Sample Essay Graduate School Admission Psychology Test

On By In 1

Your graduate school personal statement may initially get only five minutes of an admissions officer's attention. In those five minutes you have to show that you are a good pick for the school.

Writing an amazing graduate school essay is probably far more straightforward than you might think. Graduate school admissions officers aren't looking for gimmicks. They're looking for passionate, motivated, and prepared applicants who are ready to hit the ground running in their program. Read on for more details in creating your best graduate school essay. If you're looking for one-on-one assistance, check out EssayEdge.com.

Know what the admissions officers are seeking

Don't make assumptions about your graduate school personal statements. Many programs simply ask you to submit a personal statement without any further guidance. Other programs will tell you exactly how they want the essay structured along with word count limits and formatting requirements. Review the prompt thoroughly and plan your essay before you begin writing to ensure that you create an essay that will be an effective and persuasive addition to your application package.

What should you do if the program doesn't give you any specifics? With greater numbers of applicants to graduate programs, the trend is toward shorter essays. This is especially true of graduate programs in the STEM fields. Unfortunately, longer essays tend to be skimmed rather than read thoroughly, and most any admissions officer will tell you that the best essays that they've read are always shorter essays. Think about what is absolutely essential, and write about those aspects of your experience with passion.  

Personal, personal, personal

Did we mention personal? Some graduate programs will ask you to write an additional essay about an issue within your chosen field. However, your personal statement should be about you as an individual. Write about issues only if they relate specifically to your personal experiences. For example, 'In Africa, a child dies every minute. This stark statistic prompted me to join an NGO aimed at providing nutrition and healthcare for children in Namibia.'

Keep your anecdotes focused on your life after you began college

It is common for graduate school applicants to start their personal statements with an anecdote about something that happened during childhood or high school. On the surface, this makes sense because that event was what started the journey that has culminated in an application to the program. However, graduate programs are for professionals, and writing about your childhood is more appropriate for an undergraduate essay than one for graduate school. If you feel that you absolutely must include something from your childhood, use it as the starting sentence of your concluding paragraph. 

Know your program and make connections

Securing acceptance into a graduate program is more about being the best match than about being the most highly qualified. Among applicants who meet the program's minimum requirements, they'll choose an enthusiastic and informed applicant over one with higher test scores and a better GPA who doesn't seem to know much about their program.

During your graduate studies, you'll likely do research, and graduate programs want to know that you can both participate in ongoing research as well as find a mentor for your own project. In your essay, write about professors in the programs whose work interests you and why. Also, there is life outside of the classroom. Does the school have a close-knit traditional college campus? Is it located in the heart of the city? Especially if you will be moving with your family, show the admissions officers that you will thrive in their environment.  

Finish with a strong statement about why the school is your top pick

This doesn't necessarily mean that the school is your only pick. However, generic essays have no place in the graduate school application process. Form letters aren't persuasive, and generic essays won't help your application package. If you can't sincerely write that the school is a top pick, then why are you applying there? Instead, focus on creating stellar essays for the ones that actually interest you. Help the admissions officers understand your overarching vision for your future career and how your time at the school will prepare you to realize these goals.

Master the GRE

After you're finished with your graduate essay, study for the GRE the right way with Peterson's Master the GRE book, and get your best score.

Wait, don't go!

Sign up today and get exclusive tips and get a head start on your college experience! It’s our gift to you.

Sample Essay

Note: This essay appears unedited for instructional purposes. Essays edited by EssayEdge are dramatically improved. For samples of EssayEdge editing, please click here.

Ever since my first psychology lecture, I have been fascinated by the nature of human memory. Indeed, human memory is one of the most tenacious and enigmatic problems ever faced by philosophers and psychologists. The discussion of memory dates back to the early Greeks when Plato and Aristotle originally likened it to a "wax tablet." In 1890, pioneer William James adopted the metaphorical framework and equated memory to a "house" to which thirty years later Sigmund Freud chimed that memory was closer to "rooms in a house." In 1968, Atkinson and Shrifren retained the metaphorical framework but referred to memory as "stores". The fact that the controversy surrounding human memory has been marked more by analogy than definition suggests, however, that memory is a far more complex phenomenon than has been uncovered thus far. I intend to spend the rest of my professional life researching the nature of human memory and solving the riddle posed yet cunningly dodged by generations of philosophers and psychologists.

When I first came to psychology, however, I wanted to be a clinical psychologist. Only upon enrolling in Dr. Helga Noice's Cognitive Psychology course, did I discover the excitement of doing research. The course required us to test our own autobiographical memory by conducting an experiment similar to the one run in 1986 by W. Wagenaar. Over the course of the term, I recorded events from my personal life on event cards and set them aside without reviewing them. After studying the effect serial position on the recollection of autobiographical memories, I hypothesized that events that, when I sat down at the end of therm to recall those same events I had described on the event cards, that events that had occurred later in the term would be recalled with greater frequency than events that had occurred earlier. Although the experiment was of simple design and predictable results, I found the processes incredibly exciting. Autobiographical memory in particular fascinated me because I realized how crucial, yet fragile, memory is. Why was my memory of even ten weeks so imperfect? What factors contributed to that imperfection? Could such factors be controlled?

I had ignited my passion for experimental psychology. Suddenly, I had many pressing questions about memory that I wanted to research. Under the guidance of Dr. Noice, I continued to study human memory. I worked closely with Dr. Noice on several research experiments involving expert memory, specifically the memory of professional actors. Dr. Noice would select a scene from a play and then a professional actor would score it for beats, that is, go through the scene grouping sections of dialogue together according to the intent of the character. Some actors use this method to learn dialogue rather than rote memorization. After they were finished, I would type up the scene and the cued recall test. Next, I would moderate the experimental sessions by scoring the actor's cued recall for accuracy and then helping with the statistical analysis. My work culminated with my paper, "Teaching Students to Remember Complex Material Through the Use of Professional Actors' Learning Strategies." My paper accompanied a poster presentation at the Third Annual Tri-State Undergraduate Psychology Conference. In addition, I presented a related paper entitled "Type of Learning Strategy and Verbatim Retention of Complex Material" at the ILLOWA (Illinois-Iowa) Conference the following year. Again, I was involved in all aspects of the experiment, from typing the protocol and administering it to the subjects, to analyzing the data and finally presenting my results.

The opportunity to perform this research was invaluable, particularly as I began taking independent research seminars in my senior year. For the seminars, I was required to write an extensive review of the literature and then design a research proposal on any topic of my choice. Although I had participated in all aspects of research previously, this was my first opportunity to select my own topic. I was immediately certain that I wanted to explore at human memory. But I spent a long time considering what aspect of memory I found most intriguing and possible to tackle within the confines of the research seminar. I had always been interested in the legal implications of memory, so I to investigate eyewitness memory.

In retrospect, my choice was also informed by my recollection about an experiment I had read about several years earlier. In the experiment, subjects read about Helen Keller. Later they were given a recall test. Still later they were given an additional test to determine the source of their knowledge about Helen Keller. The authors discovered that subjects could not determine the source of their knowledge, that is, they could not distinguish whether specific details of their knowledge about Helen Keller came from the information provided by the experimenters or if the details came from another source at an earlier time. Once their new knowledge about Helen Keller had been assimilated into their previous knowledge about Helen Keller, there was no way to separate the information according to the source it came from.

I wondered what the implications of that conclusion would be for eyewitnesses. I wondered if an eyewitness account could be corrupted by misleading post-event information. My research proposal was entitled "The Rate of Memory Trace Decay and its Effect on Eyewitness Accuracy." While I was not able to complete the experiment in its entirety, I was excited by the fact that I created a possible research protocol. Immediately, I knew I wanted to pursue the field of experimental psychology. My success in course work and my passion for research demonstrated to me that I had both the interest and ability to enter this challenging and rewording field.

I have dedicated my undergraduate years to preparing myself for graduate work in experimental psychology. Once receive my doctorate, I intend to pursue research on human memory while teaching psychology to undergraduates at a small, liberal arts college, similar to the one I attended. It was, after all, my undergraduate research experience that gave me the opportunity to come to psychology with an interest in counseling people, but to leave with a passion for investigating the nature of human thinking. Undergraduates at smaller liberal arts colleges are often left out of research, which makes my desire to provide such experiences that much stronger. In the years ahead, I look forward to teaching as well as continuing my research. In the company of such greats as Aristotle, James, and Freud, I endeavor to leave behind my own contribution on the nature of human memory.

Note: This essay appears unedited for instructional purposes. Essays edited by EssayEdge are dramatically improved. For samples of EssayEdge editing, please click here.

See how EssayEdge experts from schools including Harvard, Yale and Princeton can help you get into graduate school! Review our services.

Please enter your email address and password to access your account.

To create an account please enter your full name, email address and chose a password.

0 comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *