I am writing my personal statement for my college applications centered around Desmos, the online graphing calculator. However, when I was getting feedback on my first draft, it seemed to me that my reviewers had a slight misunderstanding about what Desmos actually is. They seemed to be imagining that it was like a TI-84 calculator, which is a physical calculator rather than one on the web. (I introduced it as "an online graphing calculator")

Because this is my personal statement, there is a limited amount of characters I may use and it is very important that I do not bore my audience. This is why I need to explain it in a few words or less.

How can I concisely introduce and clarify what Desmos is?

I am having trouble determining whether or not this is an appropriate/acceptable question for this stack exchange. Is there a meta post I can look at or something?

  • 1
    You can take the tour and visit the help center, which should fill you in on what's acceptable here and what isn't. This question boils down to, "How can I write a personal statement about something?", which is perfectly on-topic, with the caveat that we won't write the statement for you.
    – F1Krazy
    Aug 20, 2023 at 19:36

2 Answers 2


All writers have to contend with a reader’s preconceptions and biases, and ignorance. This is why one of the tenets of writing, and presentations, is to decide on who your audience is.

If your intended audience will know what Desmos is, without needing you to inform them, then you like don’t need to do anything different than you are doing.

If your intended audience includes people, and AI readers, that don’t know what Desmos is, and this applies to any subject, then its your responsibility to explain it in a way that lets them understand enough of the subject to understand the points you are making.

In your specific case, its likely the expectation around the word ‘calculator.’ The meaning of that word changed in the lexicon over the last 60 years. From a person that did calculations, or computations, to an instrument used to make such calculations, to an app on a smart phone.

If you believe its necessary, and I don’t hold any opinion, then you might state that it is not a physical calculator — as in not to be ever loving HP-28S that got me my BSEE — or you can describe it as an emulator — as in a web app emulating a HP-28S or whatever.

Its about conciseness and clarity for your intended audience. And, that is a challenging part of writing, stepping back from our own words and thoughts and seeing it with the eyes of someone whose never read it before and never through about what is being written.


Instead of "online graphing calculator" I'd call it a "web-based graphing calculator". Just 3 extra characters.

I think "web-based" makes it clear it is a web page.

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