by Dr. Aimee Weinstein

No matter how you slice it, the first semester of senior year of high school is stressful. In addition to the regular class load, activities and other responsibilities, kids have to work through their college applications, including the omnipresent essays. Even with such conveniences as the Common App and the Coalition App, everything must be filled out and double-checked before sending to any schools. The process inevitably takes more time than anyone plans.


To that end, I have a short list of tips and tricks to use to make it just a little bit easier for you.

  1. Write your essay before school begins if at all possible.
  2. When approaching the essay, write the essay you want to write; looking at the prompts themselves comes later – spin the essay to the prompt, not the other way around.
  3. For every school to which you apply, you need thirty (30!) minutes of allotted time to fill out every form.
  4. Every school, even if they’re on the Common App, will require at least one if not more supplemental essays. They’re often short (250 words or so) but they have to be done and done well.
  5. Use a spreadsheet of some sort (we can send you the one we use) to keep track of schools, dates, supplemental essays, etc.
  6. Look at the New York Times best college essays of 2016 site for ideas about the narrative voice schools enjoy.
  7. Make sure you ask for your recommendations as early in September as possible. Teachers have a lot of them to write; they will be motivated to write them for the students who ask the earliest.


At Inspiring Test Prep we have a myriad of ways to help you on this journey. We offer one-on-one help with the essay as well as general essay reviews. We had excellent success with our essay bootcamps this summer and new classes will be forming (email us to suggest times/dates!). If you’d like to take advantage of the class, or have any questions about the college process and how we can be of assistance, please email Dr. Weinstein at