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Scholarship Essay Format: 5 Points to Consider

Applying for free tuition money can take time, and the scholarship essay format counts. If you have questions about what format to use, take a look below. These items will help keep you on the readers’ good side.

Scholarship Strategy

Let’s start with just a few lines on basic scholarship strategy to help you win more awards. First, apply. Second, follow directions. Third, apply for more. Four, always get feedback, from proofreaders, teachers, parents, smart friends, someone you trust who can help. Okay, that covers basic strategy. For a better breakdown, see my college scholarship essay page and read all about it.

Scholarship Essay Format: 5 ideas to keep in Mind:

1. Directions

Make sure you follow the directions on the scholarship application. These directions indicate both what you need to submit and what the scholarship committee wants to read. If you stray much from the directions, expect your essay to be thrown out. Sad, but true.

For instance, what would happen if your application says to write 200 words or less on why you like aeronautics, and you write up a six page essay? You can expect, and readers confirm this, your essay would be round filed (euphemism for put in the trash).

But if you write 210 words, they probably won’t notice – they’ll see a couple of paragraphs, and they’ll read it. Stick to the directions, since your scholarship essay format represents what their workload can stand.

2. Past Winners

If you have access to past winning essays for the award you want to win, take a look at them. Past winners will show you what scholarship essay format has won most, and where you can vary from it a bit.

With a few winners in hand, you can pull them apart and see what goes where. What type of thesis statement do they use? Do they use a heavily researched format? Do the winners write in first person? You can learn some very helpful things if you have examples.

3. Standard Format

If your directions are sparse, such as, “write an essay about…” and you can’t get any previous winners, then you can assume that you need to use standard essay format.

A standard scholarship essay format consists of three or more paragraphs, with one as intro and one as conclusion or wrap up. The first paragraph should have a thesis statement and brief information on how you plan to continue. The middle paragraphs will fill out this information.

The last paragraph will tie the knot up. You will want to conclude and show yourself to be the best candidate. You can use suspense and intrigue. You can use a backdrop to tell your story, such as the progress you made in a particular project, tying together the other details as you write.

You can find much more on how to write a good essay through the resources on the page link a few paragraphs up.

4. Things to avoid – when the essay format doesn’t matter

While the scholarship essay format can make a difference, you need to do a few things to make sure your essay gets to the reading stage. First, spell everything correctly. Also, neatness counts. And you should answer every question, usually with a full sentence if space permits.

For a while, some well meaning people recommended adding something to your application. Like a DVD even though not requested, or some other show and tell from a hobby or a sport. Don’t do that – it doesn’t work well. Some scholarships will ask you for samples, such as music, artwork, architecture, and so on. Save your add-ons for those applications.

If you read winning scholarship essays, you’ll find that authors usually don’t repeat their qualifying information in their writing. For instance, you will rarely see a sentence that says, “With my stellar GPA of 4.6, and a 99.5% in Pre-calculus, I dominated the math Olympics for my school district.” Your GPA will likely be on the application. Instead, make your participation and good showing more of a story to draw the reader in.

5. Where to go for help

Take a look at my scholarship essay sample page for more information on winning essays and writing help. Take these apart to look at the scholarship essay formats and topics covered in their writing.

Finding samples that won the scholarships you want to apply to may take more work. You can look at the foundation website, or even call to ask the foundation if you can see some samples.

Remember to use these resources as a guide; always write your own essay.

With good planning and continued feedback, you can apply for several scholarships and win more money for college. If you grades aren’t stellar, look for scholarships that don’t rely on your grades. I have a page on college scholarship money to show you 7 ways you can stand out and get a scholarship.

Keep up the good work!

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How to write a Scholarship Essay - Examples

Scholarship Essays should use this formatting unless specified otherwise:

  • Two to three pages in length
  • Double spaced
  • Times New Roman font
  • 12 point font
  • One-inch top, bottom, and side margins

 These scholarship essay examples are provided for insight on how to write a scholarship essay.

Scholarship Essay Example 1 addresses the following question: "Choose a book or books that have affected you deeply and explain why." In this case, the applicant has chosen the novel Germinal by Emile Zola. The essay is strong and well-written, although not without its flaws.

Scholarship Essay Example 1

The scholarship essay example 2 question (Who has been the most influential person in your life?) is a common scholarship prompt. The example posted here is a winning scholarship submission that deals effectively and affectionately with the question.

Scholarship Essay Example 2

Essay examples 3 and 4 are in response to (e.g, "Why do you want to go to college" or "Describe a major hurdle or obstacle you've had to overcome".). Both examples deal with the same theme (sick parent) but utilize different approaches. In addition, one is a 500-word response and the other is a 1,000-word response.

Scholarship Essay Example 3

Scholarship Essay Example 4