The graduate admissions essay is required of all grad programs in all fields. It may feel as if the admissions committee is simply hazing applicants but that's not the case. It's more than an exercise in sadism. The graduate admissions essay serves a purpose: It helps admissions committees weed through countless stacks of applications and faceless GRE scores and GPAs.
What Your Admissions Essay Tells Graduate Admissions Committees
Most graduate applicants have similar demographics: They generally excelled in college and related academic endeavors. How do graduate admissions committees differentiate among applicants with similar scores and academic backgrounds? The admissions essay. Your admissions essay is your chance to present yourself to the graduate admissions committee, relay your strengths, and explain your fit to the graduate program.
Specifically, your admissions essay tells the committee about your ability to understand the purpose of the essay, properly address the essay prompts, and stick to the task at hand. It reveals something about your writing, critical thinking, and communication skills. It is your chance to sell yourself and explain why you're a good match to the program.
It's Your Opportunity
Essentially, the admissions essay is your opportunity to talk directly with the admissions committee, to call attention to important parts of your application that might otherwise be overlooked, and to explain any discrepancies or potentially negative aspects of your application. It's your chance to help the admissions committee see you as a person instead of a grade point average and a clump of standardized test scores.