How to write the perfect Harvard essay: 3 expert tips (2023)

How to write the perfect Harvard essay: 3 expert tips (1)

Are you aiming for the world famous Harvard University? As part of the application for this prestigiousAn Ivy League schoolyou have the opportunity to submit a supplementary essay.But what should you write about in your Harvard essay?What are the different Harvard essays to choose from and how should you answer one to have the best chance of admission?

In this guideWe advise you on every Harvard essay and give you advice on whether you should choose a particular essay.But before we delve into the prompts, let's look at what Harvard actually requires in essays.

Functional image:Gregor Smith/Flickr

What essays should you submit to Harvard?

Anyone applying for admission to Harvard University must submit an application through any agencyCommon application, Theproposal of the coalition, or that oneUniversal College Application (UCA). For your application to Harvard:You must write a personal essay in response to one of the Common App, Coalition App, or UCA prompts(depending on which system you use to log in).

This essay is mandatory for all applicants and should beusually about 500-550 words(and must be less than 650 words). To know more about this essay, read hereinstant notifications for the shared app,coalition application, IUCAon their official pages.

Along with this required essayYou have the opportunity to submit an additional essay as part of the Harvard Supplement.Harvard Supplement Essay, as it is calledcompleteoptional - you may or may not write this essay and submit it with your application.

This essay also hasno word limit,even if youAgainWhen writing an essay, it's best to stick to the typical length of a college essay (around 500 words).

Harvard encourages applicants to submit this supplemental essay "if [they] feel that the university's application forms do not provide an adequate opportunity to submit important information about [themselves] or [their] accomplishments."

The options for essay topics are very open andYou have a total of 10 subjects to choose from(11 If you indicate that you can also "write on a topic of your choice").

It's hereHarvard Supplement Essay Calls 2022–2023:

You can write on a topic of your choice or choose one of the following topics:

  • Unusual circumstances in your life
  • Travel, stay or work experiences in your own or another community
  • What do you want your future fellow student to know about you?
  • An intellectual experience (course, project, book, discussion, essay, poem, or research topic in engineering, mathematics, science, or other forms of inquiry) that meant the most to you
  • How you want to use your higher education
  • List of books you have read in the last twelve months
  • Harvard College's Code of Ethics states that "We consider honesty the foundation of our community." If you are considering joining this community dedicated to honesty, think back to a time when you or someone you watched had to make a decision about whether you wanted to trade with integrity and honesty.
  • The mission of Harvard College is to educate our students to be citizens and civic leaders of society. What would you do to contribute to the lives of your classmates by pushing this mission forward?
  • Every year, a significant number of Harvard students postpone their admissions for a year or take a year off from college. If you were to choose one of the options in the future, what would you like to do?
  • Harvard has long recognized the importance of student diversity of all kinds. We welcome you to write about any aspect of your background, personal development, or intellectual interests that you can convey to your Harvard colleagues.

As you can see, some of these topics are more specific and focused, while others are broader and more open-ended. when it mattersShould you write a Harvard supplement or skip it altogether?

How to write the perfect Harvard essay: 3 expert tips (2)

Need to write a Harvard Supplement Essay?

Your Harvard application already requires you to submit a personal essay—do you really need to submit another essay? In reality,Opinions differwhether or not he will write a supplement for Harvard.

While some people feel that this essay is basically compulsory and your chances are slimCome to Harvardwithout being slim. Others think that sending is just a waste of time (especially if you don't have anything particularly impressive or interesting to write).

So what is it? As a general rule, if you have the opportunity to submit something that you think will only strengthen your college application, by all means do so.Writing this essay will spice up your application and show another side of your personality.

actually inhis review of his successful application to Harvard, PrepScholar co-founder and Harvard graduate Allen ChengI highly recommend writing this supplemental essay.He also points out that it is probably the largest number of applicants to HarvardAgain, actually by submitting a supplemental essay (as he himself did).

But it's worth repeating:This essay is not required for admission to Harvard.Whether or not you submit a Harvard Supplement essay is entirely up to you — although I highly recommend it!

If you really can't decide whether or not you want to write a supplemental essay for Harvard, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Do you consider yourself a strong writer?Are there people you trust who can edit and proofread your essay for you?
  • Are you worried?other parts of your Harvard application that may negatively affect your chances of admissionFor example below average SAT/ACT scores, low GPA, etc.?
  • Do you feel like you couldn't write about something you really wanted in the required essay?
  • It's theresomething you think the admissions committee should know about youwhat haven't you written about yet?
  • Do you have enough time to devote to writing and submitting yet another essay?
  • Do you think your Harvard application is generally too one-sided or too focused on one aspect of your personality and/or interests?Could your app benefit from more variety and balance?

Hopefully, the answers to these questions will give you a clearer idea of ​​whether or not you want to write a supplemental essay at Harvard.

How to write the perfect Harvard essay: 3 expert tips (3)There's no need to type an essay—unless you're applying to Harvard 40 years ago.

How to write a Harvard essay: Every prompt is analyzed

in this episode,We review 10 possible Harvard supplement queriesand gives you tips on how to write an effective, meaningful essay, no matter which essay you choose.

Query 1: Unusual circumstances

Unusual circumstances in your life

(Video) College Essay Tips + Writing your Best College Essay | Real Advice from Harvard Admissions

This essay prompt is aboutHighlight an unusual situation or event in your life and what impact it ultimately had on you.Harvard requires this when applicants want to discuss something significant that happened to them that had a major impact on their academic achievements, future goals, prospects, etc.

This is also an opportunity for applicants to exchange ideasall important matcheswhat they have been through (which is not the case for most students their age) and how these experiences have personally affected their lives.

Should you select this query?

How did you grow up with itled an unusual lifestyle or had an unusual experienceIf you think he had a strong influence on you, this is a good time to make a choice for your essay. For example, you may have grown up speaking four languages ​​fluently, or you may have been the youngest of fourteen children.

This is also an ideal query to select if you wantPlease provide more background information about the vulnerability in your application.Let's suppose that in the second year you fell seriously ill and that your grade point average dropped due to many absences. Then you can write about how you tackled this problem head-on and how working with a professional counselor every day after school to improve your GPA ended up revealing an inner strength you didn't know you had.

Tips for answering this question

  • Choose an experience or situation that is actually unusual.This doesn't mean that no one else in the world can have it, but try to focus on something that is unique and has had a big impact on your personal development. For example, many teenagers grew up with a single parentvongrew up withFROMAs a parent, focus on how that person and the overall situation helped shape your personality and goals.
  • When writing about something that was a challenge for you, don't just conclude that the experience was difficult.What specifically did you learn or take away from it? Why is it important for the Harvard admissions committee to know this? Let's say you had to move six times in just two years. You can write that although it was difficult for you to adjust to a new school each time you moved, over time you enjoyed meeting people and exploring new places. Through these experiences, you now have much more confidence to adapt to unfamiliar situations.

How to write the perfect Harvard essay: 3 expert tips (4)

Question 2: Travel, housing or work experience

Travel, stay or work experiences in your own or another community

This prompt encourages you to join the discussionExperiences you have had from traveling, living and/or working in a certain community(either your own or someone else's) and how that experience affected you.

Here are examples of experiences you can talk about in this essay:

  • Living or traveling abroad
  • Moving to a new location or living in multiple locations
  • Have a part-time job
  • Find a temporary job or internship outside of your community

Should you select this query?

if you hadan experience that fits, or mostly fits, any of the above examplesand it had a big impact on how you see and define yourself as a person. That's a solid attraction for you.

On the other hand, do itit isSelect this query if you have never had a significant experience while traveling or working/staying in one place.

Tips for answering this question

  • Choose a really meaningful experience to talk about.While your experience doesn't have to be life-changing, it should have had a tangible impact on you and the person you've become. For example, if you traveled to Mexico with your family, but you didn't really enjoy the trip or learn much from it, it's better not to write about the experience (and maybe it's better to choose a completely different opportunity!).
  • Be sure to discuss how this travel/life/work experience has affected you.For example, let's say you spent a few summers in high school visiting relatives in South Africa. You can write about how those trips helped you develop a greater sense of independence and self-reliance—traits that made you more confident, especially when it came to leading group projects and giving speeches.
  • Don't be afraid to let your creativity run wild with this essay.For example, if you lived in a country where you didn't initially understand the local language, you might start your Harvard essay with an anecdote, such as an overheard conversation or a funny miscommunication.

How to write the perfect Harvard essay: 3 expert tips (5)"Dear future roommate, will you please play with me in the autumn leaves?"(

Instruction 3: Your future college colleague

What do you want your future fellow student to know about you?

Unlike some of the other more traditional Harvard essays on this list, this one is a little more relaxed and really lends itself to a creative approach.

For this invitation, you'll write an essay that's more like a letter to your future roommate (just remember, it's actually being read by the Harvard Admissions Committee!). They show who you are by discussing the key traits and qualities that define youvon-In other words,Personality traits, eccentricities, flaws or strengths that you feel would be important for someone (eg Harvard) to find out about you.

Should you select this query?

This Harvard essay is about creativity and describing yourself - not about a specific event or circumstance - and is therefore suitable for youwhich can be clearly and creatively expressed through writing.

Tips for answering this question

  • Focus on your unique qualities.As you describe yourself in this essay, you need to focus on presenting the most unique and interesting aspects of yourself (that you think your roommate would want or need to know). what is your daily routine Do you have any funny or strange habits or temper? How did you develop these qualities?
  • Be true to your voice and don't pretend to be someone you're not.Don't say you're always telling jokes if you're usually a very serious person. Describe yourself honestly, but don't feel like you have to reveal every little detail about yourself.
  • Find a balance: Don't focus only on the positive or the negative.You want to come across as a strong candidate, but also be realistic and authentic (you're human after all!). So try to find a balance by not only writing about your strengths and positive qualities, but also about your flaws and weaknesses. For example, mention that you're always late for meetings with friends, but you've recently worked to improve that by setting an alarm on your iPhone.

How to write the perfect Harvard essay: 3 expert tips (6)

Impulse 4: Intellectual experience

An intellectual experience (course, project, book, discussion, essay, poem, or research topic in engineering, mathematics, science, or other forms of inquiry) that meant the most to you.

With that query, Harvard wants you to focus on itan intellectual or educational experience that had a major impact on youin terms of your personal development, your academic/intellectual interests and passions, the field of study you want to pursue, etc.

This intellectual experience can be anything intellectually stimulating, such as an essay or book you read, a poem you analyzed, or a research project you completed.

Make a note of itThis experience doesn't have to be limited to something you did in school— If you have done something in your free time or pastime that you think corresponds to this calling, feel free to write about it.

Should you choose this theme?

This is a good reason to chooseif a particular intellectual experience has motivated you or sparked your interest in something you're dying to study at Harvard.

For example, you could write about finding an old copy of Charles DarwinOn the origin of speciesat the flea market and how reading this sparked your interest in biology, which you now want to study and eventually build a career in.

This is also an ideal query to select if you wantHighlight a specific interest or passion you have that is different from the academic field you want to study in college.

For example, maybe you're applying to study computer science, but you're also a big fan of poetry and frequent local poetry readings. Write about a poem you recently read and analyzedShow admissions committees another, less prominent side of your personality and intellectual interests.ultimately it shows that you are open and interested in acquiring new skills as well as experiences.

Tips for answering this question

  • Choose an experience that had a significant impact on you.Don't talk about how you readRomeo and JulietIn eighth grade, you realized how much you enjoy writing plays when you wrote them a long time ago! If you can't think of an unforgettable intellectual experience to write about, it's best to choose another opportunity.
  • Describe your intellectual experiences in detail and clearly state your strengths and interests.In other words, what impact did the experience have on you? Your academic goals? Your future plans? For example, instead of writing about how a scientific article on climate change made you think more deeply about the environment, you can talk about how that article made you start a recycling program at your school, take a marine biology class, and look ahead.

How to write the perfect Harvard essay: 3 expert tips (7)

Question 5: Your future goals

How you want to use your higher education

(Video) How Write the Harvard Essays 2020-21: Prompt 3 Part 1

This Harvard essay prompt is pretty self-explanatory:They want you to talk about how you plan to use your Harvard education after you graduate-that is in a future job or career, in high school, in a particular field of research, etc.

Basically, how will a college education help you achieve your future goals (whatever they may be)?

Should you select this query?

Ako imatea fairly clear vision of your future goals during and after your studies,This is a perfect choice for your Harvard essay.

On the other hand, if you're still not sure what majors you want to study or how you want to use your major, consider another major that focuses less on your future and more on how your past events and experiences have shaped you as a person.

Tips for answering this question

  • Be careful when talking about your future goals.You don't want to sound too idealistic, but you don't want to sound too broad either, or you'll come across as unfocused and ambivalent. When discussing your future dreams, try to find a balance so that both are achievableISpecifically.
  • Clearly relate your goals to yourself and what you have achieved so far.You want to make it clear that your goals are actually achievable, especially with a Harvard degree. If you say you want to start your own interior design company after you graduate, but you plan to major in biology, you're only going to confuse the admissions committee!
  • Highlight how Harvard will specifically help you achieve your academic goals.For example, is there a club you'd like to join that can connect you with other students? Or is there a particular professor you would like to work with? Don't just list the names of clubs and individuals, but outline how these resources will help you achieve your goals. In short, show Harvard what they can offer youActuallywhat you need to be successful.

How to write the perfect Harvard essay: 3 expert tips (8)Books: the most unstable form of reading chair.

Prompt 6: List of books

List of books you have read in the last twelve months

Of all the Harvard essays, this one is by far the most unique.

Here you are asked to simply list the books you have read in the past year. However, this essay is more than just a list—it isa brief overview of your intellectual interests.These books may include fiction or non-fiction, essays, collections of poetry, etc.

Should you select this query?

Have you read many different and interesting books in the past year? Are you an avid reader who likes to analyze books and essays? Do you like a creative approach to college essays?If you answered yes to any of these questions, then this query is for you.

Even if you haven't read many books in the past year, if you were particularly intrigued by something or something that interests youtatRead it, you can definitely use this prompt for your essay.

Tips for answering this question

  • Instead of just listing the titles of the books you've read, you can add a short sentence or two to each title, commenting on your reaction to the book, your analysis of why you liked it or didn't like it, and so on.Be sure to vary your comments to emphasize different aspects of your personality. Also, don't just reproduce analyzes you read online or what your teacher said, try to develop your own thoughts and interpretations.
  • Don't just stick to the "most impressive" books you've read.The Harvard admissions committee wants to see thatFROMA personality, not a pretentious suitor who claims to have only read Jane Austen and Ernest Hemingway. Be honest: when you readtwilightWhy not make a quick joke in one day about how addictive it was?
  • Go beyond a chronological list of books.It becomes much more interesting when you list the books you've read in a more unique way. For example, you can organize the titles by subject or in any order you like.

How to write the perfect Harvard essay: 3 expert tips (9)Not everything is black and white. For example, this sign is black and yellow.

Guideline 7: Honesty

Harvard College's Code of Ethics states that "We consider honesty the foundation of our community." If you are considering joining this community dedicated to honesty, think back to a time when you or someone you watched had to make a decision about whether you wanted to trade with integrity and honesty.

As you can see from this quote, Harvard places a high value on honesty and integrity. So if you follow that prompt, you're actually talking to HarvardYou also embody a strong sense of morality and honesty.

Should you select this query?

Here are some questions to think about to decide if you should take this essay at Harvard:
  • Was there a particular time in your life when you had to make the difficult decision to be honest with someone?
  • Can this incident be considered morally ambiguous? In other words,Was "correct" something of a gray area?
  • If you didn't make the "right" choice in that moment, how did you come to terms with that decision or learn from it? What were the consequences and what did this experience teach you about your own moral standards and your value of honesty?

Tips for answering this question

  • Be careful about the topic you want to write about.Don't discuss a situation where you did something clearly unethical or, worse, illegal. Such situations are very black and white and therefore do not present a great moral dilemma, and besides, talking about such an experience can make you appear dishonest and immoral, which you isI want Harvard to think of you!
  • Try to find a topic that isn't black and white.Selecting "grey" events helps with emphasisWhyThe choice was so difficult for you and why did it move you so much. Suppose your friend calls you crying before you go to SAT. Do you skip the test to comfort your friend or do you hang up and walk away? There is no obvious "right" answer to this type of situation, which makes it ideal for this essay.
  • You can also chat when you've done itit isMake the "right" choice - and what you learned from that mistake.As long as you look closely at why you made the "wrong" choice and what you learned about integrity from that incident, your essay will be interesting and relevant.

How to write the perfect Harvard essay: 3 expert tips (10)Knight: "Your Majesty, we have lost the king!" Queen: "Pfft, so what? I can manage just fine without him!"

Call 8: Citizens and political leaders

The mission of Harvard College is to educate our students to be citizens and civic leaders of society. What would you do to contribute to the lives of your classmates by pushing this mission forward?

This query may sound a bit vague, but she just wants to know the followinghow you will have a positive impact on both your colleagues and other people after you graduate.In short, what kind of leader/citizen do you want to be at Harvard? When you finish college and enter the real world?

This query is similar to query 5 in that it wants to know what kind of person you will becomeafterYou are leaving college and how you will have a positive impact on society.

Should you select this query?

If you are a born leader and have at least some significant experience in leading or facilitating things like club activities, field trips, volunteering, etc., then this Harvard essay would be a good choice for you.

Tips for answering this question

  • Focus on a time when you led others and it led to a positive outcome.For example, you could write about your position as the captain of the school football team and how you would call your teammates together before each game to encourage them and advise them on how to improve. You can then describe how your team did better in games thanks to clearer communication and a stronger sense of sportsmanship. Be sure to answer the key question: How did you lead and what ultimately made your leadership style successful?
  • Discuss the role your leadership skills will play at Harvard and after you graduate.The question is about your classmates. So you need to be specific about how your leadership skills contribute to the lives of your colleagues. How does your previous experience in management help you, for example, when approaching group projects? Or associations of which you are a member?
  • Be sure to mention that you will also be a good citizen.By "citizen," Harvard essentially means a productive member of the school and society at large. How have you fundamentally contributed to the betterment of society? This is a good place to talk about experiences where you played a key support role; For example, you may have helped a local volunteer initiative to feed the homeless, or maybe you participated in a community project to build a new park in your town.

How to write the perfect Harvard essay: 3 expert tips (11)Sometimes you need a break from school to get your bearings.

Tip 9: Rest

Every year, a significant number of Harvard students postpone their admissions for a year or take a year off from college. If you were to choose one of the options in the future, what would you like to do?

Here, you will be asked what you want to do with your time if you decide to delay your admission to Harvard or take time off while studying. For example, do you want to travel around the world? Do you have a permanent job? Do an internship? Are you caring for a sick relative?

Obviously Harvard doesn't want to read about just chilling and playing video games all day, so by all means do itThink carefully about what your actual plans are and, more importantly, how those plans will benefit you as a personIas a student.

Should you select this query?

Only choose this Harvard essay if you're pretty sure you'll be taking a break from college at some point (either before or during it) and you have a relatively concrete idea of ​​what you want to do during that time.

Tips for answering this question

  • Be specific and honest about your plans.While many students are happy to take time off to travel the world, you don't want to just write, "I plan to backpack around Europe and learn about cultures." Think critically about what you want: why do you want to do it and how will this experience help you grow as a person? Don't repeat what you think Harvard wants to hear – be transparent about why you think you need this time away from school to achieve that goal.
  • Be consciousWhyYou have to do it at that particular time.In other words, why do you think this (ie before or during college) is the right time to do what you intend to do? Can you (or should you) do it at this point, such as a one-time internship that will no longer be offered?

How to write the perfect Harvard essay: 3 expert tips (12)Use your essay to set yourself apart from other Harvard applicants. Or just grab the magic yellow umbrella and float away. Your call.

Call 10: Diversity

Harvard has long recognized the importance of student diversity of all kinds. We welcome you to write about any aspect of your background, personal development, or intellectual interests that you can convey to your Harvard colleagues.

This last Harvard essay prompt isAll about what you can bring to campus to make a positive contribution to student diversity.Although we tend to think of race/ethnicity when we use the word diversity, the word can actually be interpreted in a number of ways.

(Video) How To Write The Perfect College Essay Without Being A Genius | College Essay Tips

As a large and renowned institutionHarvard values ​​students with diverse and unique backgrounds and experiences.Therefore, it is important for them to accept students who represent these values.

This query is essentially a versionEssay on diversity, which we talk about in more detail in our guide.

Should you select this query?

The most important question you must ask yourself before choosing this query is:Do you have a particular experience or interest you'd like to write about?

Here are some important types of diversity to discuss (note that this is the case).it isexhaustive list!):

  • Your ethnicity or race
  • A unique interest, passion, hobby or skill you have
  • Your family or socioeconomic background
  • your religion
  • your cultural group
  • Your gender or gender/gender identity
  • their opinions or values
  • your sexual orientation

If some of these topics stand out to you and you can easily think of a particular trait or experience that you would like to discuss in your essay, then this is a good time to think about an answer.

Tips for answering this question

  • Choose a personal trait that has had a major impact on your identity.Don't talk about your family's religion if it has little or no influence on how you see and define yourself. Instead, focus on the most significant experiences or skills in your life. If you play the theremin every day and have a passion for music because of it, this would be a great skill to write about in your essay.
  • Be aware of how your unique trait has affected your life and development.You don't want to just present an experience/skill and leave it at that. How did that make you the person you are today? How did it affect your ambitions and goals?
  • Be sure to associate this trait with diversity at Harvard.Overall, how will your experience/skills/attributes have a positive impact on Harvard students? For example, if you belong to a certain cultural group, how do you think this will positively affect other students?

How to write the perfect Harvard essay: 3 expert tips (13)

Would you like to go to Harvard or the college of your choice?

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Learn more about PrepScholar enrollmentsto increase your chances of entry.

How to write the perfect Harvard essay: 3 expert tips (14)

Real harvard essay example

Our residentI put SAT/ACT-SagittariusICo-founder of PrepScholar, Allen Cheng, applied to Harvard, came and attended—andHe has published his Harvard supplement which you can view.You can read all about Allen's essay herehis analysis of his successful application to Harvard.

Allen describes his essay as "probably neutral in relation to [his Harvard] application, not overwhelmingly positive or negative," so it's important to note thatThis Harvard essay example does not represent exactly what you should do in your own Harvard supplemental essay.Instead, we're showing it to give you a taste of how to approach a Harvard essay and some simple mistakes to avoid.

How to write the perfect Harvard essay: 3 expert tips (15)

Writing an unforgettable Harvard essay: 3 tips

Finally, here are three tips to keep in mind when writing a Harvard supplement essay.

#1: Use an authentic voice

A clear, unique, and authentic voice is critical to making your Harvard application stand out—and to ensure you make a lasting impression on the admissions committee.

For this reason,Write your essay in the way that feels most natural to you and talk about the things that really matter to you.For example, if you like quips, adding a quip or two to your essay can bring out your goofier, non-academic side.

It is important to use your voice here becausehumanizes your application.The essay is your only chance to show the admissions committee who you are and what you really sound like. So don't pretend to be someone you're not!

The only thing to watch out for is using too much slang or sounding too casual. After all, this is still a college essay, so you don't want to come off as rude, disrespectful, or immature.

Pored,Do not exaggerate experiences or feelings.The Harvard admissions committee does a pretty good job of this — they read thousands of applications every year! - So they can definitely know if you are making a bigger deal of something than you should. Skip the hype and stick to what you know.

Ultimately, that should be your goalfind a balanceThis is how you stay true to yourself while showing your intelligence and talents.

#2: Be creative

Harvard is one of the hardest schools to get to (onlyabout a 4% acceptance rate!), so you need to be sure that your essay is realReallythey require attention. In short: be creative!

While writing your personal essay,Remember the classic saying: show, don't tell.This means that you should rely more on description and pictures than on explanations.

For example, instead of writing, “I became more confident after joining the debate club,” you could write, “The next time I went on stage for a debate, my shoulders didn't shake as much; my lips stopped trembling." My heart was only beating 100 times a minute instead of 120.

RememberYour essay is a story about yourself,So make sure it is interesting to read and ultimately memorable for your readers.

#3: Full editing and proofreading

My final tip: Polish your essay with regular editing and proofreading. This meansYou need to see it not once, not twice, but several times.

(Video) 3 Tips: Writing the Perfect SAT® Essay! CRUSH THE TEST!

Here's an editing trick: Once you have a rough draft of your essay, keep it for a few days or a week or two.Don't watch everything now– You would like to distance yourself so that you can look at your essay from a new perspective later.

After waiting, reread your essay and note any spelling, grammar, and/or punctuation errors. Also watch out for awkward words, unclear areas, or irrelevant ideas.ask yourself: Do you need to add anything else? Do you want to delete? Expand?

If you have gone through this step several times and have an (almost) final draft ready to submit,Forward your essay to someone you trust, such as a teacher, parent, or mentor.Have them review it and give feedback on tone, voice, theme, style, etc. Also check for obvious grammatical or technical errors.

When this is all done, you'll have a well-written, polished Harvard essay ready -one that will hopefully accept you!

How to write the perfect Harvard essay: 3 expert tips (16)

What's next?

Ako imatequestions about other parts of the Harvard application,Check out our best guideFind out what you need to submit to get accepted to a prestigious Ivy League school.

How hard is it to get into Harvard? Toother selected universities?Read on for the answersOur expert guide to getting started at Harvard and the Ivy League, written by a real Harvard student!

What is the average SAT score of admitted applicants to Harvard? Average ACT score? Average grade?Learn all this and more in one visiton our Harvard Admissions Requirements page.

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Hannah Muniz

About the author

Hannah holds a master's degree in Japanese studies from the University of Michigan and a bachelor's degree from the University of Southern California. From 2013 to 2015, she taught English in Japan through the JET program. Her passions are education, writing and travel.

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How do you write a successful Harvard essay? ›

The Primary Harvard Supplemental Essay
  1. Try to keep your essay around 500-700 words.
  2. Talk about information that hasn't been mentioned in other parts of your application.
  3. Always show; don't tell. ...
  4. Write in your own authentic voice.
  5. Help admissions officers get to know you and how you will contribute to the school culture.

What kind of essay is Harvard looking for? ›

Writing. The first section is the personal essay. Harvard requires the submission of the personal essay with your application. We also offer an opportunity to add an additional information.

Is the Harvard supplement essay really optional? ›

The Harvard supplement essay, as it's known, is completely optional—you may, but do not need to, write this essay and submit it with your application. Also, this essay also has no word limit, though if you do write it, it's best to stick to a typical college essay length (i.e., somewhere around 500 words).

How do you answer Harvard extracurricular questions? ›

Please briefly elaborate on one of your extracurricular activities or work experiences. (50-150 words) In this simple essay, Harvard wants to assess whether you can (1) coherently describe something you've done and (2) demonstrate you learned something from it.

How do you realistically get into Harvard? ›

  1. Apply Early. Take advantage of Early Action and apply to Harvard early. ...
  2. Take Rigorous Courses & Score Well. ...
  3. Submit your SAT/ACT Scores. ...
  4. Demonstrate leadership and community involvement. ...
  5. Write a strong personal essay.

What are the 5 parts of a essay? ›

An outline is often used to demonstrate the content of most five-paragraph essays:
  • Introduction.
  • Body. First Point. Second Point. Third Point.
  • Conclusion.

What does Harvard mostly focus on? ›

Harvard is at the frontier of academic and intellectual discovery. Those who venture here—to learn, research, teach, work, and grow—join nearly four centuries of students and scholars in the pursuit of truth, knowledge, and a better world.

How long should Harvard essay be? ›

How Long Should the Harvard Supplemental Essays Be? Although Harvard gives no explicit word or character limit for the supplemental essay, most accepted students will write between 500 and 700 words (or about a page when written in Times New Roman 12-point font).

How do you layout a Harvard essay? ›

Typically, a paper that uses Harvard referencing has the following format:
  1. 2.5 cm OR 1-inch margins on all sides.
  2. Recommended fonts: Arial 12 pt or Times New Roman, with double-spacing.
  3. Title is in the center of the page just above the text.
  4. Left-aligned text, with the first sentence of every paragraph indented by 0.5 inch.
Oct 25, 2020

What GPA do you need to get into Harvard? ›

The GPA requirements for Harvard University are between 3.9 to 4.1. You will need an incredibly high GPA and will likely be graduating at the top of their class in order to get into Harvard University.

How many essays does Harvard want? ›

General Tips. Harvard College has three supplemental essay prompts, two limited to 150 words and one of unspecified length. The only required essay among these is one of the two short-response essays, but we strongly advise that all applicants attempt each of the three essays.

Does Harvard look at common app essay? ›

Because Harvard takes the common app, they require you to write an essay from the topic list, but they also require a supplemental essay that can be chosen from a list of Harvard-specific topics or you can choose your own topic.

Can you get into an Ivy with no extracurriculars? ›

Ivy Leagues are not looking for applicants who have participated in dozens of extracurriculars, and they discourage dabbling in many activities. They prefer you dig deep into a subject, dedicate significant time to it, and use this experience to help the school propel you into a world-changing career.

What extracurriculars got you into an Ivy? ›

The best extracurricular activities for the Ivies
  • Starting a club. Many students struggle to find an extracurricular activity that picks their interests. ...
  • Participate in a summer program. ...
  • Competing in academic events. ...
  • Writing for the school newspaper. ...
  • Joining the theater program. ...
  • Doing an internship.

Can you get into an Ivy with average extracurriculars? ›

For most students, two or three extracurricular activities is manageable while balancing a full course load, depending on the commitment involved in each. Keep in mind there is no magic number of extracurricular activities that will get you into Ivy League schools.

Can an average student make it to Harvard? ›

A good overall academic record is important to get into Harvard. The average GPA at Harvard is around 4.18. However, even if your GPA is low, having higher scores on SAT and ACT can contribute to your admission.

What makes Harvard so hard to get into? ›

Why Is It So Difficult? It's so difficult to get into Harvard because of the sheer number of well-equipped and well-educated students trying to get in! The school regularly ranks in the top 5 in the country and employers are impressed if you have a degree from there.

How many AP classes should I take for Harvard? ›

Incoming students who have taken AP exams need a total of 32 credits to be eligible for Advanced Standing. Credits are earned by scoring 5 on a minimum of four AP exams. Harvard confers 4 or 8 credits for each eligible AP exam depending on whether the exam covers one semester or one full year's worth of material.

How should I start my essay? ›

Your essay introduction should include three main things, in this order:
  1. An opening hook to catch the reader's attention.
  2. Relevant background information that the reader needs to know.
  3. A thesis statement that presents your main point or argument.
Feb 4, 2019

What is a hook in an essay? ›

A hook is an opening statement (which is usually the first sentence) in an essay that attempts to grab the reader's attention so that they want to read on.

What are the 4 key elements of an essay? ›

To achieve these ends, an essay must incorporate four elements: an appropriate tone, a clear thesis, a coherent structure, and ample, appropriate evidence.

What is the number 1 major of Harvard? ›

The most popular majors overall in Harvard are Political Science and Government, Economics, Social Sciences, Evolutionary Biology, and Psychology.

What are 3 great things about Harvard? ›

Harvard students have access to courses, research institutes, and faculty mentors from all parts of Harvard. With world-renowned faculty, state-of-the-art resources, and individualized instruction, it's the perfect place to pursue your favorite and still-to-be-discovered academic interests.

What is most studied at Harvard? ›

The most popular majors at Harvard University include: Social Sciences, General; Biology/Biological Sciences, General; Mathematics, General; Computer and Information Sciences, General; History, General; Physical Sciences, General; Psychology, General; Engineering, General; and Foreign Languages and Literatures, General ...

Are Harvard essays double spaced? ›

MANUSCRIPT PAGE: Set margins for 8 ½ x 11” pages, with 1.25” margins left and right; 1” margins top and bottom. SPACING: Line spacing: Use double spacing throughout, including text, extracts, footnotes. Do not add extra spaces between paragraphs or between text and extracts.

What is the longest a college essay should be? ›

If your institution doesn't provide a specific word count, it's best to keep your essay between the length established by the longer college admissions essay format: 250 to 650 words. Word count is just one factor to consider as you craft your college admissions essay.

How long should a personal statement be for Harvard? ›

The personal statement provides an opportunity for you to present yourself, your background, your ideas, and your qualifications to the Admissions Committee. Please limit your statement to two pages using a minimum of 11-point font, 1-inch margins, and double spacing.

What is the Harvard style of writing? ›

Harvard (Author-Date) style

The Harvard referencing style is another popular style using the author-date system for in-text citations. In-text citation: It consists mainly of the authors' last name and the year of publication (and page numbers if it is directly quoted) in round brackets placed within the text.

How do you write Harvard style? ›

Include information in the following order:
  1. author(s) name and initials.
  2. title of the article (between single quotation marks)
  3. title of the journal (in italics)
  4. available publication information (volume number, issue number)
  5. accessed day month year (the date you last viewed the article)
Jun 27, 2022

What is the Harvard way of writing? ›

What is Harvard Style? The Harvard referencing system is known as the Author-Date style. It emphasizes the name of the creator of a piece of information and the date of publication, with the list of references in alphabetical order at the end of your paper.

What's the lowest GPA Harvard has accepted? ›

You should also have a 4.18 GPA or higher. If your GPA is lower than this, you need to compensate with a higher SAT/ACT score. For a school as selective as Harvard, you'll also need to impress them with the rest of your application.

What was Mark Zuckerberg's GPA in high school? ›

Famous CEOs such as Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg did not attend college, and therefore did not have a GPA.

What is the hardest school to get into? ›

Harvard, Stanford and Princeton, unsurprisingly, are America's toughest colleges to get into in 2023, according to Niche's most recent rankings.

Does Harvard read every application? ›

Harvard seeks to assemble an extraordinary and diverse class of undergraduate students by conducting a wide-ranging review of every aspect of each applicant's background and experience.

Do all Ivy Leagues require essays? ›

The following schools are in the Ivy League: Princeton, Harvard, Yale, Columbia, UPenn, Cornell, Brown, and Dartmouth. These schools all have their own supplemental essays, ranging from typical topics like “Why This College?” to more unique topics that change from year to year.

What do colleges like Harvard look for? ›

Harvard is looking for students who will be the future best in their field, so what students choose to focus their growth and potential on should relate to their future aspirations. Harvard is most interested in students who already know or have an idea of what they want to do after they graduate college.

What questions does Harvard ask in an interview? ›

Why do you want to go here?” “Can You tell me about yourself?” “What do you want to study at Harvard and why?” It's good to know what you will say for questions like this.

Do colleges prefer the common app? ›

While a huge number of universities use Common App, there are some that prefer other portals or have their own application system. Generally speaking, religiously-affiliated universities and military schools do not use Common App. A few public or state schools also prefer to use their own admissions application system.

What is the easiest Ivy League school to get into? ›

Cornell is considered the "easiest" Ivy League to get into because it has the highest Ivy League acceptance rate. While it's easier, statistically speaking, to get into Cornell, it's still challenging. It's also important to remember that students apply directly to one of Cornell's eight undergraduate colleges.

Is 5 extracurriculars good? ›

How Many “Normal” Activities Should Students Have? The Goldilocks “just right” number of activities is 5 or 6. This is a good amount because it's achievable for most students without being overwhelming.

Can you get into Ivy League with C's? ›

Since all Ivys use a holistic approach to admitting students, it's entirely possible that someone with a good reason could get admitted with a C or multiple Cs.

What class rank are most Ivy League schools looking for from applicants? ›

If you are interested in attending a more selective college, you should strive to get a class standing that places you in the top 25% of your class or in the 75th percentile or higher. A class standing in the top 10 or 5% is a solid target to shoot for if you want to attend an Ivy League or other top-tier university.

How do you stand out in Ivy League admissions? ›

10 Application Tips To Stand Out To Ivy League Colleges During The Admissions Process
  1. Start early.
  2. Do thoughtful college research.
  3. Take time to write strong essays.
  4. Answer optional supplemental questions.
  5. Submit supplemental materials.
  6. Emphasize uniqueness, leadership, and impact.
  7. Submit test scores strategically.
Sep 6, 2022

What GPA do Ivy Leagues like? ›

If you're aiming for a top university such as one in the Ivy League, Stanford, MIT, or others of the same caliber, a 4.0 GPA — or close to it — is expected.

Can you get into Harvard with bad extracurriculars? ›

There is no formula for gaining admission to Harvard. Academic accomplishment in high school is important, but the Admissions Committee also considers many other criteria, such as community involvement, leadership and distinction in extracurricular activities, and personal qualities and character.

What percent of high schoolers get into Ivy League? ›

With an average acceptance rate of just above 9%, the Ivy Leagues are among the most selective schools in the World. With that in mind, it makes sense that there are only three types of students who find admission to the Ivy's: elite students.

Is it easier for athletes to get into Ivy League schools? ›

At the same time, however, the Ivy League admissions process is extremely competitive for all students. Student-athletes at Ivy Leagues need to have a similar level of academic distinction as every other student. So, not having athletic scholarships at these schools maintains this high standard.

How long should an essay to Harvard be? ›

How Long Should the Harvard Supplemental Essays Be? Although Harvard gives no explicit word or character limit for the supplemental essay, most accepted students will write between 500 and 700 words (or about a page when written in Times New Roman 12-point font).

How do you make a College essay stand out? ›

Frequently asked questions about college application essays
  1. A unique, personally meaningful topic.
  2. A memorable introduction with vivid imagery or an intriguing hook.
  3. Specific stories and language that show instead of telling.
  4. Vulnerability that's authentic but not aimed at soliciting sympathy.
Oct 25, 2021

What is Harvard looking for? ›

In our admissions process, we give careful, individual attention to each applicant. We seek to identify students who will be the best educators of one another and their professors—individuals who will inspire those around them during their College years and beyond.

What do Ivy League schools look for in essays? ›

But, broadly, we observe that the most selective colleges ask for students to demonstrate passion, leadership, initiative, intellectual vitality, and memorability. Remember that admissions committees evaluate these essays as part of a holistic narrative of a candidate—a successful essay doesn't guarantee admission.

What GPA is required for Harvard? ›

The GPA requirements for Harvard University are between 3.9 to 4.1. You will need an incredibly high GPA and will likely be graduating at the top of their class in order to get into Harvard University.

What are 5 tips for writing a good college essay? ›

Five Tips for Writing Your College Essay
  • Choose a topic that appeals to YOU. Write about something you know, and write in your own voice. ...
  • Brainstorm! ...
  • Write more than one draft. ...
  • Use a strong opening, an interesting middle, and a good conclusion. ...
  • Ask a friend, teacher, or parent to read your second draft.

How do you end a college essay powerfully? ›

There are a few strategies you can use for a memorable ending to your college essay:
  1. Return to the beginning with a “full circle” structure.
  2. Reveal the main point or insight in your story.
  3. Look to the future.
  4. End on an action.
Oct 16, 2021

What is the best first sentence in an essay? ›

Avoid long, dense sentences—start with something clear, concise and catchy that will spark your reader's curiosity. The hook should lead the reader into your essay, giving a sense of the topic you're writing about and why it's interesting. Avoid overly broad claims or plain statements of fact.

What is a good first sentence for an essay? ›

Start with a sensational sentence that is related to the topic. This will pique the reader's attention. The first sentence is the most important element of any successful essay. The first sentence should be an exciting springboard that makes you want to learn more about the topic.

What is a good sentence starter for an essay? ›

Below is a list of possible sentence starters, transitional and other words that may be useful. This essay discusses … … is explored … … is defined … The definition of … will be given … is briefly outlined … … is explored … The issue focused on …. … is demonstrated ... … is included …


1. Supplemental Essays for Harvard (Big Tips 😳)
(Benson Gao)
2. How to Improve Your Essays
(Gohar Khan)
3. How to Write a College Essay
(Gohar Khan)
4. How to Reference in an Essay (3 Simple Tips)
(Helpful Professor)
5. Harvard Business School Essay Tips: What more would you like us to know?
(Menlo Coaching)
6. How to Write an Essay: 4 Minute Step-by-step Guide | Scribbr 🎓


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