The question is:
Describe a personal life experience that has had particular significance for you and highlight the reason(s) it was significant, whether it had an impact on others, and any insights or understandings you gained from it. (800-word maximum)
Here is my answer:
IGCSE exams experience
Exams start tomorrow. Everyone was scared, myself included, but for an utterly different reason. Everybody was afraid of the hard questions. I, on the other hand, was terrified of not meeting them. Will I do the exams? Time was ticking; is it just the time to give up now?
My family undoubtedly lived a happy life for as long as I can remember. My brother and I were always in international schools since our parents believe that good education is key to success. I am proud to have a father (who is an electrical engineer) and a mother (who is an artist) that are huge successful names in their industries, but sometimes, no one can beat life and its challenges.
My father's company suddenly faced a legal issue and before we knew it, we faced a terrible financial crisis. To make it worse, this was right after October, so nothing was paid from the school fees. I have been in this school for four years, and we previously paid the fees normally, so I guess that made them a bit lenient. Until the day right before my IGCSE exams came; will they allow me to enter the exam hall?
Should I study? It was a dead end; giving up was my only option. I threw myself on the bed as my mind screams: is that it? After all those years of academic thrive, it all just stops right here?
Despite the despair and pain, I decided to fight back. I decided to show life who am I and draw my destiny with my own bare hands. Even if I was not allowed to enter, and get embarrassed in front of all my friends, I will keep moving forward. With the love and motivation from my parents and help from my younger brother, I studied twice as hard. From crafting all those mind maps, to practising every past paper, defeating the odds was my vivid goal.
Time passed, and my first exam date arrived. I have never been in this situation before. Generously, they allowed me to enter, and none of my friends, nor even the teachers knew a thing. I truly own my school a huge credit to all my future success, and I will never forget that.
What would have happened if I did not study? The question that echoed in my mind after my exams were over. What would have been my excuse? This taught me a huge lesson in life: Never give up. Life hits are not an excuse, so stay strong and defy the odds.
I learned to always be ready for the opportunity to come. Do your best with what is available, and be hungry for more. I was lucky, based on Seneca's definition: "Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity." I also learned to never make decisions based on negative future thoughts and guesses. Even if it is based on educated predictions, a backup plan is still a must.
I learned that life has its ups and downs. It does not matter how many times I fall on my face, it is how many times I stand back up and chase my dreams. We all hear this in motivational speeches, but I have been in it, and I am thrilled to have succeeded in my first life challenge.
I learned that helping others, even if with a smile, might dramatically change their future. Help is ubiquitously needed. We were a normal middle-class family, and we suddenly gasped for aid. Rich or poor, young or old, family or single, we all sometimes need other's hands to get up, and I will be that hand in the future.
I learned that everything will get solved one day; we just need to be patient. Fast forwarding two years to the present, all my fees have been paid and I am still part of this lovely school. They kindly offered me an academic scholarship - even though they stopped offering any - to continue with them, as we are not fully out of this crisis yet, but we will one day. I am humble and proud to be part of this school, and I will always be.
I learned that having my own business only leads to financial freedom. It is an arduous journey were people often get bankrupt, but once you reach it, that is when it all pays off. All the business books I have read explicitly state that, and so my dream for the future is to be financially free and use this to help make the world a better place.
Two years later, and as I am writing this sentence, I still ask myself: Would I have been the only student in my year group with straight A*'s in all my IGCSE subjects without this bold decision to never give up and keep moving forward?
Thanks for your time and I appreciate your help and any feedback.
Holt Educational Consultant - / 10,933 3567
Saif, in order to ensure that the reviewer will not be too bored by reading your essay, you need to cut short the opening presentation. Don't spend so much time on the set up that the actual start of the story does not come until paragraph 3. Your first 2 paragraphs are just about you showing off the background of your family, which doesn't really matter because the whole point of the story is that your father lost his job, your family was in a financial crisis, you failed to pay your school dues because of this, you weren't sure if you could take the test because you had unpaid fees. The ending is that you were able to take the test, the results of the test were positive for you, and you learned several lessons from the worrisome experience. Now, remember, the reviewer will only give you 2 sentences or one paragraph to establish that this essay has a point. If you waste 2 paragraphs just talking about your previous wealth and educational status, you will probably lose the interest of the reviewer and he will not finish reading this essay. Just because the word maximum is 800 doesn't mean that you have to write 800 words. 400-600 will be alright. Most reviewers appreciate short but informative presentations so going with a 400 personal maximum will be excellent and assure you that the reviewer will read the whole essay. The problem of the essay is not so much the content but the length. Focus on streamlining your essay content so that it will be easier and more informative to read.
Thanks for your reply,
So you think this experience is a good choice and lessons learned are somewhat perfect for an undergraduate scholarship application? What about the language? Is it strong enough for an extremely competitive scholarship? If not, what do I need to do?
I will cut down the intro and go straight to the issue and what I gained from it and aim for 400 - 500 words, as well as try to make the essay flow naturally.
Thanks for your help. I really appreciate it.