This book tells you the basics of what colleges want in an essay, and goes into a lot of detail for all the tips. It also tells about a lot of excercises to help you write in general, which a mediocre writer might find useful. The 50 sample essays are usually from students who got into some of the top schools, such as Cornell. Some of them are really good, but a lot of them aren't (this might raise your confidence). It has some of the essays in the back graded by admissions officers with a few lines of comment. Basically, this is a good book to get, but 90% of it is available for free on the essayedge editing website. I see no reason to pay for it if they make it available for free.