Help Students Write their Personal Statements with Ethan Sawyer, the College Essay Guy!

For our newest collection of assignments we’ve partnered with Ethan Sawyer, better known ‘College Essay Guy‘, to bring a guided instructional experience that helps all students master their personal statement. Ethan is a nationally recognized college essay expert and the author of the Amazon bestsellers College Essay Essentials and College Admission Essentials. Each year he and his team reach more than one million students and counselors through the College Essay Guy blog, online courses, workshops, books, and one-on-one work.


The personal statement is just that: personal, which is why we’ve created a ‘choose your own adventure’ style experience that is able to support every student on their journey to an outstanding college essay. The first step on this adventure is to choose one of three possible writing paths: a montage essay, a narrative essay, or a non-guided approach that allows the student to write from a chosen prompt. For an optimal essay we suggest choosing the montage or narrative path.



How to Choose an Essay Path

In Writable you’ll notice the paths are written as multiple assignments in a collection that can and should be used as an instructional block. This gives students agency in what they write. By assigning all assignments within the collection a student will be able to forge their own path with the assistance of Ethan Sawyer himself.

Inside the assignments in Writable students will also have access to:

  • Model essays
  • Guided brainstorming exercises
  • Printable readings and resources
  • Side-by-side rubrics and checklists
  • Video instruction from Ethan Sawyer
  • Step-by-step instructions for writing, editing, and refining
  • Graphic organizers for planning essays and exercises
  • Easy access to multiple types of feedback, including teacher, peer, and self review
  • AI-powered revision recommendations for on-demand support

By completing a montage or narrative path, students will craft a personal statement that will:

  • show their core values and what is most meaningful to them.
  • demonstrate insight and their ability to think critically.
  • communicate vulnerability that will help readers connect with them.
  • showcase their writing craft.


The Montage Path

The Montage Personal Statement unit is for students who answer NO to the question, “Have you faced significant challenges in your life?” This path helps students create an essay not around a challenge they have faced, but that shows many sides of themselves through the lens of a favorite object, skill, aspiration, identity, or hobby.



The Narrative Path

The Narrative Personal Statement unit is for students who answer YES to the question, “Have you faced significant challenges in your life?” This path helps students create a story-based essay that demonstrates their skills, qualities, and values through how that challenge impacted their life and the insights and lessons learned through overcoming the challenge.



The ‘Write to The Prompt’ Path

This path is not supported with guidance from Ethan Sawyer, but can be helpful if a student knows exactly what they plan to write about or may be lacking enough time to go through the instructional paths above. While this essay will also fall under either a narrative or montage structure, the student will only write one essay around a single chosen prompt.



Answers from Ethan Sawyer

In addition to the guided assignments that Ethan has created for Writable, he’s also compiled his most commonly asked questions and favorite tips into a series of short videos. These can help support your instruction and are great to share with students for inspiration as they work on their personal statements.

What are the most common mistakes to avoid when writing the personal statement?

What makes a great personal statement?

What are the best strategies for teaching the college essay?


How should you change your strategy when applying to college during a pandemic?



Additional College & Career Preparation

In addition to helping students craft powerful personal statements with the help of Ethan Sawyer, you’ll find many more assignments that can help high school students prepare for college or for starting their careers.

Writable’s SAT and ACT practice include prompts taken directly from the tests so that the assignments help to simulate the real tests that students will be taking. You’ll notice embedded readings alongside the assignment prompts, just like on the tests, as well as student-friendly rubrics side-by side the assignments as students write.

Explore SAT & ACT Practice >

In Writable we have practice assignments for AP English Literature & Composition, AP English Language & Composition, and AP United States History. All assignments include a range and variety of prompts written in the new “stabilized text” format including the new 6-point rubrics alongside all assignments.

Explore AP Practice >

Writable’s business, career, and technical writing collection is built for young adults working on writing in a career pathway or CTE track at school, or who just want to get ready for the type of writing they’ll encounter in the “real world”. Whatever career a student chooses beyond high school, it’s likely that writing will come into play. This collection includes assignments for resume and cover letter writing, business letter writing, and more.

Explore Business Writing >


Are you new to Writable or curious to learn more? Create a free teacher account, check out our pricing, schedule a personalized demo, or Join the Writable Educators Facebook Community.

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