An Extensive Guide on How to Write a Personal Essay: Format, Topics

personal essay

All You Need to Know About Writing a Personal Essay

The college application process is a stressful and challenging task, and for a majority of students, the most intimidating part of that process is submitting a personal statement. Applicants who lack experience in making this type of assignment feel extremely uncomfortable trying to guess what they have to write in the paper to impress the admission committee. From another point of view, unlike tests and GPA scores, which by that moment already placed the student in a particular percentile, this type of work is another chance for an applicant to improve one's prospects for enrollment.

It is an opportunity for seniors to demonstrate their creativity and persuade the committee that they deserve to become students at that prestigious college or university.

Distinctive Features of the Assignment

To begin with, let's answer "what is a personal essay" and the peculiarities that differentiate it from other types of essays.

The primary purpose of the personal statement is to introduce oneself to the admission committee. While they have access to applicant test scores and GPA, the personality of the one remains unclear. Marks achieved in the testing process can reflect the theoretical knowledge of a student but not one's creative skills. The personal paper is a useful tool for an applicant to show the committee what exists beyond test results, such as what is one's motivation for studying and what one's ambitions and prospects for the future are. Here, a committee may evaluate an applicant as an individual but not as a bulk of different kinds of scores or as a percentile.

Also, a personal statement is a chance to demonstrate the applicant's writing skills, imagination, and ability to express their ideas. It may be especially important for candidates of creative professions as test scores commonly cannot reflect their talents and way of thinking entirely. Thus, a personal essay definition may be broken down as follows: a statement in which applicants demonstrate their personality, ambitions, and writing skills to the admissions committee to give the latter a full perspective of their candidature.

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How to Start a Personal Statement: Secrets of a Good Opening

Each essay begins with an idea, and this paper is by no means an exception. Even more so, the idea of what the helper wants to tell the reader is the primary element of a personal statement. Since this type of assignment is truly individual, it must include a real-life story from the writer. Try to start by approaching the issue in a simple form. This means that one must understand what the author wants the reader to experience and gain as a result of them exploring the story and the intended reaction.

Picking Up A Topic

Thus, when there is the question of "How to start a personal essay?" one should remember that one of the first preparation steps of the assignment is picking up a topic or idea for the paper. As mentioned above, it must be unique and tell the reader something unknown regarding the author. Namely, this should not be a description of one's academic achievements, extracurricular activities, or finals scores. Instead, this work should demonstrate those sides of the writer's personality that are not shown by test scores or tutor recommendations. Writers may describe their role models, people who inspire them, their plans for the future, or even their attitude toward global warming. Further, in this article, we'll explore this issue much deeper.

Creating An Essay Plan

Meanwhile, after the topic is chosen, the second step is to build an essay plan - essentially making a personal essay outline. That is a significant step since college admission committees place a lot of emphasis on well-structured and well-written works. That is why the personal essay format should always be respected and followed. Here is its basic structure:                      

Basic Personal Essay Structure

Check out our guide how to write a personal statement for law school at EssayHub blog.


Similar to most college admission essays, this assignment starts with an introductory paragraph. Here the writer may speak about his or her background using a witty anecdote as an example of their life. This section should make use of a sturdy hook (an interesting fact about the story) that will get the designated audience interested in the events that are coming up. The opening paragraph should conclude with the thesis statement - express the paper's main idea. Namely, focus on why this story is relevant to the audience and what they stand to gain from it.

After that, the core body paragraphs of the paper begin being developed. Here, the author tells the story or explains the facts backing up the thesis statement given in the introduction. It is part of an assignment where creativity takes the first place, and writers may use any advantages they possess. For instance, if one has a good sense of humor, now is the best time to use it. However, it is important not to overreach or exaggerate things as this will take away from the credibility of the text. It means that fun or creativity should not be dull or illogical, like in this joke about an elephant and a marshmallow:


Simply put, a writer must improve his or her strengths and use them appropriately and wisely throughout the paper.

To sum up, the concluding paragraph should state what experience they learned and how this particular story has helped them learn these life lessons. Thus, a well-structured helps the audience explore the story from its very beginning to its effect on the writer's life. To understand the structure better, you can find personal essay examples online. Just visit our professional essay writing service and we will handle it!

Meanwhile, let’s delve deeper into the personal essay outline in the following sections:

Title of the Essay

The first step in essay writing is coming up with a title that will capture the reader's attention. The title should give the readers an insight into what the essay is about. This will allow the readers to be curious about the paper's content.

Whereas there are no specific rules on how a title should be formulated, it is important to craft a title that gives the reader a hint of the paper's content. The title, therefore, can be a short phrase, a sentence, or a question. For example, if you were to write about your personal experiences on immigration or another pertinent issue that touches on other people's lives, instead of just having a heading that says "my experience ... immigration," you could say something like "outside" or "beyond the border lines." Such an essay will capture the readers' attention without revealing too much information about your essay.


After the title, the author should come up with a killer introduction that will outline the major elements of the essay. These include details such as the main characters, the story's focus, and the major conflicts. By giving a solid introduction, the author gives the audience a map that will allow them to follow the events as they unfold in the personal essay. The introduction is also the part where the author focuses on a particular issue where the story's themes will revolve. In essence, the introduction helps the readers to gain insight into the writing and thus assists them in understanding the author. Such sensory details can easily grab the reader's attention.


After crafting a good title and a capturing eye introduction, the next part is to develop the points that will support your position. If the essay is an opinion about something or someone, the author will give specific details supporting his claims. Just like in any other essay, the organization is an important element that will determine the understandability of the essay.

Instead of clumping all the ideas into a single or few paragraphs, it will be more appropriate for the author to have a single paragraph for each idea. Thus, any idea that is used to support the author's position is elaborated in a single paragraph. All the paragraphs should focus on the main point of the essay. The style of the delivery of the message is unique to the writers. One may choose to use a few simple sentences, while others may opt for long compound sentences.

Successive paragraphs should reinforce the main point and give deeper layers of the personal experience. If, for instance, you are talking about a situation where you ignored a piece of advice, you may consider giving examples of past events where adhering to the advice had worked well for you. Alternatively, you can compare your situation against your peers who adhered to the instructions.

In pursuit of the deeper truth, the author can connect with the readers by giving specific details that will take the readers into the exact state of emotions that he/she was experiencing during the event. It may be a sense of excitement, desperation, anger, and determination, among others. The author should be able to craft a description that will give the readers the exact feelings.


Upon completion of all the main points in the essay, the author should go through the paper and try to read the essay aloud. This will help in detecting any inconsistency or lack of flow that may be present. The essay will then be closed with a final thought. This is a parting shot that is supposed to stick to the writer. However, it may be the lessons learned and a point away from the author's mind.

The final part should focus on the reader. It is a transition from the self-expression introduction to acknowledging that you are writing for them. This should be something that will make the reader glad that they took their time to read your essay.

Finally, a point to note is that a personal essay is an art. There is no prescribed writing style or format. Therefore, one should strive to develop a different essay that will capture the readers' attention and convey the intended purpose.

The Most Suitable Personal Essay Topics

As previously mentioned, the primary goal of a personal statement is to demonstrate writing skills and, even more importantly, to tell people more about oneself as an individual. That is why personal essay prompts, which colleges offer to consider as essay topics, are mostly related to life events, choices, or plans.

Here are several ideas for a personal essay for you to write a successful personal statement:

  • "Lessons taken from obstacles can be a basis for success in the future. Describe a challenge or failure you have faced and what its conclusion was."
  • "Depict a moment in your life when you questioned commonly accepted ideas or beliefs. What triggered you to do so, and what was the result of it?"
  • "Write about the event that nourished your individual growth."
  • "Describe your role model in life and what they mean to you."
  • "Discuss an issue you managed to solve - research question, personal challenge, an ethical dilemma - anything personally valuable. Demonstrate why it is significant and what you have done to find a solution."

These are suitable topics for discussion in personal writing for college admissions as they relate both to personal issues and life experiences. Also, responding to this type of issue demonstrates the author's ability to think thoroughly and apply problem-solving concepts in their daily activities.

Useful Tips

As mentioned above, persuasive personal stories require a suitable topic for exploration and development in a well-structured format for personal essay. However, here are a few additional tips to follow to master personal statements:

  • The writer should present something new about them - admission committees already know applicants' scores and academic achievements. This assignment is simply an opportunity to show them individuality;
  • Keep it "personal." It means writing an essay about oneself and the influence of something on oneself. Thus, if the writer speaks about role models, the focus must be put on the control the role model has on the author's life, but not through manipulation.
  • Proofread, edit and polish. When starting to work on the essay initially, most of us have not kept it neat and clear. The first draft can be full of mistakes and illogical editing choices. Nonetheless, it is vital to proofread and polish the paper to demonstrate the best writing skills possible.
personal essay

Still Need Help?

Life happens, and sometimes it is even hard to find an idea for this type of essay. The importance imposed by the outcome of it does not help you concentrate on the task at hand or relieve any pressure despite there being so many examples of it. Thus, if you have searched through hundreds of personal essay sample and still struggles to complete the assignment, our do my essay online service offers a helping hand and is eager to assist you in creating the best essay possible.

Personal essays are used in testing the students' ability to convey their thoughts and ideas in a way in which the reader can grasp. In most cases, a writer is asked to describe an event in their lives, or narrate about another individual. It can also be an opinion on a particular subject. Since the author is giving a personal account, experience or opinion, there is no need to proof the details. Personal essays are popular forms of non-fiction narratives in the literal world. As much as it sounds straightforward, it can be a daunting task especially if one is not conversant with various writing styles. This paper will elaborate on the best methods that a writer can use in writing a personal essay.

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