How To Make A Memorable Personal Essay: Definition, Outline, and Examples

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Do you want to win a seat in a prestigious university or a scholarship? When applying for scholarships or college, you’ll usually need to attempt the essay prompts from the institute. 

Personal essay prompts are one such type used to select students. These prompts can be so broad (yet so specific!) that they stump us. Even though you know and understand yourself better than anyone else, writing about yourself can be challenging!

This guide will assist you through the definition, format, and examples of personal essays that’ll help you compose an outstanding personal essay.

Personal Essay – Definition

A personal essay is an academic piece of writing that serves to describe an important life lesson or event experienced by the essay writer. The essay frequently describes a significant event in the first person and can be written in a variety of styles, such as a formal essay or creative nonfiction. 

These essays are typically written in a conversational tone to connect with the reader. This type of essay can be motivating and encouraging or serve as a warning to others to avoid the author’s mistakes.

Personal essay topics can cover a wide range of topics. They could be about the first time you failed a test in high school, an estranged family member, a moral turning point in adolescence, a war experience overseas, surviving abuse, or a professor who changed your perspective on literature. 

Any event in your life that sparked growth or changed you in some way can be written about in a personal essay and enhanced by your perspective.

Personal Essay Format

Like most academic writing, the personal essay format can be easily summarized in five paragraphs. Begin with a brief introduction. It gives your reader a very good idea of what the story is about. Then, with an attention-grabbing title, entice them to read the rest of the paper. As you will see in this guide, learning how to write a personal essay does not have to be complicated when the steps are clearly laid out.

Personal Essay Structure

  1. Introduction
  2. Three body paragraphs
  3. Conclusion 

This is the standard structure that one has to follow when writing a personal essay.

Composing a personal essay facilitates the students to incorporate a thesis statement in the introduction and significant points that’ll be discussed in the essay.

Following the creation of an introduction, you should write three body paragraphs that assist your thesis statement. Ensure that each new point has its own paragraph. Also, make sure transitions from one paragraph to the subsequent flow smoothly.

Finally, write a proper conclusion to tie everything together and give your audience a sense of completion. Restate your thesis, summarise the primary points from the body paragraphs, and leave your reader with a particular emotion based on the topic of your essay.

Personal Essay Topics

Choosing to narrate an exciting story from your experience can help you engage your readers. Thus, make an extra effort and dig deeper to find a special or unusual occasion or moment in your life that had a deeper impact on you.

One of the ways where you can find or choose a topic is by looking at a life lesson from a different perspective. This can result in finding a deep and meaningful subject matter. If you choose a topic from an extensive list of personal essay topics found on the internet, always be cautious because not all of these topics will meet your professor’s requirements. Furthermore, some may be outdated or overused.

Personal Narrative Essay Topics

When writing a personal narrative, try and explore an uncommon experience that generated a sense of conflict in your life. Analyze how and why you were irritated, perplexed, or hurt by it. 

Consider writing your thoughts and encounters on a piece of paper. Express your emotions about specific events, discuss them, and reflect on the impact they had on your life and mind. Writing these things can give you fresh perspectives on several things. 

Furthermore, this tip can assist you in generating a slew of really good personal essay topics. However, if you still need some inspiration, check out the examples below:

  • How controlling your urges teaches you self-control.
  • One small step that helped propel my career to new heights!
  • People learn only from their past mistakes.
  • Life is not a one-dimensional path; it curves like a snake!
  • An instance when you should have shown some courage.
  • What I discovered about overcoming my fears.

Particular Emotional topics

You could also consider a specific event in your life that left an indelible impression on you. Typically, this type of essay reflects an event that took place in your life and altered your thoughts in some way. 

Thus, plunge deeper into your subconscious to discover an event that is exceptional and personal to you. The more unusual the incident, the more likely the essay will be intriguing to read:

  • The moment your life changed forever.
  • A list of some disappointments you experienced.
  • A freak accident that changed everything.
  • The most terrifying thing you’ve ever seen.
  • A turning point in your life.
  • A near-death experience.

If you observe, the titles above catch your attention, but you will not know what they are all about until you begin reading them. This is because of the catchy titles. 

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Personal Essay Outline

This is one of the essential steps in developing a personal essay at any academic level. The outline will act as a personal guide for your essay. Understanding how to begin a personal essay, what to write in body paragraphs, and how to conclude it is critical properly.

Starting A Personal Essay

Commence your essay with a ‘hook’ statement that grabs the reader’s attention. It could be a suitable quotation, fact, stats, definition, or even a provocative question.

Don’t leave your readers in the dark about important details like:

  • Who are the leading players?
  • When and where will it happen?
  • What is the story about?

A compelling introduction should include a narrative thesis.

It must be composed of a single concise sentence that guides your reader to the start of your personal essay.


It should include major points and solid evidence that backs it up. Usually, the body will have your unique experiences and the reflections you have on these events. So, always include a timeline in your body sections to make sure the reader understands when and how each chapter occurred.

Write A Paragraph Conclusion

It should, of course, conclude the events and experiences discussed throughout the essay. By going through the story, readers should also discover a life lesson. It is an opportunity to demonstrate what you have learned from your experiences or how previous events have influenced your life.

How To Write A Personal Essay?

You can write a personal essay by following our writers’ advice. We have compiled a list of various stages of writing that’ll assist you in developing an intriguing essay.

Begin With A Fascinating Opening Sentence.

Start your personal essay with a captivating and interesting introductory section for your reader. Introduce your main characters along with the central theme or themes in the first section. Do not forget to present the essay’s central question (if you have any).

Write From Your Distinct Point Of View.

You are free to write from your perspective or in your own distinct style. However, writing from your point of view or in a personal manner is preferred over other types of essays.

Take Into Account The Characters.

Make sure to describe your characters from various perspectives. Although your essay is based on your real-life experiences, consider including storytelling elements such as characters and plot. Incorporating these elements in your writing will keep your reader interested and your essay flowing smoothly.

Shed Light On A Profound Truth

Discuss your background with candor and curiosity. Never be afraid to dig up a hidden truth or a truth you weren’t aware of at the time. Expose something that makes you uncomfortable or challenging to discuss, regardless of who will read your essay. Whether it is a teacher or someone else, they will appreciate your honesty and strive to share your experience.

Writing a personal narrative essay is a straightforward way to share your (the writer’s) personal experience or life story. A good essay will require you to focus on many vivid details and examine them from various perspectives. You must identify key points and pay close attention to the information you wish to introduce.

The first line should inform the reader about what you will be discussing and your point of view. Give your reader a complete picture of what happened (personal experience, event, etc.) and how you feel about it in the body. You can tell your story in chronological order or by importance.

Finally, you must wrap everything up and present the main idea of your story, whether it is a lesson learned, the impact of a particular encounter, or something else. Using this kind of personal essay format will allow the author to keep their audience engaged throughout the piece.

Composing Rough Draft And Submitting

It’s time to write a rough draft after completing all the previous steps. Writing a draft allows you to generate new ideas about your writing. Furthermore, it’s a fantastic place to polish your personal essay and correct minor spelling, grammar, and other mistakes. 

Get a second/another opinion: No one can judge your composition as good as a third party. Thus, take the help of a friend or a professional to get an opinion on your essay. Once you have double-checked everything, start building the final/concluding paper.

Before submitting your personal essay, double-check your content and ensure that the central theme is well-presented. Next, proofread your entire writing to clear any grammatical errors. You can enlist the help of your classmate or a professional proofreader for this job. Don’t forget to meet the deadline, and you’ll be done!

Personal Essay Examples

Example 1: My Journey Through The Eating Disorder

I open my Instagram app and tap the “discover” button, hoping to find interesting photos to pass the time. As I scroll through, I come across amusing videos and mouth-watering food images. However, one image immediately stops me. On a beach, a fit teenage girl with a “perfect body” relaxes in a bikini. I see a slew of flattering comments beneath it. I shake my head in repugnance at the image’s unrealistic quality. However, a part of me still wishes I had her body so that others would make similar remarks about me.

Example 2: Love For Writing

“I aspire to be a writer.” This had been my response to every young conversation with adults about what I wanted to do when I grew up. I remember reading my writing pieces aloud to an audience at “Author of the Month” ceremonies as early as elementary school. With this goal in mind and the hope of gaining valuable experience, I enrolled in a journalism class during my freshman year. Despite my love of writing, I found myself initially uninterested in the subject and struggled to enjoy the class. I imagined lyrical prose, profound poetry, and thrilling plot lines when I thought of writing. Journalism demanded a simple style and an orderly structure, and my teacher’s assignments were dull. That class shook my writing confidence. I wasn’t confident if I should stick with it for the rest of my high school career.

Tips For Writing A Personal Essay

While everyone’s writing process is unique, there are a few general guidelines to follow when writing your essay:

1. Create an outline for your essay. Making a personal essay outline first can assist you in laying out the main points and tone of the message you are attempting to convey. Your outline will help you determine early on whether this particular moment is worth writing about. Whatever topic you choose for your essay must have had a strong emotional impact on you or taught you something.

2. Always begin with writing your essay introduction. Include your hook, state your thesis, and engage the reader emotionally. Set the tone for your piece and give your audience something to look forward to.

3. Fill in the blanks in your body paragraphs. To lead the reader through your essay, use sensory details about the sequence of events surrounding your thesis. Develop your personal story in this section to eventually lead the reader to your main point.

4. Be precise. A descriptive essay about a significant event in your life is far more interesting than a general overview of what happened to you. Give as much information as you can about real-life characters or any specific feelings you’ve had.

5. Add a conclusion. Summarize what you learned from your experience and the message you want the reader to take away. Although it may be a difficult or upsetting revelation, ending on a generally positive or hopeful note can help it feel more aspirational or uplifting.

6. Check your work for errors. Aside from spelling and grammar, ensure that your intent is clear and that your narrative is easy to follow. No matter how fantastic your writing skills are, rereading your own work to ensure you’ve solidified your story is always beneficial.


The key to writing a solid personal essay is to select a topic that captivates and prompts the reader to know more about it. Thus, it is your responsibility to pick such an event and experience that has left a mark on your mind but hooks your reader too. 

We hope this article helps you comprehend the concept and guidelines of the personal essay thoroughly. Furthermore, follow the tips given in this article to improve your essay writing skills.

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