to write a personal essay .

How to Start a Personal Essay

In the first paragraph of your personal  narrative essay , you need to capture the reader’s attention. Use a writing hook but avoid cliches like opening your article with a famous yet overused quote.

The introductory paragraph of your essay also needs to provide a personal statement you will explain and prove in the body paragraphs. Do your best to give some background on the topic, and make sure to finish the paragraph with a transition (a bridge) to the essay body.

Hint:  Don’t reveal all the information in the essay introduction! It’s like with spoilers: Who will spend time reading your long story if you tell everything in the intro?

Further reading:   How to Start a College Essay

Personal Essay Outline

When it comes to essay outlines, a student considers a type of writing he needs to cover (whether it’s  persuasive ,  expository ,  critical , or other) and then comes up with structuring all the elements his essay should contain.

When it comes to personal essays, an  outline  is essential too. Yes, this writing is about telling a story from a first-person perspective; but, let’s face it, how often did you listen to someone who wanted to tell a story but this story seemed to have no point?

It’s all about a story structure. College essays include all the elements of storytelling (a plot, setting, characters, a conflict, and moral), and an outline will help you organize the story so you wouldn’t miss any core element when writing.

In other words,  it’s a plan or a map of your personal essay.

personal-essay-outline

You start with a hook and a statement, then introduce a character (yourself) and the sequence of events that happened to you, support your statement, describe a conflict, and come to a conclusion.

A college essay is like a fiction story, with its rising action, turning point, and conflict resolution. Your task here is to evoke an emotional response from readers but, for all that, follow the essay structure.

Personal Essays Conclusions

The last paragraph of an essay is a resolution of the whole story. Here you summarize what you’ve learned from the experience you described in the essay and what you’d like readers to understand.

A personal essay conclusion needs to have the following elements:

  • A thesis restatement
  • Main points (what you, an author, learned from the experience you described; why your story matters)
  • A call to action for readers (what  they  can learn from your story)

Finish with the moral of the story, but do your best to end on a positive note. It will help readers feel inspired and make your essay more memorable.

Personal Essay Topics

As far as this essay is personal, it’s you, its author, who determines the topic. 

Personal essay topics can be about everything related to you, but, at the same time, they need to be specific about who you are. Feel free to write about the first time you failed the test, an award you won, a professor who changed your mind about books or essay writing , etc.

Please feel free to write about your friend or relative who influenced your worldview or made you feel different about something. You can tell about a  creative genius who changed your mindset or plans for the future. Long story short, any moment or persona in your life that changed you in some way can become a core topic of a college essay.

Also, please note that the experience you choose to describe in an essay doesn’t have to be positive only. Don’t be afraid to share a tragedy or some negative moment that influenced you anyway.

The best essay topics are always those profoundly relatable. Write about facing a fear, discovering something, falling in love, making a difficult choice, overcoming obstacles… The moments happening in everyone’s life and communicating some universal truth are what you need for a college essay to succeed.

Find out the details: Check our list of personal essay topics and learn how to choose them for your story.

Personal Statement for College: Format

A personal essay format looks like a structure of most standard five-paragraph essays. You start with an introduction, then craft a three-paragraph body telling your story, and finally wrap up the piece with a conclusion. Doesn’t seem difficult, right?

But given that this type of essays reminds a narrative, it also needs to be formatted with all elements of storytelling in mind. They are what make your personal statement powerful and memorable, as well as allow you to stand out from the crowd of other applicants in college.

Here at Bid4Papers, professional writers help students craft a format that makes their stories stand out. Yet, if you don’t want to ask anyone for help, feel free to check our detailed guide on personal essay formatting:

Further reading: College Essay Format

Follow these tips when writing a personal essay

The experts have presented the best personal essay guidelines to help you cope with the task and get a high grade. Here is your future algorithm of actions:

  • Prepare yourself. Remember that definition of personal essay requires you to create a research paper about your personal experiences. Set yourself a goal to stick to for the duration of the assignment.
  • Organize your work. In this step, you must create a clear plan for your work. The more small sections you can break down your assignment into, the easier it will be for you to start writing it later. Keep a chronological sequence because this is essential for any personalized essay.
  • Choose the best topic. Try to use one of the popular topics or create your own. The main thing is that it coincides with your experience and knowledge. After all, the research paper will be about you; therefore, you must tell how the topic influenced or changed your worldview. Examples might include “How my friend influenced my life” or “What lessons have helped me decide on my future.” All personal essay formats will look better if you choose the right subject matter for your paper.
  • Consider the tone of the narrative. You need to think about the feelings you want to evoke in your audience. In a personal essay, it is crucial to present your personality correctly. It can be about your past experiences or, on the contrary, written with a retrospective on those events. Don’t forget about the correct verbs, and be mindful of tenses.
  • Include a moral in your paper. By all means, the student should write a moral or lesson learned from the story. Give food for thought to your readers based on your experiences and conclusions. For example, you may have overcome a challenge, learned something, become a leader, or realized your mistakes. These are all excellent morals that you can describe.

Next, you must write according to the structure we’ve given above in our material. These simple recommendations will make your personalized essays more exciting and correct. The main thing is to stick to the rules and write them in understandable language so that no one gets confused while reading.

Personal Essay Examples

It’s better to see once than hear twice, do you agree? We know that most students look for real college personal statement examples online, and many peers of theirs are ready to share samples for educational purposes.

With the help of these essay samples, high school graduates understand the assignment better and learn about how to write a college essay so that it would impress admissions officers. Essay examples also help to get an idea of the structure, storytelling components, and plot twists to consider when you craft your own writing piece.

But Bid4Papers go to even greater extremes here:

We’ve not only gathered the best personal essay examples for you but also asked some admissions officers to share their advice on college essay writing. So, check the link below, and don’t hesitate to ask questions in the comment section if you have any.

Must-check: Best College Essays That Worked: Advice from Admissions Officers

And now, over to you:

Did we miss anything in this ultimate guide on personal essay writing? Is there anything else you’d like us to cover on the topic? Our writers are open to all the questions and suggestions you might have. <3

Our Writing Guides

3 thoughts on “ the ultimate guide to personal essay writing ”.

Yes, I think it’s very similar to an admission essay in its meaning and structure. It’s great that you created a graphic showing the structure of the essay, it’s very useful! Thank you!

Thanks for sharing such an informational blog which wil, surely be a big help to the students who are creating a thesis or working on dissertation work

A specialized paper requires plenty of skills and knowledge. And if you are not interested in writing it by yourself, then you will really get bored and irritated by such a difficult task. I have taken the services of assignment writing and must say they provide high-quality works. Is it OK to ask such services to write personal essays for me? Not sure if I can use them because it needs to be my personal story. Anyway, I’ll try, thanks!

I’d advise to be careful when you write a personal essay. It should be a fine line between the assignment and being TOO personal about it. Otherwise, you risk to craft a note in your diary, not an academic paper to ask a grade for. Thanks for sharing these tips!

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How to Write a Personal Essay

Last Updated: February 2, 2023 References Approved

This article was co-authored by Jake Adams . Jake Adams is an academic tutor and the owner of Simplifi EDU, a Santa Monica, California based online tutoring business offering learning resources and online tutors for academic subjects K-College, SAT & ACT prep, and college admissions applications. With over 14 years of professional tutoring experience, Jake is dedicated to providing his clients the very best online tutoring experience and access to a network of excellent undergraduate and graduate-level tutors from top colleges all over the nation. Jake holds a BS in International Business and Marketing from Pepperdine University. There are 10 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page. wikiHow marks an article as reader-approved once it receives enough positive feedback. This article has 16 testimonials from our readers, earning it our reader-approved status. This article has been viewed 305,071 times.

A good personal essay can move and inspire readers. It can also leave the reader unsettled, uncertain, and full of more questions than answers. To write an effective personal essay, you will need to first understand the structure of a personal essay. You will then need to brainstorm ideas for the personal essay so you are ready when it is time to sit down and craft your essay.

Starting Your Personal Essay

Image titled Write a Personal Essay Step 1

  • For example, maybe you want to write about an experience where you learned about failure. You may think the time you failed a pop quiz in class. Though the quiz may have seemed insignificant to you at the time, you realized later that failing the pop quiz forced you to reassess your goals and motivated you to get a passing grade. Seen from a certain angle, your small failure became a gateway to perseverance and determination.

Jake Adams

  • This could be a seemingly small moment that ended up having a profound influence on you later, such the first time you experienced disgust as a child or the look on your mother’s face when you told her you were gay. Try to really dig into why you were hurt or compelled to overcome a challenge in this moment in your essay.
  • Remember that moments charged with strong emotion will often be more engaging to readers. Having a strong reaction to a specific moment will allow you to write passionately about it and keep your reader interested in your essay.

Image titled Write a Personal Essay Step 3

  • For example, you may focus on the day you found out your father cheated on your mother, or the week you mourned the death of a loved one. Think about a heavy experience in your life that shaped who you are today.
  • You may also decide to write about a seemingly light topic or event, such as your first ride on a roller coaster, or the first time you went on a cruise with your partner. No matter what event you choose, make sure it is an event that triggered a strong emotional response, ranging from anger to confusion to unabashed joy.

Image titled Write a Personal Essay Step 4

  • For example, you may think about why you and your mother stopped speaking years ago or why you are no longer close to a childhood friend. You may also look at past romantic relationships that failed and consider why they did not succeed or a relationship with a mentor that went sour.
  • This could also be about someone that you're close with. For example, you could write about a moment that tested your relationship with a close friend.

Image titled Write a Personal Essay Step 5

  • Ask yourself questions about the current event. For example, how does the current event intersect with your own experiences? How can you explore a current social issue or event using your personal thoughts, experiences, and emotions?
  • For example, you may have an interest in writing about Syrian refugee camps in Europe. You may then focus your personal essay on your own status as a refugee in America and how your experiences a refugee have shaped the person you are now. This will allow you to explore a current event from a personal perspective, rather than simply talk about the current event from a distant, journalistic perspective.

Image titled Write a Personal Essay Step 6

  • The introductory section should include “the hook”, opening lines where you catch the reader’s attention. It should also have some sort of narrative thesis, which is often the beginning of an important event in the piece or a theme that connects your experience to a universal idea.
  • The body sections should include supporting evidence for your narrative thesis and/or the key themes in your piece. Often, this is in the form of your experiences and your reflections on your experiences. You should also note the passage of time in your body sections so the reader is aware of when and how certain events occurred.
  • The concluding section should include a conclusion to the events and experiences discussed in the essay. You should also have a moral of the story moment, where you reflect on what you learned from your experiences or how your experiences changed your life.
  • In the past, it was advised to have five paragraphs total, one paragraph for the introductory section, three paragraphs for the body section, and one paragraph for the concluding section. But you can have more or less than five paragraphs for your personal essay as long as you have all three sections.

Writing the Personal Essay

Image titled Write a Personal Essay Step 7

  • Don't begin with a line that explains exactly what is going to be discussed in, such as, “In this essay, I will be discussing my fraught relationship with my mother." Instead, draw your reader into your piece and still provide all the information needed in your opening line.
  • Start instead with a specific scene that contains the key characters of the essay and allows you discuss the central question or theme. Doing this will allow you to introduce the reader to the characters and the central conflict right away.
  • For example, if you are writing about your fraught relationship with your mother, you may focus on a specific memory where you both disagreed or clashed. This could be the time you and your mother fought over a seemingly insignificant item, or the time you argued about a family secret.
  • Try to use an active voice instead of a passive voice as much as possible when you're writing your essay.

Image titled Write a Personal Essay Step 8

  • This writing voice may be conversational, much like how you might speak to a good friend or a family member. Or, the writing voice may be more reflective and internal, where you question your own assumptions and thoughts about the subject of the essay.
  • Many personal essays are written in the first person, using “I”. You may decide to write in the present tense to make the story feel immediate, or past tense, which will allow you to reflect more on specific events or moments.
  • Include vivid sensory descriptions in your essay to help the reader connect with your unique perspective. Describing touch, smell, taste, sight, and sound can help the reader invest in your story and feel like they're there with you.

Image titled Write a Personal Essay Step 9

  • You can also include lines of dialogue spoken by your characters, based on your memory of the event. However, you should limit dialogue to only a few lines a page, as too much dialogue can start to veer away from personal essay and more toward fiction.

Image titled Write a Personal Essay Step 10

  • You may use a plot outline to organize your essay. The plot points should act as supporting evidence for the central question or issue of the essay.

Image titled Write a Personal Essay Step 11

  • It’s important to remember that though an experience may appear to have all the drama necessary to make a good personal essay, it may be a drama that is too familiar to the reader already. Be wary of experiences that are familiar and filled with pathos that a reader may have experienced before.
  • If you are writing about the sudden death of a loved one, for example, it may feel important and deep to you. But the reader will likely know what to expect of an essay about a dead loved one, and may not relate to your essay because they did not know the loved one like you did.
  • Instead, you may try to uncover a truth that is deeper than “I am sad my loved one died.” Think about what the loved one meant to you and how the loved one affected your life, in positive and negative ways. This could lead to the uncovering of a deeper truth and a stronger personal essay.

Polishing Your Essay

Image titled Write a Personal Essay Step 12

  • For example, you may use metaphor to describe the experience of telling your mother you are gay. You may describe your mother’s face as “impenetrable, a sudden wall”. Or you may use a simile, such as “my mother’s reaction was silent and stunned, as if she had been struck by lightning.”

Image titled Write a Personal Essay Step 13

  • As you read it out loud, you should highlight any sentences that are confusing or unclear as well as sentences that do not appear as strong as the rest of the draft. You should also make sure your characters are well developed and your essay follows some kind of structure or sense of plot. Consider if you are hitting a deeper truth in your draft and what you can do to get there if it is not yet on the page.Revising your essay will only make it that much stronger.

Image titled Write a Personal Essay Step 14

  • When you are revising, you should consider if your content is really worth writing about, if you are writing about a topic or subject you are passionate about, and if your reader will understand your writing. You want to avoid confusing your reader, as this can turn her off from reading to the end of your essay.
  • You should also make sure the focus and themes of the essay are clear. Your experiences should center around a central question, issue, or theme. This will ensure your personal essay is well written and concise.
  • Avoid relying on spellcheck to catch all of the spelling and grammar errors in your essay.

Expert Q&A

Jake Adams

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  • To get a better sense of the genre, you should read highly crafted examples of personal essay. There are several known personal essays that are often taught in academia, including "Notes of a Native Son” by James Baldwin, “The Death of a Moth” by Virginia Woolf, “Shipping Out” by David Foster Wallace, “The White Album” by Joan Didion, and “We Do Abortions Here” by Sallie Tisdale. Thanks Helpful 1 Not Helpful 0
  • Ask yourself several questions as you read the examples, such as: How does the writer introduce the subject of their essay? How does the writer explore the subject for a personal perspective? What are the key themes in the essay? How does the writer connect their personal experiences to a universal theme or idea? How does the writer use humor or wit in the essay? What is the concluding moral of the essay? Does the end of the essay leave you satisfied, unsettled, curious, or all of the above? Thanks Helpful 1 Not Helpful 0

Sample Essay and Template

a personal essay outline

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Write a Personal Narrative

  • ↑ https://owl.excelsior.edu/writing-process/thesis-sentence/thesis-sentence-angles/
  • ↑ Jake Adams. Academic Tutor & Test Prep Specialist. Expert Interview. 20 May 2020.
  • ↑ https://courses.lumenlearning.com/englishcomp1/chapter/writing-a-narrative-or-personal-essay/
  • ↑ https://www.grammarly.com/blog/personal-essay/
  • ↑ https://www.indeed.com/career-advice/career-development/how-to-write-a-personal-essay
  • ↑ https://stlcc.edu/student-support/academic-success-and-tutoring/writing-center/writing-resources/point-of-view-in-academic-writing.aspx
  • ↑ https://www.grammarly.com/blog/story-plot/
  • ↑ https://www.grammarly.com/blog/literary-devices/
  • ↑ http://admissions.vanderbilt.edu/vandybloggers/2013/09/how-to-write-your-personal-essay/
  • ↑ http://writingcenter.unc.edu/handouts/revising-drafts/

About This Article

Jake Adams

To write a personal essay, start by deciding on an experience that affected your life in some way, such as how failing a pop quiz in class made you change your goals. Next, draft an outline containing the points you want to make, and including an introduction, body paragraphs, and conclusion. When writing, start your essay with an engaging scene that introduces the characters and main theme, then develop the characters in the body section so they're well-rounded. Conclude by summing up what you learned from the experience. For tips on how to include a plot in your essay and how to proofread your work, read on! Did this summary help you? Yes No

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How to Write a Personal Essay

a personal essay outline

Some ideas are well organized in our mind but the moment we start writing, everything falls apart. How do we put on paper those experience that remain vividly clear in our minds? How do we make them impact others as they did us? Personal essays are a perfect way to describe the life-changing events that happened to us. These essays can be written for academic reasons; college application, for instance. Authors can also write them to act as a lesson or motivation to others.

What is a personal essay?

As the name suggests, a personal essay is an accord of an individual’s experiences. The writer uses first-person narration to highlight an occurrence and the lesson learned. The formality of this piece of writing depends on the purpose of the writer. A perfect personal essay should create a connection between the reader and the writer. It should motivate the audience to change or inspire towards getting somewhere. Each writer has a different experience that touched them the most. Therefore, people can include distinct ideas in these types of essays. Unfortunately, it can prove challenging to narrate your experiences in a way that someone else feels them too. Embracing the right tactics can bring you closer to writing a flawless personal essay.

Choose an appropriate topic

Your topic does not necessarily have to be complex to make a great essay. Even the most common experiences can be narrated in a unique way to bring out a different touch. Therefore, work with a topic you are most comfortable and in which you have adequate experience. By focusing on an area that speaks your deepest truths or fears, you can easily engage the reader. In this type of essay, you can get emotional since these are your personal experiences you are describing

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Come up with an outline

Random thoughts might run through your mind but you must organize them systematically. An outline will help you draft all the ideas you would like to write about and choose the order. If you dive into writing without an outline, you will find yourself moving back and forth every time a new idea comes up. The outline will help you to decide how to begin your essay. It will also help you to work with the most relevant points throughout your essay.

Structure your essay

Essays are known to follow a defined structure; the personal essay is no different. You must identify how your piece will flow from the word go. Therefore, it is crucial to follow the five-paragraph structure. However, your essay can be shorter or longer depending on the requirements.

  • Use a compelling introduction

In most instances, how you begin your essay determines whether the reader will continue reading. Therefore, you should take your time to craft a catchy introduction. Avoid using common quotes, jokes or techniques. The first paragraph introduces your topic and determines whether it is something that will interest the reader. Using a perfect and relevant hook will create an urge in the reader to know what happened to you. You are the best person to tell your story; make it count.

Since you have succeeded in luring the audience to continue reading, the body adds flavor to your work. You now have the task to express yourself in the deepest way possible and leave an impression in the reader. If yours was an awful experience, let the reader never want to be in your shoes. If it was a positive experience, describe it in a manner that makes your story passable to generations. The body should consist of an average of three paragraphs that systematically relay your experiences.

Ensure that you do not just make a narration but cite the lessons learned. The story you tell should, in all ways, relate to the topic you had introduced earlier. The narration must indulge all the five senses of the reader by showing, not merely telling. If you are talking about pain, do not write “I felt unbearable pain”. Let the reader’s mind visualize the pain in what seems a realistic experience to them. Consider “The whip that my father used to beat me left black stripes on my back. Every time I turned on my bed, my back felt like someone was placing a hot piece of metal. The wounds could peel and before the flesh closed, I would get yet another beating”

  • Make a mind-blowing conclusion

What would be the use of telling your story if it leaves no impact on the reader? It would be boring to repeat a summary of the event that you have already narrated. In this paragraph, let your audience see how this experience molded you. Are there things that you do in the present day that derive inspiration from the story you have told? Let your reader relate to your topic and be impressed by the turn of events.

Mistakes to avoid when writing a personal essay

Some habits play a huge role in deterring you from writing an engrossing personal essay. By avoiding them, you can improve the overall quality of your piece of writing.

  • Boring or unfamiliar topics

A personal essay is not one that you get to the internet or library and research about. It is more of what has inspired you from your own experiences. Therefore, if you choose a topic that does not excite you, your entire essay will be a bore.

  • Unstructured work

Telling your story requires that there is a natural flow. Therefore, failure to organize your thoughts will leave the reader in a confused state. The best way to arrange your ideas is to first focus on coming up with an outline.

Your essay is pointless if it does not teach a lesson that people can relate to. Therefore, choose experiences that have a positive impact on life

  • Poor language use

Irrespective of how informal your essay is, it loses meaning if there is too much slang. The quotes and jokes you use should also directly relate to the message you are passing.

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A Guide to Writing Outline of a Personal Essay

Table of Contents

The outline of a personal essay has to involve the experience you choose to describe. It should be more than just positive. Don’t hesitate to share a tragedy or adverse occasion that has influenced you.

Profoundly relatable topics are always the best ones. Be specific about facing a fear, discovering something, falling in love, making a difficult choice, and overcoming obstacles.

These moments happening in everyone’s life and communicating some universal truth make an excellent college essay. Luckily, we have suggestions for personal essay topics you can choose for your story. 

a personal essay outline

College Statement: Personal Statement Writeup

The format of a personal essay is like most five-paragraph essays. After beginning with an introduction, you craft a three-paragraph body that tells your story and concludes with a conclusion. That seems unachievable, right? 

Personal Essay Structure

A good personal essay should include an introductory paragraph, body, and conclusion . A standard paper is about five paragraphs, but personal essays are longer or shorter as long as they contain all three elements.

1. Introduction

 A compelling hook should be included in the first sentence of your essay. You may have a personal statement in your essay body. Avoid typical cliches like opening with a famous quote (especially if it is a college essay), and make sure you connect with your audience with measurable results. 

2. the Body of Your Essay

This should contain your main points and personal evidence supporting the thesis statement of your narrative essay. As a writer, you can share how your personal experiences shape your point of view and reflect on the knowledge gained. 

3. Keep the Positive Spirit Going

Ensure that you are proud of your current achievements and there is always room for improvement. Identify both strong and weak sides. The courage to admit one’s flaws is crucial for every person. 

4. Conclusions

The conclusion should include your thesis and explain your story or reveal a more profound truth. What you want the reader to take away from this particular piece should be summarized in this essay. 

5. Make Sure You Proofread Your Work

Make sure your intent is clear, and your narrative is easy to follow, aside from checking spelling and grammar. It’s always helpful to reread your work, no matter how good your writing skills are. 

Difference Between Personal and Formal Essay

A Personal essay should be separate from a formal one. Personal narrative essays focus on life experiences rather than argumentation. Describe any significant life situation without supporting any point of view. The point is to emphasize feelings and emotions. However, a formal essay presents a thesis that must be further proved using supporting evidence. The subject is researched very thoroughly for this type of writing. 

A Guide to Writing Outline of a Personal Essay

Abir Ghenaiet

Abir is a data analyst and researcher. Among her interests are artificial intelligence, machine learning, and natural language processing. As a humanitarian and educator, she actively supports women in tech and promotes diversity.

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Essay Writing Guide

Essay Outline

Last updated on: Jun 10, 2023

A Complete Essay Outline - Guidelines and Format

By: Nova A.

13 min read

Reviewed By: Melisa C.

Published on: Jan 15, 2019

Essay Outline

To write an effective essay, you need to create a clear and well-organized essay outline. An essay outline will shape the essay’s entire content and determine how successful the essay will be.

In this blog post, we'll be going over the basics of essay outlines and provide a template for you to follow. We will also include a few examples so that you can get an idea about how these outlines look when they are put into practice.

Essay writing is not easy, but it becomes much easier with time, practice, and a detailed essay writing guide. Once you have developed your outline, everything else will come together more smoothly.

The key to success in any area is preparation - take the time now to develop a solid outline and then write your essays!

So, let’s get started!

Essay Outline

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What is an Essay Outline?

An essay outline is your essay plan and a roadmap to essay writing. It is the structure of an essay you are about to write. It includes all the main points you have to discuss in each section along with the thesis statement.

Like every house has a map before it is constructed, the same is the importance of an essay outline. You can write an essay without crafting an outline, but you may miss essential information, and it is more time-consuming.

Once the outline is created, there is no chance of missing any important information. Also, it will help you to:

  • Organize your thoughts and ideas.
  • Understand the information flow.
  • Never miss any crucial information or reference.
  • Finish your work faster.

These are the reasons if someone asks you why an essay outline is needed. Now there are some points that must be kept in mind before proceeding to craft an essay outline.

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Prewriting Process of Essay Outline

Your teacher may ask you to submit your essay outline before your essay. Therefore, you must know the preliminary guidelines that are necessary before writing an essay outline.

Here are the guidelines:

  • You must go through your assignments’ guidelines carefully.
  • Understand the purpose of your assignment.
  • Know your audience.
  • Mark the important point while researching your topic data.
  • Select the structure of your essay outline; whether you are going to use a decimal point bullet or a simple one.

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How to Write an Essay Outline in 4 Steps

Creating an essay outline is a crucial step in crafting a well-structured and organized piece of writing. Follow these four simple steps to create an effective outline:

Step 1: Understand the Topic

To begin, thoroughly grasp the essence of your essay topic. 

Break it down into its key components and identify the main ideas you want to convey. This step ensures you have a clear direction and focus for your essay.

Step 2: Brainstorm and Gather Ideas

Let your creativity flow and brainstorm ideas related to your topic. 

Jot down key pieces of information, arguments, and supporting evidence that will strengthen your essay's overall message. Consider different perspectives and potential counterarguments to make your essay well-rounded.

Step 3: Organize Your Thoughts

Now it's time to give structure to your ideas. 

Arrange your main points in a logical order, starting with an attention-grabbing introduction, followed by body paragraphs that present your arguments. 

Finally, tie everything together with a compelling conclusion. Remember to use transitional phrases to create smooth transitions between sections.

Step 4: Add Depth with Subpoints

To add depth and clarity to your essay, incorporate subpoints under each main point. 

These subpoints provide more specific details, evidence, or examples that support your main ideas. They help to further strengthen your arguments and make your essay more convincing.

By following these four steps - you'll be well on your way to creating a clear and compelling essay outline.

Essay Outline Format

It is an easy way for you to write your thoughts in an organized manner. It may seem unnecessary and unimportant, but it is not.

It is one of the most crucial steps for essay writing as it shapes your entire essay and aids the writing process.

An essay outline consists of three main parts:

1. Introduction

The introduction body of your essay should be attention-grabbing. It should be written in such a manner that it attracts the reader’s interest. It should also provide background information about the topic for the readers.

You can use a dramatic tone to grab readers’ attention, but it should connect the audience to your thesis statement.

Here are some points without which your introduction paragraph is incomplete.

To attract the reader with the first few opening lines, we use a hook statement. It helps engage the reader and motivates them to read further. There are different types of hook sentences ranging from quotes, rhetorical questions to anecdotes and statistics, and much more.

Are you struggling to come up with an interesting hook? View these hook examples to get inspired!

A thesis statement is stated at the end of your introduction. It is the most important statement of your entire essay. It summarizes the purpose of the essay in one sentence.

The thesis statement tells the readers about the main theme of the essay, and it must be strong and clear. It holds the entire crux of your essay.

Need help creating a strong thesis statement? Check out this guide on thesis statements and learn to write a statement that perfectly captures your main argument!

2. Body Paragraphs

The body paragraphs of an essay are where all the details and evidence come into play. This is where you dive deep into the argument, providing explanations and supporting your ideas with solid evidence. 

If you're writing a persuasive essay, these paragraphs will be the powerhouse that convinces your readers. Similarly, in an argumentative essay, your body paragraphs will work their magic to sway your audience to your side.

Each paragraph should have a topic sentence and no more than one idea. A topic sentence is the crux of the contents of your paragraph. It is essential to keep your reader interested in the essay.

The topic sentence is followed by the supporting points and opinions, which are then justified with strong evidence.

3. Conclusion

When it comes to wrapping up your essay, never underestimate the power of a strong conclusion. Just like the introduction and body paragraphs, the conclusion plays a vital role in providing a sense of closure to your topic. 

To craft an impactful conclusion, it's crucial to summarize the key points discussed in the introduction and body paragraphs. You want to remind your readers of the important information you shared earlier. But keep it concise and to the point. Short, powerful sentences will leave a lasting impression.

Remember, your conclusion shouldn't drag on. Instead, restate your thesis statement and the supporting points you mentioned earlier. And here's a pro tip: go the extra mile and suggest a course of action. It leaves your readers with something to ponder or reflect on.

5 Paragraph Essay Outline Structure

An outline is an essential part of the writing as it helps the writer stay focused. A typical 5 paragraph essay outline example is shown here. This includes:

  • State the topic
  • Thesis statement
  • Introduction
  • Explanation
  • A conclusion that ties to the thesis
  • Summary of the essay
  • Restate the thesis statement

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Essay Outline Template

The outline of the essay is the skeleton that you will fill out with the content. Both outline and relevant content are important for a good essay. The content you will add to flesh out the outline should be credible, relevant, and interesting.

The outline structure for the essay is not complex or difficult. No matter which type of essay you write, you either use an alphanumeric structure or a decimal structure for the outline.

Below is an outline sample that you can easily follow for your essay.

Essay Outline Sample

Essay Outline Examples

An essay outline template should follow when you start writing the essay. Every writer should learn how to write an outline for every type of essay and research paper.

Essay outline 4th grade

Essay outline 5th grade

Essay outline high school

Essay outline college

Given below are essay outline examples for different types of essay writing.

Argumentative Essay Outline

An  argumentative essay  is a type of essay that shows both sides of the topic that you are exploring. The argument that presents the basis of the essay should be created by providing evidence and supporting details.

Persuasive Essay Outline

A  persuasive essay  is similar to an argumentative essay. Your job is to provide facts and details to create the argument. In a persuasive essay, you convince your readers of your point of view.

Compare and Contrast Essay Outline

A  compare and contrast essay  explains the similarities and differences between two things. While comparing, you should focus on the differences between two seemingly similar objects. While contrasting, you should focus on the similarities between two different objects.

Narrative Essay Outline

A narrative essay is written to share a story. Normally, a narrative essay is written from a personal point of view in an essay. The basic purpose of the narrative essay is to describe something creatively.

Expository Essay Outline

An  expository essay  is a type of essay that explains, analyzes, and illustrates something for the readers. An expository essay should be unbiased and entirely based on facts. Be sure to use academic resources for your research and cite your sources.

Analytical Essay Outline

An  analytical essay  is written to analyze the topic from a critical point of view. An analytical essay breaks down the content into different parts and explains the topic bit by bit.

Rhetorical Analysis Essay Outline

A rhetorical essay is written to examine the writer or artist’s work and develop a great essay. It also includes the discussion.

Cause and Effect Essay Outline

A  cause and effect essay  describes why something happens and examines the consequences of an occurrence or phenomenon. It is also a type of expository essay.

Informative Essay Outline

An  informative essay  is written to inform the audience about different objects, concepts, people, issues, etc.

The main purpose is to respond to the question with a detailed explanation and inform the target audience about the topic.

Synthesis Essay Outline

A  synthesis essay  requires the writer to describe a certain unique viewpoint about the issue or topic. Create a claim about the topic and use different sources and information to prove it.

Literary Analysis Essay Outline

A  literary analysis essay  is written to analyze and examine a novel, book, play, or any other piece of literature. The writer analyzes the different devices such as the ideas, characters, plot, theme, tone, etc., to deliver his message.

Definition Essay Outline

A  definition essay  requires students to pick a particular concept, term, or idea and define it in their own words and according to their understanding.

Descriptive Essay Outline

A  descriptive essay  is a type of essay written to describe a person, place, object, or event. The writer must describe the topic so that the reader can visualize it using their five senses.

Evaluation Essay Outline

Problem Solution Essay Outline

In a problem-solution essay, you are given a problem as a topic and you have to suggest multiple solutions on it.

Scholarship Essay Outline

A  scholarship essay  is required at the time of admission when you are applying for a scholarship. Scholarship essays must be written in a way that should stand alone to help you get a scholarship.

Reflective Essay Outline

A reflective essay  is written to express your own thoughts and point of view regarding a specific topic.

Getting started on your essay? Give this comprehensive essay writing guide a read to make sure you write an effective essay!

With this complete guide, now you understand how to create an outline for your essay successfully. However, if you still can’t write an effective essay, then the best option is to consult a professional academic writing service.

Essay writing is a dull and boring task for some people. So why not get some help instead of wasting your time and effort?  5StarEssays.com is here to help you. All your  do my essay for me  requests are managed by professional essay writers.

Place your order now, and our team of expert academic writers will help you.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the three types of outlines.

Here are the three types of essay outline;

  • Working outline
  • Speaking outline
  • Full-sentence outline

All three types are different from each other and are used for different purposes.

What does a full-sentence outline look like?

A full sentence outline contains full sentences at each level of the essay’s outline. It is similar to an alphanumeric outline and it is a commonly used essay outline.

What is a traditional outline format?

A traditional essay outline begins with writing down all the important points in one place and listing them down and adding sub-topics to them. Besides, it will also include evidence and proof that you will use to back your arguments.

What is the benefit of using a traditional outline format and an informal outline format?

A traditional outline format helps the students in listing down all the important details in one palace while an informal outline will help you coming up with new ideas and highlighting important points

Nova A.

As a Digital Content Strategist, Nova Allison has eight years of experience in writing both technical and scientific content. With a focus on developing online content plans that engage audiences, Nova strives to write pieces that are not only informative but captivating as well.

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Personal Essay

How To Write Personal Essay - A Comprehensive Guide

Personal essays, one of the prerequisites in most universities, aim to tell a story about personal experiences highlighting your skills and abilities. It might sound easy, but the challenge is to make it unique.

Here, we will take a deep dive into the concept of personal essays, know about the types and learn the best ways to write one.

Let’s get going!  

What is a Personal Essay?

Personal essays can be defined as non-fictional work with an aim to describe a significant event or a personal experience. These essays are generally written from a first-person perspective. These essays act as stepping stones in the admission process.

Personal essay writing is a skill that you need to enhance to confirm your seat at any university. The admission panel uses these pieces to understand a candidate before even calling them for an interview.

That being said, there’s no way to ignore the significance of these write-ups. Knowing the personal essay definition will not be enough. Hence, continue reading the blog to gain more knowledge about the essays.

Also read -   Expository Essay Writing Made Easy

The Characteristics of Personal Essay

What makes a personal essay interesting? Is it the story you share? While the story has a major role to play in the entire process, you need to know a few things to make your piece stand out from the crowd. On that note, here’s a look into the characteristics of personal essays:

Compelling hook

The introduction must be interesting enough to hook the readers. However, ending the section with a strong hook sentence adds value to the essay. Let's say you are writing about your experience of being called on stage for an impromptu debate.

So, end it with a sentence, ‘ I was not prepared, and all I knew was I had to face an audience and share my views on a topic I have absolutely no idea .’ What happens next is something people will be eager to know.

Engaging story

Never start and end a story stating the obvious. Make sure that the story has all the elements to keep the readers glued to it till the end. So, when you have created the suspense about what happens after you take the stage, don’t jump right to the point.

Instead, make it interesting, talk about your feelings when you went on stage, how you overcame it and end it with the way you used your skill to come out as the winner.

  • Interesting characters

Interesting characters have always added value to stories. But when it comes to personal essays, you need to use characters you have interacted with and let them take the spotlight if necessary. Remember, these write-ups are first-person narratives, and characters must be used wisely.

  • Immersive setting

Personal essays rely on real-life events, and you have to be very cautious while explaining the setting. So, you need to ensure that the readers understand each aspect of the setting and get the right experience when they go through it. Use interesting details, like sights, sounds, etc., that help readers connect with your thoughts.

Meaningful point

Your personal piece must send out a strong message about your personality. There’s no point in sharing random thoughts in the text. If you are writing about being called on stage for a debate, ensure it highlights how you made your way through it and how it helped enhance your skills.

If you have all the features of a personal essay in your piece, you can be assured of getting a call from the interviewers.

Also read -  How To Write An Analytical Essay With Examples And Topics

There are a few types of personal essays that you need to know. It will help you take the right stance and write one correctly.

The 6 Different Types of Personal Essays

Now that you are aware of the meaning of personal essays and their characteristics, it is time to learn about the different types. A personal essay can be written in various ways. You need not stick to a single pattern. On that note, let’s understand the various types of personal essays:

Braided Essay

A braided essay, as the name suggests, puts together various elements to craft a comprehensible essay. So, if you have many stories to share, pick a way to link each of them to a central topic. Also, explain why you are looking forward to using the different stories and how they can help readers. Braided essays are a great way to weave different stories together.

Fragmented Essay

Fragmented essays are directed towards breaking an essay into smaller fragments that might not feel connected at times. But the essay ends with the right tone and gives the entire essay a meaning at the end. Here, you can share different stories about your experiences and link them together at the end. It is one of the most difficult personal essays, and you have to be very careful while writing one.

Graphic Essay

If you want to make an impact with your essay, you might want to write a graphic essay. These essays tend to use images and graphics to describe the various experiences. Adding images and images help readers connect with the same.

Hermit Crab Essay

Hermit crabs are known to take on an existing form. These types of personal essays share similar features. Explaining your personal experiences in a set of instructions or as a social media post can be possible. Hermit crab essays are not what traditional personal essays look like. Yet, they are a nice way to share your experiences.

Lyric Essay

If you are a creative person and want to leave that touch in your essay, you can do that. Very few students know that personal essays can use poetic tools. It is crucial to make personal essays better than others, and using poetic tools can help you make them stand out from the crowd. These essays are written in prose paragraphs and switch to poetic stanzas.

Personal Reportage Essay

Did you know that you can use fiction in your non-fiction essays? While many might find that surprising, it is a way to share your personal experiences. You are allowed to use some fictional elements, like plot twists, engaging dialogues, etc., to make the essay more interesting. Personal reportage essays are a great way to keep your audience glued to your essay till the end.

Moving on, we will delve deep into the world of personal essays and understand why you are asked to write one.

Also read -  Process Essay Outline

What is the Purpose of a Personal Essay?

Personal essays aim to shed light on your skills and knowledge to help you be ahead in the competition. But what is the reason for personal  essay writing ?

First, these pieces help you connect with readers at a personal level. Second, it helps you highlight your skills using storytelling techniques and enhances your writing skills. Third, it is the ticket to an interview at your preferred university. Finally, it is the write-up that allows readers to learn about you at a personal level.

The essay is a part of your application and helps you portray yourself as the fittest candidate for the course you are applying to.

Personal Essay Outline

One thing that does not change for essays is the structure. Personal essays follow the traditional 3-paragraph structure. However, it is crucial to learn the things you need to write in each section before you start to work on it. Here’s a look into the personal essay format:

  • Introduction

The introduction of a personal essay must start with a hook sentence to grab readers’ attention. Also, provide a statement that you are willing to discuss and prove by the end of the essay.

For example, if you are talking about your experience of being in a place away from friends and family, use a sentence like, ‘ I feel getting out of your comfort zone is important for growth .’

The body section is the one where you share the story and talk about the experiences you had. You must use proper examples and evidence to prove your point. Also, include points to justify how the experience changed your perspective and made you a better version of yourself.

This section summarizes the entire essay, revisits the main points of the essay and restates your thesis statement. It is also where you connect the dots and state the key takeaways for readers. Make the readers understand why your essay is important and the lesson learnt from the entire piece.

A personal essay outline must have all these sections. You must know the importance of each section and distribute the points accordingly.

How Can We Choose the Perfect Personal Essay Topics?

The topic is what defines the entire essay. So, while you brainstorm for a topic, ensure you are comfortable writing about it. Choosing the best topics for a personal essay can be tough. But if you follow these three tips, it will be easy for you to zero in on one:

  • Keep it specific
  • The topic should be fun to write about
  • Choose something that matters to you

It is true that we all have enough experiences. So, when we are asked to write on one, we get tired of searching for the perfect one. It is wise to understand why you are writing it and select a perfect personal  essay topics  accordingly.

How to Write Personal Essay – A Simple Guide

Students are often seen struggling to overcome the hurdles of writing a personal essay. So, to ease your problems, here are a few tips for writing a personal essay:

Understand the main objective

You might have a story to tell. But you have to understand if the story meets the main objective. Suppose you have applied for a computer science course and you write a personal essay on a trip with friends. Will that add value? The answer is a NO. Instead, if you write about how you learned and implemented the various aspects of computer science, it will attract the interviewers.

Start with a strong hook

It is crucial to grab readers’ attention from the first section. A strong hook is the most necessary element of a good personal essay. So, if you are writing about your leadership qualities and speaking about your captaincy skills in a football match, consider saying,

“ We were two goals down by the end of the first half, and I had the massive task of motivating the players for a great second half .”

Create an outline

You have to streamline your thoughts to craft a flawless essay. An essay outline helps you distribute the points uniformly throughout the essay. Hence, before you start writing the paper, create an outline with all the points for each section.

Write, proofread and edit

Once you have created a roadmap, start writing the paper. Ensure to cover all the points to justify the main objective of the essay. Also, do not forget to proofread and edit the paper before submitting it. Make sure there are no errors and add more finesse to grab the readers’ attention.

Following these tips will ease the process of writing personal essays. The next section will help you get familiar with some trending personal essay topics.

Also read - What Is ASA Format? - A Complete Guide

A List of the Most Effective Personal Essay Topics

Personal narrative essay topics.

  • Stories from my bike learning days
  • A moment that made me feel proud of myself
  • A story about my happiest memory
  • The day I moved to a new town
  • A story about the day when I got my first pet
  • An experience like never before: My first-ever field trip
  • The best meal or celebration I have ever attended
  • My first experience of getting paid for work
  • My first experience staying away from my family
  • The best gift I have ever received

PERSONAL ARGUMENTATIVE ESSAY TOPICS

  • The things I can live without
  • The various reasons I am concerned with environmental issues
  • The amount of money I need to be happy
  • My take on the importance of personal growth
  • The role of males and females in a family
  • How do I feel about the concept of feminism?
  • The real meaning of Being a Human: My Perspective
  • The most precious moments of my life
  • What do I pick between wealth and happiness?
  • My take on getting a tattoo

PERSONAL ESSAY TOPICS FOR COLLEGE STUDENTS

  • The goal I have to achieve in life
  • My take on the meaning of success
  • My perception of freedom in life
  • Would I like to come out of my comfort zone?
  • The various things I value in my life
  • The things I hate the most
  • When and how I met my college roommates?
  • My plans on the ways I want to spend my gap year
  • The things I learned from my failures
  • The outdoor activities I like the most

The topics will save you from the hassles of searching for one.

Let’s understand personal essays with some examples in the next section.

Personal Essay Examples

The following examples will clear the air and help you understand the correct personal essay writing method:

Personal Narrative Essay Examples

personal narrative essay example

If you look at the example above, you will understand how the author uses a hook and goes on to narrate a story about relying on his abilities to overcome the odds. Further, if you look at the conclusion, you will see how the author revisited the main point and connected the entire story.

Personal College Essay Examples

personal college essay example

Ideally, a personal essay for college must shed light on what you are looking forward to while studying in college. In the essay, the author has stated clearly what they want along with the goal. These essays grab readers' attention and pave the way for an interview.

Final Thoughts

When it comes to personal essays, you need to know what you are expected to write and approach them accordingly. There’s no better way of telling your stories other than personal essays. So, if you are willing to study at a prestigious university, learn everything about personal essays and start enhancing your essay writing skills today!

Q.1. What makes a personal essay effective?

You need to ensure that the personal essay has all the necessary elements to grab the attention of readers. Here are a few crucial elements that make a personal essay effective:

  • A compelling hook
  • An engaging story
  • A meaningful point

Q.2. What are the components of a personal essay?

The components of a personal essay make it worth reading. You must know how to use the right elements to craft a perfect essay. Here are the most important components of a personal essay:

Q.3. Does a personal essay need a thesis?

Personal essays need a thesis statement, but the way to state it might differ. In some cases, thesis statements are stated directly in the essay, while in others, the thesis is implied instead of stating it directly. You need to make sure you have the right understanding of a thesis statement before using it in your essay.

Q.4. How are personal essays formatted?

It is important to know the structure of a personal essay and use your points correctly to justify the essay. Generally, a personal essay has an introductory paragraph that carries the thesis statement, three body paragraphs and a conclusion restating the thesis. You must mention things that make you stand out from the crowd to justify the essay and make a mark.

Q.5. Is a personal essay informal?

Generally, personal essays are conversational and aim to share personal experiences. While the tone of these essays is conversational, you need not be informal while writing an essay. You have to ensure the essay is formal, as it is an important document for your admission.

Q.6. What is the genre of a personal essay?

A personal essay is an autobiographical piece, but it is not a lengthy write-up. It is mainly directed towards highlighting the author's own experience with a focus on their skills and abilities. It is an important document for admission processes and interviews, and you have to be very careful while writing one.

Q.7. How long should a personal essay be?

A personal essay is not a lengthy piece of writing. You need to keep it short and explain your views properly to make an impact. Generally, a personal essay is restricted to 400-600 words. However, colleges using the Common App personal statement require candidates to write a personal essay of 250-650 words.

Q.8. Can a personal essay be written in the third person?

It is not possible to write a personal essay from a third-person perspective. As the essays aim to highlight your experiences and focus on your skills, it is crucial to write the essay from a first-person perspective. Using a third-person perspective destroys the entire aim of the essay.

Q.9. What tense should be used in a personal essay?

As personal essays tell stories about past experiences, it is crucial to use past tense while writing the paper. You need to write it from a first-person perspective and share your experiences to connect with the readers.

Q.10. Is a personal essay a short story?

You should not mistake a personal essay with that of a short story. It is important to understand that short stories are fiction, and personal essays are based on real-life experiences. You have to be very cautious while presenting each section and ensure that you use the right hook and thesis statement to grab readers’ attention.

  • Published On 26 Oct, 2022 | Updated on 18 Aug, 2023

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Bella Phillips As a passionate blogger for Essay Help USA by #1 Writing Expert 50% Off.I am currently employed at a leading Business Law firm in White Plains. I am associated with Allessaywriter.com for several years and helping the Law students with their essays.

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How to Write an Essay Outline with Examples

TeacherVision Staff

Why Write an Essay Outline?

An essay outline will help you organize your main ideas and determine the order in which you are going to write about them. In some cases, a decimal outline may allow you to organize your details better. Writing an outline with an alphanumeric structure is another very effective way to think through how you will organize and present the information in your essay. It also helps you develop a strong argumentative essay.

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Looking for a printable list of essay outline examples?

Our printable PDF features essay outline examples and templates that your students can use as examples when writing research papers, or as a supplement for an essay-writing unit.

Sample Outline - Persuasive Essay

Competitive Swimming, an Ideal Sport for Kids

Introduction

Start your argumentative essay outline by stating your point of view and/or present your persuasive argument.

Thesis: Competitive swimming is a great alternative to other youth sports.

Body Paragraph 1

Introduce your primary persuasive argument and provide supporting details in your argumentative essay outline.

Topic Sentence:   Competitive swimming provides the same benefits as other sports.

  • Detail Sentence 1:   It is good exercise and builds muscular strength.
  • Detail Sentence 2:   It promotes cooperation among team members, especially in relays.

Body Paragraph 2

Introduce a secondary argument and provide supporting details.

Topic Sentence:   Competitive swimming provides some unique additional benefits.

  • Detail Sentence 1:   Swimming is an important skill that can be used forever.
  • Detail Sentence 2:  Swimming poses a reduced risk of injury.
  • Detail Sentence 3:   Each swimmer can easily chart his or her own progress.

Conclude your essay writing with a summary of the thesis and persuasive arguments. Brainstorming details that support your point-of-view is a great way to start before creating your outline and first draft.

Concluding Sentence:   There are many reasons why competitive swimming is a great alternative to other youth sports, including...

Sample Outline - Narrative Essay

How Losing a Swim Meet Made Me a Better Swimmer

Introduce the subject of your narrative essay using a thesis statement and a plan of development (POD).

Thesis: The first time I participated in a competitive swim meet, I finished in last place. With more focused training and coaching, I was able to finish 2nd in the State Championship meet.

Plan of development:   I was very disappointed in my results from the first meet, so I improved my training and fitness. This helped me swim better and faster, which helped me to greatly improve my results.

Set the scene and provide supporting details. Again, start by brainstorming different ways to begin; then go ahead and craft an outline and a first draft.

Topic Sentence:   I was embarrassed at finishing last in my first competitive swim meet, so I began working on ways to improve my performance.

  • Detail Sentence 1:   I spent extra time with my coach and the team captains learning how to improve my technique.
  • Detail Sentence 2:   I started running and lifting weights to increase my overall fitness level.

Provide additional supporting details, descriptions, and experiences to develop your general idea in your essay writing.

Topic Sentence:   Over time, my results began to improve and I was able to qualify for the state championship meet.

  • Detail Sentence 1:   My technique and fitness level made me faster and able to swim longer distances.
  • Detail Sentence 2:  I steadily got better, and I began winning or placing in the top 3 at most of my meets.
  • Detail Sentence 3:  My results improved to the point that I was able to qualify for the state championship meet.

Body Paragraph 3

The next step in the writing process is to provide additional supporting details, descriptions, and experiences. You can then divide them up under different headings.

Topic Sentence:   With my new confidence, techniques, and fitness level, I was able to finish 2nd at the state championship meet.

  • Detail Sentence 1:   I was able to swim well against a higher level of competition due to my training and technique.
  • Detail Sentence 2:  I was no longer embarrassed about my last-place finish, and was able to use it as motivation!

Conclude the narrative essay with a recap of the events described or a reflection on the lesson learned in the story. Briefly summarize the details you included under each heading.

Concluding Sentence:   I used my last-place finish in my first competitive swim meet as motivation to improve my performance.

Sample Outline - Descriptive Essay

Visiting the Hockey Hall of Fame

Introduce the subject of your descriptive essay with a thesis statement covering the person, place, object, etc. you are writing about.

Thesis: The Hockey Hall of Fame is full of sights, sounds, and experiences that will delight hockey fans of all ages.

Set the scene and provide factual details.

Topic Sentence:   The Hockey Hall of Fame is located in Toronto, Canada and features exhibits from amateur and professional hockey.

  • Detail Sentence 1:   The Hall is located in downtown Toronto and is visited by 1 million people every year.
  • Detail Sentence 2:   You can see exhibits ranging from the early beginnings of the sport to the modern NHL and Olympics.

Provide additional sensory details, descriptions, and experiences.

Topic Sentence:   There are many types of exhibits and shows, including activities you can participate in.

  • Detail Sentence 1:  Player statues, plaques, and jerseys decorate the walls in every room of the Hall.
  • Detail Sentence 2:  Many of the exhibits have movies and multimedia activities that make you feel like you're part of the game.
  • Detail Sentence 3:  You can even practice shooting pucks on virtual versions of some of the game's greatest goalies!

Conclude the essay with a paragraph that restates the thesis and recaps the descriptive and sensory details.

Concluding Sentence:   The Hockey Hall of Fame is an experience that combines the best sights, sounds and history of the game in Toronto.

Sample Outline - Expository Essay

Why The School Year Should be Shorter

Introduce the primary argument or main point of an expository essay, or other types of academic writing, using a thesis statement and context.

Thesis: The school year is too long, and should be shortened to benefit students and teachers, save districts money, and improve test scores and academic results. Other countries have shorter school years, and achieve better results.

Describe the primary argument and provide supporting details and evidence.

Topic Sentence:   A shorter school year would benefit students and teachers by giving them more time off.

  • Detail Sentence 1:   Students and teachers would be able to spend more time with their families.
  • Detail Sentence 2:  Teachers would be refreshed and rejuvenated and able to teach more effectively.

Provide additional supporting details and evidence, as in this essay outline example.

Topic Sentence:  A shorter school year would save school districts millions of dollars per year.

  • Detail Sentence 1:   Districts could save money on energy costs by keeping schools closed longer.
  • Detail Sentence 2:  A shorter school year means much lower supply and transportation costs.
  • Detail Sentence 3:  Well-rested and happy students would help improve test scores.

Provide additional or supplemental supporting details, evidence, and analysis, as in the essay outline example.

Topic Sentence:   Shortening the school year would also provide many benefits for parents and caregivers.

  • Detail Sentence 1:   A shorter school year would mean less stress and running around for parents.
  • Detail Sentence 2:  Caregivers would have more balance in their lives with fewer days in the school year.

Conclude the essay with an overview of the main argument, and highlight the importance of your evidence and conclusion.

Concluding Sentence:   Shortening the school year would be a great way to improve the quality of life for students, teachers, and parents while saving money for districts and improving academic results.

Sample Research Paper Outline

The Conquest of Mt. Everest

  • Location of Mt. Everest
  • Geography of the Surrounding Area
  • Height of the mountain
  • Jomolungma (Tibetan name)
  • Sagarmatha (Nepalese name)
  • The number of people who have climbed Everest to date
  • First to reach the summit (1953)
  • Led a team of experienced mountain climbers who worked together
  • Norgay was an experienced climber and guide who accompanied Hillary
  • Sherpas still used to guide expeditions
  • Leader of the failed 1996 expedition
  • Led group of (mainly) tourists with little mountain climbing experience
  • Loss of trees due to high demand for wood for cooking and heating for tourists.
  • Piles of trash left by climbing expeditions
  • Expedition fees provide income for the country
  • Expeditions provide work for the Sherpas, contributing to the local economy.
  • Introduction of motor vehicles
  • Introduction of electricity

The Everest essay outline template is based on a research paper submitted by Alexandra Ferber, grade 9.

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  • How to structure an essay: Templates and tips

How to Structure an Essay | Tips & Templates

Published on September 18, 2020 by Jack Caulfield . Revised on July 23, 2023.

The basic structure of an essay always consists of an introduction , a body , and a conclusion . But for many students, the most difficult part of structuring an essay is deciding how to organize information within the body.

Table of contents

The basics of essay structure, chronological structure, compare-and-contrast structure, problems-methods-solutions structure, signposting to clarify your structure, other interesting articles, frequently asked questions about essay structure.

There are two main things to keep in mind when working on your essay structure: making sure to include the right information in each part, and deciding how you’ll organize the information within the body.

Parts of an essay

The three parts that make up all essays are described in the table below.

Order of information

You’ll also have to consider how to present information within the body. There are a few general principles that can guide you here.

The first is that your argument should move from the simplest claim to the most complex . The body of a good argumentative essay often begins with simple and widely accepted claims, and then moves towards more complex and contentious ones.

For example, you might begin by describing a generally accepted philosophical concept, and then apply it to a new topic. The grounding in the general concept will allow the reader to understand your unique application of it.

The second principle is that background information should appear towards the beginning of your essay . General background is presented in the introduction. If you have additional background to present, this information will usually come at the start of the body.

The third principle is that everything in your essay should be relevant to the thesis . Ask yourself whether each piece of information advances your argument or provides necessary background. And make sure that the text clearly expresses each piece of information’s relevance.

The sections below present several organizational templates for essays: the chronological approach, the compare-and-contrast approach, and the problems-methods-solutions approach.

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The chronological approach (sometimes called the cause-and-effect approach) is probably the simplest way to structure an essay. It just means discussing events in the order in which they occurred, discussing how they are related (i.e. the cause and effect involved) as you go.

A chronological approach can be useful when your essay is about a series of events. Don’t rule out other approaches, though—even when the chronological approach is the obvious one, you might be able to bring out more with a different structure.

Explore the tabs below to see a general template and a specific example outline from an essay on the invention of the printing press.

  • Thesis statement
  • Discussion of event/period
  • Consequences
  • Importance of topic
  • Strong closing statement
  • Claim that the printing press marks the end of the Middle Ages
  • Background on the low levels of literacy before the printing press
  • Thesis statement: The invention of the printing press increased circulation of information in Europe, paving the way for the Reformation
  • High levels of illiteracy in medieval Europe
  • Literacy and thus knowledge and education were mainly the domain of religious and political elites
  • Consequence: this discouraged political and religious change
  • Invention of the printing press in 1440 by Johannes Gutenberg
  • Implications of the new technology for book production
  • Consequence: Rapid spread of the technology and the printing of the Gutenberg Bible
  • Trend for translating the Bible into vernacular languages during the years following the printing press’s invention
  • Luther’s own translation of the Bible during the Reformation
  • Consequence: The large-scale effects the Reformation would have on religion and politics
  • Summarize the history described
  • Stress the significance of the printing press to the events of this period

Essays with two or more main subjects are often structured around comparing and contrasting . For example, a literary analysis essay might compare two different texts, and an argumentative essay might compare the strengths of different arguments.

There are two main ways of structuring a compare-and-contrast essay: the alternating method, and the block method.

Alternating

In the alternating method, each paragraph compares your subjects in terms of a specific point of comparison. These points of comparison are therefore what defines each paragraph.

The tabs below show a general template for this structure, and a specific example for an essay comparing and contrasting distance learning with traditional classroom learning.

  • Synthesis of arguments
  • Topical relevance of distance learning in lockdown
  • Increasing prevalence of distance learning over the last decade
  • Thesis statement: While distance learning has certain advantages, it introduces multiple new accessibility issues that must be addressed for it to be as effective as classroom learning
  • Classroom learning: Ease of identifying difficulties and privately discussing them
  • Distance learning: Difficulty of noticing and unobtrusively helping
  • Classroom learning: Difficulties accessing the classroom (disability, distance travelled from home)
  • Distance learning: Difficulties with online work (lack of tech literacy, unreliable connection, distractions)
  • Classroom learning: Tends to encourage personal engagement among students and with teacher, more relaxed social environment
  • Distance learning: Greater ability to reach out to teacher privately
  • Sum up, emphasize that distance learning introduces more difficulties than it solves
  • Stress the importance of addressing issues with distance learning as it becomes increasingly common
  • Distance learning may prove to be the future, but it still has a long way to go

In the block method, each subject is covered all in one go, potentially across multiple paragraphs. For example, you might write two paragraphs about your first subject and then two about your second subject, making comparisons back to the first.

The tabs again show a general template, followed by another essay on distance learning, this time with the body structured in blocks.

  • Point 1 (compare)
  • Point 2 (compare)
  • Point 3 (compare)
  • Point 4 (compare)
  • Advantages: Flexibility, accessibility
  • Disadvantages: Discomfort, challenges for those with poor internet or tech literacy
  • Advantages: Potential for teacher to discuss issues with a student in a separate private call
  • Disadvantages: Difficulty of identifying struggling students and aiding them unobtrusively, lack of personal interaction among students
  • Advantages: More accessible to those with low tech literacy, equality of all sharing one learning environment
  • Disadvantages: Students must live close enough to attend, commutes may vary, classrooms not always accessible for disabled students
  • Advantages: Ease of picking up on signs a student is struggling, more personal interaction among students
  • Disadvantages: May be harder for students to approach teacher privately in person to raise issues

An essay that concerns a specific problem (practical or theoretical) may be structured according to the problems-methods-solutions approach.

This is just what it sounds like: You define the problem, characterize a method or theory that may solve it, and finally analyze the problem, using this method or theory to arrive at a solution. If the problem is theoretical, the solution might be the analysis you present in the essay itself; otherwise, you might just present a proposed solution.

The tabs below show a template for this structure and an example outline for an essay about the problem of fake news.

  • Introduce the problem
  • Provide background
  • Describe your approach to solving it
  • Define the problem precisely
  • Describe why it’s important
  • Indicate previous approaches to the problem
  • Present your new approach, and why it’s better
  • Apply the new method or theory to the problem
  • Indicate the solution you arrive at by doing so
  • Assess (potential or actual) effectiveness of solution
  • Describe the implications
  • Problem: The growth of “fake news” online
  • Prevalence of polarized/conspiracy-focused news sources online
  • Thesis statement: Rather than attempting to stamp out online fake news through social media moderation, an effective approach to combating it must work with educational institutions to improve media literacy
  • Definition: Deliberate disinformation designed to spread virally online
  • Popularization of the term, growth of the phenomenon
  • Previous approaches: Labeling and moderation on social media platforms
  • Critique: This approach feeds conspiracies; the real solution is to improve media literacy so users can better identify fake news
  • Greater emphasis should be placed on media literacy education in schools
  • This allows people to assess news sources independently, rather than just being told which ones to trust
  • This is a long-term solution but could be highly effective
  • It would require significant organization and investment, but would equip people to judge news sources more effectively
  • Rather than trying to contain the spread of fake news, we must teach the next generation not to fall for it

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a personal essay outline

See editing example

Signposting means guiding the reader through your essay with language that describes or hints at the structure of what follows.  It can help you clarify your structure for yourself as well as helping your reader follow your ideas.

The essay overview

In longer essays whose body is split into multiple named sections, the introduction often ends with an overview of the rest of the essay. This gives a brief description of the main idea or argument of each section.

The overview allows the reader to immediately understand what will be covered in the essay and in what order. Though it describes what  comes later in the text, it is generally written in the present tense . The following example is from a literary analysis essay on Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein .

Transitions

Transition words and phrases are used throughout all good essays to link together different ideas. They help guide the reader through your text, and an essay that uses them effectively will be much easier to follow.

Various different relationships can be expressed by transition words, as shown in this example.

Because Hitler failed to respond to the British ultimatum, France and the UK declared war on Germany. Although it was an outcome the Allies had hoped to avoid, they were prepared to back up their ultimatum in order to combat the existential threat posed by the Third Reich.

Transition sentences may be included to transition between different paragraphs or sections of an essay. A good transition sentence moves the reader on to the next topic while indicating how it relates to the previous one.

… Distance learning, then, seems to improve accessibility in some ways while representing a step backwards in others.

However , considering the issue of personal interaction among students presents a different picture.

If you want to know more about AI tools , college essays , or fallacies make sure to check out some of our other articles with explanations and examples or go directly to our tools!

  • Ad hominem fallacy
  • Post hoc fallacy
  • Appeal to authority fallacy
  • False cause fallacy
  • Sunk cost fallacy

College essays

  • Choosing Essay Topic
  • Write a College Essay
  • Write a Diversity Essay
  • College Essay Format & Structure
  • Comparing and Contrasting in an Essay

 (AI) Tools

  • Grammar Checker
  • Paraphrasing Tool
  • Text Summarizer
  • AI Detector
  • Plagiarism Checker
  • Citation Generator

The structure of an essay is divided into an introduction that presents your topic and thesis statement , a body containing your in-depth analysis and arguments, and a conclusion wrapping up your ideas.

The structure of the body is flexible, but you should always spend some time thinking about how you can organize your essay to best serve your ideas.

An essay isn’t just a loose collection of facts and ideas. Instead, it should be centered on an overarching argument (summarized in your thesis statement ) that every part of the essay relates to.

The way you structure your essay is crucial to presenting your argument coherently. A well-structured essay helps your reader follow the logic of your ideas and understand your overall point.

Comparisons in essays are generally structured in one of two ways:

  • The alternating method, where you compare your subjects side by side according to one specific aspect at a time.
  • The block method, where you cover each subject separately in its entirety.

It’s also possible to combine both methods, for example by writing a full paragraph on each of your topics and then a final paragraph contrasting the two according to a specific metric.

You should try to follow your outline as you write your essay . However, if your ideas change or it becomes clear that your structure could be better, it’s okay to depart from your essay outline . Just make sure you know why you’re doing so.

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Personal Essay Outline This is an assessment for feedback, but not...

Personal Essay Outline

This is an assessment for feedback, but not marks.  You will select a topic for a personal essay, outline and hand it in so that your teacher can provide feedback and suggestions for improvement.

Think of a difficult situation, a challenge, or an experience in your life from which you gained some insight. Use this as the topic for your personal essay outline.

Once you have decided on a topic, you are ready to  outline. Fill out either the " Personal essay form and style planner (for submission) (Opens in new window) " or the " Paragraph titles chart (for submission) (Opens in new window). ".  The planner or chart will serve as the outline for your personal essay.

For this assessment, you will be using the writing process to develop, plan, organize, and write  own personal essay about a significant moment or event in your life. Your essay should be  words in length.

It was like a week ago when suddenly at the dinner table my parents said we are going on a trip next week far away everything is ready and I also got the air tickets. After hearing that I stopped eating, I got so excited in a moment and I asked my parents with happiness in my eyes where?My father replied we are going to Saudi Arabia to perform Umrah, visit Khaba [God's/Allah's house] and see your auntie who lives in Saudi Arabia. I'm like okay,it sounds so interesting.I was super excited because  It was my first time visiting Saudi Arabia. The countdown has begun.I started packing a little bit everyday and I'm also helping my mom with packing for the entire family. All my relatives and friends came to see us.we all spent a great time together.                                                                                                                                            After a long wait finally it's the day we are going to New York first to see my aunt. After two days spending in New York my family and I are flying from the [JFK] John F.Kennedy International Airport to King Abdulaziz International Airport.The flight is more than 13 hours from the The United States and the distance is 10,249 kilometers.I'm super excited I wasn't able to sleep last night. After a long airport security check and all the process, finally my family and I hopped on the plane.Its Saudi Airlines one of the best airlines I ever experienced. My siblings and I were fighting about who's gonna sit beside the window but at the end I gave up and gave my lovely window seat to my brother. After all the announcements and boring  safety video, finally it's 7:15 pm New York time and the plane is ready to take off. In fifteen minutes after the traffic we are in the air.All the lights off, everyone minding their own business and the environment was so quiet so  I fell asleep after the take off because I didn't sleep last night.After few hours my mom woke me up for food.The food was not that good actually I don't like the aircraft food. After finishing the food I watched a movie and looked around at what people were doing.some people sleeping, some playing games on the little monitor and some people reading books.I got so bored still eight  hours to go.I'm trying to sleep but can't fall asleep.I was just looking out of the window and scrolling through my phone.The interesting part is they have a little room for people who wants to pray on the flight.Finally they are announcing  that the aircraft will land at the airport in thirty minutes.I changed my clothes because I need to wear the special clothes for the Umrah and my dad helped me to wear that.We landed in {Jeddah King} Abdulaziz International Airport.The temperature is so hot around 50 degrees.I'm not able to open my eyes I also used sunglasses but not working.The New York and toronto temperature was negative 20 that time probably. I went from super cold to super hot. It took more than thirty minutes just to open my eyes.After all the airport process  we were finally free  and my aunt and uncle were waiting for us at the airport to pick us up.I meet with them after five years.

We started the journey towards Khaba {God's house} to perform Umrah.I'm so excited just looking out of the window, no trees,no plants,super hot,only  rocky hills turned black because of the heat. We took a break in the middle. That time the luggage wheel went over my feet and my nail came off and started bleeding.I thought I will not be able to walk or perform Umrah to perform Umrah I need to walk.I'm super sad and my aunt cleaned my feet with the holy water {ZamZam water}.Something magical happened after like fifteen or twenty minutes  there's no pain no blood.Im feeling nothing happened even my one nail came off still and it's like a blessing for me I will never forget this incident. We performed Umrah with my uncle and aunt after thirteen hours of long flight.We also prayed in front of Khaba. It's also Ramadan {Muslims across the world fast from sunrise to sunset in the month of Ramadan} the people of Saudi Arabia are so nice and friendly  they give food to people for free during sunset to break the fast.Im kinda surprised. It was sunset and we got a place to sit and break the fast .I'm looking around at all the people sitting on the ground with the same food waiting to break the fast and there's no difference between people .The feeling is so amazing I can't even explain in words.After finishing the Umrah we going to the barber shop to shave the head because it's a part of Umrah. After a long long day we were at my aunt's place. I'm still surprised about the luggage thing that happened to me.

The next day we all woke up super late and we all slept at random times because of the big difference of the time. Then my family and I visited different historical places in the country of dessert .I also went to an interesting  place called ''Wadi E Jin ``. It's so mysterious.Its a valley where cars move without any touch of the driver.Our car is in neutral gear but still the car is going  so fast.Im so surprised just staring at no comments, speechless.I also dropped a water bottle the bottle suppose to go down the road but nah instead the bottle going up. The country of desert Saudi Arabia is full of mystery and historical things.We went to so many places.Now after a short trip it's time to come back home to Canada. The trip was amazing. In my opinion everyone should visit atleast once in their life. 

Answer & Explanation

       It was like a week ago when suddenly, at the dinner table my parents said we are going on a trip next week to a far away place. Everything is ready and I also got the air tickets. After hearing that I stopped eating, I got so excited in a moment and I asked my parents with happiness in my eyes where? My father replied we are going to Saudi Arabia to perform Umrah, visit Khaba [God's/Allah's house] and see your auntie who lives in Saudi Arabia. I'm like okay, it sounds so interesting.I was super excited because  It was my first time visiting Saudi Arabia. The countdown has begun, I started packing a little bit everyday and I'm also helping my mom with packing for the entire family. All my relatives and friends came to see us. We all spent a great time together.                                                                                                    After a long wait finally it's the day we are going to New York first to see my aunt. After two days spending in New York my family and I are flying from the [JFK] John F. Kennedy International Airport to King Abdulaziz International Airport. The flight is more than 13 hours from the The United States and the distance is 10,249 kilometers. I'm super excited, I wasn't able to sleep last night. After a long airport security check and all the process, finally my family and I hopped on the plane. It's Saudi Airlines one of the best airlines I ever experienced. My siblings and I were fighting about who's gonna sit beside the window but at the end I gave up and gave my lovely window seat to my brother. 

       After all the announcements and boring  safety video, finally it's 7:15 pm New York time and the plane is ready to take off. In fifteen minutes after the traffic we are in the air. All the lights off, everyone minding their own business and the environment was so quiet so  I fell asleep after the take off because I didn't sleep last night. After few hours my mom woke me up for food.The food was not that good. Actually,  I don't like the aircraft food. After finishing the food I watched a movie and looked around at what people were doing. Some people sleeping, some playing games on the little monitor and some people reading books. I got so bored still eight  hours to go.I'm trying to sleep but can't fall asleep. I was just looking out of the window and scrolling through my phone.The interesting part is they have a little room for people who wants to pray on the flight.Finally they are announcing  that the aircraft will land at the airport in thirty minutes. I changed my clothes because I need to wear the special clothes for the Umrah and my dad helped me to wear that. We landed in {Jeddah King} Abdulaziz International Airport. The temperature is so hot around 50 degrees.I'm not able to open my eyes I also used sunglasses but not working.The New York and toronto temperature was negative 20 that time probably. I went from super cold to super hot. It took more than thirty minutes just to open my eyes. After all the airport process  we were finally free  and my aunt and uncle were waiting for us at the airport to pick us up.I meet with them after five years.

         We started the journey towards Khaba {God's house} to perform Umrah.I'm so excited just looking out of the window, no trees,no plants,super hot,only  rocky hills turned black because of the heat. We took a break in the middle. That time the luggage wheel went over my feet and my nail came off and started bleeding. I thought I will not be able to walk or perform Umrah to perform Umrah I need to walk.I'm super sad and my aunt cleaned my feet with the holy water {ZamZam water}. Something magical happened after like fifteen or twenty minutes  there's no pain no blood.Im feeling nothing happened even my one nail came off still and it's like a blessing for me I will never forget this incident. We performed Umrah with my uncle and aunt after thirteen hours of long flight.We also prayed in front of Khaba. It's also Ramadan {Muslims across the world fast from sunrise to sunset in the month of Ramadan} the people of Saudi Arabia are so nice and friendly  they give food to people for free during sunset to break the fast.Im kinda surprised. It was sunset and we got a place to sit and break the fast .I'm looking around at all the people sitting on the ground with the same food waiting to break the fast and there's no difference between people .The feeling is so amazing I can't even explain in words.After finishing the Umrah we going to the barber shop to shave the head because it's a part of Umrah. After a long long day we were at my aunt's place. I'm still surprised about the luggage thing that happened to me.

        The next day we all woke up super late and we all slept at random times because of the big difference of the time. Then my family and I visited different historical places in the country of dessert . I also went to an interesting  place called ''Wadi E Jin ``. It's so mysterious. It's a valley where cars move without any touch of the driver.Our car is in neutral gear but still the car is going  so fast.Im so surprised just staring at no comments, speechless. I also dropped a water bottle the bottle suppose to go down the road but nah instead the bottle going up. The country of desert Saudi Arabia is full of mystery and historical things.We went to so many places.Now after a short trip it's time to come back home to Canada. The trip was amazing. In my opinion everyone should visit atleast once in their life. 

Here's the outline of the Essay:

Step 1: Topic Selection Choose a topic for your personal essay. This should be a difficult situation, challenge, or experience from which you gained insight. For the purpose of this example, let's choose the topic: "Overcoming Failure and Rediscovering Confidence."

Step 2: Experience Selection Reflect on a specific instance in your life when you faced failure and how it taught you valuable lessons. This could be an academic, personal, or professional situation where you initially struggled but eventually found a way to regain your confidence and learn from the experience.

Step 3: Outline Using "Personal Essay Form and Style Planner"

Introduction:

  • Introduce the topic: "Overcoming Failure and Rediscovering Confidence."
  • Provide context: Briefly mention the situation where you faced failure and its impact on you.
  • Thesis statement: State the insight or lesson you gained from this experience.

Paragraph 1 - The Failure:

  • Describe the specific situation or challenge that led to your failure.
  • Explain how the failure made you feel and the initial impact it had on your confidence.

Paragraph 2 - Struggle and Reflection:

  • Discuss your initial reactions to the failure, such as disappointment, self-doubt, or frustration.
  • Reflect on the thoughts and emotions you experienced during this challenging time.

Paragraph 3 - Path to Redemption:

  • Explain the steps you took to overcome the failure and regain your confidence.
  • Discuss any strategies, support, or changes you made to address the situation.

Paragraph 4 - Lessons Learned:

  • Share the insights and lessons you gained from this experience.
  • Explain how the failure ultimately contributed to your personal growth and development.

Conclusion:

  • Summarize the main points of your essay.
  • Reiterate the insight you gained from overcoming the failure.
  • Reflect on how this experience has positively impacted your approach to challenges in the future.
  • End with a closing thought that emphasizes the importance of resilience and self-discovery.

Approach to solving the question: The essay you provided has been checked, and corrected of its spelling and grammar. Outline has been provided at the bottom part. I think, that's what you eman in your question, it's a little confusing though. 

Detailed explanation:

Key references:

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Should I Use ChatGPT to Write My Essays?

Everything high school and college students need to know about using — and not using — ChatGPT for writing essays.

Jessica A. Kent

ChatGPT is one of the most buzzworthy technologies today.

In addition to other generative artificial intelligence (AI) models, it is expected to change the world. In academia, students and professors are preparing for the ways that ChatGPT will shape education, and especially how it will impact a fundamental element of any course: the academic essay.

Students can use ChatGPT to generate full essays based on a few simple prompts. But can AI actually produce high quality work, or is the technology just not there yet to deliver on its promise? Students may also be asking themselves if they should use AI to write their essays for them and what they might be losing out on if they did.

AI is here to stay, and it can either be a help or a hindrance depending on how you use it. Read on to become better informed about what ChatGPT can and can’t do, how to use it responsibly to support your academic assignments, and the benefits of writing your own essays.

What is Generative AI?

Artificial intelligence isn’t a twenty-first century invention. Beginning in the 1950s, data scientists started programming computers to solve problems and understand spoken language. AI’s capabilities grew as computer speeds increased and today we use AI for data analysis, finding patterns, and providing insights on the data it collects.

But why the sudden popularity in recent applications like ChatGPT? This new generation of AI goes further than just data analysis. Instead, generative AI creates new content. It does this by analyzing large amounts of data — GPT-3 was trained on 45 terabytes of data, or a quarter of the Library of Congress — and then generating new content based on the patterns it sees in the original data.

It’s like the predictive text feature on your phone; as you start typing a new message, predictive text makes suggestions of what should come next based on data from past conversations. Similarly, ChatGPT creates new text based on past data. With the right prompts, ChatGPT can write marketing content, code, business forecasts, and even entire academic essays on any subject within seconds.

But is generative AI as revolutionary as people think it is, or is it lacking in real intelligence?

The Drawbacks of Generative AI

It seems simple. You’ve been assigned an essay to write for class. You go to ChatGPT and ask it to write a five-paragraph academic essay on the topic you’ve been assigned. You wait a few seconds and it generates the essay for you!

But ChatGPT is still in its early stages of development, and that essay is likely not as accurate or well-written as you’d expect it to be. Be aware of the drawbacks of having ChatGPT complete your assignments.

It’s not intelligence, it’s statistics

One of the misconceptions about AI is that it has a degree of human intelligence. However, its intelligence is actually statistical analysis, as it can only generate “original” content based on the patterns it sees in already existing data and work.

It “hallucinates”

Generative AI models often provide false information — so much so that there’s a term for it: “AI hallucination.” OpenAI even has a warning on its home screen , saying that “ChatGPT may produce inaccurate information about people, places, or facts.” This may be due to gaps in its data, or because it lacks the ability to verify what it’s generating. 

It doesn’t do research  

If you ask ChatGPT to find and cite sources for you, it will do so, but they could be inaccurate or even made up.

This is because AI doesn’t know how to look for relevant research that can be applied to your thesis. Instead, it generates content based on past content, so if a number of papers cite certain sources, it will generate new content that sounds like it’s a credible source — except it likely may not be.

There are data privacy concerns

When you input your data into a public generative AI model like ChatGPT, where does that data go and who has access to it? 

Prompting ChatGPT with original research should be a cause for concern — especially if you’re inputting study participants’ personal information into the third-party, public application. 

JPMorgan has restricted use of ChatGPT due to privacy concerns, Italy temporarily blocked ChatGPT in March 2023 after a data breach, and Security Intelligence advises that “if [a user’s] notes include sensitive data … it enters the chatbot library. The user no longer has control over the information.”

It is important to be aware of these issues and take steps to ensure that you’re using the technology responsibly and ethically. 

It skirts the plagiarism issue

AI creates content by drawing on a large library of information that’s already been created, but is it plagiarizing? Could there be instances where ChatGPT “borrows” from previous work and places it into your work without citing it? Schools and universities today are wrestling with this question of what’s plagiarism and what’s not when it comes to AI-generated work.

To demonstrate this, one Elon University professor gave his class an assignment: Ask ChatGPT to write an essay for you, and then grade it yourself. 

“Many students expressed shock and dismay upon learning the AI could fabricate bogus information,” he writes, adding that he expected some essays to contain errors, but all of them did. 

His students were disappointed that “major tech companies had pushed out AI technology without ensuring that the general population understands its drawbacks” and were concerned about how many embraced such a flawed tool.

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How to Use AI as a Tool to Support Your Work

As more students are discovering, generative AI models like ChatGPT just aren’t as advanced or intelligent as they may believe. While AI may be a poor option for writing your essay, it can be a great tool to support your work.

Generate ideas for essays

Have ChatGPT help you come up with ideas for essays. For example, input specific prompts, such as, “Please give me five ideas for essays I can write on topics related to WWII,” or “Please give me five ideas for essays I can write comparing characters in twentieth century novels.” Then, use what it provides as a starting point for your original research.

Generate outlines

You can also use ChatGPT to help you create an outline for an essay. Ask it, “Can you create an outline for a five paragraph essay based on the following topic” and it will create an outline with an introduction, body paragraphs, conclusion, and a suggested thesis statement. Then, you can expand upon the outline with your own research and original thought.

Generate titles for your essays

Titles should draw a reader into your essay, yet they’re often hard to get right. Have ChatGPT help you by prompting it with, “Can you suggest five titles that would be good for a college essay about [topic]?”

The Benefits of Writing Your Essays Yourself

Asking a robot to write your essays for you may seem like an easy way to get ahead in your studies or save some time on assignments. But, outsourcing your work to ChatGPT can negatively impact not just your grades, but your ability to communicate and think critically as well. It’s always the best approach to write your essays yourself.

Create your own ideas

Writing an essay yourself means that you’re developing your own thoughts, opinions, and questions about the subject matter, then testing, proving, and defending those thoughts. 

When you complete school and start your career, projects aren’t simply about getting a good grade or checking a box, but can instead affect the company you’re working for — or even impact society. Being able to think for yourself is necessary to create change and not just cross work off your to-do list.

Building a foundation of original thinking and ideas now will help you carve your unique career path in the future.

Develop your critical thinking and analysis skills

In order to test or examine your opinions or questions about a subject matter, you need to analyze a problem or text, and then use your critical thinking skills to determine the argument you want to make to support your thesis. Critical thinking and analysis skills aren’t just necessary in school — they’re skills you’ll apply throughout your career and your life.

Improve your research skills

Writing your own essays will train you in how to conduct research, including where to find sources, how to determine if they’re credible, and their relevance in supporting or refuting your argument. Knowing how to do research is another key skill required throughout a wide variety of professional fields.

Learn to be a great communicator

Writing an essay involves communicating an idea clearly to your audience, structuring an argument that a reader can follow, and making a conclusion that challenges them to think differently about a subject. Effective and clear communication is necessary in every industry.

Be impacted by what you’re learning about : 

Engaging with the topic, conducting your own research, and developing original arguments allows you to really learn about a subject you may not have encountered before. Maybe a simple essay assignment around a work of literature, historical time period, or scientific study will spark a passion that can lead you to a new major or career.

Resources to Improve Your Essay Writing Skills

While there are many rewards to writing your essays yourself, the act of writing an essay can still be challenging, and the process may come easier for some students than others. But essay writing is a skill that you can hone, and students at Harvard Summer School have access to a number of on-campus and online resources to assist them.

Students can start with the Harvard Summer School Writing Center , where writing tutors can offer you help and guidance on any writing assignment in one-on-one meetings. Tutors can help you strengthen your argument, clarify your ideas, improve the essay’s structure, and lead you through revisions. 

The Harvard libraries are a great place to conduct your research, and its librarians can help you define your essay topic, plan and execute a research strategy, and locate sources. 

Finally, review the “ The Harvard Guide to Using Sources ,” which can guide you on what to cite in your essay and how to do it. Be sure to review the “Tips For Avoiding Plagiarism” on the “ Resources to Support Academic Integrity ” webpage as well to help ensure your success.

Sign up to our mailing list to learn more about Harvard Summer School

The Future of AI in the Classroom

ChatGPT and other generative AI models are here to stay, so it’s worthwhile to learn how you can leverage the technology responsibly and wisely so that it can be a tool to support your academic pursuits. However, nothing can replace the experience and achievement gained from communicating your own ideas and research in your own academic essays.

About the Author

Jessica A. Kent is a freelance writer based in Boston, Mass. and a Harvard Extension School alum. Her digital marketing content has been featured on Fast Company, Forbes, Nasdaq, and other industry websites; her essays and short stories have been featured in North American Review, Emerson Review, Writer’s Bone, and others.

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COMMENTS

  1. How to Write an Essay Outline

    An essay outline is a way of planning the structure of your essay before you start writing. It involves writing quick summary sentences or phrases for every point you will cover in each paragraph, giving you a picture of how your argument will unfold.

  2. How to Write an Essay Outline in 4 Steps

    An essay outline is an informal document that lists and orders the parts of an essay so the writer can stay on track and make sure they don't miss anything. Because it's informal, an outline is usually written in incomplete sentences, similar to notes.

  3. How to Write a Personal Essay: Instructions, Outline

    8 min read The power of a well-written personal essay should never be underestimated. Inspiring readers with your experiences, lessons learned from past mistakes, or simply describing the joy you felt from doing a fun activity can literally change people's lives. Take a moment to reflect upon this.

  4. How to Write a Personal Essay for Your College Application

    There are seven personal essay prompts in the Common Application. You may choose to write about obstacles you've encountered, your accomplishments and realizations, moments when you experienced...

  5. How to Write a Personal Essay: 6 Tips for Writing Personal Essays

    Written by MasterClass Last updated: Sep 9, 2021 • 3 min read People write personal essays for a number of reasons. High school students write them for college admissions and writers use them to share personal stories with others. A personal narrative essay can enlighten and inspire an audience with information gained from real life experiences.

  6. How to Write a Personal Essay: Topics, Structure, & Examples

    The first and the most important thing you need to do when you are about to write a personal essay is to determine its purpose. When you know your audience, it becomes easier to find an appropriate topic for your writing. After that, you can draft an outline, which is the foundation of your future essay! ️.

  7. Personal Statement: Sample Outline

    Sample Outline A Sample Outline for Personal StatementsThis outline is meant to be a guide to writing a personal statement. It does not represent the only format for a personal statement. ... (this corresponds to the function of a thesis statement in an ordinary essay). The Body of the Personal Statement, Part 1: The Recent Past

  8. The Ultimate Guide to Personal Essay Writing

    A personal essay is a short writing work where the author describes a significant event from his life experience and tells about a lesson he learned from it. In academia, a personal essay is known as a "college essay" or a "college admission essay.". Twain, Hemingway, Fitzgerald, and other famous essayists wrote them often to share ...

  9. How to Write a Personal Essay

    Part 1 Starting Your Personal Essay Download Article 1 Find an angle for your essay. Your life may not be littered with exciting stories, or intense drama, but that's okay. Your personal essay can still be engaging for your reader if you focus on finding an angle for your essay.

  10. How To Write a Personal Essay in 8 Simple Steps (With Tips)

    8. Write the conclusion. The closing is generally one or two paragraphs long and repeats your main points in the body. Try not to share new information and focus on relaying your personal message. End your essay with a sentence that sums up the lesson in your story and links the entire essay together.

  11. PDF Template for writing a Personal Essay

    -A personal essay is the writer's personal thoughts, personal experiences, and personal truths. There are no topics that are off limits for a personal essay. However, remember that you are writing a personal essay for a scholarship and faculty and other staff members will be reading these. That being said, the readers do not know what you do not

  12. How to write a personal essay, topics, outline and examples

    As the name suggests, a personal essay is an accord of an individual's experiences. The writer uses first-person narration to highlight an occurrence and the lesson learned. The formality of this piece of writing depends on the purpose of the writer. A perfect personal essay should create a connection between the reader and the writer.

  13. How to Outline an Essay: Basic Essay Outline Template

    Written by MasterClass. Last updated: Jun 7, 2021 • 3 min read. Essay outlines are excellent tools for organizing your writing. A strong outline can turn a meandering essay into a focused, persuasive piece of writing.

  14. A Guide to Writing Outline of a Personal Essay

    1. Introduction 2. the Body of Your Essay 3. Keep the Positive Spirit Going 4. Conclusions 5. Make Sure You Proofread Your Work Difference Between Personal and Formal Essay The outline of a personal essay has to involve the experience you choose to describe. It should be more than just positive.

  15. A Complete Essay Outline

    An essay outline will shape the essay's entire content and determine how successful the essay will be. ... A narrative essay is written to share a story. Normally, a narrative essay is written from a personal point of view in an essay. The basic purpose of the narrative essay is to describe something creatively.

  16. How to write personal essay: Tips & Examples

    Personal Essay Outline. One thing that does not change for essays is the structure. Personal essays follow the traditional 3-paragraph structure. However, it is crucial to learn the things you need to write in each section before you start to work on it. Here's a look into the personal essay format:

  17. Personal Essay

    In writing a personal essay (or essay examples in doc), a writer must keep the following things in mind. 1. Pick a topic. Choose a topic that is both timely and significant in your area. Your life story can also be considered as a great topic in writing your personal essay. You may also see personal essay examples & samples. 2. Determine the focus.

  18. How To Write a Personal Narrative (With Examples)

    Try to outline what details you want to include in the introduction, body and conclusion of the narrative. You can make a list of each detail and any accompanying information to include. The personal narrative usually follows the flow of a personal story, including your thoughts and considerations. Read more: How To Write an Outline 3.

  19. How to Create a Simple Personal Essay Outline

    I. Start by introducing yourself Choose a story to open your essay that represents you. Remember the CASPA prompt; it asks you to write "a brief statement expressing your motivation or desire to become a physician assistant." Your story shouldn't be dramatic, but it should be meaningful to you.

  20. Write an Effective Essay Outline w/ Samples

    Body Paragraph 2. Provide additional supporting details and evidence, as in this essay outline example. Topic Sentence: A shorter school year would save school districts millions of dollars per year. Detail Sentence 1: Districts could save money on energy costs by keeping schools closed longer.

  21. How to Structure an Essay

    The chronological approach (sometimes called the cause-and-effect approach) is probably the simplest way to structure an essay. It just means discussing events in the order in which they occurred, discussing how they are related (i.e. the cause and effect involved) as you go. A chronological approach can be useful when your essay is about a ...

  22. How to Write an Outline for an Essay

    Step 2: Organize. After choosing a topic and researching, it's time to write the outline, using all the gathered information. It should match the layout of the essay: an introduction, a body section, and a conclusion.

  23. Personal Essay Outline This is an assessment for feedback, but not

    Here's the outline of the Essay: Step 1: Topic Selection Choose a topic for your personal essay. This should be a difficult situation, challenge, or experience from which you gained insight. For the purpose of this example, let's choose the topic: "Overcoming Failure and Rediscovering Confidence." Step 2: Experience Selection Reflect on a ...

  24. Should I Use ChatGPT to Write My Essays?

    Ask it, "Can you create an outline for a five paragraph essay based on the following topic" and it will create an outline with an introduction, body paragraphs, conclusion, and a suggested thesis statement. Then, you can expand upon the outline with your own research and original thought. Generate titles for your essays. Titles should draw ...