Essay Writing Guide

Essay Outline

Last updated on: Jun 10, 2023

A Complete Essay Outline - Guidelines and Format

By: Nova A.

13 min read

Reviewed By: Melisa C.

Published on: Jan 15, 2019

Essay Outline

To write an effective essay, you need to create a clear and well-organized essay outline. An essay outline will shape the essay’s entire content and determine how successful the essay will be.

In this blog post, we'll be going over the basics of essay outlines and provide a template for you to follow. We will also include a few examples so that you can get an idea about how these outlines look when they are put into practice.

Essay writing is not easy, but it becomes much easier with time, practice, and a detailed essay writing guide. Once you have developed your outline, everything else will come together more smoothly.

The key to success in any area is preparation - take the time now to develop a solid outline and then write your essays!

So, let’s get started!

Essay Outline

On this Page

What is an Essay Outline?

An essay outline is your essay plan and a roadmap to essay writing. It is the structure of an essay you are about to write. It includes all the main points you have to discuss in each section along with the thesis statement.

Like every house has a map before it is constructed, the same is the importance of an essay outline. You can write an essay without crafting an outline, but you may miss essential information, and it is more time-consuming.

Once the outline is created, there is no chance of missing any important information. Also, it will help you to:

  • Organize your thoughts and ideas.
  • Understand the information flow.
  • Never miss any crucial information or reference.
  • Finish your work faster.

These are the reasons if someone asks you why an essay outline is needed. Now there are some points that must be kept in mind before proceeding to craft an essay outline.

Essay Outliner

Easily Outline Your Essays In Seconds!

Prewriting Process of Essay Outline

Your teacher may ask you to submit your essay outline before your essay. Therefore, you must know the preliminary guidelines that are necessary before writing an essay outline.

Here are the guidelines:

  • You must go through your assignments’ guidelines carefully.
  • Understand the purpose of your assignment.
  • Know your audience.
  • Mark the important point while researching your topic data.
  • Select the structure of your essay outline; whether you are going to use a decimal point bullet or a simple one.

Order Essay

Paper Due? Why Suffer? That's our Job!

How to Write an Essay Outline in 4 Steps

Creating an essay outline is a crucial step in crafting a well-structured and organized piece of writing. Follow these four simple steps to create an effective outline:

Step 1: Understand the Topic

To begin, thoroughly grasp the essence of your essay topic. 

Break it down into its key components and identify the main ideas you want to convey. This step ensures you have a clear direction and focus for your essay.

Step 2: Brainstorm and Gather Ideas

Let your creativity flow and brainstorm ideas related to your topic. 

Jot down key pieces of information, arguments, and supporting evidence that will strengthen your essay's overall message. Consider different perspectives and potential counterarguments to make your essay well-rounded.

Step 3: Organize Your Thoughts

Now it's time to give structure to your ideas. 

Arrange your main points in a logical order, starting with an attention-grabbing introduction, followed by body paragraphs that present your arguments. 

Finally, tie everything together with a compelling conclusion. Remember to use transitional phrases to create smooth transitions between sections.

Step 4: Add Depth with Subpoints

To add depth and clarity to your essay, incorporate subpoints under each main point. 

These subpoints provide more specific details, evidence, or examples that support your main ideas. They help to further strengthen your arguments and make your essay more convincing.

By following these four steps - you'll be well on your way to creating a clear and compelling essay outline.

Essay Outline Format

It is an easy way for you to write your thoughts in an organized manner. It may seem unnecessary and unimportant, but it is not.

It is one of the most crucial steps for essay writing as it shapes your entire essay and aids the writing process.

An essay outline consists of three main parts:

1. Introduction

The introduction body of your essay should be attention-grabbing. It should be written in such a manner that it attracts the reader’s interest. It should also provide background information about the topic for the readers.

You can use a dramatic tone to grab readers’ attention, but it should connect the audience to your thesis statement.

Here are some points without which your introduction paragraph is incomplete.

To attract the reader with the first few opening lines, we use a hook statement. It helps engage the reader and motivates them to read further. There are different types of hook sentences ranging from quotes, rhetorical questions to anecdotes and statistics, and much more.

Are you struggling to come up with an interesting hook? View these hook examples to get inspired!

A thesis statement is stated at the end of your introduction. It is the most important statement of your entire essay. It summarizes the purpose of the essay in one sentence.

The thesis statement tells the readers about the main theme of the essay, and it must be strong and clear. It holds the entire crux of your essay.

Need help creating a strong thesis statement? Check out this guide on thesis statements and learn to write a statement that perfectly captures your main argument!

2. Body Paragraphs

The body paragraphs of an essay are where all the details and evidence come into play. This is where you dive deep into the argument, providing explanations and supporting your ideas with solid evidence. 

If you're writing a persuasive essay, these paragraphs will be the powerhouse that convinces your readers. Similarly, in an argumentative essay, your body paragraphs will work their magic to sway your audience to your side.

Each paragraph should have a topic sentence and no more than one idea. A topic sentence is the crux of the contents of your paragraph. It is essential to keep your reader interested in the essay.

The topic sentence is followed by the supporting points and opinions, which are then justified with strong evidence.

3. Conclusion

When it comes to wrapping up your essay, never underestimate the power of a strong conclusion. Just like the introduction and body paragraphs, the conclusion plays a vital role in providing a sense of closure to your topic. 

To craft an impactful conclusion, it's crucial to summarize the key points discussed in the introduction and body paragraphs. You want to remind your readers of the important information you shared earlier. But keep it concise and to the point. Short, powerful sentences will leave a lasting impression.

Remember, your conclusion shouldn't drag on. Instead, restate your thesis statement and the supporting points you mentioned earlier. And here's a pro tip: go the extra mile and suggest a course of action. It leaves your readers with something to ponder or reflect on.

5 Paragraph Essay Outline Structure

An outline is an essential part of the writing as it helps the writer stay focused. A typical 5 paragraph essay outline example is shown here. This includes:

  • State the topic
  • Thesis statement
  • Introduction
  • Explanation
  • A conclusion that ties to the thesis
  • Summary of the essay
  • Restate the thesis statement

Tough Essay Due? Hire Tough Writers!

Essay Outline Template

The outline of the essay is the skeleton that you will fill out with the content. Both outline and relevant content are important for a good essay. The content you will add to flesh out the outline should be credible, relevant, and interesting.

The outline structure for the essay is not complex or difficult. No matter which type of essay you write, you either use an alphanumeric structure or a decimal structure for the outline.

Below is an outline sample that you can easily follow for your essay.

Essay Outline Sample

Essay Outline Examples

An essay outline template should follow when you start writing the essay. Every writer should learn how to write an outline for every type of essay and research paper.

Essay outline 4th grade

Essay outline 5th grade

Essay outline high school

Essay outline college

Given below are essay outline examples for different types of essay writing.

Argumentative Essay Outline

An  argumentative essay  is a type of essay that shows both sides of the topic that you are exploring. The argument that presents the basis of the essay should be created by providing evidence and supporting details.

Persuasive Essay Outline

A  persuasive essay  is similar to an argumentative essay. Your job is to provide facts and details to create the argument. In a persuasive essay, you convince your readers of your point of view.

Compare and Contrast Essay Outline

A  compare and contrast essay  explains the similarities and differences between two things. While comparing, you should focus on the differences between two seemingly similar objects. While contrasting, you should focus on the similarities between two different objects.

Narrative Essay Outline

A narrative essay is written to share a story. Normally, a narrative essay is written from a personal point of view in an essay. The basic purpose of the narrative essay is to describe something creatively.

Expository Essay Outline

An  expository essay  is a type of essay that explains, analyzes, and illustrates something for the readers. An expository essay should be unbiased and entirely based on facts. Be sure to use academic resources for your research and cite your sources.

Analytical Essay Outline

An  analytical essay  is written to analyze the topic from a critical point of view. An analytical essay breaks down the content into different parts and explains the topic bit by bit.

Rhetorical Analysis Essay Outline

A rhetorical essay is written to examine the writer or artist’s work and develop a great essay. It also includes the discussion.

Cause and Effect Essay Outline

A  cause and effect essay  describes why something happens and examines the consequences of an occurrence or phenomenon. It is also a type of expository essay.

Informative Essay Outline

An  informative essay  is written to inform the audience about different objects, concepts, people, issues, etc.

The main purpose is to respond to the question with a detailed explanation and inform the target audience about the topic.

Synthesis Essay Outline

A  synthesis essay  requires the writer to describe a certain unique viewpoint about the issue or topic. Create a claim about the topic and use different sources and information to prove it.

Literary Analysis Essay Outline

A  literary analysis essay  is written to analyze and examine a novel, book, play, or any other piece of literature. The writer analyzes the different devices such as the ideas, characters, plot, theme, tone, etc., to deliver his message.

Definition Essay Outline

A  definition essay  requires students to pick a particular concept, term, or idea and define it in their own words and according to their understanding.

Descriptive Essay Outline

A  descriptive essay  is a type of essay written to describe a person, place, object, or event. The writer must describe the topic so that the reader can visualize it using their five senses.

Evaluation Essay Outline

Problem Solution Essay Outline

In a problem-solution essay, you are given a problem as a topic and you have to suggest multiple solutions on it.

Scholarship Essay Outline

A  scholarship essay  is required at the time of admission when you are applying for a scholarship. Scholarship essays must be written in a way that should stand alone to help you get a scholarship.

Reflective Essay Outline

A reflective essay  is written to express your own thoughts and point of view regarding a specific topic.

Getting started on your essay? Give this comprehensive essay writing guide a read to make sure you write an effective essay!

With this complete guide, now you understand how to create an outline for your essay successfully. However, if you still can’t write an effective essay, then the best option is to consult a professional academic writing service.

Essay writing is a dull and boring task for some people. So why not get some help instead of wasting your time and effort? is here to help you. All your  do my essay for me  requests are managed by professional essay writers.

Place your order now, and our team of expert academic writers will help you.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the three types of outlines.

Here are the three types of essay outline;

  • Working outline
  • Speaking outline
  • Full-sentence outline

All three types are different from each other and are used for different purposes.

What does a full-sentence outline look like?

A full sentence outline contains full sentences at each level of the essay’s outline. It is similar to an alphanumeric outline and it is a commonly used essay outline.

What is a traditional outline format?

A traditional essay outline begins with writing down all the important points in one place and listing them down and adding sub-topics to them. Besides, it will also include evidence and proof that you will use to back your arguments.

What is the benefit of using a traditional outline format and an informal outline format?

A traditional outline format helps the students in listing down all the important details in one palace while an informal outline will help you coming up with new ideas and highlighting important points

Nova A.

As a Digital Content Strategist, Nova Allison has eight years of experience in writing both technical and scientific content. With a focus on developing online content plans that engage audiences, Nova strives to write pieces that are not only informative but captivating as well.

Was This Blog Helpful?

Keep reading.

  • How to Write an Essay - A Complete Guide with Examples

Essay Outline

  • The Art of Effective Writing: Thesis Statements Examples and Tips

Essay Outline

  • Writing a 500 Word Essay - Easy Guide

Essay Outline

  • What is a Topic Sentence - An Easy Guide with Writing Steps & Examples

Essay Outline

  • 220 Best Transition Words for Essays

Essay Outline

  • Essay Format: Detailed Writing Tips & Examples

Essay Outline

  • How to Write a Conclusion - Examples & Tips

Essay Outline

  • Essay Topics: 100+ Best Essay Topics for your Guidance

Essay Outline

  • How to Title an Essay: A Step-by-Step Guide for Effective Titles

Essay Outline

  • How to Write a Perfect 1000 Word Essay

Essay Outline

  • How To Make An Essay Longer - Easy Guide For Beginners

Essay Outline

  • Learn How to Start an Essay Effectively with Easy Guidelines

Essay Outline

  • Types of Sentences With Examples

Essay Outline

  • Hook Examples: How to Start Your Essay Effectively

Essay Outline

  • Essay Writing Tips - Essential Do’s and Don’ts to Craft Better Essays

Essay Outline

  • How To Write A Thesis Statement - A Step by Step Guide

Essay Outline

  • Art Topics - 200+ Brilliant Ideas to Begin With

Essay Outline

  • Writing Conventions and Tips for College Students

Essay Outline

People Also Read

  • synthesis essay topics
  • writing a book review
  • creative essay writers
  • thematic statement

Burdened With Assignments?

Bottom Slider


  • Homework Services: Essay Topics Generator

© 2024 - All rights reserved

Facebook Social Icon

an outline of a personal essay

Teacher Habits

Helping Teachers inside the Classroom and Out

How to Write a Personal Essay: Instructions, Outline

Have you ever wanted to share a meaningful life experience or emotion through writing, but didn’t know where to start? Personal essays are the perfect avenue for expressing your unique perspective and connecting with readers. In this guide, we’ll walk you through the process of how to write a personal essay, from choosing the right topic to polishing your final draft. Get ready to embark on a journey that will not only improve your writing skills, but also provide valuable self-reflection.

Table of Contents

Key Takeaways

  • Learn how to write a personal essay in 2023 by understanding the elements, choosing the right topic and reflecting on your experiences.
  • Use descriptive language, evoke emotion & showcase unique qualities while avoiding cliches & overused topics.
  • Enhance your essay with editing tips such as seeking feedback from others and fine tuning grammar/punctuation for clarity.

What is a Personal Essay Essay?

A personal essay is a piece of creative nonfiction where the writer shares a meaningful lesson they have learned from their life experiences. Unlike a research or descriptive essay, a personal essay focuses on the writer’s individual story and experiences, making it an ideal way to showcase who you are beyond numbers and percentages in college applications. In fact, many personal essays are submitted during the application process, highlighting the importance of this form of writing. To get a better understanding of how to craft your own story, you can refer to personal essay examples available online or learn how to write a personal essay through various resources.

The personal essay format has its unique structure, typically consisting of an introduction, body paragraphs, and a conclusion. To make your essay stand out, it’s essential to use a conversational tone that builds a connection with the reader. By incorporating storytelling elements and vivid descriptions, you create an engaging narrative that captures the reader’s attention and keeps them hooked throughout the entire essay.

Choosing the Right Topic for Your Personal Essay

Selecting an appropriate and engaging topic is vital for a captivating personal essay. To choose the right topic, consider reflecting on your own personal experiences, keeping your audience in mind, and avoiding overused topics.

In the following sections, we’ll delve deeper into these aspects to help you craft a personal essay that resonates with readers and showcases your unique perspective.

Reflecting on Your Experiences

To find a meaningful and engaging topic for your personal essay, start by reflecting on your personal experiences and emotions. Review, analyze, and evaluate events, ideas, and emotions from a different angle to gain insight. It’s crucial to focus on specific moments or experiences that have had a significant impact on your life and have taught you a valuable lesson.

While reflecting, think about why you did what you did and whether there’s a more effective way of doing it in the future. This introspection can help you identify a deeper truth or valuable lesson worth sharing in your essay. Your personal experiences can serve as the foundation for a captivating narrative that resonates with readers.

Considering Your Audience

When choosing a topic for your personal essay, it’s crucial to consider your audience. Think about their:

  • level of knowledge on the topic

By tailoring your essay to best connect with your readers, you can create a more engaging and relatable narrative.

For college essays, consider that admissions officers want to know what you will bring to their community and how you can make their school more valuable. Emphasize attributes like:

  • Perseverance
  • Original perspectives
  • The capacity to inspire others

Throughout your essay, showcase your unique qualities and experiences to make it stand out and leave a lasting impression on your readers.

Avoiding Overused Topics

To create a fresh and original personal essay, avoid cliché or overused personal essay topics. While it may be tempting to write about a sports victory or a life-changing event, these topics can make your essay seem unoriginal and uninteresting. Instead, focus on a unique aspect of your life, such as:

  • an estranged family member
  • a moral turning point during adolescence
  • a challenging experience that shaped your perspective
  • a personal passion or hobby that has had a significant impact on your life

By choosing a unique and personal topic, you can create an essay that stands out and captivates your readers.

When writing a personal essay for college applications, here are some tips to consider.

  • Steer clear of writing about Covid-19, as many applicants may choose this topic, making your essay less distinctive.
  • Instead, emphasize how specific events or experiences have impacted you personally and academically.
  • Showcase your resilience and growth through these experiences.

Structuring Your Personal Essay

A well-structured personal essay outline is crucial for guiding the reader through your narrative. It includes an engaging introduction, strong body paragraphs, and a compelling conclusion. Mastering the art of essay writing ensures that your good personal essay effectively communicates your story, much like a well-crafted personal statement.

In the next sections, we’ll provide tips on crafting each part of your personal essay, ensuring a smooth narrative flow that keeps your reader engaged.

Crafting an Engaging Introduction

The introductory paragraph of your personal essay should grab the reader’s attention and set the tone of your narrative. Start with a hook sentence, such as a quote, a vivid description, or a personal anecdote, that encourages the reader to continue reading.

Include a clear thesis statement, which provides a brief overview of your essay’s main points and establishes the direction of your narrative. Remember to keep your introduction concise and focused on your central theme.

Your opening sentence should not only capture the reader’s attention, but also provide a glimpse into your unique story. This will set the stage for the rest of your personal essay and leave a lasting impression on your readers.

Developing Strong Body Paragraphs

The body paragraphs of your personal essay should support your thesis statement by providing details about your experiences and how they reflect on them over time. Each new point should have its own body paragraph, maintaining a clear and logical structure throughout your essay. Use transitions and chronological order to maintain a smooth narrative flow and guide your reader through your story.

To make your body paragraphs engaging, use descriptive language to create vivid images and provide sensory details that help the reader understand your story and its characters. Also, consider incorporating personal anecdotes to illustrate a point or provide a unique perspective. This will make your personal essay more captivating and memorable for your readers.

Writing a Compelling Conclusion

Your conclusion is the final opportunity to leave a lasting impression on your reader. In this section, you should:

  • Restate your thesis
  • Summarize the main points of your personal essay
  • Leave the reader with a specific emotion or life lesson
  • Connect your narrative to a broader context

When crafting your conclusion, ensure that it reinforces the main idea of your essay and ties it back to the thesis statement. This will provide a sense of closure and finality, making your personal essay a memorable and impactful read.

Enhancing Your Personal Essay

Now that you have a solid structure for your personal essay, it’s time to bring it to life by showcasing your unique voice, using descriptive language, and learning from past mistakes.

In the following sections, we’ll discuss these aspects in detail, helping you create a captivating and memorable personal essay that resonates with readers.

Showcasing Your Unique Voice

Embracing your personal writing style and voice is essential for conveying your unique perspective and genuine experiences in your personal essay. The elements of voice include:

  • Choosing the right words
  • Sentence structure
  • Punctuation

By selecting language that best expresses your personality and the mood you want to create, you can effectively showcase your individuality.

When telling your personal story, focus on the details that make it special to you and consider how you experienced the event and the emotions you felt. This will help you create an authentic narrative that resonates with readers and sets your personal essay apart from others.

Using Descriptive Language

Descriptive language plays a crucial role in engaging the reader and bringing your personal essay to life. It involves using words to paint a picture in the reader’s head, making them feel like they are truly experiencing the story. To achieve this, incorporate vivid descriptions, dialogue, and sensory details throughout your essay.

Metaphors, similes, personification, and imagery are great examples of descriptive language that can enhance your personal essay. By evoking emotions and creating vivid images, you can make your essay more interesting and engaging for the reader, leaving a lasting impact.

Learning from Past Mistakes

Reflecting on past writing mistakes and learning from them can significantly improve your personal essay and overall writing skills. Here are some steps to follow.

  • Be honest with yourself about what went wrong.
  • Consider the context, effect, and potential fixes for each mistake.
  • Use these insights to refine your writing.
  • Avoid repeating errors in future projects.

By following these steps, you can learn from your mistakes and become a better writer.

To ensure you’re applying lessons learned, take the time to reflect on any mistakes and think about how you can use those lessons in your current personal essay. This continuous self-improvement can greatly enhance your writing, making your personal essay more engaging and impactful.

Editing and Polishing Your Personal Essay

Once you’ve written your personal essay, the final step is to edit and polish it to perfection. This involves seeking feedback from others, fine-tuning your essay, and ensuring it is free of grammar, punctuation, and clarity issues.

In the next sections, we’ll provide tips on how to effectively edit and polish your personal essay, creating a refined final product that captivates your readers.

Seeking Feedback from Others

Asking for feedback from friends, family, or teachers can provide valuable insights and suggestions for improving your personal essay. Be specific about the kind of feedback you’re looking for, such as clarity, structure, or overall impact. This will help your reviewers provide constructive criticism that you can use to refine your essay.

Ideally, have 2-4 people you trust read your personal essay, as different perspectives can offer diverse insights. Take their feedback into account and make revisions as necessary. Remember that ultimately, you have the final say on your essay, so use the feedback to improve it while staying true to your unique voice and perspective.

Fine-Tuning Your Essay

After receiving feedback, it’s time to revise and fine-tune your personal essay. Here are some steps to follow.

  • Focus on grammar, punctuation, and clarity to ensure your essay is polished and ready for submission.
  • Check for redundancies and make sure the writing is concise and clear.
  • Ensure the essay flows logically.

By following these steps, you can improve the quality of your personal essay and increase your chances of success.

Reading your essay aloud can help you spot mistakes that you might have missed when reading in your head. Additionally, use this opportunity to tweak your personal essay to better showcase your personality, experiences, and unique qualities. Keep refining your essay until you feel confident that it effectively conveys your message and leaves a lasting impression on your readers.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are 5 elements of a personal essay.

A personal essay consists of an introduction, body, conclusion, a compelling hook, engaging story, interesting characters, immersive setting and meaningful point.

It also uses components of argument, thesis and conclusion to make a larger argument.

How should I structure a personal essay?

To structure a personal essay, use the typical five paragraph structure for English papers, with an introductory paragraph containing a thesis or hook, body paragraphs that provide supporting evidence for the thesis, and a conclusion that ties everything together.

Additionally, ensure your essay has a conversational tone, tell readers something they don’t already know, and be sure to edit and proofread your work.

What is a personal essay format?

A personal essay format typically consists of an introduction, body, and conclusion. The introduction introduces the topic and establishes the writer’s attitude, while the body of the essay tells a story of a personal experience using descriptive language.

The conclusion ties everything together.

How do I write my own essay?

To write your own essay, create an outline that includes an introductory paragraph with a thesis statement, supporting body paragraphs, and a conclusion that ties everything together.

Use conversational tone, be thoughtful and consider your audience, use evidence to support your argument, and remember to proofread for accuracy.

What is the main purpose of a personal essay?

The main purpose of a personal essay is to share a meaningful lesson the writer has learned from their life experiences, connecting with readers and allowing them to express their unique perspective.

This type of essay can be written in a variety of ways, but it should always be engaging and thought-provoking. It should also be written in a way that is easy to read and understand. Splitting the text into paragraphs is a key to understanding the text.

Writing a personal essay can be a rewarding and enlightening experience. By understanding the purpose of a personal essay, choosing the right topic, structuring your essay, enhancing it with your unique voice and descriptive language, and editing and polishing the final product, you can create a captivating narrative that resonates with readers.

Remember, the journey of self-reflection and growth that comes with writing a personal essay is just as important as the final product. So embrace the process and let your personal essay be a testament to your unique perspective and experiences.

  • PRO Courses Guides New Tech Help Pro Expert Videos About wikiHow Pro Upgrade Sign In
  • EDIT Edit this Article
  • EXPLORE Tech Help Pro About Us Random Article Quizzes Request a New Article Community Dashboard This Or That Game Popular Categories Arts and Entertainment Artwork Books Movies Computers and Electronics Computers Phone Skills Technology Hacks Health Men's Health Mental Health Women's Health Relationships Dating Love Relationship Issues Hobbies and Crafts Crafts Drawing Games Education & Communication Communication Skills Personal Development Studying Personal Care and Style Fashion Hair Care Personal Hygiene Youth Personal Care School Stuff Dating All Categories Arts and Entertainment Finance and Business Home and Garden Relationship Quizzes Cars & Other Vehicles Food and Entertaining Personal Care and Style Sports and Fitness Computers and Electronics Health Pets and Animals Travel Education & Communication Hobbies and Crafts Philosophy and Religion Work World Family Life Holidays and Traditions Relationships Youth
  • Browse Articles
  • Learn Something New
  • Quizzes Hot
  • This Or That Game
  • Train Your Brain
  • Explore More
  • Support wikiHow
  • About wikiHow
  • Log in / Sign up
  • Education and Communications
  • College University and Postgraduate
  • Academic Writing

How to Write a Personal Essay

Last Updated: February 2, 2023 Fact Checked

This article was co-authored by Jake Adams . Jake Adams is an academic tutor and the owner of Simplifi EDU, a Santa Monica, California based online tutoring business offering learning resources and online tutors for academic subjects K-College, SAT & ACT prep, and college admissions applications. With over 14 years of professional tutoring experience, Jake is dedicated to providing his clients the very best online tutoring experience and access to a network of excellent undergraduate and graduate-level tutors from top colleges all over the nation. Jake holds a BS in International Business and Marketing from Pepperdine University. There are 10 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page. This article has been fact-checked, ensuring the accuracy of any cited facts and confirming the authority of its sources. This article has been viewed 310,734 times.

A good personal essay can move and inspire readers. It can also leave the reader unsettled, uncertain, and full of more questions than answers. To write an effective personal essay, you will need to first understand the structure of a personal essay. You will then need to brainstorm ideas for the personal essay so you are ready when it is time to sit down and craft your essay.

Starting Your Personal Essay

Step 1 Find an angle for your essay.

  • For example, maybe you want to write about an experience where you learned about failure. You may think the time you failed a pop quiz in class. Though the quiz may have seemed insignificant to you at the time, you realized later that failing the pop quiz forced you to reassess your goals and motivated you to get a passing grade. Seen from a certain angle, your small failure became a gateway to perseverance and determination.

Jake Adams

  • This could be a seemingly small moment that ended up having a profound influence on you later, such the first time you experienced disgust as a child or the look on your mother’s face when you told her you were gay. Try to really dig into why you were hurt or compelled to overcome a challenge in this moment in your essay.
  • Remember that moments charged with strong emotion will often be more engaging to readers. Having a strong reaction to a specific moment will allow you to write passionately about it and keep your reader interested in your essay.

Step 3 Discuss a specific event that triggered an emotional response.

  • For example, you may focus on the day you found out your father cheated on your mother, or the week you mourned the death of a loved one. Think about a heavy experience in your life that shaped who you are today.
  • You may also decide to write about a seemingly light topic or event, such as your first ride on a roller coaster, or the first time you went on a cruise with your partner. No matter what event you choose, make sure it is an event that triggered a strong emotional response, ranging from anger to confusion to unabashed joy.

Step 4 Think of a person in your life that you have difficulty with in some way.

  • For example, you may think about why you and your mother stopped speaking years ago or why you are no longer close to a childhood friend. You may also look at past romantic relationships that failed and consider why they did not succeed or a relationship with a mentor that went sour.
  • This could also be about someone that you're close with. For example, you could write about a moment that tested your relationship with a close friend.

Step 5 Respond to a current event.

  • Ask yourself questions about the current event. For example, how does the current event intersect with your own experiences? How can you explore a current social issue or event using your personal thoughts, experiences, and emotions?
  • For example, you may have an interest in writing about Syrian refugee camps in Europe. You may then focus your personal essay on your own status as a refugee in America and how your experiences a refugee have shaped the person you are now. This will allow you to explore a current event from a personal perspective, rather than simply talk about the current event from a distant, journalistic perspective.

Step 6 Create an outline.

  • The introductory section should include “the hook”, opening lines where you catch the reader’s attention. It should also have some sort of narrative thesis, which is often the beginning of an important event in the piece or a theme that connects your experience to a universal idea.
  • The body sections should include supporting evidence for your narrative thesis and/or the key themes in your piece. Often, this is in the form of your experiences and your reflections on your experiences. You should also note the passage of time in your body sections so the reader is aware of when and how certain events occurred.
  • The concluding section should include a conclusion to the events and experiences discussed in the essay. You should also have a moral of the story moment, where you reflect on what you learned from your experiences or how your experiences changed your life.
  • In the past, it was advised to have five paragraphs total, one paragraph for the introductory section, three paragraphs for the body section, and one paragraph for the concluding section. But you can have more or less than five paragraphs for your personal essay as long as you have all three sections.

Writing the Personal Essay

Step 1 Begin with an engaging opening scene.

  • Don't begin with a line that explains exactly what is going to be discussed in, such as, “In this essay, I will be discussing my fraught relationship with my mother." Instead, draw your reader into your piece and still provide all the information needed in your opening line.
  • Start instead with a specific scene that contains the key characters of the essay and allows you discuss the central question or theme. Doing this will allow you to introduce the reader to the characters and the central conflict right away.
  • For example, if you are writing about your fraught relationship with your mother, you may focus on a specific memory where you both disagreed or clashed. This could be the time you and your mother fought over a seemingly insignificant item, or the time you argued about a family secret.
  • Try to use an active voice instead of a passive voice as much as possible when you're writing your essay.

Step 2 Write from your unique voice or perspective.

  • This writing voice may be conversational, much like how you might speak to a good friend or a family member. Or, the writing voice may be more reflective and internal, where you question your own assumptions and thoughts about the subject of the essay.
  • Many personal essays are written in the first person, using “I”. You may decide to write in the present tense to make the story feel immediate, or past tense, which will allow you to reflect more on specific events or moments.
  • Include vivid sensory descriptions in your essay to help the reader connect with your unique perspective. Describing touch, smell, taste, sight, and sound can help the reader invest in your story and feel like they're there with you.

Step 3 Develop the characters so they are well-rounded and detailed.

  • You can also include lines of dialogue spoken by your characters, based on your memory of the event. However, you should limit dialogue to only a few lines a page, as too much dialogue can start to veer away from personal essay and more toward fiction.

Step 4 Include plot in your essay.

  • You may use a plot outline to organize your essay. The plot points should act as supporting evidence for the central question or issue of the essay.

Step 5 Focus on uncovering a deeper truth.

  • It’s important to remember that though an experience may appear to have all the drama necessary to make a good personal essay, it may be a drama that is too familiar to the reader already. Be wary of experiences that are familiar and filled with pathos that a reader may have experienced before.
  • If you are writing about the sudden death of a loved one, for example, it may feel important and deep to you. But the reader will likely know what to expect of an essay about a dead loved one, and may not relate to your essay because they did not know the loved one like you did.
  • Instead, you may try to uncover a truth that is deeper than “I am sad my loved one died.” Think about what the loved one meant to you and how the loved one affected your life, in positive and negative ways. This could lead to the uncovering of a deeper truth and a stronger personal essay.

Polishing Your Essay

Step 1 Try out different literary techniques and forms.

  • For example, you may use metaphor to describe the experience of telling your mother you are gay. You may describe your mother’s face as “impenetrable, a sudden wall”. Or you may use a simile, such as “my mother’s reaction was silent and stunned, as if she had been struck by lightning.”

Step 2 Read the essay out loud.

  • As you read it out loud, you should highlight any sentences that are confusing or unclear as well as sentences that do not appear as strong as the rest of the draft. You should also make sure your characters are well developed and your essay follows some kind of structure or sense of plot. Consider if you are hitting a deeper truth in your draft and what you can do to get there if it is not yet on the page.Revising your essay will only make it that much stronger.

Step 3 Proofread and revise the essay.

  • When you are revising, you should consider if your content is really worth writing about, if you are writing about a topic or subject you are passionate about, and if your reader will understand your writing. You want to avoid confusing your reader, as this can turn her off from reading to the end of your essay.
  • You should also make sure the focus and themes of the essay are clear. Your experiences should center around a central question, issue, or theme. This will ensure your personal essay is well written and concise.
  • Avoid relying on spellcheck to catch all of the spelling and grammar errors in your essay.

Expert Q&A

Jake Adams

  • To get a better sense of the genre, you should read highly crafted examples of personal essay. There are several known personal essays that are often taught in academia, including "Notes of a Native Son” by James Baldwin, “The Death of a Moth” by Virginia Woolf, “Shipping Out” by David Foster Wallace, “The White Album” by Joan Didion, and “We Do Abortions Here” by Sallie Tisdale. Thanks Helpful 1 Not Helpful 0
  • Ask yourself several questions as you read the examples, such as: How does the writer introduce the subject of their essay? How does the writer explore the subject for a personal perspective? What are the key themes in the essay? How does the writer connect their personal experiences to a universal theme or idea? How does the writer use humor or wit in the essay? What is the concluding moral of the essay? Does the end of the essay leave you satisfied, unsettled, curious, or all of the above? Thanks Helpful 1 Not Helpful 0

Sample Essay and Template

an outline of a personal essay

You Might Also Like

Write a Personal Narrative

  • ↑
  • ↑ Jake Adams. Academic Tutor & Test Prep Specialist. Expert Interview. 20 May 2020.
  • ↑
  • ↑
  • ↑
  • ↑
  • ↑
  • ↑
  • ↑
  • ↑

About This Article

Jake Adams

To write a personal essay, start by deciding on an experience that affected your life in some way, such as how failing a pop quiz in class made you change your goals. Next, draft an outline containing the points you want to make, and including an introduction, body paragraphs, and conclusion. When writing, start your essay with an engaging scene that introduces the characters and main theme, then develop the characters in the body section so they're well-rounded. Conclude by summing up what you learned from the experience. For tips on how to include a plot in your essay and how to proofread your work, read on! Did this summary help you? Yes No

  • Send fan mail to authors

Reader Success Stories

Alvyn Chin

Mar 2, 2017

Did this article help you?

an outline of a personal essay

Romel Saquing

Apr 21, 2017

Luciano Cusumano

Luciano Cusumano

Sep 21, 2020

Elsabeth Yermed

Elsabeth Yermed

Feb 1, 2017

E. L.

Oct 8, 2017

Am I a Narcissist or an Empath Quiz

Featured Articles

115 Cute, Creative, & Funny Ways to Say “Thank You” Over Text

Trending Articles

How to Answer “How’s It Going?” in Any Situation

Watch Articles

Make Homemade Liquid Dish Soap

  • Terms of Use
  • Privacy Policy
  • Do Not Sell or Share My Info
  • Not Selling Info

wikiHow Tech Help Pro:

Develop the tech skills you need for work and life

How to Write an Essay Outline in 4 Steps | Examples

Learn how to write an essay outline with our expert guide. We also shared some essay outline examples for you to clear understanding. Start writing essays like a pro today!

Rijvi Ahmed Pic

Rijvi Ahmed

Last updated on Mar 14th, 2024

How to Write an Essay Outline

When you click on affiliate links on and make a purchase, you won’t pay a penny more, but we’ll get a small commission—this helps us keep up with publishing valuable content on QuillMuse.  Read More .

Table of Contents

Have you ever stared at a blank page, an essay prompt looming, feeling completely lost? You’re not alone. Many students struggle to translate their thoughts into a well-structured and compelling essay. The key to conquering this challenge often lies in a fundamental step: writing a strong essay outline. But you don’t know how to write an essay outline.

This might seem like an extra load, but trust me, it’s an investment that will pay off big time. Consider an outline to be your essay’s template. It offers a clear road map that directs your ideas and arguments systematically and sensibly.

Today, we’ll break down the process of writing an effective essay outline, turning essay writing from a daunting task to a streamlined success story.

Why an Essay Outline is Your Secret Weapon

Writing an essay [1] can feel overwhelming, like staring up a giant mountain. You have a goal in mind or your thesis statement, which is like reaching the peak, but figuring out how to get there feels like a confusing journey. That’s where an essay outline comes in to help you. It’s like a map that helps you:

  • Organize your thoughts : Just like packing for a trip, you need to gather your ideas. An outline lets you brainstorm and see how everything connects before you start writing.
  • Build a strong argument : A good outline helps you focus on your main points and the evidence that supports them. It’s like planning your route. you know exactly which points you need to hit to reach your destination or thesis.
  • Write efficiently : With a clear roadmap, you won’t waste time getting lost. You’ll know exactly what goes in each paragraph, making writing faster and smoother.
  • Avoid writer’s block : A blank page can be scary! An outline gives you a starting point and keeps you on track, preventing that dreaded feeling of being stuck.

An outline is basically your personal writing coach, strategist, and cheerleader all in one. It helps you get your thoughts organized, build a strong argument, write faster, and avoid getting stuck. So, next time you have an essay due, forget the fear and grab your outline writing tools . You’ll be surprised at how much easier and more successful writing becomes.

In short, an essay outline is your secret weapon for conquering essay writing. It helps you organize your thoughts, build a strong argument, write efficiently, and avoid writer’s block.

What is a Perfect Essay Outline

What is a Perfect Essay Outline

You might think an essay outline needs to be super fancy, but that’s not true! The best outlines are clear and organized, and help you build a strong essay. Here’s what goes into this winning formula:

  • Clear and Concise : Your outline is like a map, not a story. Use short words or key ideas to show what each part is about. Keep it short and sweet – you can add details later in your essay.
  • Logical Flow : Imagine explaining your essay to a friend. Your outline should be like a guide for that conversation. Each part should connect easily to the next, leading your friend (and later, your reader) on a clear and interesting path from the beginning to the end of your essay.
  • Thesis Powerhouse : Your thesis statement is the heart of your essay, and your outline should reflect its importance. Make sure your outline clearly highlights your thesis and how each body paragraph supports it.
  • Evidence Essentials : Don’t just write down what you’ll talk about in each paragraph. A great outline also mentions the stuff you’ll use to prove your points, like facts, numbers, quotes, or even stories. Having this info handy keeps you on track and helps you write faster.
  • Balanced Structure : Think of your essay like a team. Each paragraph is a player, and they all need to work together. Your outline helps make sure each paragraph has its own clear job that supports your main idea.

By following these simple ingredients, you can write an essay outline that serves as a powerful tool for writing success. It will keep your thoughts organized, your arguments focused, and your essay on track for an impressive finish!

The Main Parts of an Essay

Imagine your essay is like a three-act play, with each part working together to tell a clear and interesting story. Here’s a look at the main sections of an essay and what they do:

1. The Introduction

The introduction is like the beginning of a play. It introduces the topic and grabs the reader’s attention. You might start with a question, a surprising fact, or an interesting story to make them want to read more.

Then, you’ll give some background information to help the reader understand what you’re talking about. Finally, you’ll state your thesis statement , which is like the main idea of the play. This is a short sentence that tells the reader exactly what you’ll be arguing throughout your essay.

2. The Body Paragraphs

Think of your essay’s body paragraphs like chapters in a story. Each chapter focuses on one main idea that helps prove your main point or thesis. Imagine you’re trying to convince a friend of something – each chapter would be a reason why they should believe you.

To make your chapters convincing, you need evidence. This is like showing your friend proof!  The evidence can be anything from facts and numbers to quotes from experts, or even your own experiences that show your point is true. 

Transitions between chapters, like in a story, help things flow smoothly. They connect one idea to the next, making your argument clear and easy to follow. This way, each chapter builds on the one before it, making your overall argument even stronger.

3. The Conclusion

Wrap things up with a strong conclusion, like the final act of a play that leaves the audience thinking. Briefly remind the reader of the key points you made, but avoid just repeating yourself. 

Instead, explain why your argument matters and what it means in the bigger picture. End with a thought-provoking idea that ties back to your thesis statement , leaving the reader with something to consider and creating a satisfying finish to your essay.

How to Write an Essay Outline: A 4-Step Guide

How to Write an Outline in 4 Steps

Writing a great essay can be tough, but there’s a secret weapon that can make things much easier: the essay outline. 

Think of an outline like a map for your essay. It helps you organize your ideas and build a strong argument, just like a blueprint helps an architect build a house. Ready to ditch writer’s block and write your essay with confidence? Let’s break down the steps to creating an awesome outline.

Step 1: Identify Your Essay’s Objective

Every essay has a specific goal, like a top-secret mission! Before you dive into crafting your outline, take a moment to crack the code and understand the type of essay you’re tackling. 

Are you a persuasive detective, building a case to convince the reader of your viewpoint, or argumentative essay? Or are you an undercover storyteller, crafting a captivating narrative that unfolds like a thrilling adventure?

It helps you tailor your outline for maximum impact, ensuring you choose the best approach for presenting your ideas and achieving your essay’s goal.

Step 2: Refining Your Focus

Brainstorming is like a fun playground where you can explore all sorts of ideas for your essay. But now it’s time to get serious and focus on your essay’s main goal.

Think of all your brainstorming notes as a giant pile of toys. Now you need to be like Mission Control, picking the toys that will help you launch your essay into outer space (success!). 

After considering each concept, ask yourself, “Does this support my main argument?” If you can’t give a clear answer about how the idea supports your main argument, it’s okay to set it aside.

Just keep the important stuff – the ideas that are like powerful rockets, ready to take your essay to the top. Getting rid of the “fluff” helps you focus on the best ideas and build a strong, clear outline.

Step 3: Mapping Your Key Points

Now that you have your mission-critical points, let’s turn them into a winning strategy for your essay. Look at those strong arguments you identified the ones that really back up your main idea. 

These will become the main parts of your essay, like chapters in a book, or paragraphs that focus on one key point. Think of it like this: Imagine you’re writing an essay about why your school needs more water fountains. 

Your key arguments, the points you want to make, might be:

  • Water fountains save students money.
  • Fountains help reduce plastic waste.
  • Having more water fountains can prevent heat exhaustion.

All these important details you gathered, along with your main points, are like the building blocks of your essay outline. Having a clear outline is like having a roadmap for writing a strong essay. It shows you exactly where to put all your information to create a well-supported and convincing piece of writing.

Step 4: Building Your Outline

Now you’ve figured out your essay goal, sorted through your ideas, and identified your key points. Time to build the actual outline like constructing the skeleton of your essay.

There are different outline styles depending on the essay type. For now, let’s focus on a basic template that works for most essays with an introduction, body paragraphs, and conclusion.

Here’s how to get started:

  • Grab Your Template : There are many outline templates available online or in writing guides. Choose one that’s clear and easy to understand.
  • Fill in the Blanks : Using the key points and supporting details you identified earlier, start filling out the sections of your outline template.
  • Introduction : Briefly mention your topic and hook the reader. Then, state your thesis statement clearly.
  • Body Paragraphs : Each paragraph should represent a single key point that supports your thesis. List these points in your outline, along with some brief notes about the evidence you’ll use to back them up.
  • Conclusion : Briefly summarize your main points and leave a lasting impression.

Remember, keep your outline clear and concise. Use bullet points, short phrases, or keywords to capture the essence of each section. Don’t get bogged down by writing elaborate sentences at this stage.

By following these steps, you’ll be well on your way to crafting a strong outline that serves as a roadmap to writing success.

Essay Outline Examples

Feeling stumped for an essay topic? No worries! This example shows you how to craft a strong outline for a descriptive essay, focusing on a relatable experience:

Argumentative Essay Outline

Argumentative Essay Outline

Remember, this is just a sample personalize and expand upon this outline to capture the unique elements that make your movie nights truly unforgettable.

Persuasive Essay Outline

Title : Ditch the Car, Ride the Bus: Why Public Transportation Should Be Your Go-To


  • Briefly introduce the current reliance on personal vehicles for everyday travel.
  • Mention the growing concerns about traffic congestion and environmental pollution. 
  • Thesis Statement: Public transportation offers a more efficient, environmentally friendly, and cost-effective alternative to personal car usage, and its widespread adoption should be encouraged.  

Body Paragraphs

 Body Paragraph 1 : Battling Gridlock 

  • Main Point : Public transportation significantly reduces traffic congestion on our roads.
  • Evidence : Cite statistics on the number of vehicles removed from the road with increased public transport usage.
  • Explanation : Explain how fewer cars translate to smoother traffic flow, shorter commute times, and a less stressful driving experience for everyone. 

 Body Paragraph 2 : Saving the Planet, One Ride at a Time 

  • Main Point : Public transportation plays a crucial role in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and combating climate change.
  • Evidence :  Cite statistics on the lower carbon footprint of public transport compared to personal vehicles.
  • Explanation : Discuss the positive impact of reducing reliance on fossil fuels and creating a cleaner environment for all.  

Body Paragraph 3 : Saving Money on the Move  

  • Main Point : Public transportation offers a more budget-friendly option compared to owning and maintaining a car.
  • Evidence :  Compare the costs of public transportation passes or tickets with the expenses of gas, car maintenance, and insurance. 
  • Explanation :  Highlight how opting for public transport can free up money for other expenses or allow individuals to save for the future.  
  • Briefly summarize the benefits of public transportation – reduced traffic, environmental protection, and cost savings.
  • Emphasize the importance of a shift towards a more sustainable and economical transportation system.  
  • End with a call to action, encouraging readers to consider using public transportation more frequently (optional).  

This example shows you how to take the persuasive essay structure and use it for a new topic. Remember, you can add your own details about public transportation in your area and change them to fit the people you’re writing to!

Admissions Essay Outline

Title : From Shy Singer to Stage Presence: A Band Odyssey

  • Briefly introduce your initial discomfort with singing and performing in front of others.
  • Mention how joining your school band changed your perspective on music and self-expression.
  • Thesis Statement: Participating in my high school band transformed me from a shy singer into a confident performer, fostering a deeper appreciation for music and collaboration.
  • Details : Describe your feelings of anxiety and how performing felt like a daunting challenge.
  • Explanation : Explain how this initial discomfort almost made you quit the band altogether.
  • Details : Mention specific examples of how your band director or peers helped you feel more comfortable expressing yourself.
  • Explanation : Explain how the positive and encouraging atmosphere within the band fostered your confidence and passion for music.
  • Details : Describe the process of working together with other musicians to achieve a unified sound.
  • Explanation : Explain how learning to play your part effectively within the band fostered a sense of teamwork and a deeper appreciation for different musical roles.
  • Briefly summarize the transformative impact of band participation on your confidence, self-expression, and teamwork skills.
  • Emphasize how these skills developed through music will benefit you in your future endeavors.

Personal Essay Outline

  • Briefly introduce the special bond you share with your dog.
  • Mention a specific incident where your dog’s actions surprised and impressed you.
  • Thesis Statement: During a seemingly ordinary walk in the park, my dog, [Dog’s Name], showcased his bravery and became my hero most unexpectedly.

Body Paragraph

  • Describe the setting in detail – what park were you in? What was the weather like?
  • Explain what happened – what were you doing with your dog when the incident occurred?
  • Focus on the details of your dog’s actions – how did they react to the situation? What did they do that surprised you?
  • Explain the impact of your dog’s actions – did they protect you from danger? Did they alert you to something you missed?
  • Describe your emotions after the incident – were you relieved? Grateful? Proud of your dog?
  • You can mention specific details or reactions from others that highlight your dog’s heroism.
  • Briefly summarize your dog’s heroic act and its significance.
  • Reflect on the deepened bond you share with your dog due to this experience.
  • You can end with a heartwarming anecdote about your dog’s continued presence as your furry hero (optional).

FAQs: How to Write an Essay Outline

These FAQs will provide some helpful information to readers seeking guidance on how to write an essay outline.

When should I write an essay outline?

There’s no one-size-fits-all answer. Some writers prefer outlining before diving into the first draft, while others use it as they go. Try different things to see what suits you the best.

Isn’t outlining just a waste of time?

On the contrary, an outline saves time in the long run. By organizing your thoughts beforehand, you avoid getting sidetracked and rewriting entire sections later.

What are some common essay outline formats?

There are various formats, but a popular one uses Roman numerals (I, II, III) for main points, capital letters (A, B, C) for sub-points, and Arabic numerals (1, 2, 3) for further details. Bullet points and short phrases are also common for keeping things concise.

Are there any online tools that can help me outline?

Yes! There are several online outlining tools and templates available. They can provide a visual structure and guide you through the outlining process.

Do teachers always require essay outlines?

Not always, but they can be a valuable addition, especially for longer or complex essays.  If unsure, always check with your teacher for specific requirements.

How long should my essay outline be?

There’s no set length. It should be detailed enough to guide your writing but not so detailed it becomes a full draft. Aim for clarity and functionality.

How we've reviewed this article

Our content is thoroughly researched and fact-checked using reputable sources. While we aim for precision, we encourage independent verification for complete confidence.


We keep our articles up-to-date regularly to ensure accuracy and relevance as new information becomes available.

  • Current Version
  • Mar 14th, 2024
  • Mar 13th, 2024

Share this article

Leave a Comment Login Please login to comment 0 Comments Inline Feedbacks View all comments

Prev Previous Next Next

Have you ever stared at a blank page, an essay prompt looming, feeling completely lost? You’re not alone. Many students struggle to translate their thoughts into a well-structured and compelling essay. The key to conquering this challenge often lies in a fundamental step: writing a strong essay outline. But you

How to Write an Essay Introduction

How to Write an Essay Introduction: A Proven 4-Step Process With Examples

The first impression is everything, which also holds for essays. A well-written introduction is like a captivating trailer for a movie; it hooks the reader, sets the stage for your argument, and makes them eager to delve deeper.  But writing a great introduction can be tricky. Don’t worry though! This

How to Write a Book Title in an Essay

How to Write a Book Title in an Essay in MLA & APA Styles

In academic writing, attention to detail is paramount, especially when it comes to writing essays. An often overlooked aspect is how to properly incorporate book titles into text, a seemingly simple thing that can lead to confusion if the task is not done properly. Whether you follow the Modern Language

Report this article

Let us know if you notice any incorrect information about this article or if it was copied from others. We will take action against this article ASAP.

  • Profile Page
  • Edit Profile
  • Add New Post

Read our Content Writing Guide .

How to Write an Essay Outline

an outline of a personal essay

How to Write a Personal Essay: Best Tips and Easy Guide

an outline of a personal essay

How to Write a Personal Essay: Overview

If you're a student or someone who writes professionally, chances are you've encountered the task of composing a personal essay. Personal essays stand apart from other types of academic writing because they provide an opportunity for writers to unveil their unique personalities, recount their personal experiences, and express their deepest emotions. Crafting such college essays can pose challenges, yet it can also yield profound rewards by fostering self-discovery and forging connections with readers. In this article, we will guide you on how to write a personal essay step by step.

Defining What is a Personal Essay

Also referred to as a personal statement, a personal essay allows the writer to express their thoughts and experiences on a particular topic. It is a form of creative nonfiction writing that reveals the writer's personality, beliefs, values, and emotions. They are often used in college applications to give the admissions officers a glimpse into the applicant's life experiences and personality. They can also be used as a tool for self-reflection and personal growth.

One of the unique aspects of a personal essay is that it is written in the first person. This allows the writer to connect with the reader on a personal level and create a sense of intimacy. The writer can use their own voice and style to convey their message, making the essay more engaging and relatable.

Personal essays can take many different forms, such as a memoir, personal narrative essay, or personal reflection. They can be humorous, serious, or a combination of both. No matter if you want to learn how to write a personal narrative essay for high school or upper education, the key is to be authentic and honest in your writing, as this will make the essay more compelling.

When writing personal essays, it is important to have a clear focus and purpose. What message do you want to convey to your reader? What do you want them to take away from your essay? By answering these questions, you can create a great college essay with a lasting impact on readers.

Importance and Benefits of Personal Essay Writing

Personal essay writing is a powerful tool that can provide several benefits to the writer. The process of writing about your personal story and emotions can lead to growth and self-awareness. Here are some of the key benefits of personal essay writing:

personal benefits

Understanding Your Experiences and Emotions

Personal essay writing allows you to reflect on your experiences and emotions in a meaningful way. By putting your thoughts and feelings down on paper, you can gain a deeper understanding of yourself and your life experiences. This can help you to process difficult emotions, work through challenging situations, and gain a new perspective on your life.

Improving Your Writing Skills

Personal essay writing is also an excellent way to improve your writing skills. As you write more personal essays, you will develop your own unique style and voice. You will learn how to structure your writing, use language effectively, and connect with your audience. These skills will not only help you in your personal writing, but they will also be valuable in your professional life.

Finding Emotional Release

Personal essay writing can also be therapeutic. By writing about your experiences and emotions, you can release pent-up feelings and find a sense of closure. This can be especially helpful if you have experienced trauma or difficult life events. Writing can provide a safe and private space to process your emotions and work through challenging situations.

Connecting with Your Audience

Finally, personal essay writing can help you connect with your audience. By sharing your personal experiences and emotions, you can build a relationship with your readers based on shared experiences and emotions. This can be a powerful way to connect with others, build empathy, and create a sense of community.

an outline of a personal essay

How to Write a Personal Essay: 9 Things to Consider

Personal essays are a great way to share your experiences, thoughts, and beliefs with others. They allow you to connect with your readers on a personal level and convey a message that is unique to you. Here are 9 main things from our personal essay writer to consider while writing.

Choose a Topic

The first step in writing a personal essay is to choose the best one out of several personal essay topics that you are most passionate about. It should be a topic that reflects your experiences and resonates with your readers. Consider significant life events, childhood memories, personal beliefs, or observations that you have made. Choose a topic that you can write about in detail, and that will keep your readers engaged.

Make an Outline for Personal Essay

When curious about how to start a personal essay, create an outline for personal essay first. This will help you organize your thoughts and ideas in a logical sequence. Your outline should include an introduction, body paragraphs, and a conclusion.

  • In the introduction, you should hook the reader with an engaging opening sentence, provide background information, and a thesis statement.
  • In the body paragraphs, you should provide details about your personal experiences and reflect on them.
  • Lastly, in conclusion, you should summarize your key points and leave a lasting impression on the reader.

Develop a Compelling Introduction

The introductory paragraph is the most crucial part of your personal essay. It is where you hook the reader's attention and provide context for your essay. A compelling introduction should be concise, engaging, and relevant to your topic.

  • Start with a startling fact, a rhetorical question, or a personal anecdote to grab the reader's attention.
  • Then, provide background information to inform the reader about your topic.
  • Finally, end your introduction with a thesis statement that encapsulates the central theme of your entire essay.

Share Personal Experiences

The body paragraphs of your essay should be dedicated to sharing your personal experiences and reflecting on them. Use vivid details and sensory descriptions to paint a picture for your reader. Be honest and authentic in your writing, and do not be afraid to reveal your emotions. Use literary devices such as metaphors, similes, and personification to make your writing more engaging. The body paragraphs should be well organized, with each paragraph focusing on a particular aspect of your personal experience.

Structure the Body Paragraphs

The body paragraphs of your personal essay should be structured with a clear topic sentence, supporting details, and a concluding sentence. Each paragraph should be connected to the central thesis statement and flow smoothly into the next paragraph. Use transitions to connect one paragraph to the other, and make your essay easy to read.

Reflect and Analyze

Personal essays require reflection and analysis. After sharing your personal experiences, analyze them and reflect on what you have learned. Think about how your experiences have impacted your life and your outlook on the world. Analyze the lessons you have learned and how they relate to your thesis statement. This reflection and analysis will give your essay depth and help your readers connect with you on a personal level.

Maintain Authenticity and Honesty

When wondering about how to write a good personal essay, remember that it requires honesty and authenticity. Do not try to hide your flaws or weaknesses, but rather, embrace them. Be honest about your experiences and emotions, even if they are uncomfortable. Your honesty will resonate with your readers and make your essay more relatable. Also, avoid using a fake voice or imitating other writers, as it will come across as insincere. Your personal essay should be a reflection of who you are and what you believe.

Write a Memorable Conclusion

When it comes to writing a memorable conclusion for a personal essay, there are several tips that can elevate your piece and leave a lasting impact on readers.

  • Revisit the central theme or message of your essay
  • Summarize the key points and experiences you have shared
  • Incorporate a personal reflection or anecdote to create an emotional connection
  • End with a thought-provoking question or a call to action
  • Provide a sense of closure by showcasing personal growth or resolution
  • Customize the conclusion to align with the overall tone and style of your essay

Edit and Revise

Editing and revising your final personal essay is a vital step in the writing process that ensures your piece is polished, cohesive, and impactful.

  • Start by reviewing the overall format of personal essay, checking for a logical flow of ideas and a well-developed introduction and conclusion.
  • Consider the clarity and effectiveness of your language, eliminating any unnecessary or repetitive phrases.
  • Pay close attention to grammar, spelling, and punctuation errors, as they can distract readers from your message.
  • As you read through your essay, assess the strength of your arguments, examples, and supporting evidence, making revisions where needed to strengthen your overall argument.
  • Take time to refine your choice of words and sentence structure, aiming for clarity and precision.
  • Finally, seek feedback from trusted individuals, such as teachers or peers, who can provide valuable insights and suggestions for improvement.

4 Extra Tips on How to Write a Good Personal Essay

While we've already provided you with a step-by-step guide on writing a personal essay for college, we believe that a few extra tips can take your writing from good to exceptional. So, explore some extra tips and tricks on how to write a personal narrative essay that will help you unleash the full potential of your storytelling abilities.

good personal essay

  • Embrace vulnerability : Personal statements have the power to resonate deeply with readers when they offer genuine vulnerability. Don't be afraid to share your fears, struggles, or insecurities. By revealing your authentic self, you create a connection with readers and invite them to empathize with your experiences.
  • Utilize vivid sensory details : To bring your personal essay to life, incorporate vivid sensory details. Engage your readers' senses by describing the sights, sounds, smells, tastes, and textures of the moments you're recounting. This not only adds depth and richness to your writing but also helps readers immerse themselves in your narrative.
  • Experiment with structure : Personal essays don't necessarily have to follow a traditional linear structure. Feel free to experiment with different structures, such as flashbacks, circular narratives, or non-chronological storytelling. Playing with structure can add intrigue and make your essay stand out, allowing you to present your experiences in a unique and captivating way.
  • Reflect on broader implications : While many personal essays are centered around your experiences, it's valuable to reflect on the broader implications and universal lessons they offer. Consider the insights and lessons you've gained from your personal journey and explore how they connect to larger themes or issues. By making these connections, you can create a personal essay that resonates on a deeper level and offers thought-provoking insights to your readers.

Personal Essay Examples

Personal essay examples have a special power to grab readers' attention and take them into the personal world of the writer. In order to best learn how to write a personal essay for college, we will look at a practical example that highlights the genuine honesty, deep thinking, and inner strength that make this type of writing so remarkable.

Unveiling My Silent Strength

In a world filled with noise, finding my voice was a journey of self-discovery and courage. Growing up, I was always the quiet one, preferring to blend into the background rather than stand out. It wasn't that I lacked opinions or thoughts; rather, I lacked the confidence to express them. But as I embarked on the path of self-reflection, I realized that my silence was hindering my personal growth.

It was during my freshman year of college that I decided to challenge myself. I joined a public speaking club, where I was exposed to a supportive community of individuals eager to improve their communication skills. Week after week, I stood before the group, trembling at first but gradually finding my footing. I learned the power of eye contact, gestures and the importance of vocal projection. The more I practiced, the more my confidence grew.

Beyond the club, I sought opportunities to raise my voice in other areas of my life. I engaged in class discussions, voicing my perspectives and challenging ideas. I started writing articles for the college newspaper, sharing my thoughts on various topics. With each step, I discovered that my voice carried weight and that my words mattered.

Finding my voice extended beyond the realm of public speaking. It became a metaphor for asserting my identity and speaking up for what I believed in. I realized that my silence had held me back from connecting with others and making a difference in the world. Through finding my voice, I found empowerment and the courage to advocate for causes that mattered to me.

Now, as I reflect on my journey, I am proud of the person I have become. While I still appreciate moments of solitude, I no longer fear raising my voice. I embrace the power of my words and the impact they can have. Finding my voice has not only transformed my self-perception but has also allowed me to forge deeper connections, inspire change, and navigate the world with a newfound sense of purpose.

In this guide, we have explored what is a personal essay along with the art of writing compelling personal narrative essay examples, uncovering valuable tips to guide you along the way. From selecting a meaningful topic to crafting an engaging piece, you have learned the importance of weaving personal experiences and emotions into our narratives.

In the meantime, you can always use our expert writing help whether you need assistance with brainstorming ideas for a personal essay, structuring your work, refining your writing style, or creating an entire paper from scratch!

Frequently asked questions

She was flawless! first time using a website like this, I've ordered article review and i totally adored it! grammar punctuation, content - everything was on point

This writer is my go to, because whenever I need someone who I can trust my task to - I hire Joy. She wrote almost every paper for me for the last 2 years

Term paper done up to a highest standard, no revisions, perfect communication. 10s across the board!!!!!!!

I send him instructions and that's it. my paper was done 10 hours later, no stupid questions, he nailed it.

Sometimes I wonder if Michael is secretly a professor because he literally knows everything. HE DID SO WELL THAT MY PROF SHOWED MY PAPER AS AN EXAMPLE. unbelievable, many thanks

You Might Also Like

Gun Control Argumentative Essay

New Posts to Your Inbox!

Stay in touch

an outline of a personal essay

  • The Magazine
  • Newsletters
  • Managing Yourself
  • Managing Teams
  • Work-life Balance
  • The Big Idea
  • Data & Visuals
  • Reading Lists
  • Case Selections
  • HBR Learning
  • Topic Feeds
  • Account Settings
  • Email Preferences

How to Write a Personal Essay for Your College Application

an outline of a personal essay

What does it take to land in the “accept” (instead of “reject”) pile?

How can you write an essay that helps advance you in the eyes of the admissions officers and makes a real impression? Here are some tips to get you started.

  • Start early.  Do not leave it until the last minute. Give yourself time when you don’t have other homework or extracurriculars hanging over your head to work on the essay.
  • Keep the focus narrow.  Your essay does not have to cover a massive, earth-shattering event. Some people in their teens haven’t experienced a major life event. Some people have. Either way, it’s okay.
  • Be yourself.  Whether writing about a painful experience or a more simple experience, use the narrative to be vulnerable and honest about who you are. Use words you would normally use. Trust your voice and the fact that your story is interesting enough in that no one else has lived it.
  • Be creative.  “Show, don’t tell,” and that applies here — to an extent. The best essays typically do both. You can help your reader see and feel what you are describing by using some figurative language throughout your piece.
  • Make a point. As you finish your final body paragraphs ask yourself “So what?” This will help you hone in on how to end your essay in a way that elevates it into a story about an insight or discovery you made about yourself, rather than just being about an experience you had.

Ascend logo

Where your work meets your life. See more from Ascend here .

We’ve all heard about the dreaded “college essay,” the bane of every high school senior’s existence. This daunting element of the college application is something that can create angst for even the most accomplished students.

  • AA Amy Allen is a writer, educator, and lifelong learner. Her freelance writing business,  All of the Write Words , focuses on providing high school students with one-on-one feedback to guide them through the college application process and with crafting a thoughtful personal essay. A dedicated poet, Amy’s work has also been published in several journals including  Pine Row Press ,  Months to Years,  and  Atlanta Review .

Partner Center

How to Write a Personal Essay: Topics, Structure, & Examples

Even though a personal essay seems like something you might need to write only for your college application, people who graduated a while ago are asked to write it. Therefore, if you are a student, you might even want to save this article for later!

A personal essay is a first-person narrative that describes a writer’s life experience and its influence . You may think that writing such an essay is easy-peasy. There is so much freedom regarding the topic, isn’t it? However, soon enough, you realize that it’s more of a curse than a blessing. experts understand it’s super confusing as you don’t know where to start. But this simple yet comprehensive guide on how to write a personal essay is here to help you out!

❔ What Is a Personal Essay?

🚦 how do you start a personal essay.

  • 🙋 Essay Topics
  • 📑 Personal Essay Types

🔗 References

A personal essay is just what you think it is: a piece of writing that presents some experience from your perspective . It doesn’t need to be extraordinary, but it has to show how you changed thanks to the experience you got. Such an essay also creates a feeling of intimacy.

A typical personal essay consists of a 1-paragraph introduction, a 3-paragraph body, and a 1-paragraph conclusion.

Long story short, it is a first-person narrative that describes a writer’s life experience and its influence. This type of essay allows you to use any writing style you want and usually has an informal tone. It helps the reader to gain a connection with you.

There is a wide variety of topic options: you may want your writing to be inspiring or, on the contrary, warning so that others could avoid your mistakes. However, the most important thing is sticking to the general guidelines.

The most popular personal essay outline would consist of three parts:

  • Start with an introduction . It should include only one paragraph
  • Continue with the main body . It should be at least three paragraphs long
  • Write a conclusion . Don’t make it too long, one paragraph is enough

Let’s also note that typically you would write a personal essay as a part of the college application process. However, it’s not rare that this type of writing can help employers understand if the candidate meets the job requirements.

👀 Personal Essay Examples

To give you some inspiration, we included a list of excellent examples ranked as the most successful personal essays by The New York Times , The New Yorker , and America’s top universities.

The first and the most important thing you need to do when you are about to write a personal essay is to determine its purpose . When you know your audience, it becomes easier to find an appropriate topic for your writing. After that, you can draft an outline, which is the foundation of your future essay!

🙋 Personal Essay Topics

By now, you might have understood the idea of the personal statement. Your goal is to show off your personality from the good side. However, there is an endless amount of options on how to do it. The most popular way is to tell the story from the past. It can be either something you achieved or an obstacle you managed to overcome. Either way, it needs to highlight the lesson you learned.

Next, you can make your writing even more inspirational by revealing your future goals, showing that you have potential and determination. But remember to focus on things that the whole community can benefit from because just getting rich is a lame objective!

Last but not least, be yourself and use creativity! Show your potential employers and college administration how much you can contribute to their development. You should convince them that it can be a mutually beneficial experience.

Here, we prepared some of the best personal essay topics for you:

  • How did the most significant loss of your life make you stronger?
  • Who would you like to switch live with, and why?
  • The time when you think you made the wrong choice.
  • How would you spend a million dollars?
  • Is there anything you have never shared with anyone?
  • A special friend that influenced your life.
  • One morning that has changed your life forever.
  • The time when you had to deliver devastating news.
  • A near-death experience and how it felt.
  • Describe the longest minute of your life.
  • Something you can’t resist and keep doing.
  • A meaningful event that is hard to explain.
  • Would you start a charity foundation if you could?
  • The most precious gift you ever received.
  • The wrong choice you never regret making.
  • A secret place that gives you peace of mind.
  • Something you’ve seen and wish you could forget.
  • A hidden talent no one knows you have.
  • A day when you felt like the unluckiest person in the world.
  • The most beautiful thing you’ve seen.
  • A skill you have that robots will never learn to do.
  • What is the one thing you want to change about yourself?
  • Where would you like to live?
  • The most important discovery you made.
  • What if you were a teacher?
  • The most fantastic movie scene that changed the world.
  • What would you like to change in schools?
  • Describe something you love about yourself and why.
  • Where do you see yourself in ten years?
  • Time with your family that you cherish the most.
  • The achievement you’re proud of.
  • Describe the time when you learned something from a child.
  • The words that made you hopeful again.
  • Write about the time when you were at the bottom.
  • A stranger that had an influence on you.
  • What would you do if you could go back in time?
  • Would you like to redo something in your life, would you?
  • The superpower you wish you had.
  • The person you would be grateful to at the end of your life.
  • The time when you avoided danger.
  • Family celebrations, and what do they mean to you?
  • Write about the time when you saw your mother crying.
  • Did you disappoint anyone?
  • Is there anyone you are not fond of?
  • A place that you try to keep away from.
  • How did you overcome your fear?
  • The most challenging choice you had to make.
  • The time you felt like an outsider.
  • When did you realize you’re not a child anymore?
  • Why does your hobby interest you?

📑 Personal Essay about Yourself: Main Types

Personal essays on hobbies.

Writing an essay on a hobby is not as easy as it seems. Take a look at any hobbies essay sample, and you will be likely to see a widespread thing: these essays can be boring, which is an easy way to get a low grade.

Below are some common problems with hobby essays (and their solutions).

No matter what, make sure the focus is on you. When you are writing about a personal hobby, you should aim to make yourself the star by essentially telling your reader about yourself through an interest of yours.

Life-changing Experience Essays

The purpose of a life-changing experience essay is obvious: simply put, you need to tell the reader about a specific event that changed your life . Note that it also works for a closely related type of essay, the personal narrative essay .

Three essential elements should be clear to readers of any life-changing experience writing:

  • The reader should understand the event — both what happened and how it made you feel at the time.
  • The reader should understand what the event changed about you. It is best to tell the reader about your condition before the event and after it. However, this depends on the essay’s length.
  • The reader should understand how you feel about the event now.

If you need personal experience essay ideas, focus on events that you can write about to meet the three above criteria. If your assignment is very free form, take a look at a list of prompts for personal writing.

Education Essays

As a student, you will be asked to write an education essay eventually. It is important to remember that personal writing is about setting yourself apart. Tell the reader what made your educational experience unique.

How can you make your educational essay stand out? First, go beyond generic stories of overcoming an academic weakness by avoiding essays that take the following form: “I was terrible at subject X, but through hard work, I became quite excellent at subject X!”

Instead, focus on an assignment or subject that captured your attention — the more unusual the situation, the better. Use storytelling to enhance your essay. The best education essays can be essays about life-changing education experiences; for example, many great educational stories focus on the teacher or class that changed the author’s life.


Writing a short biography is easy. All you need to do is to use a very basic biography template. But first: remember that you need to keep the attention of your reader. Tell a good story about yourself ! Learning how to write a biography is about learning how to tell a good story .

A Biography Template

A solid biography is a solid story. For this reason, the biography template is essentially the template of a well-crafted story, which is typically divided into three specific parts:

  • Establish the characters. In this case, these are people that play important roles in your life. For example, if your autobiographical essay includes family members, you need to describe them briefly before anything exciting happens.
  • Build tension. If you write about your family, you can describe a problem that exists there.
  • Describe a resolution. Not that it is not the same thing as a problem being solved. For example, when a loved one dies, there is no solution to that problem. Instead, you grieve and learn to live without that person in your life.

If your biography manages to achieve all three of these elements, you will indeed have one of the class’s strongest essays.

Personal Statements

The last type of personal writing is probably the most important. When faced with their first college application, most students go to the web to find a personal statement format.

If you learn from examples, the best thing to do is check out several strong personal statement examples. As mentioned in the second section, many universities post essays from accepted students. Or perhaps you should read a breakdown of portions of a personal statement. The point is, read what others have done for inspiration.

Sometimes colleges offer personal statement templates. However, they often use freeform personal statements to identify focused, articulate students. Thus, the top tip for these is to write a clear thesis statement . A thesis statement for an essay without a prompt should be so clear that it sounds like it addresses a writing prompt. When there is no prompt, this is the time you should specifically use the standard 5-paragraph essay . Your discipline will impress your readers, which is exactly what you want.

However, an open-ended essay prompt is sometimes just too much to handle in time, but that is alright. It happens to everyone, and our writing experts can help, luckily. You can work with one of their expert writers or editors to create the perfect personal essay.

  • Personal Essays – Georgia Tech Admissions
  • The Personal Statement // Purdue Writing Lab
  • Application Essays – UNC Writing Center
  • How To: Write Your Personal Essay
  • Essays | Penn Admissions
  • Writing the Personal Statement | Berkeley Graduate Division
  • Personal Insight Questions – UCLA Undergraduate Admission
  • Essay Topics | Yale College Undergraduate Admissions
  • Complete Your Application: Indiana University Bloomington
  • Share to Facebook
  • Share to Twitter
  • Share to LinkedIn
  • Share to email

Good Book Report: How to Write & What to Include

Reading books is pleasurable and entertaining; writing about those books isn’t. Reading books is pleasurable, easy, and entertaining; writing about those books isn’t. However, learning how to write a book report is something that is commonly required in university. Fortunately, it isn’t as difficult as you might think. You’ll only...

Best Descriptive Essays: Examples & How-to Guide [+ Tips]

A descriptive essay is an academic paper that challenges a school or college student to describe something. It can be a person, a place, an object, a situation—anything an individual can depict in writing. The task is to show your abilities to communicate an experience in an essay format using...

How to Write an Analysis Essay: Examples + Writing Guide

An analysis / analytical essay is a standard assignment in college or university. You might be asked to conduct an in-depth analysis of a research paper, a report, a movie, a company, a book, or an event. In this article, you’ll find out how to write an analysis paper introduction,...

How to Write a Film Analysis Essay: Examples, Outline, & Tips

A film analysis essay might be the most exciting assignment you have ever had! After all, who doesn’t love watching movies? You have your favorite movies, maybe something you watched years ago, perhaps a classic, or a documentary. Or your professor might assign a film for you to make a...

How to Write a Critique Paper: Format, Tips, & Critique Essay Examples

A critique paper is an academic writing genre that summarizes and gives a critical evaluation of a concept or work. Or, to put it simply, it is no more than a summary and a critical analysis of a specific issue. This type of writing aims to evaluate the impact of...

How to Write a Creative Essay: Tips, Topics, and Techniques

What is a creative essay, if not the way to express yourself? Crafting such a paper is a task that allows you to communicate your opinion and tell a story. However, even using your imagination to a great extent doesn’t free you from following academic writing rules. Don’t even get...

Compare and Contrast Essay Writing Tips and Examples

A compare and contrast essay — what is it? In this type of paper, you compare two different things or ideas, highlighting what is similar between the two, and you also contrast them, highlighting what is different. The two things might be events, people, books, points of view, lifestyles, or...

How to Write an Expository Essay: Outline, & Example

What is an expository essay? This type of writing aims to inform the reader about the subject clearly, concisely, and objectively. The keyword here is “inform”. You are not trying to persuade your reader to think a certain way or let your own opinions and emotions cloud your work. Just stick to the...

Short Story Analysis: How to Write It Step by Step [New]

Have you ever tried to write a story analysis but ended up being completely confused and lost? Well, the task might be challenging if you don’t know the essential rules for literary analysis creation. But don’t get frustrated! We know how to write a short story analysis, and we are...

How to Write a Persuasive Essay: Step-by-Step Guide + Examples

Have you ever tried to get somebody round to your way of thinking? Then you should know how daunting the task is. Still, if your persuasion is successful, the result is emotionally rewarding. A persuasive essay is a type of writing that uses facts and logic to argument and substantiate...

Common Essay Mistakes—Writing Errors to Avoid [Updated]

One of the most critical skills that students gain during their college years is assignment writing. Composing impressive essays and research papers can be quite challenging, especially for ESL students. Nonetheless, before learning the art of academic writing, you may make numerous common essay mistakes. Such involuntary errors appear in:...

Why I Want to Be a Teacher Essay: Writing Guide [2024]

Some people know which profession to choose from childhood, while others decide much later in life. However, and whenever you come to it, you may have to elaborate on it in your personal statement or cover letter. This is widely known as “Why I Want to Be a Teacher” essay.

At 82, I am assuredly a ‘mature student.’ However, I wanted to thank you for being the most helpful resource I have discovered on ‘google’ to look at how I can consider writing an autobiography to perhaps leave my children.

You are using an outdated browser. Please upgrade your browser to improve your experience.


The Ultimate Guide to Personal Essay Writing


Personal essay is not about college admission only:

Twain, Hemingway, Fitzgerald, and other  famous essayists  wrote them often to share their experiences, thoughts, and reflections. Some employers ask candidates to write personal essays before inviting them to a job interview. And even when you share a story in your blog, you write a somewhat personal essay, telling your followers about your experience.

But more often than not, a search intent of most students googling the information about these essays is about how to write a personal statement for college. Right?

So, here we are!

In this ultimate guide, you’ll find everything about personal essay writing: what topics to choose for it, how to outline and format it, how to write it step by step, and what examples to consider for writing a stellar essay about yourself.

Table of Contents:

  • What is a personal essay?
  • How to start a personal essay
  • Personal essay outline
  • Personal essays conclusions
  • Personal essay topics
  • Personal statement for college: format
  • Personal essay examples

What is a Personal Essay? 

A  personal essay is a type of creative nonfiction serving to describe the author’s life experience and lessons (conclusions) he or she has made after it.

Reasons for personal essay writing can be different.

Fiction and nonfiction writers craft them to share stories, enlighten or inspire the audience, or warn others to avoid their mistakes. As to students, they write this essay when entering college or university: Officers ask applicants to write a personal statement (college admission essay) to get the idea of their worldview, critical thinking, and communication skills.

As a rule, such essays describe some event in your life that was significant to you and influenced your personality development. You write it from a first-person perspective and in a conversational tone to create a connection with your reader.

But for all that, personal essays have a definite structure. As well as other essay types, they need an  introduction , a few paragraphs body, and a powerful  conclusion  to impress readers. Also, your personal narrative essay should have a clear objective: It explains to admissions officers why you would be an excellent fit for their college or university .

The importance of writing a personal essay

A student needs to be able to create a personal essay because it is an opportunity to talk about yourself and show your skills and abilities. It is also an excellent method to show you can learn from mistakes and analyze actions or events. Such works are valued among teachers and allow them to make the correct opinion about you, especially if it is an admission essay. Therefore, the skill of writing a good personal essay is essential and requires a high level of concentration. Try to learn more information from our material, and you will be able to write such papers without any problems.

How to Write a Personal Essay

For those wondering how to write a personal statement for college, there’s #1 rule to remember:

Despite its conversational tone, it should have a definite structure. The standard length here is five paragraphs, though your essay can be longer or shorter if still containing all primary sections. These sections are:

  • Introduction.  This is the first paragraph of your article, with a  hook  and a  thesis statement  you will describe and prove in the essay body.
  • Body.  It’s your story itself, with its points and evidence supporting your thesis statement. Here you explain how this or that event shaped your perspective and share your reflections on the lessons learned.
  • Conclusion.  It’s the last paragraph, restating your thesis and telling the moral of your story. Here you say why your essay matters and sum up the things you want others to take away from your personal narrative essay.

Need more details on how to write an essay about yourself?  Check our most detailed guide on how to write a personal essay .

How to Start a Personal Essay

In the first paragraph of your personal  narrative essay , you need to capture the reader’s attention. Use a writing hook but avoid cliches like opening your article with a famous yet overused quote.

The introductory paragraph of your essay also needs to provide a personal statement you will explain and prove in the body paragraphs. Do your best to give some background on the topic, and make sure to finish the paragraph with a transition (a bridge) to the essay body.

Hint:  Don’t reveal all the information in the essay introduction! It’s like with spoilers: Who will spend time reading your long story if you tell everything in the intro?

Further reading:   How to Start a College Essay

Personal Essay Outline

When it comes to essay outlines, a student considers a type of writing he needs to cover (whether it’s  persuasive ,  expository ,  critical , or other) and then comes up with structuring all the elements his essay should contain.

When it comes to personal essays, an  outline  is essential too. Yes, this writing is about telling a story from a first-person perspective; but, let’s face it, how often did you listen to someone who wanted to tell a story but this story seemed to have no point?

It’s all about a story structure. College essays include all the elements of storytelling (a plot, setting, characters, a conflict, and moral), and an outline will help you organize the story so you wouldn’t miss any core element when writing.

In other words,  it’s a plan or a map of your personal essay.


You start with a hook and a statement, then introduce a character (yourself) and the sequence of events that happened to you, support your statement, describe a conflict, and come to a conclusion.

A college essay is like a fiction story, with its rising action, turning point, and conflict resolution. Your task here is to evoke an emotional response from readers but, for all that, follow the essay structure.

Personal Essays Conclusions

The last paragraph of an essay is a resolution of the whole story. Here you summarize what you’ve learned from the experience you described in the essay and what you’d like readers to understand.

A personal essay conclusion needs to have the following elements:

  • A thesis restatement
  • Main points (what you, an author, learned from the experience you described; why your story matters)
  • A call to action for readers (what  they  can learn from your story)

Finish with the moral of the story, but do your best to end on a positive note. It will help readers feel inspired and make your essay more memorable.

Personal Essay Topics

As far as this essay is personal, it’s you, its author, who determines the topic. 

Personal essay topics can be about everything related to you, but, at the same time, they need to be specific about who you are. Feel free to write about the first time you failed the test, an award you won, a professor who changed your mind about books or essay writing , etc.

Please feel free to write about your friend or relative who influenced your worldview or made you feel different about something. You can tell about a  creative genius who changed your mindset or plans for the future. Long story short, any moment or persona in your life that changed you in some way can become a core topic of a college essay.

Also, please note that the experience you choose to describe in an essay doesn’t have to be positive only. Don’t be afraid to share a tragedy or some negative moment that influenced you anyway.

The best essay topics are always those profoundly relatable. Write about facing a fear, discovering something, falling in love, making a difficult choice, overcoming obstacles… The moments happening in everyone’s life and communicating some universal truth are what you need for a college essay to succeed.

Find out the details: Check our list of personal essay topics and learn how to choose them for your story.

Personal Statement for College: Format

A personal essay format looks like a structure of most standard five-paragraph essays. You start with an introduction, then craft a three-paragraph body telling your story, and finally wrap up the piece with a conclusion. Doesn’t seem difficult, right?

But given that this type of essays reminds a narrative, it also needs to be formatted with all elements of storytelling in mind. They are what make your personal statement powerful and memorable, as well as allow you to stand out from the crowd of other applicants in college.

Here at Bid4Papers, professional writers help students craft a format that makes their stories stand out. Yet, if you don’t want to ask anyone for help, feel free to check our detailed guide on personal essay formatting:

Further reading: College Essay Format

Follow these tips when writing a personal essay

The experts have presented the best personal essay guidelines to help you cope with the task and get a high grade. Here is your future algorithm of actions:

  • Prepare yourself. Remember that definition of personal essay requires you to create a research paper about your personal experiences. Set yourself a goal to stick to for the duration of the assignment.
  • Organize your work. In this step, you must create a clear plan for your work. The more small sections you can break down your assignment into, the easier it will be for you to start writing it later. Keep a chronological sequence because this is essential for any personalized essay.
  • Choose the best topic. Try to use one of the popular topics or create your own. The main thing is that it coincides with your experience and knowledge. After all, the research paper will be about you; therefore, you must tell how the topic influenced or changed your worldview. Examples might include “How my friend influenced my life” or “What lessons have helped me decide on my future.” All personal essay formats will look better if you choose the right subject matter for your paper.
  • Consider the tone of the narrative. You need to think about the feelings you want to evoke in your audience. In a personal essay, it is crucial to present your personality correctly. It can be about your past experiences or, on the contrary, written with a retrospective on those events. Don’t forget about the correct verbs, and be mindful of tenses.
  • Include a moral in your paper. By all means, the student should write a moral or lesson learned from the story. Give food for thought to your readers based on your experiences and conclusions. For example, you may have overcome a challenge, learned something, become a leader, or realized your mistakes. These are all excellent morals that you can describe.

Next, you must write according to the structure we’ve given above in our material. These simple recommendations will make your personalized essays more exciting and correct. The main thing is to stick to the rules and write them in understandable language so that no one gets confused while reading.

Personal Essay Examples

It’s better to see once than hear twice, do you agree? We know that most students look for real college personal statement examples online, and many peers of theirs are ready to share samples for educational purposes.

With the help of these essay samples, high school graduates understand the assignment better and learn about how to write a college essay so that it would impress admissions officers. Essay examples also help to get an idea of the structure, storytelling components, and plot twists to consider when you craft your own writing piece.

But Bid4Papers go to even greater extremes here:

We’ve not only gathered the best personal essay examples for you but also asked some admissions officers to share their advice on college essay writing. So, check the link below, and don’t hesitate to ask questions in the comment section if you have any.

Must-check: Best College Essays That Worked: Advice from Admissions Officers

And now, over to you:

Did we miss anything in this ultimate guide on personal essay writing? Is there anything else you’d like us to cover on the topic? Our writers are open to all the questions and suggestions you might have. <3

Related posts

  • What Is the Difference between Primary and Secondary Sources
  • Common Types of Plagiarism with Examples
  • Exemplification Essay – Ideas and Tips

Our Writing Guides

  • AI Content Shield
  • AI KW Research
  • AI Assistant
  • SEO Optimizer
  • AI KW Clustering
  • Customer reviews
  • The NLO Revolution
  • Press Center
  • Help Center
  • Content Resources
  • Facebook Group

A Guide to Writing Outline of a Personal Essay

Table of Contents

The outline of a personal essay has to involve the experience you choose to describe. It should be more than just positive. Don’t hesitate to share a tragedy or adverse occasion that has influenced you.

Profoundly relatable topics are always the best ones. Be specific about facing a fear, discovering something, falling in love, making a difficult choice, and overcoming obstacles.

These moments happening in everyone’s life and communicating some universal truth make an excellent college essay. Luckily, we have suggestions for personal essay topics you can choose for your story. 

an outline of a personal essay

College Statement: Personal Statement Writeup

The format of a personal essay is like most five-paragraph essays. After beginning with an introduction, you craft a three-paragraph body that tells your story and concludes with a conclusion. That seems unachievable, right? 

Personal Essay Structure

A good personal essay should include an introductory paragraph, body, and conclusion . A standard paper is about five paragraphs, but personal essays are longer or shorter as long as they contain all three elements.

1. Introduction

 A compelling hook should be included in the first sentence of your essay. You may have a personal statement in your essay body. Avoid typical cliches like opening with a famous quote (especially if it is a college essay), and make sure you connect with your audience with measurable results. 

2. the Body of Your Essay

This should contain your main points and personal evidence supporting the thesis statement of your narrative essay. As a writer, you can share how your personal experiences shape your point of view and reflect on the knowledge gained. 

3. Keep the Positive Spirit Going

Ensure that you are proud of your current achievements and there is always room for improvement. Identify both strong and weak sides. The courage to admit one’s flaws is crucial for every person. 

4. Conclusions

The conclusion should include your thesis and explain your story or reveal a more profound truth. What you want the reader to take away from this particular piece should be summarized in this essay. 

5. Make Sure You Proofread Your Work

Make sure your intent is clear, and your narrative is easy to follow, aside from checking spelling and grammar. It’s always helpful to reread your work, no matter how good your writing skills are. 

Difference Between Personal and Formal Essay

A Personal essay should be separate from a formal one. Personal narrative essays focus on life experiences rather than argumentation. Describe any significant life situation without supporting any point of view. The point is to emphasize feelings and emotions. However, a formal essay presents a thesis that must be further proved using supporting evidence. The subject is researched very thoroughly for this type of writing. 

A Guide to Writing Outline of a Personal Essay

Abir Ghenaiet

Abir is a data analyst and researcher. Among her interests are artificial intelligence, machine learning, and natural language processing. As a humanitarian and educator, she actively supports women in tech and promotes diversity.

Explore All Essay Outline Tool Articles

How to write a synthesis essay outline.

One of the most interesting assignments you could have is writing a synthesis essay. For a college or university student,…

  • Essay Outline Tool

Learning the Structure of an Informational Essay

Academic writing assignments, primarily essays, are required of all college and university students. That’s because they think it will aid…

The Correct Way to Structure an Article

Writing non-fiction has a set format that can be followed, which makes it not all that different from writing fiction.…

Exploring the Structure of a Response Essay

You will typically be expected to write in a formal and impersonal voice when you are given the assignment of…

Writing a Persuasive Essay? Use This Structure!

Writing essays is a requirement of your academic program as a college student. Whether you love them or loathe them,…

Writing a Proposal Essay? Read This!

Are you writing a proposal essay? To write it correctly, we have to know what a proposal essay actually is.…

Narrative Essay Writing

Personal Narrative Essay

Cathy A.

Personal Narrative Essay - Easy Guide & Examples

16 min read

Published on: Apr 18, 2020

Last updated on: Mar 24, 2024

personal narrative essay

People also read

How to Write a Narrative Essay in Simple Steps

Interesting Narrative Essay Topics and Ideas

20+ Top Narrative Essay Examples by Experts

Share this article

A personal narrative essay can be a fun way to share your life story with friends and family. However, most students have no idea how to write a personal narrative essay. 

This can be a challenge. On top of that, it's one of the most common assignments in school.

Is this something that you are also dealing with? Fortunately, you don't have to worry anymore! We are here to simplify the process for you.

This guide will walk you through the process of writing a personal narrative essay step by step. Plus, you can find plenty of examples here to help you get started and avoid common writing mistakes. 

So what are you waiting for, take a step forward to make your essay shine!

On This Page On This Page -->

Personal Narrative Essay Definition

What is a Personal Narrative Essay? 

A personal narrative essay is also referred to as short storytelling. It depends on the writer's type of story they want to tell the readers. This type of essay can be composed of the personal experience of the writer. 

A personal narrative essay is usually written in the first person participle. It helps to depict a clear narrative that’s focused on a specific moment.

Usually, high school students are usually assigned to write such essays. Writing these essays helps them to enhance creative writing skills. Also, they help to provide insight into a student’s personal life. 

To write a personal narrative essay, the writer specifies a plot around which the entire essay revolves. Moreover, the plot should also discuss the characters that have played some part in the story.

Sample Personal Narrative Essay (PDF)

How to Start a Personal Narrative Essay?  

The personal narrative essay requires a balance between objectivity and subjectivity. To write about an event or situation with significance, you must first identify what's important to share with the readers.

As with other types of writing - there are some guidelines you need to follow some guidelines. These are;

1. Choose the Right Topic 

A good topic can not just make your essay look good, but also it will make the writing process much easier. Since personal narrative essays are written on personal experiences and thoughts, make sure you choose your most interesting experience. 

Keep in mind that the topic you choose matches the intended audience. It is the reader who decides the scope and success of your essay.

2. Choose a Theme 

You can also choose a theme for your essay. This will help you focus on what you want to say. You can use your personal experiences to explore the theme in depth.  For example, if you choose the theme of love, you could talk about your experience of love with your sister(s).  Alternatively, you can start writing out the story and see if any ideas might relate to a bigger theme. When you are writing, pay attention to any ideas that keep coming up. See if they might be related to a bigger topic.

3. Create a Thesis Statement 

The thesis statement is the most important sentence and tells the reader what your essay will be about.  

In a personal narrative essay, the thesis statement can briefly explore the story's events. Or it can tell the reader about the moral or lesson learned through personal experience. The thesis statement can also present the main theme of the essay. 

For example, if you are writing an essay about your personal experience as a refugee. You may have a thesis statement that presents the theme of freedom.

Check out more thesis statement examples to learn how to write one!

4. Create an Outline 

Once you have your topic, it is time that you create an outline for your essay. The essay outline is an essential element of an essay. It keeps the whole composition in an organized order. 

Also, it helps the reader through the essay. With the help of an outline, a writer can provide logic for the essay. 

Personal Narrative Essay Outline

Being a student, you must know how important an outline is for an essay. It provides an organization with the whole content.

To create an outline for a personal narrative essay, you need to follow the following traditional method.


These three major elements of a  narrative essay  are further elaborated down below.

The introduction is the most important part of essay writing. It is the first impression on the reader; by reading this part, the reader decides the quality of the essay. This part should be the most attention-grabbing part. 

It should have an attention-grabbing hook and some background information about the topic. Moreover, it should include the thesis statement, which explains the main idea of your essay.

Keep in mind that the essay introduction should always end with a transition sentence. This will make a logical connection with the rest of the essay. 

Personal Narrative Introduction Example

Body Paragraphs 

After the introduction, the body paragraphs are written. These paragraphs help you to explain the key elements of your personal narrative essay. 

In a standard personal narrative essay, there are usually three body paragraphs. These paragraphs help the writer to describe the subject of the essay in all possible aspects. 

With the help of these paragraphs, the writer describes their point of view to the readers. To support the essay, the time and place of the event happening are also mentioned. Moreover, these paragraphs have all the information about the characters. 

Keep in mind that a body starts with a topic sentence . This sentence is a kind of introductory sentence for that particular paragraph.

Another important thing you need to keep in mind is the order in which you will present the details. Make sure that you use chronological order for this purpose. 

Personal Narrative Body Example

In conclusion, you need to provide the climax of the story. 

In this section of a personal narrative essay, you should wrap up the whole story. Do it in such a way that you provide a summary of the entire essay. 

Your conclusion should be just as impactful as your introduction. End with a memorable sentence or thought that leaves the reader with a lasting impression. You can summarize the main points of your essay or reflect on the significance of the experience in your life.

Make sure that you do not add any new points in this part. It will not give the reader a sense of accomplishment and will leave them in confusion. 

Personal Narrative Conclusion Example

How to Write a Personal Narrative Essay

A personal narrative essay is considered very good when it is expressive, and the reader enjoys your personal narrative. The key to writing an amazing personal narrative is to use sensory details as much as possible.

An excellent narrative essay doesn't tell what happened. Instead, it shows what happened precisely and how you have felt at that moment.

Here is how you can write a personal narrative essay:

  • Start With a Good Hook 

For any type of essay , a hook statement can be a game-changer. But, particularly for a personal narrative essay, hook sentences are very important. 

Usually, the introduction of the essay starts with this sentence. You may use a famous quotation, verse, or an interesting fact for this purpose. This sentence helps to attain the reader’s attention and persuade the reader to read the entire essay. 

  • Vivid Description 

For a narrative essay, it is a must to be vivid enough to let the reader imagine the whole scene. This is why it is necessary that the writer uses as much descriptive language as possible. 

For instance, if you are writing about a visit to the beach, you can describe how the sun felt on your face. On top of that, making use of strong verbs and adjectives will also help to provide an engaging experience for readers.  

  • Use Transition Words 

For any essay, be it an argumentative essay , descriptive essay , or personal narrative essay. It is very important to have some transition sentences and words. These transition words help to make a logical connection in all parts of the essay. 

In other words, the transition words help to make links between the storyline. You may use transition words like this, however, whereas, therefore, moreover, etc.

  • Add Emotions 

The purpose of a personal narrative essay is to show the reader what and how you have felt. Hence don't forget to add the emotions, as you have to make the reader know about the feelings. 

Describe all of the emotions and feelings using very descriptive words. 

  • Be Consistent 

Consistency is the key to writing an essay in a professional way. Make sure that you don't get distracted by any irrelevant details. 

Stay focused on one single point, and add details related to your specific idea.  Make sure that you inter-link all the events of the story in a regular manner. This will help the reader to relate all the events. Also, use first-person impressions as you are writing a personal narrative. 

You also want to show the reader that you are telling your own story. Make sure that you follow the same participle in the entire essay. 

  • Prove the Significance of Your Experience 

You know that behind every event, there is a reason. Similarly, let your readers know the reason behind your essay and its significance. 

Also, mention that the story you just told was important to share. 

As it is a personal narrative, you don't have to provide evidence to prove the significance of your story. Rather, you have to convey a broader message through your story. 

  • Use Dialogue

Dialogue is an excellent way to bring life to your story and make it more engaging. It can reveal the character’s personalities and add a touch of realism to the essay. 

When you use dialogue, make sure to punctuate it correctly and indicate who is speaking.

  • Show, Don't Tell

When writing a personal narrative essay, avoid summarizing events and simply telling the story. Instead, use sensory details to help the reader experience the story with you. 

Describe what you saw, heard, felt, tasted, and smelled to bring the story to life.

  • Reflect on the Experience

Reflection is an important part of any personal narrative essay. It is an opportunity for you to reflect on the experience you are writing about and what it means to you. Take the time to think about what you learned from the experience and how it has shaped you as a person.

Once you are done with writing your personal narrative essay. It's time that you put a little effort into making it error-free. Proofread the essay more than once and look for minor spelling mistakes and other grammatical mistakes. 

This will ensure that you have written an essay like a pro. You can do this yourself or you may ask a friend to do it for you.

To understand better how to write a personal narrative essay, take a few moments to watch the video below!

Tough Essay Due? Hire a Writer!

Tough Essay Due? Hire a Writer!

Free Personal Narrative Essay Examples

Examples help you to understand things better; here are a few well-written  narrative essay examples . Read them thoroughly and use them as a guide to writing a good essay yourself.

Personal Narrative Essay 750 words

Personal narrative essays can be long or short. It depends on the writer how they want to elaborate things.

750 Words Personal Narrative Essay (PDF)

Personal Narrative Essay Examples for High School Students

Personal narrative essays are often assigned to high school students. If you are a high school student and looking for some good examples, you are exactly where you should be.

Best Summer Memory of My Childhood (PDF)

Near-Death Experience (PDF)

Personal Narrative Essay Examples for College Students

Being a college student, you will often get to write personal narrative essays. Here are a few examples of well-written personal narrative essays to guide college students.

Climbing a Mountain (PDF)

My First Job (PDF)

Want to get a better understanding? Dive into the wide collection of our narrative essay examples !

Personal Narrative Essay Topics

It is important to choose a good topic before you start writing. Here are some interesting  narrative essay topics  you can choose from for your essay.

  • My worst childhood memory
  • My favorite summer activities during vacation.
  • The first time I had a serious argument with my best friend
  • The first time someone broke my heart.
  • Things I could tell myself.
  • How I balance my family life and my professional life.
  • The most important rule in life
  • Teachers who inspired me in my college.
  • Why I love to write a diary
  • My favorite New York Times Article.
  • My favorite movie.
  • Personal advice for the youth of today.
  • How I overcame my stage fear.
  • The toughest decision I have ever made.
  • What I regret most

Need some inspiration to craft your essay? Our expansive list of narrative essay topics will provide you with plenty of ideas!

Personal Narrative Essay Writing Tips

You need to follow a few things in order to start your personal narrative essay in a proper way. Those significant things are as follows:

  • Think of a memorable event, an unforgettable experience, or any that you want to tell the readers.
  • Plan your narrative essay. Make yourself clear on the order in which you want to mention all the details.
  • Start your personal essay with a hook sentence. This will help you to grab the attention of the readers.
  • Use vivid language so that the reader can imagine the whole scene in mind. Describe the actions, mood, theme, and overall plot.
  • Make sure that you use descriptive language.
  • Use proper sentence structure.

In conclusion,

writing a personal narrative essay can be daunting for many students.

So, step into the world of professional essay writing with our specialized narrative essay writing service . We're committed to crafting compelling stories that capture and engage.

For added convenience and innovation, don't forget to check out our essay writer online , an AI tool designed to refine and elevate your writing experience. Join us today and transform your writing journey!

Cathy A. (Literature, Marketing)

For more than five years now, Cathy has been one of our most hardworking authors on the platform. With a Masters degree in mass communication, she knows the ins and outs of professional writing. Clients often leave her glowing reviews for being an amazing writer who takes her work very seriously.

Paper Due? Why Suffer? That’s our Job!

Get Help

Keep reading

personal narrative essay

Legal & Policies

  • Privacy Policy
  • Cookies Policy
  • Terms of Use
  • Refunds & Cancellations
  • Our Writers
  • Success Stories
  • Our Guarantees
  • Affiliate Program
  • Referral Program
  • AI Essay Writer

Disclaimer: All client orders are completed by our team of highly qualified human writers. The essays and papers provided by us are not to be used for submission but rather as learning models only.

an outline of a personal essay

Purdue Online Writing Lab Purdue OWL® College of Liberal Arts

Writing the Personal Statement

OWL logo

Welcome to the Purdue OWL

This page is brought to you by the OWL at Purdue University. When printing this page, you must include the entire legal notice.

Copyright ©1995-2018 by The Writing Lab & The OWL at Purdue and Purdue University. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, reproduced, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission. Use of this site constitutes acceptance of our terms and conditions of fair use.

The personal statement, your opportunity to sell yourself in the application process, generally falls into one of two categories:

1. The general, comprehensive personal statement:

This allows you maximum freedom in terms of what you write and is the type of statement often prepared for standard medical or law school application forms.

2. The response to very specific questions:

Often, business and graduate school applications ask specific questions, and your statement should respond specifically to the question being asked. Some business school applications favor multiple essays, typically asking for responses to three or more questions.

Questions to ask yourself before you write:

  • What's special, unique, distinctive, and/or impressive about you or your life story?
  • What details of your life (personal or family problems, history, people or events that have shaped you or influenced your goals) might help the committee better understand you or help set you apart from other applicants?
  • When did you become interested in this field and what have you learned about it (and about yourself) that has further stimulated your interest and reinforced your conviction that you are well suited to this field? What insights have you gained?
  • How have you learned about this field—through classes, readings, seminars, work or other experiences, or conversations with people already in the field?
  • If you have worked a lot during your college years, what have you learned (leadership or managerial skills, for example), and how has that work contributed to your growth?
  • What are your career goals?
  • Are there any gaps or discrepancies in your academic record that you should explain (great grades but mediocre LSAT or GRE scores, for example, or a distinct upward pattern to your GPA if it was only average in the beginning)?
  • Have you had to overcome any unusual obstacles or hardships (for example, economic, familial, or physical) in your life?
  • What personal characteristics (for example, integrity, compassion, and/or persistence) do you possess that would improve your prospects for success in the field or profession? Is there a way to demonstrate or document that you have these characteristics?
  • What skills (for example, leadership, communicative, analytical) do you possess?
  • Why might you be a stronger candidate for graduate school—and more successful and effective in the profession or field than other applicants?
  • What are the most compelling reasons you can give for the admissions committee to be interested in you?

General advice

Answer the questions that are asked

  • If you are applying to several schools, you may find questions in each application that are somewhat similar.
  • Don't be tempted to use the same statement for all applications. It is important to answer each question being asked, and if slightly different answers are needed, you should write separate statements. In every case, be sure your answer fits the question being asked.

Tell a story

  • Think in terms of showing or demonstrating through concrete experience. One of the worst things you can do is to bore the admissions committee. If your statement is fresh, lively, and different, you'll be putting yourself ahead of the pack. If you distinguish yourself through your story, you will make yourself memorable.

Be specific

  • Don't, for example, state that you would make an excellent doctor unless you can back it up with specific reasons. Your desire to become a lawyer, engineer, or whatever should be logical, the result of specific experience that is described in your statement. Your application should emerge as the logical conclusion to your story.

Find an angle

  • If you're like most people, your life story lacks drama, so figuring out a way to make it interesting becomes the big challenge. Finding an angle or a "hook" is vital.

Concentrate on your opening paragraph

  • The lead or opening paragraph is generally the most important. It is here that you grab the reader's attention or lose it. This paragraph becomes the framework for the rest of the statement.

Tell what you know

  • The middle section of your essay might detail your interest and experience in your particular field, as well as some of your knowledge of the field. Too many people graduate with little or no knowledge of the nuts and bolts of the profession or field they hope to enter. Be as specific as you can in relating what you know about the field and use the language professionals use in conveying this information. Refer to experiences (work, research, etc.), classes, conversations with people in the field, books you've read, seminars you've attended, or any other source of specific information about the career you want and why you're suited to it. Since you will have to select what you include in your statement, the choices you make are often an indication of your judgment.

Don't include some subjects

  • There are certain things best left out of personal statements. For example, references to experiences or accomplishments in high school or earlier are generally not a good idea. Don't mention potentially controversial subjects (for example, controversial religious or political issues).

Do some research, if needed

  • If a school wants to know why you're applying to it rather than another school, do some research to find out what sets your choice apart from other universities or programs. If the school setting would provide an important geographical or cultural change for you, this might be a factor to mention.

Write well and correctly

  • Be meticulous. Type and proofread your essay very carefully. Many admissions officers say that good written skills and command of correct use of language are important to them as they read these statements. Express yourself clearly and concisely. Adhere to stated word limits.

Avoid clichés

  • A medical school applicant who writes that he is good at science and wants to help other people is not exactly expressing an original thought. Stay away from often-repeated or tired statements.

For more information on writing a personal statement, see the personal statement vidcast .

an outline of a personal essay

What Is a Capstone Project vs. Thesis

an outline of a personal essay

As students near the end of their academic journey, they encounter a crucial project called the capstone – a culmination of all they've learned. But what exactly is a capstone project? 

This article aims to demystify capstone projects, explaining what they are, why they matter, and what you can expect when you embark on this final academic endeavor.

Capstone Project Meaning

A capstone project is a comprehensive, culminating academic endeavor undertaken by students typically in their final year of study. 

It synthesizes their learning experiences, requiring students to apply the knowledge, skills, and competencies gained throughout their academic journey. A capstone project aims to address a real-world problem or explore a topic of interest in depth. 

As interdisciplinary papers, capstone projects encourage critical thinking, problem-solving, and creativity. They allow students to showcase their mastery of their field of study and demonstrate their readiness for future academic or professional pursuits.

Now that we’ve defined what is a capstone project, let’s discuss its importance in the academic landscape. In case you have short-form compositions to handle, simply say, ‘ do my essay for me ,’ and our writers will take care of your workload.

Why Is a Capstone Project Important

A capstone project is crucial because it allows students to combine everything they've learned in school and apply it to real-life situations or big problems. 

It's like the ultimate test of what they know and can do. By working on these projects, students get hands-on experience, learn to think critically and figure out how to solve tough problems. 

Plus, it's a chance to show off their skills and prove they're ready for whatever comes next, whether that's starting a career or going on to more schooling.

Never Written Capstones Before?

Professional writers across dozens of subjects can help you right now.

What Is the Purpose of a Capstone Project

Here are three key purposes of a capstone project:

What Is the Purpose of a Capstone Project

Integration of Knowledge and Skills

Capstones often require students to draw upon the knowledge and skills they have acquired throughout their academic program. The importance of capstone project lies in helping students synthesize what they have learned and apply it to a real-world problem or project. 

This integration helps students demonstrate their proficiency and readiness for graduation or entry into their chosen profession.

Culmination of Learning

Capstone projects culminate a student's academic journey, allowing them to apply theoretical knowledge to real-world scenarios. 

tackling a significant project or problem, students demonstrate their understanding of concepts and their ability to translate them into practical solutions, reinforcing their learning journey.

Professional Development

Capstone projects allow students to develop skills relevant to their future careers. These projects can also be tangible examples of their capabilities to potential employers or graduate programs.

Whether it's conducting research, presenting findings, or collaborating with peers, students gain valuable experience that enhances their professional readiness. 

Types of Capstone Projects

Capstones vary widely depending on the academic discipline, institution, and specific program requirements. Here are some common types:

What Is the Difference Between a Thesis and a Capstone Project

Here's a breakdown of the key differences between a thesis and a capstone project:

How to Write a Capstone Project

Let's dive into the specifics with actionable and meaningful steps for writing a capstone project:

1. Select a Pertinent Topic

Identify a topic that aligns with your academic interests, program requirements, and real-world relevance. Consider issues or challenges within your field that merit further exploration or solution. 

Conduct thorough research to ensure the topic is both feasible and significant. Here are some brilliant capstone ideas for your inspiration.

2. Define Clear Objectives

Clearly articulate the objectives of your capstone project. What specific outcomes do you aim to achieve? 

Whether it's solving a problem, answering a research question, or developing a product, ensure your objectives are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART).

3. Conduct Comprehensive Research

Dive deep into existing literature, theories, and empirical evidence related to your chosen topic. Identify gaps, controversies, or areas for further investigation. 

Synthesize relevant findings and insights to inform the development of your project and provide a solid foundation for your analysis or implementation.

4. Develop a Structured Plan

What is a capstone project in college without a rigid structure? Outline a comprehensive plan for your capstone project, including key milestones, tasks, and deadlines. 

Break down the project into manageable phases, such as literature review, data collection, analysis, and presentation. Establish clear criteria for success and regularly monitor progress to stay on track.

5. Implement Methodological Rigor

If your project involves research, ensure methodological rigor by selecting appropriate research methods, tools, and techniques. 

Develop a detailed research design or project plan that addresses key methodological considerations, such as sampling, data collection, analysis, and validity. Adhere to ethical guidelines and best practices throughout the research process.

6. Analyze and Interpret Findings

Analyze your data or findings using appropriate analytical techniques and tools. Interpret the results in relation to your research questions or objectives, highlighting key patterns, trends, or insights. 

Critically evaluate the significance and implications of your findings within the broader context of your field or industry.

7. Communicate Effectively

Present your capstone project clearly, concisely, and compellingly. Whether it's a written report, presentation, or multimedia deliverable, tailor your communication style to your target audience. Clearly articulate your research questions, methodology, findings, and conclusions. 

Use visuals, examples, and real-world applications to enhance understanding and engagement. Be prepared to defend your project and answer questions from peers, faculty, or stakeholders.

In wrapping up, what is a capstone project? It’s like the grand finale of your academic journey, where all the knowledge and skills you've acquired come together in one big project. 

It's not just about passing a test or getting a grade – it's about proving you've got what it takes to make a real difference in the world. So, if you ever need capstone project help , our writers will gladly lend you a hand in no time.

Due Date Is Just Around the Corner?

Streamline the writing progress with our expert service!

What Is a Capstone Project in College?

How to do a capstone project, how long does a capstone project take to complete.

Annie Lambert

Annie Lambert

specializes in creating authoritative content on marketing, business, and finance, with a versatile ability to handle any essay type and dissertations. With a Master’s degree in Business Administration and a passion for social issues, her writing not only educates but also inspires action. On EssayPro blog, Annie delivers detailed guides and thought-provoking discussions on pressing economic and social topics. When not writing, she’s a guest speaker at various business seminars.

an outline of a personal essay

is an expert in nursing and healthcare, with a strong background in history, law, and literature. Holding advanced degrees in nursing and public health, his analytical approach and comprehensive knowledge help students navigate complex topics. On EssayPro blog, Adam provides insightful articles on everything from historical analysis to the intricacies of healthcare policies. In his downtime, he enjoys historical documentaries and volunteering at local clinics.

  • T. (2023, June 16). What Is a Capstone Project? National University.
  • Lukins, S. (2024, May 12). What is a capstone project? And why is it important? Top Universities.
  • Capstone Project vs. Thesis: What’s the Difference? (2021, December 9). UAGC.

Related Articles

How to Find Credible Sources


  1. How To Write A Personal Narrative Essay For College

    an outline of a personal essay

  2. 37 Outstanding Essay Outline Templates (Argumentative, Narrative

    an outline of a personal essay

  3. 37 Outstanding Essay Outline Templates (Argumentative, Narrative

    an outline of a personal essay

  4. How to Write an Essay Outline: Complete Guide and Samples

    an outline of a personal essay

  5. Personal Essay Outline Template

    an outline of a personal essay

  6. 37 Outstanding Essay Outline Templates (Argumentative, Narrative

    an outline of a personal essay


  1. How to write an outline? CSS-PMS Essay-1

  2. How to write an outline for an essay or a literature review

  3. How to Write an Outline for Your Book

  4. Outlining a book? Here's why you should start with character

  5. Introduction To Persuasive Essays (How To Outline)

  6. Personal belongings line 2D object animation


  1. How to Write an Essay Outline

    Step 4: Add Depth with Subpoints. To add depth and clarity to your essay, incorporate subpoints under each main point. These subpoints provide more specific details, evidence, or examples that support your main ideas. They help to further strengthen your arguments and make your essay more convincing.

  2. How to Write a Personal Essay: Instructions, Outline

    Crafting an Outline for Personal Essay. Like most academic tasks, the personal essay can be easily structured into 5 paragraphs. This is one of the most important steps of personal narrative essay writing at any level. Your outline for personal essay will serve as a navigator, so you don't want to get off track. Understanding how to start a ...

  3. How to Write a Personal Essay: Instructions, Outline

    A well-structured personal essay outline is crucial for guiding the reader through your narrative. It includes an engaging introduction, strong body paragraphs, and a compelling conclusion. Mastering the art of essay writing ensures that your good personal essay effectively communicates your story, much like a well-crafted personal statement.

  4. How to Outline an Essay: Basic Essay Outline Template

    Level Up Your Team. See why leading organizations rely on MasterClass for learning & development. Essay outlines are excellent tools for organizing your writing. A strong outline can turn a meandering essay into a focused, persuasive piece of writing.

  5. How to Write a Personal Essay

    Create an outline. Personal essays are usually formatted in sections, with an introductory section, a body section, and a concluding section. These sections are broken down as follows: The introductory section should include "the hook", opening lines where you catch the reader's attention.

  6. How to Write an Essay Outline in 4 Steps

    Personal Essay Outline. Introduction. Briefly introduce the special bond you share with your dog. Mention a specific incident where your dog's actions surprised and impressed you. Thesis Statement: During a seemingly ordinary walk in the park, my dog, [Dog's Name], showcased his bravery and became my hero most unexpectedly. ...

  7. How to Structure an Essay

    The basic structure of an essay always consists of an introduction, a body, and a conclusion. But for many students, the most difficult part of structuring an essay is deciding how to organize information within the body. This article provides useful templates and tips to help you outline your essay, make decisions about your structure, and ...

  8. How to Write an Essay Outline: 5 Examples & Free Template

    3. Expository essay outline. An expository essay outline requires you to provide a detailed overview of a subject from all angles. It is used to test your knowledge of a particular subject. The purpose of this essay outline is to inform, explain, or describe a topic or idea, rather than to persuade the reader or share personal opinions.

  9. How to Write a Personal Essay: 6 Tips for Writing Personal Essays

    Written by MasterClass. Last updated: Sep 9, 2021 • 3 min read. People write personal essays for a number of reasons. High school students write them for college admissions and writers use them to share personal stories with others. A personal narrative essay can enlighten and inspire an audience with information gained from real life ...

  10. How To Write a Personal Essay in 8 Simple Steps (With Tips)

    Write the introduction. Write the body. Write the conclusion. 1. Make preparations. When preparing to write your personal essay, first consider who your audience is and what you want them to know. Ask yourself questions to determine how your story relates to your goals for writing it.

  11. Personal Essay How-To: Best Tips, Format, Outline

    Incorporate a personal reflection or anecdote to create an emotional connection. End with a thought-provoking question or a call to action. Provide a sense of closure by showcasing personal growth or resolution. Customize the conclusion to align with the overall tone and style of your essay.

  12. How to Write a Personal Essay for Your College Application

    Use words you would normally use. Trust your voice and the fact that your story is interesting enough in that no one else has lived it. Be creative. "Show, don't tell," and that applies here ...

  13. How to Write a Personal Essay: Topics, Structure, & Examples

    The first and the most important thing you need to do when you are about to write a personal essay is to determine its purpose. When you know your audience, it becomes easier to find an appropriate topic for your writing. After that, you can draft an outline, which is the foundation of your future essay! ️.

  14. How to Write a Personal Statement

    Create an outline listing the key points you want to share. Read your outline aloud to confirm it makes logical sense before proceeding. Read your essay aloud while you're writing to confirm you're staying on topic. Ask a trusted friend or family member to read your essay and make suggestions. Be true to your own voice.

  15. How to Write Your Personal Statement

    A personal statement is a short essay of around 500-1,000 words, in which you tell a compelling story about who you are, what drives you, and why you're applying. To write a successful personal statement for a graduate school application, don't just summarize your experience; instead, craft a focused narrative in your own voice. Aim to ...

  16. The Ultimate Guide to Personal Essay Writing

    The Ultimate Guide to Personal Essay Writing. A personal essay is a short writing work where the author describes a significant event from his life experience and tells about a lesson he learned from it. In academia, a personal essay is known as a "college essay" or a "college admission essay.". Personal essay is not about college ...

  17. How to Write a Personal Statement (Tips + Essay Examples)

    In a great personal statement, we should be able to get a sense of what fulfills, motivates, or excites the author. These can be things like humor, beauty, community, and autonomy, just to name a few. So when you read back through your essay, you should be able to detect at least 4-5 different values throughout.

  18. A Guide to Writing Outline of a Personal Essay

    A good personal essay should include an introductory paragraph, body, and conclusion. A standard paper is about five paragraphs, but personal essays are longer or shorter as long as they contain all three elements. 1. Introduction. A compelling hook should be included in the first sentence of your essay. You may have a personal statement in ...

  19. Personal Narrative Essay

    With the help of an outline, a writer can provide logic for the essay. Personal Narrative Essay Outline. Being a student, you must know how important an outline is for an essay. It provides an organization with the whole content. To create an outline for a personal narrative essay, you need to follow the following traditional method. ...

  20. The Personal Statement

    1. The general, comprehensive personal statement: This allows you maximum freedom in terms of what you write and is the type of statement often prepared for standard medical or law school application forms. 2. The response to very specific questions: Often, business and graduate school applications ask specific questions, and your statement ...

  21. What Is a Capstone Project: Definition, Types, Writing Steps

    A capstone project is a comprehensive, culminating academic endeavor undertaken by students typically in their final year of study. It synthesizes their learning experiences, requiring students to apply the knowledge, skills, and competencies gained throughout their academic journey. A capstone project aims to address a real-world problem or ...