Unlocking the Power of Active Voice in Your College Essays

by | Jun 25, 2024

When it comes to writing college essays, the active voice is your best friend. Using the active voice not only makes your writing clearer and more engaging but also helps you convey your thoughts with confidence and precision. Let’s explore why the active voice is so important and how you can use it effectively in your essays.

What Is Active Voice?

In the simplest terms, active voice means the subject of the sentence performs the action. For example:

  • Active Voice: The student wrote the essay.
  • Passive Voice: The essay was written by the student.

In the active voice, the subject (the student) performs the action (wrote), making the sentence more direct and lively. In the passive voice, the focus shifts to the object (the essay), which can make the sentence seem dull and impersonal.

Why Use Active Voice?

  1. Clarity and Directness: Active voice makes your sentences clear and straightforward. Readers immediately understand who is doing what, which is crucial in a college essay where you want to communicate your ideas effectively.
    • Active: I conducted research on environmental sustainability.
    • Passive: Research on environmental sustainability was conducted by me.
  2. Engagement: Active voice keeps readers engaged. It brings energy to your writing, making your essay more compelling and easier to read.
    • Active: She discovered a new method for data analysis.
    • Passive: A new method for data analysis was discovered by her.
  3. Confidence: Using active voice shows confidence in your writing. It demonstrates that you take ownership of your actions and ideas, which can make a positive impression on admissions officers.
    • Active: I led the team to victory in the debate competition.
    • Passive: The team was led to victory by me in the debate competition.

How to Identify and Convert Passive Voice

To ensure your essay is active and vibrant, learn to spot passive constructions and convert them to active voice. Look for forms of “to be” (am, is, are, was, were) followed by a past participle (usually ending in -ed).


  • Passive: The results were analyzed by the team.
  • Active: The team analyzed the results.

Examples in College Essays

Before: During my internship, important skills were learned by me, including project management and effective communication.

After: During my internship, I learned important skills, including project management and effective communication.

Before: A leadership role was taken on by me in the community service project, which was organized to help local families in need.

After: I took on a leadership role in the community service project, organizing efforts to help local families in need.

Tips for Using Active Voice

  1. Be Mindful of Sentence Structure: Start sentences with the subject performing the action. This often means rephrasing sentences that start with an object or result.
  2. Use Strong Verbs: Replace weak or vague verbs with strong, specific ones to make your sentences more dynamic.
  3. Revise and Edit: After writing your first draft, review your essay for passive voice constructions and convert them to active voice where appropriate.

Using the active voice in your college essays can transform your writing, making it clearer, more engaging, and more assertive. By focusing on who is doing the action and using strong, precise verbs, you can create essays that stand out to admissions officers. Remember, active voice not only reflects better writing but also showcases you as a proactive and confident individual.

So, as you draft and revise your college essays, keep the active voice in mind. Your writing will thank you, and so will your readers!

Weil College Advising

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