How can I most effectively improve my Chinese writing, reading and speaking skills fast?
Chinese differ from English in most importantly its structure of language, sentences, grammar and vocabulary usage. It takes time to effectively master the characters. But, I have noticed in my experience tutoring Mandarin to English speakers and tutoring English to Mandarin speakers that to most effectively edit, revise, and improve upon simple writing in Chinese you need to master the use of various conjunctions and understand the subject-verb-object relationships within the sentence. Increasing reading in Chinese helps most in improving writing in the long run. Learning the relationship between subject-verb-objects, conjoined clauses is what then improves speaking in Chinese because you would know, besides just pronunciation, when to stop, when to begin, and when to pause in the reading a sentence.
How should academic writing be best structured?
The structure of academic writing varies depending on the subject. You need to first decide this: are you writing to answer a prompt? Discuss a question to be researched? Show why something matters? Or to narrate someone's life or explain a work? There is the standard format where the introduction begins with a big picture then narrows down to the thesis, each body paragraph makes a point about the thesis, and the conclusion summarizes and expands upon the idea. However, there are also different approaches to discussing an idea such as centering your essay around a question to be answered, following chronological order, not following chronological order. A combination of different approaches can also be used. In the end the writing has to display a well-organized and logical flow, an effective and concise use of language, and a connection to a bigger idea and question.
What are admissions officers looking for in your common app and individual essays?
Application essays should be clear writing that offers an insight into the student's personality, experience and life that gives meaning to your activities and transcript. It should reflect genuine character and interests. The writing needs to be clear, logical, and purposeful. There should be a central point, thesis about yourself you want the reader to remember, around which the essay builds upon. There is also space for creativity and personal voice. Finding the balance between the two to most effectively deliver your central point is what one should focus on.