Tell me about yourself. This question can scare the skin off even from even the most confident individuals, whether they are meeting new people or when read from an essay assignment prompt. The society teaches us not to brag, but how is it possible you to write about yourself without at least bragging a little? What do these types of essays require students to write about—your entire life, your achievements, your hobbies, or something else? This article offers a description of what is expected of students when they write an ‘essay about yourself.’

An essay about yourself is essentially short work of autobiographical nonfiction typified by a sense of intimacy and a conversational tone. However, there is not consensus on the definition of the essay about yourself. In fact, if you were to ask three different experts what an essay about yourself is, you would likely get three different responses. Should the essay about yourself address a specific type of subject? Is it structured?

There are two important elements to understanding the essay about yourself—the ‘personal’ and ‘essay’ elements. First, an essay implies a brief literary composition on a particular theme, often written in prose, and can either be analytic, speculative or interpretive. There are different essay types, and these types vary in terms of structure and content. Irrespective of the type or essay, however, all forms of academic writing must adhere to certain rules of grammar and syntax.

The second aspect of defining the essay about yourself is the personal part. The personal nature of essays about yourself dictate the content and style used in writing the essay. In essence an essay about yourself is a brief work on nonfiction, often written in prose (paragraphs and sentences), in which the writer explores an idea or subject from a personal point of view. The goal of this form of writing is sharing with the audience your perspectives, experiences, insights, and opinions on a particular subject. The writer is allowed to use some poetic devices to enhance the description, including sensory language, although the emphasis ought to be on the message, rather than the medium used. Important considerations that markers look for include:

Whether the writer has shown a strong sense of audience, purpose and tone

Imagine reading one long block of text, where every idea blurs into the next. Even when the text is part of a thrilling novel, the reader is likely to lose interest in what the writer has to say quite quickly. When writing an essay about yourself, it helps to position yourself in the shoes of the reader. Can you focus easily on every point made in the writing? One possible strategy is to start a new paragraph for each fresh idea. In general, paragraphs are meant to break down your ideas into comprehensible and logical chunks. In writing a good essay about yourself, every idea is presented in a paragraph, and coherent sentences are used to support the main point. Since all the sentences within the paragraph support one idea, a paragraph is able to stand on its own. The tone, purpose and audience tone of the assignment dictate what is covered in each paragraph, and each paragraph supports the main point.

In general, it is important for your writing for you to know why you are writing in the first place. If the purpose behind your writing is score a good grade or impress your writer, then that is not enough. Writing should go beyond impressing your reader, although that is also important. Knowing that there is more than one person you need to persuade with your writing is motivation to write well. The main message is to know the goal you intend to achieve with your writing as well as the audience targeted by your paper, and shape your tone and grammar according to those standards. In other words, the mood, objectivity, and earnestness of your essay about yourself will be shaped by the attitude and sense of purpose. Why are you writing, and to whom?

Whether the essay revolves around a clear thesis

The thesis statement is arguably the most important element of any form of essay writing. Most writers prefer to state the main idea of the paper directly somewhere in the paper, often in a sentence referred to as a thesis statement. In most essays, the thesis statement comes at the end of the introductory paragraph. However, experienced writers can sometimes omit the thesis statement without losing their audience’s focus. In “Shooting an Elephant,” George Orwell buried the thesis statement somewhere in the middle, but being such a good writer readers have no trouble identifying the text’s main idea. However, students cannot claim to be as masterful as George Orwell. Student writers should include a clear and concise thesis statement at the end of the introduction.

Whether the essay is well organized

Structure and organization are critical factors in a quality essay about yourself. Essay structure generally comprises an introduction, a body, and a conclusion. Even short essays must have these parts. Essays that are well organized are pleasing to the eye and the writing is easy to comprehend. When writing an essay about yourself, there are various ways to organize your essay, including the use of headings and subheadings. Another option is paragraphing, which is used to divide the text into sections that make the writing more legible and the organization more apparent. Please note that readers tend to be intimidated by paragraphs that are too long. On the other hand, paragraphs that are too short give readers a bumpy reading experience. A good essay about yourself is one in which you seek a middle ground between the two extremes. Of course, there is an exception when recreating a conversation between two or more people. In such a dialogue, it helps to start a new paragraph every time the conversation changes from one speaker to another. Organizing your work in this manner makes it easier for readers to follow the progress of the text. The important takeaway here is to make sure that all the parts of the essay about yourself support one principal idea. This will ensure that your writing is coherent, and that the separate parts contribute to the whole.

Language Choice

Style is an important element to consider when writing an essay about yourself. In this respect, established essayists advice students to use an informal approach to language, what may be referred to as a conversational tone. Feel free to use the first person and second person pronouns, instead of sticking to third person pronouns that typify more formal essays. It also helps to avoid long sentences, long multi-syllabic words, and passive voice, which make your writing sound stiff and stuffy. It is important to note, however, that style is a personal thing, and tends to vary from one writer to another. Try to fit your style with the purpose, topic, and target audience of your essay.

So, how do you get started with an essay about yourself?

Writing a paper about yourself is not something that you encounter every day. As such, you may need some practice. Start by checking when the paper is due, leaning enough time to get feedback on the writing. The first crucial step in writing your essay is planning what you intend to include. In addition, you should follow these tips:

  • Read the assignment prompt carefully to ensure that you understand the requirements. Your essay must respond to the particulars in the prompt as they have been asked. You must also observe word count requirements
  • Interrogate yourself. When writing an essay about yourself, there are three types of experience you could include, which are work, academic, and personal. When writing your essay for a college application, the most important experience is academic, as well as your preparation and your goals. Focus not only on what you have achieved, but also on how the achievements and experiences have improved your standing. How do your experiences relate to your goals? Analyze the results from this interrogation, determining which responses, topics and ideas are important for the essay.
  • Seek a second opinion. Show the results from your self-interview to friends, family or colleagues.
  • Produce an initial draft based on the responses from the self-interview. In this initial draft, the focus ought to be primarily on the content, and not the editing. The editing can always be done later.
  • Revise your drafts until you get a refined final draft. Try to take a break from the writing before returning to proofread and edit the text. Please note that editing requires a critical stance, which is difficult to achieve when reading your own writing. You could, therefore, ask someone else to assist with proofreading and editing your paper.

Most importantly, keep in mind that there is no shortcut to quality writing. An essay about yourself can be an important document for your academic and professional progression, and must be treated with utmost seriousness. It may be, in any case, the most important essay you may have ever written.