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Application Essay Writing:
Sentence Variety

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Lesson Four: Style andTone
Sentence Variety

Many students think that the longer the sentence they write, the better the sentence. This is far from the truth. You do not need long, complicated sentences to show that you are a good writer. In fact, short sentences often pack the most punch. The best essays contain a variety of sentence lengths, mixed within any given paragraph. Try reading your essay out-loud, pausing at every period. Listen to the rhythm of your prose. Are all of the sentences the same length? If each of your sentences twists and turns for an entire paragraph, or you run out of breath at any point, break them up into smaller statements. You may also want to try a more methodical approach:

EXERICISE #3: SENTENCE VARIETY 

Once you have completed your essay, try labeling each sentence “short” (under 10 words), “medium” (under 20 words), or “long” (20 or more words). A nice paragraph might read something like M S M L M S. A dry essay would be S S S M L L L.

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From Essays That Will Get You Into College, by Amy Burnham, Daniel Kaufman, and Chris Dowhan.  Copyright 1998 by Dan Kaufman.  Reprinted by arrangement with Barron's Educational Series, Inc.
 
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