MAKE SURE YOU UNDERSTAND THE PROMPT

Understanding the topic is one of the biggest helpful hints we can share. When the judges are trying to eliminate essays to choose the four winners, they easily eliminate essays which do not answer the question. For instance, if the topic asks you to discuss your experience with overcoming adversity, don’t spend the essay focusing on your adversity or hardships. Instead you should focus on how you overcame the hardship or the steps you are taking to overcome the adversity.

FIGURE OUT YOUR MAIN POINT

What is the reason you are writing your essay? This purpose will become your thesis statement and should answer the prompt. If you are struggling to start this sentence, use some of the question wording.  If the prompt asks you to write about a mentor who made an impact on your life, then you might write, “As a mentor, Joe Smith made a profound impact on my life by…”

UNDERSTAND YOUR AUDIENCE

Before you write anything, you need to determine who your audience is. Writing style depends on the audience. For Silver Pen, the audience is comprised of members at our retirement communities who are retired teachers, professors, business professionals and community leaders.

BRAINSTORM YOUR ESSAY

The draft you submit should never be your first draft. Using your preferred method of brainstorming (outline, rough drafts, etc.), you should start organizing and proofreading your work.

PROOFREAD YOUR ESSAY

After you have completed your essay, proofread your work. Sometimes reading it aloud will help you catch things you didn’t see before. Use spell check because it is a helpful tool that will save you from unfortunate grammar errors like not capitalizing “i” when referring to yourself. Also, ask parents, friends and/or teachers to proofread your essay.