How to Write a Gap Year Essay?


Samarpita Goswami
Updated on May 31, 2023 06:31 PM IST

Took a gap year? Find out everything you need to know about writing a gap year essay and what mistakes to avoid while composing the perfect gap year essay. 

How to Write a Gap Year Essay?

Taking a gap year after high school or college is becoming increasingly popular among students nowadays. Most of them take this time out to develop their personality by volunteering in different programmes or gaining practical exposure to their fields of passion. With taking a gap year becoming the general norm, the college admission committees have made gap year essays an important parameter to consider while accepting applications from students.

While you often wonder how to write a study gap explanation, you must know that taking time off without involvement in productive activities will reduce your chances of acceptance. There it is crucial to build your profile during this time by learning new skills and participating in different activities and increasing your experience.

A gap year essay intends to justify the break you have taken from academic pursuits for one reason or the other. It is a written document that would help you secure the most coveted seats at the top universities abroad helping you stand out among peers. 

What is a Gap Year?

The most quintessential question here is ‘what is a gap year’? A gap year is usually a break or gap taken from study or work to pursue different interests which are not in line with regular academic pursuits. The gap year is generally a twelve-month period when you do not attend any college or university. However, there are circumstances in which students can take a gap for more than a year and then restart their academic journey.

The gap is usually taken between high school and college and sometimes between college and university. Some students also take a gap year before starting the last stage of their secondary education or between years in college or university. 

Gap years are referred to by other names such as prep year, pathway, defer a year, leap year, drop year, a year off, year out, and foundation year. The name of the gap year depends on what you have done during your gap year, the country you are in or about to apply for admission, and the institution where you wish to apply.

Our study abroad experts have helped hundreds of students in drafting perfect application essays and statements of purpose (SOPs).

How to Strategise Your Essay Writing Process?

What is a Gap Year Essay?

A gap year essay is an essay that is written by a student in order to share the experiences and learning of the gap year before college or university. The hiatus can be taken in order to travel or engage in other activities or simply take a break from the regular learning process. The experiences achieved during this gap year may or may not supplement skills and experiences.

How to write a study gap explanation is a vital question asked by students. While writing a gap year essay, it is necessary to showcase the gap year as a year of learning experience that is fun-filled as well as productive. It must be presented as having developed academic and intellectual prowess. The gap year can also be utilised to gain work experience, develop new skill sets, volunteer purpose, or push oneself out of comfort zone.

A gap year essay is a formal introduction that helps universities get convinced of the positive experiences you may have gathered during your gap year. To align the gap year in the admission process to the university, you should highlight the gap year as a learning phase that should be supported through your academic resume and letters of recommendation (LOR).

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How to Write a Convincing Gap Year Essay?

A gap year is not necessarily considered a negative decision in your academic career. However, it is based on how you explain the gap year. The trick which you can employ here is to address the academic gaps transparently and genuinely. Also, you must check the study gap explanation letter sample to understand how to structure your writing. 

So, here let us discuss the ways to write a convincing gap year essay to study abroad:

State Reasons for Taking a Gap Year

The admission committee must be aware of the reasons why you took a study gap. You can mention different reasons such as preparation for competitive examinations, travel, or learning new skills. All these reasons can work in your favour and show you as a hard-working and dedicated individual.

For instance, if you cite competitive exam preparation as a reason, admission officers will be convinced of the amount of dedication and hard work you have put into it understanding the stiff competition. Travelling can prove to be a beneficial excuse if you have fulfilled personal goals or expanded networks. The upskilling experience, if attained during the gap year, can showcase you as a proactive individual who is willing to learn new things.

You can also mention medical issues or financial roadblocks with supporting proof and future plans to do away with them. If you took a gap year for gaining work experience, you should bring out the ways in which your mind has broadened and how it has helped you understand the inner functioning of a corporate structure.

The most common and acceptable reasons behind Gap Years are:

  • Employment

  • Financial Restraints

  • Investment in Personal Venture or Entrepreneurship

  • Medical Issues affecting education critically

  • Entrance Exams Preparation

  • Study Abroad Preparation

  • Pursuing of Hobbies or Personal or Mental Growth

  • Other Personal Reasons

Discuss the Effect of Taking a Gap Year

Once you have explained the reasons for your gap year in the essay, you should mention how it has contributed to making you a better person. You can talk about the personal and professional experiences you have gained during this period of time. Further, you can write about your goals, and how they helped you contribute to a good cause, and show it as a fun-filled experience.

Your gap year essay should focus on your understanding of the world. You can talk about the money you have earned, the contacts you have made, and the ways in which you challenged yourself and emerged as a survivor. It is not necessary for the effects to be material or tangible, you can mention personality and motivational changes as the effect of gap years. The only requirement is a developmental transition driven by gap years in your life.

Evaluate its Influence on Your Personal Development

Usually, the gap year enriches you personally and inspires a fresh perspective. This is what you need to bring out in your gap year essay – how you have now developed enterprise, independence, maturity, and commitment even if you were not involved in formal education.

You can also mention your holistic development which can play a significant role in your admission to a foreign university. The challenges faced during this time and the process of maturity can be traced through the essay.

Ensure a Personal Tone of Dialogue

As you are relating your reasons for taking some years off from your educational journey, you must ensure to make your essay sound personal as well. While you do not need to delve wholly into your life, it must seem like an account of your own life. For this reason, you must ensure to have a first-person writing style and semi-formal tone of the conversation. The two components shall help you establish a connection with the selection committee and your own essay. You will find better control over the representation made by your essay. Lastly, your essay shall sound more convincing and true.

Check for Grammatical, Word Count, and Essay Flow

Even as you relate your reasons, experiences, and their effects, you cannot ignore the language usage and the overall length of your essay. Your Gap Year Essay must be grammatically correct to show your expertise in the language, and must not be lengthy. A crisp account is preferable in comparison to an overbearing account. Your word count must not exceed 1000 in any case. The ideal length of a Gap Year Essay shall be 600-800.

The flow of information is extremely important to make an ideal and positive impact. It helps you make a connection throughout the essay and control the relation of events even when not physically present. Even in paragraphs, your content must be relevant to previously relayed information.

Proofread and Edit

You must ensure to submit your Gap Year Essay through two proofread and three edits before finalising it for submission. They are important to ensure that your final essay is as you intended it to be and shall serve your purpose. You can take the help of a professional, such as an editor or study abroad expert to make sure that each check betters your final essay.

Each of the sessions must focus on different things. Here is a guideline on how you can proofread and edit your Gap Year Essay:

  • Your first proofread must check for grammatical mistakes, spelling, and other language-related rules.

  • Your first edit must focus on a fact check, that is whether your documents support your claims, and a content check, whether all priority information is included or not.

  • Your second edit must focus on content flow, timeline, and representation. 

  • Your second proofread should focus on content distribution in paragraphs and presentation of the Gap Year Essay in viewing terms.

  • Your final edit must ensure that all the goals of proofreads and edits have been achieved and the final essay is as planned.

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Gap Year Essay vs Gap Year Certificate

Now you know what Gap Year Essay is, but there is one more document that serves as an explanation for your educational break, namely Gap Year Certificate. It is often, that two documents are confused as substitutes for each other, however, they differ, drastically at that.

Gap Year Certificate is an official document that serves to officiate the educational gap. It is of the official nature that the document is also called Gap Year Affidavit. The certificate shall help you gain verification from your country’s government, that all the claims made by you in the Gap Year Essay are true and fair. The certificate is also a big help in providing a character and activities verification for your time spent in gap years. 

Hence, Gap Year Certificate is an officiated and verified statement of declaration that you took some years of gap in your educational journey and the details stated by you in its regard are true and fair to the extent of your declaration to the Indian government. On the other hand, Gap Year Essay acts as your monologue of why you took the gap years and other details. While an extremely important document, it does not have the standing enjoyed by the Gap Year Certificate. Hence, it is recommended that you get your Gap Year Essay officiated through Gap  Year Certificate to avoid verification complications. 

Format of Gap Year Certificate

You will have to buy a stamp paper, stating the denominations of INR 100, and then include the required information and points before submitting the same for verification and attestation from the designated gazetted officer. The cost of stamp paper shall be the same as the denomination mentioned on the header of the paper. You might have to include police verification, in relation to your character and residential, to provide a firm backing for your application.

Your Gap Year certificate must include the following details:

  • Personal details including Name, Age, Gender, Date of Birth, Permanent Address, Contact Number, E-Mail Id, etc.,

  • Official ID details, of the one submitted along with the certificate,

  • Details of the milestone qualifications, such as X, XII, and all above degree or diploma qualifications,

  • Details of the last qualification,

  • Date of gap beginning,

  • Details of Gap (if started mid qualification or not),

  • Reason behind your gap years (briefly),

  • Name of the last institute, school, college, or university,

  • Name of the institute, school, college, or university for future application,

  • Date of Application,

  • Candidate’s Personal Undertaking,

  • Candidate’s Signature,

  • Gazetted Officer or Advocate’s Personal Undertaking, and

  • Gazetted Officer or Advocate’s Signature.

How to Apply for Attestation of Gap Year Certificate?

As stated, your country’s government, here the Indian government, shall issue the certificate. You will have to apply for the Gap Year Certificate with the Indian government, here a judicial gazetted officer, or advocate. Once the respective gazetted officer verifies your documents and application they shall attest your certificate and you may now use the same for application to any national or international exam, university, job, etc.

You shall have to apply for the Gap Year Certificate on a stamp paper of at least INR 100, as a monetary personal undertaking. Other documents you need to include when applying for Gap Year Certificate include:

  • Termination/Leaving Certificate of School, College, or University (as the case may be),

  • Undertaking or declaration of your recent previous institute,

  • Last qualifying examination’s mark sheet,

  • National ID Proof (such as Aadhar Card),

  • Address Proof,

  • Birth Certificate or Proof of Nationality,

  • Gap Year Essay or Reason in description behind the gap year.

Mistakes to Avoid in a Gap Year Essay

A gap year can be an opportunity to do something worthwhile before going back to the mundane academic routine but it can also be looked at negatively if you are unable to justify the break. In order to prove that you took the gap and filled it with constructive activities and it was not a waste, you should avoid making a few mistakes while writing the gap year essay

The mistakes have been explained below:

  • Do not show your gap year in a negative light. It should not seem as if it was not fruitful for you or that you did not gain any new experience. Try to find out or get involved in productive activities so that you can justify your gap.

  • Even if you did not work or do something productive during your gap year, do not directly mention it in your essay. You can write about some activities that made you curious to pursue the course of your choice.

  • Do not try to make your gap sound unnecessarily dramatic. You should not be fabricating false experiences as you may get caught if an interview takes place or if there is any discrepancy. Being candid and truthful is often rewarded.

  • Not providing sufficient proof to support your claims or activities mentioned in your gap year essay can be a huge mistake. You can get letters of recommendation from people you have worked with or provide experience certificates or learning certificates to prove that you have utilised your time effectively. A Gap Year Certificate can single-handedly help you to make your case point.

  • The tone of the essay must neither be too casual nor overly personal. It is important to establish a personal connection, but you must avoid presenting yourself as still too involved. Since personality growth is an important aspect of gap years, you must not come off as still dealing with the effects of the period.

  • Do not set a preachy tone to your essay. You have to state your reasons and share rational experiences, not advocate the requirement or advantages of taking educational gaps.

  • Do not overemphasize your problems behind the educational gap, such as financial ones. Over lamentation can be seen as an indicator of your negative and unmotivated personality.

While writing a gap year essay, you must keep in mind that your essay should address directly the questions that the admission officers will have in their mind such as what you did in your gap year, where did you spend your gap year and how, why did you take a gap year, how value did the gap year add to your life and how it is to impact your future. Let us check what the study gap explanation letter sample must look like.

A gap year should never be seen in a negative light. Students not only learn within the periphery of classrooms but also from the world as a classroom. People learn valuable lessons every day from in and around their surroundings, and taking a gap year often means students are developing new skills and experiences to utilise in college. Therefore, the gap year essay must consist of a justification of the gap year with evidence. The admission committee will conduct a holistic evaluation and may even give you brownie points for your efforts at being a rounded individual. 

If you have any queries regarding a gap year essay and want to know further about how to write it, contact us at

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What do you write in a gap year essay?

You can write about the reasons for taking the break in your gap year essay. You can also mention the effects it has had on your personality as a whole and the learning experiences you have gained. It should highlight your professional as well as personal aggrandisement.

Where can I get samples of gap year essays?

You can get samples of gap year essays from the internet. From there, you can get an idea of the format and content of a gap year essay. You may also get some tips to write a good gap year essay and what you should avoid writing in the gap year essay. Additionally, you can take help from experts who can guide you through the entire process.

Can I write about work experience in a gap year essay?

Yes, you can write about work experience in a gap year essay. It will be a testimonial of your proactive nature and the learning experiences which you have gained during the work period. It will also show that you know the inner workings of a company and now you want to contribute to your professional experience with the help of higher studies.

What reasons for a gap year can I write in a gap year essay?

You can cite monetary and health issues in your gap year essay. Apart from these two most common reasons for a gap, you can write about any employment opportunity, voluntary or freelancing activity, travel or learning a new skill as a reason for a gap year. To support them, you can also write the challenges you have faced and how you have overcome them.

What should be the format of a gap year essay?

The format of a gap year essay follows a conventional essay format with a proper introduction, body and conclusion. In the introduction, you can write in brief about yourself and the cause of your gap year, then you can elucidate it and in the end, you can write the impact it had on your life.

How to start a gap year essay?

You can start your gap year essay by giving a short introduction of yourself and how you have spent your gap year. You can touch upon the reason for which you had chosen to take a gap. You can mention the delay in enrollment due to special projects, activities, travel or spending time in another way which is meaningful.

How can I conclude my gap year essay?

You can conclude your gap year essay by citing the effect it has had on your personal and professional development. Write about the experiences gained during this time and how they have made you a better human being. You can mention how you can utilise these learnings in your future endeavours.

Can I lie in my gap year essay?

No, it is recommended to not lie in a gap year essay. The admission committee can cross-check or verify the information during the interview and if they find any discrepancy, your candidature will be dismissed. Therefore, it is crucial to utilise your gap year by immersing in worthwhile activities and enlist the same in your gap year essay.

Will my gap year essay result in a negative decision from the university?

No, your gap year essay will not result in a negative decision from the university unless you show your gap year in a bad light. If the admission committee finds that you utilised your gap year well, learned new skills, took part in employment activities or achieved something worthwhile, they will be more than happy to welcome you.

Do I need to provide proof of my activities during my gap year along with my gap year essay?

You may or may not need to provide proof of your activities during your year gap along with your gap year essay. But if you submit it, it will provide solid evidence of your activities and support the case. You may include the activities in your resume or get letters of recommendation (LORs) to substantiate your gap year essay.

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