Essays are one of the ways instructors and professors use to evaluate students’ understanding of a subject or course topic. They can be used as a summative assessment or a formative assessment of your progress in the course.
When writing an essay, you must communicate clearly and effectively to your reader. Unfortunately, many students struggle to write grammatically correct, understandable, and engaging essays.
But you don’t have to worry about all these, as the following nine simple practices can help you improve your essay writing.
1. Read the Prompt Carefully
A prompt consists of a brief statement that describes the topic you are writing about. It serves as a reference point for your essay, providing you with the framework for your writing.
You should read the prompt carefully to understand the purpose of the essay. Also, ensure you underline vital phrases in the prompt that highlight important points to include in your assignment.
2. Use a Citation Generator to Add Correctly-Formatted Citations
Citation is a vital component of academic writing that helps you avoid plagiarism. An excellent way to use citations properly in your essay is by following the proper citation style and format for your professor’s course.
Unfortunately, the citation process can be pretty complex and time-consuming. You can save yourself the hassle of finding the correct citation style for each source by using a citation generator.
For instance, if your instructor requires you to use APA-style citations, an APA citation generator could help you automatically create citations for all your sources.
3. Draft an Outline
Before writing your essay, you should write an outline providing an overview of your ideas and arguments. You can use a graphic organizer or a simple table to outline your main points. That way, it will be easier to know what point fits where in your essay.
When creating an essay outline, write your topic sentence first and then draw several lines under it. Each line should represent a point you intend to make in your essay. Then, you can further create more lines under your points to include any subpoints you could be having.
4. Pick a Topic You Understand Comprehensively
Sometimes, your instructor may provide you with different topics for an essay. In such cases, you need to choose the topic that you are most comfortable with. Doing this helps you write a well-researched paper relevant to your field.
If all the topics are unfamiliar to you, try researching to familiarize yourself with each one of them. During your research, list all the points you might use to support each argument, then settle for the topic you feel is easier to write about.
5. Research Your Topic Thoroughly
Research is among the essential first steps of essay writing. The more you research, the better your essay will be.
If you don’t know where to start your research, start by reading journals and articles about the topic online. However, choose your reference sources carefully and stick to reputable ones, such as published journals and academic databases.
Sources like Wikipedia or Reddit are unreliable, so avoid them in your research.
6. Use Appropriate Vocabulary
It would help to make your writing clear and concise by using appropriate vocabulary for the topic. That means avoiding technical terms and jargon, especially when writing general essays.
If you are not sure of the meaning of a word, look it up in the dictionary or online. Reading novels, poetry, and short stories can also grow your vocabulary. Finally, keep a vocabulary book where you can write down new words as you learn them for easier reference.
7. Hook the Reader
Your essay should be exciting and engaging right from the start. For that, you should include a hook, a sentence that sets your writing apart and grabs the reader’s attention.
Ideally, your hook should be your essay’s first one or two sentences. It could be an alarming statistic, a rhetorical question, or a relevant quote.
If you find it challenging to write a compelling hook, don’t waste your time thinking about it. Instead, proceed to the next part of your essay and return later to add the hook.
8. Polish Your Grammar, Spelling, and Punctuation
The quality of your writing greatly depends on your grammar, punctuation, and spelling. Without these skills, your reader will struggle to read and understand your essay, which can negatively impact your grade.
If you aren’t confident in your spelling and grammar skills, reach out to your teacher of English or join an online class that offers free training in writing. During these classes, ensure you learn about active voice, passive voice, pronoun usage, and other basic grammar rules. You can also purchase grammar books to study at your leisure.
9. Proofread Your Essay
After you finish writing your essay, you should proofread it carefully to ensure it meets all the guidelines set by your instructor. When proofreading, pay attention to spelling, grammar, punctuation, and the paper’s organization.
For a more detailed and practical proofreading process, ask a friend or classmate to read your essay and give feedback about its tone, structure, and overall readability. Moreover, you can use an online grammar checker to assess the accuracy of your vocabulary, punctuation, and sentence structure.