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Critique my son's NMS application essay?

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This is my son's NMS application essay, which he plans to use for his Common App essay as well. He chose to write about an event that had an impact on him. He is limited to 500 words and he is a little over. I have tried to give him feedback, but there is that "Mom is nagging me" dynamic going on, so I need to step back. Writing has never been his strong suit and he REALLY struggles at writing personal things. Here goes...


Earning my black belt in karate this past summer was a transformative experience. Through the experience and the preparation I drew upon my physical and mental strength and endurance and improved my self-confidence.


On the morning of the test I was extremely apprehensive. I was fairly confident in my abilities, both in physical endurance and karate knowledge, acquired over the previous eight years. In the months before the test I worked on perfecting my karate techniques, drilled myself to answer karate questions automatically, and worked on my endurance. However, a five-hour grueling test awaited me that would force me to prove that I was a worthy candidate.


During the test I was pushed to my limits of physical, mental, and emotional endurance. I had to constantly struggle with doubts and temptations to quit. However, there were also times when the thought, “If I can make it through this, I can get through anything†went through my head, which encouraged me to persevere. My biggest challenge was towards the end of the day during the self-defense portion of the test. I had to fight my way through a line of black belts rushing forward to punch me, as if I was fighting my way up a crowded hallway. At that point of the test I was exhausted and my cramping arms hampered my ability to block punches. At one point I was removed from the line because I was struggling. My sensei walked up to me and gave me a quiet pep talk while informing me that he expected better from me. I stepped back into the line again and managed to fight my way up it despite my exhaustion. Soon afterwards, the test was over.


After returning home to rest and clean up, I returned for the black belt promotion ceremony. At the ceremony, I wondered which of the six applicants did not pass, because I only saw five black belts on the table, and several times I thought that I might have been the one. However, I did not need to worry, as it was a trick, and my sensei revealed that he was wearing the sixth belt. Relief and euphoria washed over me as my name was called.


As I look back, my hard work and preparation was put to the test, and it produced greater self-confidence. For example, this year I found myself in a rough spot with my online AP Vergil class. I was having trouble with the homework, which often left me unprepared for class. I was considering dropping the class, which would have been an unprecedented move. One year ago, I think, I would have quit, but I was a different person than I was one year ago. I focused on increasing my time spent studying and increasing its effectiveness, which has resulted in significant improvement in the class. Although I do not know how much of this turnaround was due to my black belt preparation, I do believe that my experience during the test contributed to my confidence to step up to the challenge.


We have to finish it today so that he can get it finished for the endorser.

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I think that's a great idea. :) Maybe instead of the cleaning and resting up, he can simply say - That evening ... or I returned that evening ... eliminate "At the ceremony". That and a few other minor changes to other sentences should give him the count he needs for a closing thought.


You should be so incredibly proud of the young man you've raised. :)

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