Ms. Gokturk

Advanced Composition


The Biography College Essay Assignment:

Other People Are Important In Making Me -- Me!


You will choose a person to write about. You will write about this person’s physical description,  personality traits, and some hard facts. You will write about incidents that occurred with this person. You will make see and know this person and the impact he/she has had on you.


There are two types of biography essays:


Straight Biography

We will NOT be writing this kind of essay.

Biography of Influence:

Common Application Question: “Indicate a person who has had significant influence on you and describe that influence”

This bio is about the person only. There is a thematic link (or glue) that holds this person together in the essay. It’s a profile piece or historical piece.

In this type, you are writing about how this person had an impact on you. Find a thematic link (or glue) that shows the person’s influence on making you better or worse. This is your DOMINANT IMPRESSION that you want to convey.

Samples: “Georgia O’Keefe,” “Arthur Ashe”


When you watch Biography on A&E or celebrity stories, you are watching a profile piece or biography.

Samples: “Unforgettable Miss Bessie,” “Intelligence,” “Of My Friend Hector…,” “How I Got Smart,” “I Just Wanna Be Average,” “The Grocer’s Daughter,” Amy Todd’s “Out of Silence,” other student samples



Study your notes. Examine the person’s photo or remember their face, their gestures. What is the dominant impression you feel when you think about this person? What is it about this person you feel the rest of the world should note? How has this person influenced you into who you are today? How are you a better person for having known them?


Once you have formulated a dominant impression in your mind, write a thesis statement. Then, write out an outline that will direct your essay. Once it has been approved, start writing!



1.       600 or more words, typed, double spaced

2.       have a strong thesis/strong dominant impression

3.       use dialogue with proper punctuation

4.       use vivid descriptions: tap into all the senses

5.       use similes and metaphors

6.       use SPECIFIC incidents to illustrate the person and/or influence that person has had on you

7.       optional: add historical moments/noteworthy events to give time and place [this is necessary especially for an older person or a person living in unusual circumstances]