- Academic Skills
- Essay writing
Six top tips for writing a great essay
This resource covers key considerations when writing an essay.
While reading a student’s essay, markers will ask themselves questions such as:
- Does this essay directly address the set task?
- Does it present a strong, supported position?
- Does it use relevant sources appropriately?
- Is the expression clear, and the style appropriate?
- Is the essay organised coherently? Is there a clear introduction, body and conclusion?
You can use these questions to reflect on your own writing. Here are six top tips to help you address these criteria.
1. Analyse the question
Student essays are responses to specific questions. As an essay must address the question directly, your first step should be to analyse the question. Make sure you know exactly what is being asked of you.
Generally, essay questions contain three component parts:
- Content terms: Key concepts that are specific to the task
- Limiting terms: The scope that the topic focuses on
- Directive terms: What you need to do in relation to the content, e.g. discuss, analyse, define, compare, evaluate.
Look at the following essay question:
Discuss the importance of light in Gothic architecture.
- Content terms: Gothic architecture
- Limiting terms: the importance of light. If you discussed some other feature of Gothic architecture, for example spires or arches, you would be deviating from what is required. This essay question is limited to a discussion of light. Likewise, it asks you to write about the importance of light – not, for example, to discuss how light enters Gothic churches.
- Directive term: discuss. This term asks you to take a broad approach to the variety of ways in which light may be important for Gothic architecture. You should introduce and consider different ideas and opinions that you have met in academic literature on this topic, citing them appropriately .
For a more complex question, you can highlight the key words and break it down into a series of sub-questions to make sure you answer all parts of the task. Consider the following question (from Arts):
To what extent can the American Revolution be understood as a revolution ‘from below’? Why did working people become involved and with what aims in mind?
The key words here are American Revolution and revolution ‘from below’. This is a view that you would need to respond to in this essay. This response must focus on the aims and motivations of working people in the revolution, as stated in the second question.
2. Define your argument
As you plan and prepare to write the essay, you must consider what your argument is going to be. This means taking an informed position or point of view on the topic presented in the question, then defining and presenting a specific argument.
Consider these two argument statements:
The architectural use of light in Gothic cathedrals physically embodied the significance of light in medieval theology.
In the Gothic cathedral of Cologne, light served to accentuate the authority and ritual centrality of the priest.
Statements like these define an essay’s argument. They give coherence by providing an overarching theme and position towards which the entire essay is directed.
3. Use evidence, reasoning and scholarship
To convince your audience of your argument, you must use evidence and reasoning, which involves referring to and evaluating relevant scholarship.
- Evidence provides concrete information to support your claim. It typically consists of specific examples, facts, quotations, statistics and illustrations.
- Reasoning connects the evidence to your argument. Rather than citing evidence like a shopping list, you need to evaluate the evidence and show how it supports your argument.
- Scholarship is used to show how your argument relates to what has been written on the topic (citing specific works). Scholarship can be used as part of your evidence and reasoning to support your argument.
4. Organise a coherent essay
An essay has three basic components - introduction, body and conclusion.
The purpose of an introduction is to introduce your essay. It typically presents information in the following order:
- A general statement about the topic that provides context for your argument
- A thesis statement showing your argument. You can use explicit lead-ins, such as ‘This essay argues that...’
- A ‘road map’ of the essay, telling the reader how it is going to present and develop your argument.
"To what extent can the American Revolution be understood as a revolution ‘from below’? Why did working people become involved and with what aims in mind?"
Historians generally concentrate on the twenty-year period between 1763 and 1783 as the period which constitutes the American Revolution [This sentence sets the general context of the period] . However, when considering the involvement of working people, or people from below, in the revolution it is important to make a distinction between the pre-revolutionary period 1763-1774 and the revolutionary period 1774-1788, marked by the establishment of the continental Congress(1) [This sentence defines the key term from below and gives more context to the argument that follows] . This paper will argue that the nature and aims of the actions of working people are difficult to assess as it changed according to each phase [This is the thesis statement] . The pre-revolutionary period was characterised by opposition to Britain’s authority. During this period the aims and actions of the working people were more conservative as they responded to grievances related to taxes and scarce land, issues which directly affected them. However, examination of activities such as the organisation of crowd action and town meetings, pamphlet writing, formal communications to Britain of American grievances and physical action in the streets, demonstrates that their aims and actions became more revolutionary after 1775 [These sentences give the ‘road map’ or overview of the content of the essay] .
The body of the essay develops and elaborates your argument. It does this by presenting a reasoned case supported by evidence from relevant scholarship. Its shape corresponds to the overview that you provided in your introduction.
The body of your essay should be written in paragraphs. Each body paragraph should develop one main idea that supports your argument. To learn how to structure a paragraph, look at the page developing clarity and focus in academic writing .
Your conclusion should not offer any new material. Your evidence and argumentation should have been made clear to the reader in the body of the essay.
Use the conclusion to briefly restate the main argumentative position and provide a short summary of the themes discussed. In addition, also consider telling your reader:
- What the significance of your findings, or the implications of your conclusion, might be
- Whether there are other factors which need to be looked at, but which were outside the scope of the essay
- How your topic links to the wider context (‘bigger picture’) in your discipline.
Do not simply repeat yourself in this section. A conclusion which merely summarises is repetitive and reduces the impact of your paper.
Although, to a large extent, the working class were mainly those in the forefront of crowd action and they also led the revolts against wealthy plantation farmers, the American Revolution was not a class struggle [This is a statement of the concluding position of the essay]. Working people participated because the issues directly affected them – the threat posed by powerful landowners and the tyranny Britain represented. Whereas the aims and actions of the working classes were more concerned with resistance to British rule during the pre-revolutionary period, they became more revolutionary in nature after 1775 when the tension with Britain escalated [These sentences restate the key argument]. With this shift, a change in ideas occurred. In terms of considering the Revolution as a whole range of activities such as organising riots, communicating to Britain, attendance at town hall meetings and pamphlet writing, a difficulty emerges in that all classes were involved. Therefore, it is impossible to assess the extent to which a single group such as working people contributed to the American Revolution [These sentences give final thoughts on the topic].
5. Write clearly
An essay that makes good, evidence-supported points will only receive a high grade if it is written clearly. Clarity is produced through careful revision and editing, which can turn a good essay into an excellent one.
When you edit your essay, try to view it with fresh eyes – almost as if someone else had written it.
Ask yourself the following questions:
- Have you clearly stated your argument in your introduction?
- Does the actual structure correspond to the ‘road map’ set out in your introduction?
- Have you clearly indicated how your main points support your argument?
- Have you clearly signposted the transitions between each of your main points for your reader?
- Does each paragraph introduce one main idea?
- Does every sentence in the paragraph support that main idea?
- Does each paragraph display relevant evidence and reasoning?
- Does each paragraph logically follow on from the one before it?
- Is each sentence grammatically complete?
- Is the spelling correct?
- Is the link between sentences clear to your readers?
- Have you avoided redundancy and repetition?
See more about editing on our editing your writing page.
6. Cite sources and evidence
Finally, check your citations to make sure that they are accurate and complete. Some faculties require you to use a specific citation style (e.g. APA) while others may allow you to choose a preferred one. Whatever style you use, you must follow its guidelines correctly and consistently. You can use Recite, the University of Melbourne style guide, to check your citations.
- Germov, J. (2011). Get great marks for your essays, reports and presentations (3rd ed.). NSW: Allen and Unwin.
- Using English for Academic Purposes: A guide for students in Higher Education [online]. Retrieved January 2020 from http://www.uefap.com
- Williams, J.M. & Colomb, G. G. (2010) Style: Lessons in clarity and grace. 10th ed. New York: Longman.
* Example introduction and conclusion adapted from a student paper.
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How to Write Better Essays: 5 Concepts to Know
Your teacher hands you a graded essay. What do you look at first? Most college students turn their attention to the letter grade or percentage score. If it’s high, they are happy. If it’s low, they are disappointed. Many students end the review process at this point.
Give your essay extra polish. Our writing suggestions will help you improve. Get Grammarly
What about you? If you want to write better essays, you will need to understand the criteria teachers use to score them.
1 Develop your thesis
A thesis is the essence of your paper—the claim you are making, the point you are trying to prove. All the other paragraphs in your essay will revolve around this one central idea. Your thesis statement consists of the one or two sentences of your introduction that explain what your position on the topic at hand is. Teachers will evaluate all your other paragraphs on how well they relate to this statement. To excel in this area, ask yourself these questions:
Have I clearly introduced my thesis in the introductory paragraphs? Does the body of my essay support my thesis statement? Does my conclusion show how I have proven my thesis?
2 Strong form
A good essay presents thoughts in a logical order. The format should be easy to follow. The introduction should flow naturally to the body paragraphs, and the conclusion should tie everything together. The best way to do this is to lay out the outline of your paper before you begin. After you finish your essay, review the form to see if thoughts progress naturally. You might ask yourself:
Are the paragraphs in a logical order? Are the sentences of each paragraph organized well? Have I grouped similar pieces of information in the same paragraph? Have I included transitions to show how paragraphs connect?
Here’s a tip: Want to make sure your writing always looks great? Grammarly can save you from misspellings, grammatical and punctuation mistakes, and other writing issues on all your favorite websites.
Just as your clothes express your personality, the style of your essay reveals your writing persona. You demonstrate your fluency by writing precise sentences that vary in form. To illustrate, a child might write robotically: I like to run. I like to play. I like to read, etc. A mature writer uses various types of sentences, idiomatic phrases, and demonstrates knowledge of genre-specific vocabulary. To improve your style, ask yourself:
Will my sentences create an impact on the reader? Have I used various types of sentences (complex and compound)? Have I correctly used topic-specific vocabulary? Does the writing sound like me?
Conventions include spelling, punctuation , sentence structure , and grammar . Having lots of mistakes suggests carelessness and diminishes the credibility of your arguments. If you make too many errors, your writing will be difficult to understand. Wouldn’t it be a shame for a teacher to miss the excellent points you made because of poor grammar? To avoid this, always use proofreading software, such as Grammarly , to weed out the major errors. Follow up with a close reading of your entire paper.
5 Supporting documents and references
Finally, your teacher will examine your resources. Select information from reliable websites, articles, and books. Use quotes and paraphrases to support your ideas, but be sure to credit your sources correctly. Here are some questions to consider:
Have I demonstrated proof of extensive research? Are my main points supported by references, quotes, and paraphrases? Have I used the proper format for my citations —MLA, APA, Chicago?
Do you want to develop your essay-writing skills? Pay attention to the same things your teacher will evaluate. The grades you get on your essays are important, but you can never improve your writing if they are the only things you consider. Focus on improving the overall structure of your essays—the thesis development, form, style, conventions, and support. Learning to master these five elements will cause your scores to soar!
12 Ways to Quickly Improve Your Academic Essay Writing Skills
Written by Scribendi
Anyone can learn to produce an academic essay if they begin with a few basic essay-writing rules.
An academic essay must be based upon a solid but debatable thesis, supported by relevant and credible evidence, and closed with a succinct and thorough conclusion.
By adhering to the best way to write an essay, you can create valuable, persuasive papers even when you're under a time crunch!
What Makes a Good Essay?
As previously noted, the foundation of any good academic essay is its thesis statement.
Do not confuse your thesis with your opening sentence. There are many good ways to start an essay , but few essays immediately present their main ideas.
After you draft your thesis, you can begin to develop your essay around it. This development will include the main supporting points of your essay, which will scaffold its main body.
Essays also typically include a relevant and compelling introduction and conclusion.
Learn How to Write a Great Thesis Statement .
Understanding How to Write a Good Essay
When writing an academic essay, you must take a number of qualities and characteristics into careful consideration. Focus, development, unity, coherence, and correctness all play critical roles when it comes to distinguishing an exceptional essay from one that is less than perfect.
The following essay-writing tips can help writers organize, format, and support their essays in ways that fit their intended purpose and optimize their overall persuasiveness. Here are 12 essay tips for developing and writing your next academic paper.
1. Know What You Are Going to Write About Before You Start Writing
While untrained writers might just sit down and start typing, educated and experienced writers know that there are many steps to writing an essay.
In short, you should know what you want to say before you type a single word. The easiest way to narrow down a thesis and create a proper argument is to make a basic outline before you begin composing your essay.
Your outline should consist of rough notes that sketch out your introduction (including your thesis), the body of your essay (which should include separate paragraphs that present your main supporting points with plenty of evidence and examples), and your conclusion (which ties everything together and connects the argument back to your thesis).
2. Acquire a Solid Understanding of Basic Grammar, Punctuation, and Style
Before getting into more refined essay-writing techniques, you must have a solid grasp of grammar, punctuation, and style. Without these writing fundamentals, it will be difficult to communicate your ideas effectively and ensure that they are taken seriously.
Grammar basics include subject and verb agreement, correct article and pronoun use, and well-formed sentence structures. Make sure you know the proper uses for the most common forms of punctuation. Be mindful of your comma usage and know when a period is needed.
Finally, voice is tremendously important in academic essay writing. Employ language that is as concise as possible. Avoid transition words that don't add anything to the sentence and unnecessary wordiness that detracts from your argument.
Furthermore, use the active voice instead of the passive whenever possible (e.g., "this study found" instead of "it was found by this study"). This will make your essay's tone clear and direct.
3. Use the Right Vocabulary and Know What the Words You Are Using Actually Mean
How you use language is important, especially in academic essay writing. When writing an academic essay, remember that you are persuading others that you are an expert who argues intelligently about your topic.
Using big words just to sound smart often results in the opposite effect—it is easy to detect when someone is overcompensating in their writing.
If you aren't sure of the exact meaning of a word, you risk using it incorrectly. There's no shame in checking, and it might save you from an embarrassing word misuse later!
Using obscure language can also detract from the clarity of your argument—you should consider this before pulling out a thesaurus to change a perfectly appropriate word to something completely different.
Want to learn more? Read 10 Academic Phrases Your Writing Doesn't Need .
4. Understand the Argument and Critically Analyze the Evidence
While writing a good essay, your main argument should always be at the front of your mind. While it's tempting to go off on a tangent about an interesting side note, doing so makes your writing less concise.
Always question the evidence you include in your essay; ask yourself, "Does this directly support my thesis?" If the answer is "no," then that evidence should probably be excluded.
When you are evaluating evidence, be critical and thorough. You want to use the strongest research to back up your thesis. It is not enough to simply present evidence in support of an argument. A good writer must also explain why the evidence is relevant and supportive.
Everything you include should clearly connect to your topic and argument.
5. Know How to Write a Conclusion That Supports Your Research
One of the most overlooked steps to writing an essay is the conclusion. Your conclusion ties all your research together and proves your thesis. It should not be a restatement of your introduction or a copy-and-paste of your thesis.
A strong conclusion briefly outlines the key evidence discussed in the body of an essay and directly ties it to the thesis to show how the evidence proves or disproves the main argument of your research.
Countless great essays have been written only to be derailed by vague, weakly worded conclusions. Don't let your next essay become one of those.
6. Build a Solid Thesis to Support Your Arguments
A thesis is the main pillar of an essay. By selecting a specific thesis, you'll be able to develop arguments to support your central opinion. Consider writing about a unique experience or your own particular view of a topic .
Your thesis should be clear and logical, but it should also be debatable. Otherwise, it might be difficult to support it with compelling arguments.
7. Develop an Interesting Opening Paragraph to Hook In Readers from the Get-Go
No matter how you begin your essay, you must strive to capture the reader's interest immediately. If your opening paragraph doesn't catch the eye and engage the brain, any attempt at persuasion may end before the essay even starts.
The beginning of your essay is crucial for setting the stage for your thesis.
8. Always Remember to Edit and Proofread Your Essay
Any decent writer will tell you that writing is really rewriting. A good academic essay will inevitably go through multiple drafts as it slowly takes shape. When you arrive at a final draft, you must make sure that it is as close to perfect as possible.
This means subjecting your essay to close and comprehensive editing and proofreading processes. In other words, you must read your paper as many times as necessary to eliminate all grammar/punctuation mistakes and typos.
Here are some common mistakes you should learn to avoid in academic writing.
It is helpful to have a third party review your work. Consider consulting a peer or professional editing service. Keep in mind that professional editors are able to help you identify underdeveloped arguments and unnecessarily wordy language, and provide other feedback.
Get Critical Feedback on Your Writing
Hire an expert academic editor , or get a free sample, 9. when developing your essay's main body, build strong and relevant arguments.
Every sentence in the main body of your paper should explain and support your thesis. When deciding how much evidence to include in an academic essay, a good guideline is to include at least three main supporting arguments.
Those main supporting arguments, in turn, require support in the form of relevant facts, figures, examples, analogies, and observations.
You will need to engage in appropriate research to accomplish this. To organize your research efforts, you may want to develop a list of good research questions .
Learn how to write a research question that will help frame your research.
10. Choose the Format of Your Essay before Writing It
The final shape that your essay takes depends a great deal on what kind of format you use. Popular college essay format types include the Modern Language Association of America ( MLA ), American Psychological Association ( APA ), and Chicago Manual of Style ( Chicago style).
These formats govern everything from capitalization rules to source citation. Often, professors dictate a specific format for your essay. If they do not, you should choose the format that best suits your field.
11. Create Clear Transitions between Your Ideas
Although unnecessary transition words are the enemy of clarity and concision, they can be invaluable tools when it comes to separating and connecting the different sections of your essay.
Not only do they help you express your ideas but they also bring a cohesive structure to your sentences and a pleasant flow to your writing. Just be sure that you are using the right transition words for the right purpose and to the proper effect.
12. Always Include an Organized Reference Page at the End of Your Essay
As a key component of MLA, APA, and Chicago Style formatting, the reference or Works Cited page is an essential part of any academic essay.
Regardless of the format used, the reference page must be well organized and easy to read so that your audience can see exactly where your outside information came from.
To produce a properly formatted reference page, you may have to familiarize yourself with specialized phrases and abbreviations, such as " et al ."
How to Write a Good Hook for an Essay
The key to a good hook is to introduce an unexplored or absorbing line of inquiry in your introduction that addresses the main point of your thesis.
By carefully choosing your language and slowly revealing details, you can build reader anticipation for what follows.
Much like an actual worm-baited fishing hook, a successful hook will lure and capture readers, allowing the writer to "reel them in."
How to Get Better at Writing Essays
You can get better at writing essays the same way that you improve at anything else: practice, practice, practice! However, there are a few ways that you can improve your writing quickly so you can turn in a quality academic essay on time.
In addition to following the 12 essay tips and guidelines above, you can familiarize yourself with a few common practices and structures for essay development.
Great writing techniques for essays include brainstorming and tree diagrams, especially when coming up with a topic for your thesis statement. Becoming familiar with different structures for organizing your essay (order of importance, chronological, etc.) is also extremely helpful.
How to Write a Good Introduction for an Essay
To learn how to write a good essay, you must also learn how to write a good introduction.
Most effective essay introductions begin with relatively broad and general subject matter and then gradually narrow in focus and scope until they arrive at something extremely specific: the thesis. This is why writers tend to place their thesis statements at the very end of their introductory paragraph(s).
Because they are generally broad and often relate only tangentially to an essay's main point, there is virtually no limit on what the beginning of a good introduction can look like. However, writers still tend to rely on somewhat cliché opening sentences, such as quotations and rhetorical questions.
How to Write a Good Conclusion for an Essay
Briefly put, a good conclusion does two things. It wraps up any loose ends and drives home the main point of your essay.
To learn how to write a good conclusion, you will want to ensure that no unanswered questions remain in the reader's mind. A good conclusion will restate the thesis and reinforce the essay's main supporting points.
Take Your Essay from Good to Great
About the author.
Scribendi's in-house editors work with writers from all over the globe to perfect their writing. They know that no piece of writing is complete without a professional edit, and they love to see a good piece of writing turn into a great one after the editing process. Scribendi's in-house editors are unrivaled in both experience and education, having collectively edited millions of words and obtained nearly 20 degrees collectively. They love consuming caffeinated beverages, reading books of various genres, and relaxing in quiet, dimly lit spaces.
Have You Read?
"The Complete Beginner's Guide to Academic Writing"
How Academic Writing Differs from Other Forms of Writing
How to Master the 4 Types of Academic Writing
The Complete Beginner's Guide to Academic Writing
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How to Make Your Essay Better: 7 Tips for Stronger Essays
Krystal N. Craiker
Essay writing doesn’t have to be intimidating. With a few tips, you can improve your writing skills for any type of academic essay.
How to Write Better Essays
7 tips on how to make your essay better, how to become a better essay writer.
The best way to sum up how to write better essays is, “Make sure you’re answering the question.”
This sounds obvious, but you would be surprised how many students struggle with this.
From not understanding the prompt to poor research skills to off-topic body paragraphs, it’s easy for an essay to derail.
We’ve got seven tips for writing better essays that will help you avoid common mistakes and craft the best essays possible.
Here are our top tips for improving your essay writing skills.
Understand the Prompt or Research Question
The first step in your writing process is to fully understand the essay topic. If your professor gave you a prompt for your academic essay, spend some time analyzing it.
First, take note of whether you’re writing an expository or persuasive essay. The tone, structure, and word choice will differ between essay types.
Pay close attention to the wording of the prompt.
If your teacher wants you to “analyze” the effects of new technology in World War I, but you turn in a descriptive overview of the technology, you are not answering the question.
If they have given you a topic but no prompt, you’ll need to create a guiding question for your research.
Be specific in what you are trying to research, or you’ll end up overwhelmed with a topic that is too big in scope.
“Symbolism in modern literature” is too broad for a term paper, but “How does F. Scott Fitzgerald use symbolism in The Great Gatsby ?” is an achievable topic.
Take Excellent Notes
Once you understand exactly what your essay is about, you can begin the research phase. Create a strong note-taking system.
Write down any idea or quote you might want to use. Cite every note properly to save time on your citations and to avoid accidental plagiarism.
Once you have gathered your research, organize your notes into categories. This will help you plan the structure of your essay.
You’ll likely find that some of your research doesn’t fit into your essay once you start writing. That’s okay—it’s better to have too much information to support your argument than too little.
Write a Strong Thesis Statement
Possibly the most important step in essay writing is to craft a strong thesis statement. A thesis statement is a brief—usually single-sentence—explanation of what your essay is about.
The thesis statement guides the entire essay: every point you make should support your thesis.
A strong thesis is specific and long enough to address the major points of your essay.
In a persuasive or argumentative essay, your thesis should clearly establish the argument you are making.
Make an Outline
Once you have all your research, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. How do you turn the information into a cohesive essay?
Rather than writing an essay with no roadmap, an outline will keep you on track. An outline helps you organize your thoughts, plan your arguments, and sort your research.
A good outline saves you time, too! You can compile the relevant evidence in your notes before writing, so you don’t have to find that specific quote in the middle of essay writing.
An outline will also stop you from reading your finished essay and realizing you went completely off track.
With an outline, you can avoid finding paragraphs that don’t support your thesis right before you submit the essay.
Craft a Great Introduction
An academic essay needs a strong introductory paragraph.
The introduction is the first impression of your essay. It prepares the reader for what’s coming and gets them excited to read your paper.
A good introduction has three things:
- A hook (e.g. insightful statement, quote, interesting fact)
- Brief background information about the topic
- A thesis statement
Using this formula will help you write a strong introduction for your essay.
Have Original Ideas and Interpretations
The best academic writing advice a professor ever gave me was, “You’ve shown me what other people have said about the topic. I want to know what you think about the topic.”
Even a fact-heavy or data-heavy essay needs original ideas and interpretations. For every piece of information you cite, whether you quote or paraphrase it , offer original commentary.
Focus on insights, new interpretations, or even questions that you have. These are all ways to provide original ideas in your essay.
Proofread for Readability
A good essay is a proofread essay.
Readability, or how easy something is to read, has many factors. Spelling and grammar are important, but so is sentence structure, word choice , and other stylistic features.
Academic essays should be readable without being too simple. In general, aim for a readability score that is close to your grade level in school.
There are several ways to check readability scores, including using ProWritingAid’s Readability Report.
The quickest way to increase readability is to fix grammar and spelling mistakes . You can also raise the readability score by using more complex and compound-complex sentences.
ProWritingAid can offer suggestions on how to improve your essay and take it to the next level.
Our free essay checker will check for spelling and grammar errors, plus several other types of writing mistakes.
The essay checker will offer you suggestions on sentence length and passive voice.
It will help you trim the excess words that bog down your writing by analyzing your sticky sentences and overused words.
The essay checker is here to help you turn in an error-free essay.
Want to improve your essay writing skills?
Be confident about grammar
Check every email, essay, or story for grammar mistakes. Fix them before you press send.
Krystal N. Craiker is the Writing Pirate, an indie romance author and blog manager at ProWritingAid. She sails the seven internet seas, breaking tropes and bending genres. She has a background in anthropology and education, which brings fresh perspectives to her romance novels. When she’s not daydreaming about her next book or article, you can find her cooking gourmet gluten-free cuisine, laughing at memes, and playing board games. Krystal lives in Dallas, Texas with her husband, child, and basset hound.
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How to Write Better Essays: Tips To Improve Your Writing
You have a big test coming up, and you know it’s going to include an essay question that will account for a large percentage of your grade for the semester. Or maybe your teacher is assigning an essay question for your final assignment.
If crafting a good essay isn’t your strong suit, you’re going to struggle with acing your test or paper. Don’t fret, though. With a few essay writing tips, you can turn in an effective essay that will wow your teacher and get you the grade you deserve.
The following are some essay writing tips to follow if you find yourself having to write academic papers or great essays.
Build an outline of the main content
Before you start writing your academic essay, you’ll need to do your research to ensure your capturing all the best main points of your argument. Include your facts and evidence in an outline so you’ll be able to effectively structure it and figure out all the beats you want to hit. Your outline will be the same structure as your final essay. In a traditional five-paragraph essay, you have the introductory paragraph , three paragraphs that make up the body and a concluding paragraph.
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Use the traditional essay structure
Once you have your outline, you can start writing your academic essay.
In the introductory paragraph, you will include your thesis statement, which states the point of your essay, along with strong and captivating images and examples that tie into it and pull your audience in.
Instead of acting as a summary for your essay topic, your thesis statement should present your argument or main idea, and persuade your audience to keep reading. Instead of simply stating the facts, present a compelling argument. The thesis statement needs to be one sentence long, and you have to back up your statement in the following paragraphs.
The strongest points suppporting your thesis statement will go in the second paragraph, and the second strongest will go in the third. For the concluding paragraph and sentence, you should restate your thesis, summarize what the audience just read and include information that signifies the end of the essay.
Use an active voice
When doing academic writing, avoid passive voice, and use active voice instead. An active voice is more engaging and tells the reader exactly who your subject is, what he, she or they are doing. A sentence written in an active voice reads, “Mary cooked a huge breakfast for everyone,” while a passive voice reads, “A huge breakfast was cooked by Mary.” Unless your academic essay is supposed to have a mysterious tone, keep it in the active voice.
Proofread your essay
Once you’ve written your academy essay, start the proofreading process. First, look at sentence structures and try to find any grammar and spelling mistakes. You can use a program like Grammarly or visit a local writing center if you need help. Then, read your essay aloud to hear how it sounds. Does everything flow? Is each sentence engaging? Is there fluff? Are sentences active or passive? Have an academic advisor and/or trusted friend read it and give you pointers as well.
Don’t be afraid to rewrite parts of your essay if they’re not as strong as you’d like them to be. Oftentimes, your academic essay will not come out perfect the first time around. With some work and refinement, you can turn in a great essay to your teacher that will show off your skills and get you an excellent grade in your class.
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8 Tips to Write Better Essays in English
Learning a foreign language is an overwhelming experience, especially if it’s one of the most widely spoken languages in the world – English.
Many people are under the impression that learning to read and speak in English is enough without realizing that written English skills are an equally vital asset to have.
From improving academics to boosting career prospects – the ability to write in English not only lets you communicate and express yourself better in today’s globalized world but also makes you more confident.
An effective way to improve your writing skills is to write essays. Wondering where to begin? We bring you eight useful tips to write better essays in English.
1. Keep a Vocabulary Notebook
Using the right vocabulary is an essential element of writing essays. When you make efforts to expand your vocabulary, you will be able to pick accurate words to take your writing to the next level.
Instead of coming across new words and forgetting about them, it’s a good idea to make a note of them in your vocabulary notebook. Doing this helps you remember the meanings of new words and you can also refer to it while writing essays.
So, give yourself a target to learn at least ten new words every day, which you can jot down in your diary and take baby steps in building a strong vocabulary.
2. Refer to Credible Sources
Research forms the first step in writing any kind of essay. The stronger your research, the better is the quality of your essay.
At a time when we have access to a wide range of data, it’s important to evaluate research sources carefully and only refer to credible ones. For example, Wikipedia is not a reliable source and should not be attributed to while writing essays.
Take the effort to read through published journals, research studies, scholarly papers, academic databases, and encyclopedias published within the last 10-15 years. It’s also important to assess the credibility of the author while evaluating the source.
3. Draft a Basic Outline
Once you’ve done your research, don’t rush to write. Take a moment to draft a basic outline for your essay and organize your research and findings.
“Is that necessary,” you ask? Very much.
Working on an outline lets you approach the essay in an organized manner. It serves as the skeleton of your paper while ensuring you’re not missing out on any information and that your points flow logically.
Most essays are categorized into – introduction, body, and conclusion.
The introduction is where you introduce the topic and give context. The body paragraphs need to include your arguments and research methodology (if any). The conclusion needs to reiterate the thesis statement and tie all the points together.
4. Hook the Reader
With attention spans getting shorter with time, it’s become all the more important to start with a bang and hook the reader from the beginning to ensure they are invested in your writing.
Essay hooks refer to the first one or two sentences of your essay which have the power to make or break the reader’s interest. The key is to write a hook that grabs the reader’s attention and reels them in.
From an alarming statistic and relevant quote to using humor and asking a rhetoric question – there are various tactics you can employ to keep the reader engaged.
If you’re unable to think of an impactful essay hook, don’t waste too much time on it. Finish the rest of your essay and come back to write a compelling hook later.
5. Use the Pomodoro Technique
It’s not easy to write an essay in one go, especially if it’s not in your first language.
A smart way to approach essay writing is to use the Pomodoro technique. This technique asks you to set a timer for 25 minutes to finish your task in question and then take a 5-minute break. After four cycles of repeating this, you get to take an extended 20-minute break.
So, start with breaking down the assignment into smaller tasks such as research, outlining, writing the different paragraphs, citing references and proofreading. You can then set the timer, start working on the essay as per the technique and track your progress.
Using this technique keeps distractions at bay and helps you stay more focused.
6. Pay Attention to Grammar Rules
You may raise interesting points in your essay, but poor grammar disrupts the reading experience and should be avoided at all costs.
Be careful when adding punctuations, check your sentence formations, avoid passive voice as much as possible and know the difference between adjectives, adverbs, nouns and verbs.
So abide by grammar rules to deliver a well-written and cohesive essay.
7. Write with Clarity
You might be tempted to use complex metaphors and jargons to impress the reader, but the truth is, none of that guarantees “good” writing.
One of the most important ingredients of effective writing is clarity. You don’t want to leave the reader confused and puzzled after reading your essay. So, use simple words, stop beating around the bush and explain concepts with the help of examples because clear writing always wins.
8. Reread the Essay
Finally, make it a point to proofread your essay (multiple times) to ensure you have covered all the aspects, cited references accurately and not made any silly errors.
It’s a good idea to read your essay out loud so you’re able to identify errors and awkwardly formed sentences with ease. You should also get a friend or family member to read your essay, to spot mistakes or discrepancies that you may have overlooked.
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Thanks a lot all we can derive from reading is the technique to write with clarity, good research and involvement of readers in writing.
Thank a lot dear EnglishClub, it’s help me a lot
I think it is very good site for learn essay writing
As a teacher trainer this contribution is helpful
Thanks for the tips! I’ll have an essay tomorrow and this will surlely prepare me!
Thank you so much
Thanks Please I will like to know more
thank you so much for your amazing informations
Nice one but I don’t understand yet
Knowledge supporter is who u are, keep d good work nd ur reward is from God nd thanks.
thanks alot for your tips…your tips will help me alot while examss!!!
Thank you so much for information ☺️
Thank you ☺️
Thank you 💯💯💯💯💯💯
My hobby is home garden
ur intentinon and thoughts was very nce its useful to somny pepole to learn english tysomuch adela belin
Thanks you for helping
This did help a lot! Thank you very much 🥰
Good tips, I should give it a try, after all, we all improve by exercising hard so I’ll just do the same thing, but right now I gotta focus on what matters, and what I need now is to read as much as I can to know how to spell the words right. Is grammar so important in this task, I mean can’t I just pick the things up because of my experience in listening skill ?
Thanks for the information!
This is a nice explanation ,,,,,proud of you!
Is very interesting for me I really apreicete you help
Thanks so much for these useful tips!! Now, I need to start preparing my essay (“starting” has been always the stone on my way :$)
Please, what is the difference between an essay and an article?
Are they same?
Thanks in advance,
Thanks & best regards English Club
Helpful updated tips to share with our students!! thankssss
I want to know if it is only at the University or if we may take the course online.
Thank you verry much for important advices
thank for your key points, this is really helpful
Thank you and best wishes,
Very pragmatic and helpful essay. Thank so much English club
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- 13 Ways to Make Your Writing More Interesting to Read
There are numerous characteristics of a good essay: original thinking, a tight structure, balanced arguments, and many more .
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But one aspect often overlooked is that a good essay should be interesting . It should spark the curiosity of the reader, keep them absorbed, make them want to keep reading and learn more. A boring essay risks losing the reader’s attention; even if the points you make are excellent, a dull writing style or poor handling of a dry subject matter can undermine the positive aspects of the essay. The problem is that many students think that essays should be like this: they think that a dull, dry style is suited to the purposes of academic writing, and don’t consider that the teacher reading their essay wants to find the essay interesting. Academic writing doesn’t have to be – and shouldn’t be – boring. The good news is that there are plenty of things you can do to make your writing more interesting, even though you can only do so much while remaining within the formal confines of academic writing. Let’s look at what they are.
1. Be interested in what you’re writing about
If there’s one thing guaranteed to inject interest into your writing, it’s actually being interested in what you’re writing about. Passion for a subject comes across naturally in your writing, typically making it more lively and engaging, and infusing an infectious enthusiasm into your words – in the same way that it’s easy to chat knowledgeably to someone about something you find interesting. This makes it relatively easy to write interestingly about a subject you have a real passion for. However, problems arise when you’re forced to write an essay about subjects for which you lack enthusiasm. It’s difficult to conjure up passion for your least favourite subjects, and that will come across in your writing. There are steps you can take, though: here are some tips on writing about a subject you don’t enjoy.
- Adjust your mindset : convince yourself that there are no boring subjects. If the subject or essay comes across as boring, blame yourself; if you find yourself feeling negatively about it, try to find the interest in it. Think about how it relates to the real world and how important the subject is. Find interesting snippets of information about it and look at it from a new angle.
- Think about your reader : consider the fact that not everyone will find the subject as boring as you do. As you write, keep the reader in mind and imagine them to be the world’s biggest fan of this subject.
- Find the fans : if you find it impossible to get into the mindset of your audience, try Googling the subject to find forums, videos or blog posts in which the subject is discussed by people who do find it interesting. This will help you picture whom you’re writing for, and give you a different perspective on a subject you may not have found inspiring up to now.
2. Include fascinating details
Another factor that can make an essay boring is a dry subject matter. Some subjects or topic areas are naturally dry, and it falls to you to make the essay more interesting through your written style (more on this later) and by trying to find fascinating snippets of information to include that will liven it up a bit and make the information easier to relate to. One way of doing this with a dry subject is to try to make what you’re talking about seem relevant to the real world, as this is easier for the reader to relate to. In a discussion of a seemingly boring piece of legislation, for instance, you could make a comment along the lines of “if it were not for this legislation, none of us would enjoy the freedom to do such and such today”, or “Legislation A ultimately paved the way for Legislation B, which transformed criminal law as we know it.” Make it seem exciting!
3. Emulate the style of writers you find interesting
When you read a lot, you subconsciously start emulating the style of the writers you read. It’s therefore beneficial to read widely, as this exposes you to a range of styles and you can start to take on the characteristics of those you find interesting to read. If you feel engaged with a piece of writing, the writer must be doing something right! As you read, think consciously about what the writer is doing to hold your interest, perhaps underlining or copying out certain phrases, techniques, sentence structures and so on. Then apply their techniques to your own writing.
4. Write in the active voice
It’s the oldest trick in the book, but using the active rather than the passive voice will automatically make your writing more interesting to read. It results in more direct, energetic writing that makes the reader feel more ‘in the moment’. Unfortunately, many students employ the passive voice in the belief that it makes their writing sound more academic or intellectual; in fact, it makes their writing sound boring. Remember, the active voice is when the subject of the sentence “acts”, while the passive voice is when the subject is acted upon. Passive : It was concluded by the scientists that the methods used were… Active : The scientists concluded that the methods used were… The subject in this example is “the scientists” and the “act” they are carrying out is “concluding”. As you can see in this example, the active voice almost always results in neater and more elegant phrasing, which is more concise and enjoyable to read.
5. Borrow some creative writing techniques
There’s clearly a limit to the amount of actual ‘story-telling’ you can do when you’re writing an essay; after all, essays should be objective, factual and balanced, which doesn’t, at first glance, feel very much like story-telling. However, you can apply some of the principles of story-telling to make your writing more interesting. For example, just as the opening sentence or paragraph of a novel is incredibly important in capturing the attention of the reader early on, so the first paragraph of your essay is essential in making your reader want to continue reading it. Start with an attention-grabbing ‘hook’ to draw them in, such as a controversial statement, a tantalising snippet of information or a rhetorical question (more on these below). Here are some more techniques you can adopt from creative writing to improve your essays .
6. Think about your own opinion
Your essay is bound to be boring if all you do is paraphrase what everyone else says about something. A good essay – in humanities subjects, at least – incorporates the writer’s intelligent responses to what others say, and this critical consideration not only shows that you’re thinking at a high academic level, but it automatically adds more interest and originality to your writing. So, think independently and don’t be afraid to demonstrate that you’re doing as much.
7. Cut the waffle
Rambling on and on is boring, and almost guaranteed to lose the interest of your reader. You’re at risk of waffling if you’re not completely clear about what you want to say, or if you haven’t thought carefully about how you’re going to structure your argument. Doing your research properly and writing an essay plan before you start will help prevent this problem. Editing is an important part of the essay-writing process, so once you’ve done a first draft, edit out the waffle. Read through your essay objectively and take out the bits that aren’t relevant to the argument or that labour the point. As well as editing out chunks of text, it’s important to be economical with words – not using ten where five will suffice, and avoiding clunky phrases such as those outlined in this article . During the editing process, tighten up your phrasing by eliminating unnecessary words and reordering any sentences that read badly.
8. Using a thesaurus isn’t always a good thing
You may think that using a thesaurus to find more complicated words will make your writing more interesting, or sound more academic, but using overly high-brow language can have the wrong effect. It alienates the reader and makes you sound pompous, with the result that the essay is more laborious to read and the reader may quickly lose interest. Despite this, many undergraduates admit to deliberately over-complicating their language to make it sound more high-brow. If you want to keep your reader interested, keep your language clear and simple.
9. Avoid repetitive phrasing
Avoid using the same sentence structure again and again: it’s a recipe for dullness! Instead, use a range of syntax that demonstrates your writing capabilities as well as making your writing more interesting. Mix simple, compound and complex sentences to avoid your writing becoming predictable.
10. Use some figurative language
As we’ve already seen, it’s easy to end up rambling when you’re explaining difficult concepts, – particularly when you don’t clearly understand it yourself. A way of forcing yourself to think clearly about a concept, as well as explaining it more simply and engagingly, is to make use of figurative language. This means explaining something by comparing it with something else, as in an analogy. For example, you might use the analogy of water escaping from a hole in a bucket to explain the exponential decay of a radioactive substance, as the rate of depletion of both depends on how much remains, making it exponential. This gives the reader something familiar to visualise, making it easier for them to understand a new concept (obviously this will not be a new concept for the teacher who set your essay, but they will want to see that you can explain concepts clearly and that you have a thorough grasp of it yourself).
11. Avoid clichés
Clichés are overused words or phrases that make your writing predictable, and therefore less interesting. An example would be “at the end of the day”, but there are many such favourites of student essay-writers. Don’t forget that your teacher will have a stack of essays to read in one sitting; if you use the same tired expressions everyone else uses, your essay will blend in with all the others. Make it stand out by shunning the clichés you know your classmates will be using.
12. Employ rhetorical questions
One of the ways in which ancient orators held the attention of their audiences and increased the dramatic effect of their speeches was by making use of the rhetorical question. What is a rhetorical question? It’s essentially one you ask without expecting your audience to answer – one that you will answer yourself, like the one we asked in the previous sentence. This can be an effective way of introducing a new line of enquiry, or of raising questions that you’re going to address in more detail. A good place to use a rhetorical question is at the end of a paragraph, to lead into the next one, or at the beginning of a new paragraph to introduce a new area for exploration. The rhetorical question, “But is there any evidence to support X’s claim?” could, for instance, begin a paragraph that discusses evidence for an opinion introduced in the previous paragraph. What’s more, as we’ve already seen, you could use a rhetorical question as your ‘hook’ to lure readers in right at the beginning of your essay.
Finally, you could write the most interesting essay a teacher has ever read, but you’ll undermine your good work if it’s littered with errors, which distract the reader from the actual content and will probably annoy them. Before you submit your essay, proofread it thoroughly to ensure that the grammar is elegant, the punctuation is perfect and the spelling is flawless. Don’t just use a spelling and grammar checker, as these don’t always pick up on all the errors.
Do you want to take your writing to the next level? Our Creative Writing summer school will teach you how to experiment with a number of different writing techniques, plan, edit and proofread your own work and introduce you to new concepts and ideas.
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