Professors don’t assign essays because they are sadists. Essay writing requires many skills you will need to build a successful career. Research planning, formal writing, and even time-management are among the skills necessary to get a good grade on an essay. However, most students are clueless about ten essential skills every excellent essay writer should possess. Today we’ll share them with you to give you an edge over your classmates and get the much-needed As.
While reading books can broaden your vocabulary and improve your overall writing skills, reading essays will provide you with insights and useful tricks you can model in your works. There are plenty of essay samples in our database, so that’s the best place to start.
Don’t read essays like fiction. Be critical. Ask yourself:
- What do you like about the piece?
- Which parts gave you trouble?
- Which arguments were the most convincing and why?
- Does the argument seem balanced or biased?
The more questions you ask while reading, the better understanding of the most compelling essay writing techniques you will get.
Brainstorming Essay Ideas
Long before you start writing an essay, you have to think of a good idea. Use brainstorming to get into the creative mood when your brain doesn’t want to cooperate. Take a piece of paper and write down your essay prompt, topic or subject. Now let your mind roam. Keeping your focus at the forefront of your mind, write down the words you associate with it.
If you have to write an environmental essay, your mind might wander from melting ice caps to polar bears to Coca-Cola to plastic bottles to recycling to waste management to biofuel to agriculture and so on.
Don’t worry about writing full sentences. Just jot down ideas and concepts. Then you can group them and find a name for each group. These labels will serve as the points of interest in your essay. You can discard some of them and make up more. Just don’t constrain your imagination, you never know the treasures hidden within.
“Elevator Pitch” is a successful marketing technique that requires you to think of the most efficient ways to make a compelling case. Imagine yourself in an elevator with your instructor. You need to pitch your essay idea or argument in the time it will take you to get to a certain floor. Your goal is to make the topic easy to understand, engaging, and compelling using the minimal number of words. After this seemingly simple exercise, you will get a better understanding of what message you want your paper to convey. Write down your elevator pitch and use it to craft an intriguing introduction for your essay.
Planning And Outlining
Creating an outline is the least favorite part of essay writing for many students. However, planning your paper doesn’t have to be an endless tedious process. Here’s how you can do it in a couple of minutes.
- Open a text file and type a list of ideas you want to explore.
- Drag and drop them until the sequence makes sense.
- Add an introduction and a conclusion to round up the paper.
- Type the text of the essay directly into the plan you’ve created.
And if you a visual thinker, try mind mapping. It’s an easy and fun way to structure information. Let your thesis statement be the center of the mind map. Fill it out with your claims, arguments, and evidence, connecting them accordingly.
Expanding Your Vocabulary
An expansive vocabulary will allow you to communicate your message clearly without making your writing overly complicated and lengthy. Look up unknown words in the dictionary while reading books and subscribe to some “word of the day” emails. Add new words to your vocabulary, either a hand-written or an electronic one. Write down the definition of the word and an example of its use. Divide your vocabulary into sections by subject or theme. You’ll be able to locate necessary words quickly and use them in an appropriate context.
Dealing With Phrasal Verbs
Everyone knows that leaving prepositions at the end of the sentence isn’t right. However, the painful constructs students use instead are often cringe-worthy. Of course, if the dangling preposition is a direct quote, you don’t have to worry about losing points off your grade. But if it’s your own writing, solving this problem is a little tricky. You need to substitute the phrasal verb with a synonym that does not require a preposition.
Address the problem instead of dealing with it.
Don’t come up with a plan, devise it.
Keeping The Writing Consistent
When you are writing on a specific subject, it’s good to compile a go-to vocabulary for frequently used words and phrases. While repeating the same definitions is not ideal, confusing your readers with synonyms and different spellings is worse. Make up your mind before you start writing and always use the same phrases, instead of substituting them with alternatives. Add the synonyms you might use into your word processor’s spell checker to get rid of them once and for all.
Improving Your Writing Style
Everyone’s writing style is different, even in a classroom of students writing essays on the same topic. Still, if you want to get better grades, your writing should be precise. There is no place for over-complication in academic essays, and vagueness is no better. You need to understand what every word you use means and find the right context for it. Leave no place for ambiguity to make powerful points your readers will effortlessly understand. You can improve the writing style during the final stages of editing and proofreading the essay.
Polishing The Essay
Spell check is not enough to catch all typos and errors. It won’t notice the difference between “form” and “from”, “possess” and “poses”. Many small typos can make your paper meaningless. To earn the instructor’s favor, you need to return to your essay after a short respite and reread it until you are sure you haven’t missed any typos.
Clean formatting is another thing many students ignore. Your paper should look professional and be easy to read. Fancy formatting distracts from the content and annoys professors who have to spend more time decrypting your font than grading all your classmates’ essays combined. So don’t go overboard with italics, bold and underlined text. Choose simple fonts that don’t stress reader’s eyes.
Learning From Mistakes
There’s nothing more disheartening than seeing an angry red F or D on the essay that took you days to write. Still, one bad grade is not the end of the world; it’s a sign that you need to work harder.
Study your professor’s comments. If you don’t understand some of them, arrange a meeting during the office hours. Your instructor will appreciate your decision to write better, and you will get to the crux of the problem. You might need to brush up on punctuation or pay more attention to research. Practice these skills next time, and you are bound to get a better grade.