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15 Tips to Help You Write a Stellar Essay
Essay-writing can be easier than you might think if you have a grasp of the basics and a willingness to engage with the subject matter. Here are 15 top tips for writing a stellar essay.
Do Your Research
This is one of the most important tips you’ll ever receive. Research thoroughly, even if it means you have too many notes. It’s better to have to leave stuff out than not have enough to write about.
Make an Outline
Without a properly structured outline (with an intro, a four- to five-point body and a conclusion), your essay may be hard to write and to follow.
While you might just be writing your essay for a teacher or professor that is paid to read it, it still pays to grab their attention. A “hook” like a quote or surprising statistic in your intro can make your reader want to read on.
Lay Out Your Thesis
The intro isn’t all about flair and grabbing attention. It’s also about laying out your thesis. Make your main argument clear in the first few sentences, setting up a question to answer or statement to prove.
Avoid Passive Voice
If you want your writing to be persuasive, passive voice should be avoided. (That sentence was full of it, by the way. For example, “You should avoid passive voice” is a more convincing way to say “passive voice should be avoided.”)
Avoid First-Person Voice
If you’re writing an academic essay, you should almost certainly avoid first-person voice. In other words, avoid saying “I” or “my.” Also restrict your use of the second-person voice (e.g., don’t use “you” unless it’s necessary).
Start With Your Strongest Point
In general, it’s a good idea to start with your strongest argument in your first body paragraph. This sets the scene nicely. However, this might not be appropriate if you are structuring your essay points chronologically.
Relate All Points Back to Your Thesis
Make it clear to your reader how each point you make relates back to your thesis (i.e., the question or statement in your introduction, and probably your title too). This helps them to follow your argument.
Contextualize Without Losing Focus
Add contextualizing information for a richer presentation of your topic. For example, it’s fine (or even desirable) to discuss the historical background for certain events. Just don’t get bogged down by irrelevant details.
Use Transition Phrases
Transition phrases, such as “furthermore,” “by contrast” and “on the other hand,” can also help your reader to follow your argument. But don’t overuse them at the cost of clarity. Read your essay aloud to gauge how it flows.
Conclude With a Return to Your Thesis
A conclusion can do many things, but it’s useful to think of it as an answer to the question or statement in your intro. It’s sensible to summarize your key points, but always relate back to your thesis.
Make Your Conclusion Seem Obvious
Restating your thesis in your conclusion (after having made all of your points and arguments in the body) can be persuasive. Aim to make your conclusion feel irrefutable (at least if it’s a persuasive essay).
If your spelling is sloppy, it’s natural for your reader to assume your approach to writing the essay was too. This could harm the strength of an otherwise persuasive essay.
Grammar is also important, for the same reason. It’s usually easy to pick up on dodgy grammar if you read your essay aloud. If you’re not a native English speaker, however, you might want to ask someone who is to check your essay.
To avoid harming your persuasiveness and authority, it’s fundamentally important to use the right words. Overly obscure language can detract from the clarity of your argument, but if you feel you have to use it, then you better know what it means.
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Essay Writing Tips
It’s assignment season and that probably means you have some essays due. You might not be the next Virginia Woolf, but there are some easy essay writing tips you can apply to ensure you get the marks you deserve.
5 Tips for Writing Essays
Most students get a headache whenever they have to write essays, but you can make this process fun. Seem impossible? Use the tips listed below and you’ll see the difference.
Read the Essay Prompt Carefully
This is the most crucial stage in your essay writing process. Highlight keywords like compare, contrast, discuss, identify and explain. Doing this carefully will help you identify what is expected of you.
Pick a Topic
Once you understand what is expected of you, you can jot down some ideas and topics you want to explore. Narrow your focus and choose a topic you find interesting and that you’d be able to manage well.
Create an Outline
Creating an outline is simply planning your essay. Mind maps work perfectly for this. Write down keywords you’d like to explore and which direction you think your argument will go towards. Your writing will be more focused.
Once you’ve gotten a sense of what your main points are going to be, you can start researching. There are many online platforms where you can get access to secondary sources. Remember to find trustworthy sources.
Good essays go through a few drafting processes first. Your first attempt won’t be perfect. Writing is a process. Ask your friends or tutors to proofread your work and give suggestions.
What to Avoid When Writing Your Essay
While it’s good to explore your creativity and find your voice when writing essays , your freedom is not unlimited. Listed below are some things you should avoid when writing your essay .
- Slang, Jargon
- Rhetorical questions
Also make sure that you use good grammar and spelling when writing. These mistakes are more common than you would think and it creates the sense that you rushed through your assignment.
Writing Your Essay: Step by Step
So you’ve chosen your topic and created your outline. Now it’s time to start writing. Let’s go through this step-by-step.
Create a Thesis Statement
Your thesis statement tells the reader what the purpose of your essay is. Use your outline to identify what this will be. Your thesis statement will guide the rest of your essay so make sure it is clear and direct.
Write the Introductory Paragraph
Once you’ve identified your thesis statement, you can go ahead and write your introduction. It needs to be something that captures the reader’s attention. You can use a story, shocking revelation or quote.
Start Your Body Paragraphs
Here’s where you’re going to argue, explain or describe your topic. It should begin with an introductory sentence that carries the rest of the argument. Use secondary sources to support your argument. Remember to reference these correctly.
Write the Concluding Paragraph
Your concluding paragraph should sum up and close any ideas you may have. Make it short. Three to five sentences should be enough. Remember to refer back to your thesis statement to really support your argument.
Edit Your First Draft
Editing your work is important. Go through your work to make sure your structure flows, that your salient argument is coming through and that there are no spelling and grammatical errors. Most good essays go through 2 to 3 drafting processes.
What Makes a Good Essay?
What qualifies as good writing? The answer to this will vary from person to person, but good essays general have the following qualities:
- A clear focus
- Development of the central idea
- Unity. Every paragraph should relate to the thesis statement
- Good flow and coherence of ideas
- A paper should be written in correct, standard English
Use these as a checklist when you’re editing your work.
How can I Improve my Essay Writing Skills?
Besides using our essay writing tips, there are also some things you can do to improve your writing skills. If you want to become a better writer, you need to become a better reader. Read often and widely.
Practice does make perfect. Writing, like any talent, needs to be worked on. Dedicate an hour or two to writing daily.
Read What you Want to Write About
Get into the habit of reading. Join your local library or source books online. Choose papers and novels based on what you want to write about.
Choose Simple Words
Using over-complicated language does not make an essay better. This often comes across as pretentious and trying too hard. Use simple, short sentences.
Avoid Filler Words
Most people have bad habits when writing essays. Filler words are words that contribute nothing to the argument. Identify what your filler words are and avoid them.
Keep Sentences and Paragraphs Short
The longer your sentences are the more likely you are to make mistakes. Try to keep things short and sweet next time you have an essay due.
If you need extra help with your written communication, you can always do a short course . All our courses have business language as a subject. This will help greatly when writing essays.
Take Your Essay Writing to the Next Level
Ready to take your essay writing to the next level? Contact us today. We have student resources and expert tutors that will assist with your assignments. Reach out on the following:
- Call us on 0800 39 00 27 – it’s free
- Or fill out a contact form for a call back
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