When you are given an essay to write in school, and you know you didn’t do so good with the last one you wrote, there is always this urge to write better than your previous essay. That is how it was for me – until it got to a point where I kept on writing and getting better – till I was one of the best at writing academic essays back in school.
One funny thing about essays back then in college was; when the teacher handed out graded essays, it had the ability to spoil the rest of the day if the score was low, and the exact opposite if it was high. This usually discourages many students to give up writing them at all. But the truth of the matter is, anyone can produce a brilliant essay once the basics are known. So, if you’re not a quitter but one of those who hopes to take their essay writing skills to a greater level, I have for you some basic principles and guidelines for academic essay writing, that will help you to improve your essay writing under a short period of time. So, stay with me.
OUTLINE YOUR ESSAY
Before you begin to write your essay, know exactly what you are writing on. This is the only way to produce a proper argument. I’m not kidding you, but I’ve read essays where the body came before the introduction. Crazy right? Maybe it was copied, and the full import was lost on the student, but you should not make this same mistake. Structure your essay in a way that the following must be present: an introduction, the body, and a conclusion. Your introduction should contain your thesis (what you plan to argue and how you plan to argue), your body should be in paragraphs that discuss the evidence which you support your thesis. And the conclusion should connect everything with the thesis and wrap it up.
GATHER INFORMATION FROM DIFFERENT SOURCES
If you are truly looking to captivate the reader of your essay by making it unique and interesting, you should be researching for something extra to add that depth to your essay. Sometimes your teacher can give you sources to read from, and sometimes you can be asked to go and find sources on your own. Whatever the case may be, it is essential that you look for other things. Before you go picking just anything that can either make or mar your writing efforts, below are some sources where you can get valuable information.
- BLOGS: Some blogs could be very good sources of information but you need to be very careful because a lot of blogs out there are filled with opinions and facts that may not be tangible enough for a brilliant piece. Ensure you go for blogs written by well-known experts.
- WIKIPEDIA: The most popular source of information for a lot of students. It is a very reliable source, but some teachers don’t really fancy it when you reference Wikipedia. So, if you decide to take information from here, make sure you scroll down to see the original references and use that.
- ARTICLES BY ACADEMIA: These types of articles are very useful because they have been written by university scholars and are published in journals or books. You can get some of these journals in libraries and even on Google Scholar.
These sources listed above could be very useful as a great source of information for the essay you have in mind, so make sure you take notes as you read. It will save you a great deal of time when you start writing your essay.
USE THE RIGHT GRAMMAR AND PUNCTUATION
Of course, this is the part where most essay writers fall short. Knowledge of the right use of punctuation is very necessary as a writer – if you want to be taken seriously.
For example, you must know when a comma is needed, and when a full stop is needed. This will make your work easier to understand and have a professional feel to it. Poor grammar usage could also flaw your essay writing efforts completely; you must know your verbs, pronouns, and how to structure a sentence in a proper manner. These can make your essay sound intelligent and make a good read. I am sure you must have come across a work with poor sentence structure online, haven’t you? What did it make you do? Cringe, right? or even made you discontinue reading.
As a serious writer, your writing needs to be easy for readers to understand. So, make sure you structure your sentence properly, and avoid too much long talk or ramblings, and your essay will be a very easy and understandable read.
This is a very important aspect of essay writing. In fact, this is a very important aspect of your personality. All professional creative artistes have something that makes their work stand out. For you too, as an essay writer, it is as simple as expressing yourself freely and precisely also. You can choose whatever tone you want to sound like, but make sure it is reasonable in the context of what topic you are writing on, and who is going to read it.
A brilliant essay writer is going to make use of the right vocabulary and know exactly what it means.
So, make use of the words you know, and ask yourself questions like – Does this sound like me? Am I using these words correctly? How are these words going to sound to the reader?
Like I said earlier, your voice tone needs to be engaging enough. You can go through previous essays you’ve written to find out what you sounded like, and how engaging you have been. You may find out why your essays have not been good enough. Ensure you create the right tone of voice. Essays are academic works, but it doesn’t imply that you must be boring.
ORGANIZE YOUR THESIS
The argument you are making is your thesis. Making sure that all the paragraphs in your essay revolve around it. When laying down your argument with evidences, try as much as possible to avoid going off topic. Your evidence should back your thesis. You will be evaluated on just how much you can relate all your paragraphs to your thesis. Sometimes you may be tempted to add some information off your side note to the topic, but it will only make your work cumbersome. The only thing you should be interested in is: how your thesis is introduced in the first paragraph, how your essay body correlates with your thesis and whether your conclusion shows that you have proven your thesis. Analyze your work critically and thoroughly, using in-depth research to back up your argument. Every research you include in your essay should relate to your topic.
KNOW HOW TO CONCLUDE
Finish your essay with a proper conclusion. It is very necessary that your conclusion is able to outline the evidence in the essay body and connect it to the thesis in order to prove or disprove your main argument. The whole effort that you put in writing your essay can be wasted if you end it with a weak conclusion.
Your references – websites, articles, books – should be properly listed out for your teacher to examine, so make sure that your sources are credited correctly.
I hope you have learnt from these tips on how you can improve your essay writing. If there are other tips you will like to share, let us know in the comment box.