Admission News

A New Way to Judge College Application Essays

Written by CB Experts

College admissions essays inset personality into the college applications, but essays are judged subjectively. Now it is believed there can be a more equitable, provable way to evaluate college essays—through statistical analysis.

Professors Pennebake, Beaver, Lavergne, Chung, and Frazee, all of the University of Texas Austin, have done a study based on analysis of 25,975 college applicants who later enrolled at a large state university. Theses students were then tracked for their grades. They found college applicants who demonstrated categorical thinking in their writing were most likely to succeed in college. Categorical thinking is categorizing by connecting concepts and ideas and in the written word uses more articles such as the and more propositions such as on and of.


Dynamic thinkers are predicted to have lower GPAs in college. Their writing is characterized by more use of pronouns such as I and they, and their essays are more narrative.


Other indicators of successful college matriculation are shown in writing by use of longer words (6 letters or more), complicated sentences, and higher essay word counts.


However, no college/universities are yet using this type of analysis to evaluate admission essays so, as of now, the personal essay is what admissions readers are looking for.

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CB Experts

Content created by retired College Admissions consultants.