Style & Tone in Admission Essay – With Examples

20.05.23 How to write a college essay Time to read: 7min

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Are you unsure about the style and tone of your admission essay? If so, you have come to the right place. A formal tone is not expected in the college application essay because you only need to demonstrate your perspective and writing skills. This article delves into writing in the correct style and tone in an admission essay to help you stand out from the crowd and enter the right institution.

In a nutshell: Style and tone in admission essays

  • Your writing style and tone in an admission essay are made up of the words you use, and it says a lot about you and how you see the world.
  • To convince admission officers that you have the correct mentality, you should write your statement in a semiformal, conversational tone.
  • Showing that you believe in your abilities to contribute to college life and complete course requirements is crucial.

Definition: Style and tone in admission essays

When writing the style and tone in an admission essay, “style” refers to how you express ideas and views. This includes your choice of words, grammar, and organisation of the text as a whole. As a result, your college essay has to showcase your writing style to stand out from the crowd.

On the other hand, “tone” is the author’s perspective on the work and its readers. Therefore, an effective tone in an admission essay shows you know your stuff and care about the subject. It’s crucial to achieve an equilibrium between a formal and conversational tone to communicate the writer’s individuality while adhering to academic writing conventions.

Dos and don’ts of style and tone in admission essays

If you want a perfect style and tone in an admission essay, here are the dos and don’ts you should consider:


  • Write in a way that reveals your individuality and points of view.
  • Be enthusiastic about the institution and the major you are applying to.
  • Write clearly and concisely, avoiding jargon and filler words.
  • Explain and demonstrate your ideas and experiences using specific examples.


  • It is important to refrain from using casual language or slang in conversation.
  • Keep your writing informal and relaxed.
  • Do not assume anything about the values of the admission committee.
  • Don’t try to sound more impressive than you are.
  • Do not bring negativity or self-criticism into the style and tone of an admission essay equation.

Finding a balance between formal and casual

First, when dealing with the style and tone of an admission essay, keep your tone friendly and courteous. In this case, imagine you are chatting with a trusted professor, adviser, or coach. Furthermore, avoid seeming too scholarly or formal, since it could make you look like an amateur.

Likewise, reach a compromise using neither formal nor casual language. Unlike the acronyms often used in text messages, which are generally considered acceptable, contractions are not.

Too casual The Netflix skit with Ali Wong had me rolling on the floor laughing.
Too formal In conclusion, I was unable to control my emotional response of hysterics to Ali Wong's deconstruction of Asian American stereotypes, nor could I prevent my tear ducts from spilling salty droplets of laughing.
Alternative After years of internalizing the stereotype of the timid, courteous Asian American woman, Ali Wong's crude but honest tales made me cry tears of laughter and delight.
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Be authentic

You don’t want your style and tone in an admission essay to seem like it was done by your teacher, parent, or colleague for you. Write in the first person, using “I” statements and an acceptable votaxiulary and phrases for your skill level.

If you want a smooth style and tone in an admission essay, the first-person singular, like “I” and “me”, is encouraged. Moreover, Use “we” with caution to avoid assuming that everyone else shares your worldview.

Bad example Good example
I think the best way to paint a picture of my mum for you is to describe her wardrobe. My mother seems to be a regular middle-class housewife from the outside. She may seem like a pair of yellow rubber gloves and a J. Crew outfit, but she is much more.
Every one of us has the same basic needs and desires: a stable family life, a successful career and a comfortable home. I grew up watching Hollywood films and envisioned a life where I had the ideal spouse, a successful career, and a mansion in Beverly Hills, complete with an infinity pool.
We, females, share a love of Westfield Mall, Häagen-Dazs and feel-good comedies. My loved ones and I have a penchant for late-night Marvel movie premieres, lengthy dinner conversations, and Monopoly games.

The key to writing an engageing style and tone in an admission essay is to use words creatively while being cautious. You may impress admissions officials by adding flair to common phrases without sounding like you are consulting a dictionary.

Too simple I wanted to ask my girlfriend to prom without being stupid like in rom-coms, so I did something lovely for her. I made her supper and walked her to the lake.
Too complex Reenacting the famous piano scene from "Twilight" to ask Rachel to the prom would have been a silly and unimaginative move. But instead, I cooked her a gourmet lunch of Korean food, took her to our usual hangout, and asked if she wanted to go to the prom with me.
Alternative Instead of trying to recreate a cliché from a romantic film, I asked my fiancée to prom when we were having bulgogi and japchae at our favorite place by the lake.

Fast pace

To ensure a perfect style and tone in an admission essay, maintain a brisk pace throughout your writing by using an active voice and brevity. Similarly, when adding definitions, make sure they clarify the text.

When considering style and tone in an admission essay, keep your writing straightforward and brief, unless you’re purposefully using flowery language to set the mood. The word limit for college essays is strict, so choose your words carefully.

Bad example

Charlie and I have been planning our move to the city since we were youngsters. Austin is a vibrant, multiethnic city with many great restaurants, bars and record shops, which is why we liked making the trek into the city every summer.

Good example

We saved enough from car washes and 5 a.m. newspaper routes to visit Breakaway Records in Austin one summer.

If the reader is unfamiliar with a certain style and tone in an admission essay phrase or idea, you should define it. But do not try to impress admissions authorities by using many definitions.

Bad example

Einstein and Max Planck discovered that the fundamental particle known as a photon, which is a quantum of the electromagnetic field, may behave as both a wave and a particle.

Good example

Photons may behave like waves and particles, as Max Planck and Albert Einstein discovered.

If the topic is minor or unidentified, the passive voice is appropriate. However, for admission essays, the active voice is recommended to maintain a consistent pace throughout.

Bad example

rubbish was gathered during my volunteer group’s annual cleaning day.

Good example

During our annual cleaning day, I helped collect garbage with my volunteer group.

Bending language rules

It’s okay to make a few grammatical concessions in the service of a plot if doing so doesn’t compromise the essay’s readability. Your style and tone in an admission essay may benefit from this technique.

Using sentence fragments in the style and tone of an admission essay is a great way to increase the sense of urgency, directness, and intensity in your writing. However, avoid using them excessively since doing so might make your writing seem jagged, confused, and distracting.

Bad example

After a mument, I glanced at the floor. Massive, yellowish, moist smear. On my slacks. I ran. In the distant past.

Good example

As I bent down, I saw a large, yellow stain on my trousers that was damp. I had to go. A long-distance off.

Bad example

There’s Justin. Out of the slit of my eye. Currently, he’s flailing his hands around. This guy is very vulnerable. The defensive forces are charging.

Good example

I glimpse Justin’s extended arms waving from the corner of my eye. But all of a sudden, the defence is rushing forward to prevent him from making a simple pass.

In most cases, you should not capitalize common words for a perfect style and tone in an admission essay. However, capitalization may add humour or emphasize an important point when used appropriately.

Bad example

The next day at school, everyone was discussing what had transpired.

Good example

My mother had informed me that we would be having a discussion that evening.

If the topic is minor or unidentified, the passive voice is appropriate. However, regarding the style and tone of an admission essay, the active voice is recommended to keep the pace moving.

Bad example

rubbish was gathered during my volunteer group’s annual cleaning day.

Good example

During our annual cleaning day, I helped collect garbage with my volunteer group.


A successful entrance essay will have a style that showcases your writing to stand out from the crowd and a tone that is genuine, assured, and representative of the applicant.

If it helps the tale and does not cloud the meaning, breaking the norms of grammar in a college application essay is acceptable.

Ensure your essay is the proper length by writing clearly and using an active voice. Don’t define terms until they are required.

To convey your perspective, try using “I” sentences in the first person. Furthermore, make good word selections, demonstrating your erudition without relying too much on a thesaurus. However, if you must use an idiom or overused term, rewrite it, so it seems fresh and new.

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