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How to Write a Platform Essay


A platform essay is a piece of writing in which you state and explain your position on a given issue or topic. Platform essays are a required aspect of pageant competitions, particularly the Miss America pageant, but they are also important in local campaigns and school or college student body elections. For platform essays that make up an application for a specific event or competition, it's important to make sure your formatting is consistent with the contest guidelines. Otherwise, making sure your work is neat and clear is always a good bet for putting your best self forward.

State and explain the issue in question at the beginning of your platform essay. For example, your area of focus may be animal rights. Give background information on the state of animal rights in your area or country. Include well-supported statistics to make your point stronger.

Explain how the issue in question has affected you personally. Did you hear of animal rights abuses and decide to become a vegetarian? This aspect of your platform essay is important in supporting your current position on the issue. You have an opportunity to communicate to the reader that the issue has had a personal impact on you, making it a concrete experience instead of an abstract idea.

State your position clearly. If you are against animal testing in the cosmetics industry, say so in as few words as possible. The rest of your platform essay will explain why you have taken your position, and you will also detail your plans to take action on the issue in question.

Identify the ways in which you have worked to support your position. Do you volunteer at an animal shelter? If you have not yet taken action, describe your plan to act on behalf of the people or animals affected by the issue you have chosen. Will you begin a letter-writing campaign to local and national government? Will you organize a volunteer group to make a positive difference in the lives of senior citizens? The more concrete steps you can provide, the better.

Tip
  • If you have accomplished something major in your topic of choice, make sure you communicate that in your platform essay. It's acceptable - even encouraged - to emphasize your own contributions in a platform essay. It indicates your commitment to the cause in question.
Warning
  • Avoid using polarizing language or personally attacking people who may not subscribe to your particular viewpoint. This will be seen as immature and it will weaken your platform essay. Be direct, be passionate and be respectful of all viewpoints.
Items you will need
Word processing software
About the Author

Goody Clairenstein has been a writer since 2004. She has sat on the editorial board of several non-academic journals and writes about creative writing, editing and languages. She has worked in professional publishing and news reporting in print and broadcast journalism. Her poems have appeared in "Small Craft Warnings." Clairenstein earned her Bachelor of Arts in European languages from Skidmore College.

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