7 Grammar Rules for Your College Application

7 Grammar Rules for Your College Application main

If you want to get accepted on your first choice of college course, you need to make sure that your application is as strong as it can possibly be. This means that as well as including as much relevant information as possible without any filler or repetition, you also need to make sure that it’s grammatically correct and cleanly formatted.

Fortunately for you, we’ve done the research on your behalf and highlighted just seven of the most important grammar rules that you’ll want to bear in mind when working on your college application. Familiarise yourself with them before you get started so that you don’t have to waste time rewriting when you could be sending the application out instead. Let’s get started.

1. Apostrophes

Apostrophes are mostly used to signify possession, and they’re very rarely used to create a plural noun. Let’s say that you’re talking about helping mothers to take care of their children. You’d be helping mums, not helping mum’s. But if you worked for a business that belonged to your mother, you’d be working for your mum’s business.

2. Active vs. Passive Voice

In English, we use the subject verb object sentence structure. If the sentence is “Tom kicked the ball”, “Tom” is the subject, “kicked” is the verb and “ball” is the object. Passive voice follows an object verb subject structure (i.e. “The ball was kicked by Tom.”). Using passive voice can make your writing less engaging and in some cases is against assignment rules and guidelines altogether.

3. Commas

One of the most common mistakes on college applications is the rampant overuse of commas in places where there’s no need for them. As a general rule, we use commas to signify that the reader (or the speaker if it’s being read aloud) should briefly pause, and overusing them can make reading your college application feel like crawling through a traffic jam.

7 Grammar Rules for Your College Application girl

4. Contractions

Contractions are when you merge words like “there is” into the word “there’s”, and they can help you to make your writing feel more friendly and informal while also making it easier to read. That said, there’s a time and a place for contractions, and it really depends on the institution that you’re reaching out to and the course you’re applying for. Make a conscious choice to either use them or avoid them and then stick to it to make sure that it’s consistent.

5. Direct quotes

When you’re using direct quotes, they should be placed inside quotation marks and attributed to their originator, with a link to the source if possible. If you need to tweak the quote to make it work in context, you can include any additions within square brackets. So if a teacher said one of your essays was “way better than I expected”, you might write, “My teacher told me that my work was ‘way better than [he] expected.’ If you’re ever in doubt, run your application through an essay grader online to make sure that it all makes grammatical sense.

6. Pronouns

One of the most common mistakes that college admissions experts see is the misuse of pronouns. Take this sentence, for example: “I worked alongside my dad and his friend Steve and he said that I was good with the customers.” Here, it’s unclear who that “he” is referring to, and that can lead to your message being diluted. Make sure that it’s always clear who your pronouns are referring to.

7. American vs. British English

American and British English are pretty similar, but they also have their differences such as US English dropping the “U” from words like “color” and in some cases switching words completely (such as sidewalk vs. pavement). It doesn’t really matter which of the two you go with as long as you’re consistent, so just keep an eye on it.


The mistakes and pitfalls that we’ve shared in this article should help you to avoid them and to make sure that your college application is the best it can possibly be. With a bit of luck, it’ll be the edge you need to secure your place on the course. Good things come to those who put the work in. Happy studies.


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