Language Matters: The Top 6 tips to write a good essay

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Thousands of students across the country face the challenging task of completing an academic essay at various points throughout their education.

Despite the practice you accumulate as a student, sometimes academic writing just doesn’t seem to get any easier. Especially when you are working to a deadline.

So, we are here to provide you with some simple tips to write your essay, including advice on the structure of your essay, choosing the subject matter, and finding your argument.

Moreover, our six top tips include advice on how to manage your time effectively while you are a university student, things to keep in mind when editing your essay, and how to minimize distractions.

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1. Shape your essay well

Introduction

You’ve sat and you’re thinking – “How do I write my essay? Where do I start?”

Remember, your introductory paragraph will set the tone for the rest of the essay and can indicate to readers instantly whether they want to keep reading the article or not. So, you should try to make your opening sentence strong and engaging.

A strong introduction will outline the contents of the essay, the main point or argument the writer wants to make, and how they will use evidence to make this argument.

This general overview of the essay structure will help your reader follow the argument and give them a good idea of what to expect from your article or essay.

Main body

The main body paragraphs should elaborate on the main points of the essay and follow one another in a logical order.

The ideas presented in the essay should flow naturally from one to the next and slowly build your argument with related evidence until you have presented your point, as laid out in the thesis statement.

Each paragraph should deal with just one idea and, where possible, should be kept to five sentences or less. Another key aspect of essay writing for good essays is keeping the reader’s attention and avoiding massive blocks of text that can be overwhelming.

Conclusion

Just as the introduction tells the reader what they will read, the conclusion tells them what they have read in the body of the essay. Your concluding paragraph should not be more than 10-15% of the overall word count.

For example, a 3000-word essay should have a 300-450 word conclusion. This is where you outline your thesis and how you have evidenced your argument as concisely as you can.

Overall outline

In a nutshell, in the introduction, you want to tell your reader what you are going to argue. Then, in the body paragraphs, you want to make that point as well as you can.

Finally, in the conclusion, you want to tell them what you have told them. This might seem repetitive, but this is the basic structural rule for writing a great essay.

2. Choose a subject that interests you

Strong academic performance is linked to passion and studying something you enjoy. When choosing an essay topic, you have got to make sure it is something you care about. There is no point in saddling yourself with an essay topic that bores you or that you find overwhelming.

Do not choose the topic based on what you think the teacher wants to see, or what you perceive to be your best shot at a good grade. Pick a subject you want to spend hours reading and writing about.

If your college essay requires you to do research, collect data, conduct interviews or do practical experiments, you need to make sure you are truly dedicated to the ideas and themes you are exploring. Only then will you be able to dedicate yourself to the research and enjoy the process.

The more interested you are in a topic, the more you will capture the reader’s attention as your enthusiasm for the subject will translate onto the page in the form of a great essay.

3. Don’t start writing until you know what you want to say

Once you have chosen a subject that interests you, you will need to find your argument. Without this, you can go no further.

If you are unsure how you feel or how to back it up, do your research first. Read up on the issue, gather different ideas and opinions, and decide where your point of view sits in the mix.

Essay writing is all about forming an argument, making your point as well as you can, and using evidence to back it up. Start by writing a thesis statement that summarises the main idea of the essay, why it merits discussion, and why you believe in your stance.

If it is an assignment in which the writer can get personal…

Depending on the institution, subject, and project type, you may be able to include personal stories and anecdotes, or personal opinions as well as well-reasoned arguments.

If so, work out how to do so effectively and weave the personal in with the academic to make your point. Avoid recounting a story just because you want to share how much fun you had, or how exciting something was.

That is what social media is for. Only use anecdotes if they are appropriate and add to your essay.

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4. Schedule your time

Next up in our list of tips to write a good essay, it’s time management. Especially during your final academic year, but at times before this too, university professors will set long-term or high word count assignments that require gradual progress and a lot of time management.

You will not be able to complete your paper to the best of your ability in just a few days, so you will need to create a plan for how many days and how many hours per day you estimate it will take.

When in doubt, always start a project as soon as you can and allow for more time than you think you might need.

By committing to a set amount of time a day, you will find that you are setting yourself an attainable goal and a good habit for great essay writing.

Suppose you struggle to organize your time effectively. In that case, you can use your phone reminders, a daily alarm, or any other useful digital application that can assist in scheduling your daily writing.

The time-management approach helps to avoid stress and last-minute panic writing when the deadline draws in.

5. Edit, edit, edit!

This essential part of the writing process involves churning out several drafts to refine your argument.

Your first draft is like the first pancake you make in a recently-heated pan; it’s for the dog. Essentially, what this means is the first draft is just about getting words on the page. All of the editing and refining of your essay come later. Your first draft is supposed to be bad because nobody should consider a first draft to be a final draft.

Once you have a rough draft, you can proofread it and start to focus on your writing skills, grammar, and punctuation.

Cut out unnecessary words, develop your argument, and ensure that when you read your essay aloud, you do not stumble over any sentences, as this is a key indicator that the sentence needs to be edited.

When in doubt, use a tool like Grammarly to double-check the accuracy of your writing.

Avoid common writing mistakes:

Use clear, concise language

Next up in our list of tips to write a good essay, it’s knowing how to use clear, concise language.

If you are looking for specific tips to write a good essay, the best advice you can take on board is to be yourself and avoid trying to impress with fancy words and clever turns of phrase.

Most students fall into the common trap of assuming that better essays are the ones that use flowery language and long, winding sentences.

In fact, the more concise and clear your writing is, the better. Stick to short sentences and words you fully understand when expressing your ideas.

Make sure it all flows

Each paragraph of your essay should have a first sentence that follows smoothly from the last sentence of the body paragraph before. Do not introduce a random new topic without an obvious link to your previous points.

This will confuse the reader and their focus might waver, as yours would if you were reading a story out of its logical order.

Present all ideas in a logical order in the body of the essay

This is absolutely essential to creating a well-written essay. The entire essay should be written with your thesis in mind, and all main arguments presented should be backed up by research. Do not include any main points that do not directly enhance your argument, and never introduce a new idea in your conclusion.

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6. Reduce distractions around you

The best way to avoid time-wasting is to avoid distractions. Everyone has their own method and preferred environment for writing an essay, but a generally sound word of advice is to minimize your chances of being distracted by putting yourself in a quiet and basic setting, like a library or work cafe.

You can also use screen time settings on your phone to alert you when you have spent more than say 30 minutes per day on any social media app.

If you have other commitments and need help balancing them with your studies…

Many students have part-time jobs, additional academic courses, sports or social commitments, or personal life issues.

As a result, they struggle to finish their studies and complete academic assignments. If this is a familiar story to you, it is advisable to reach out for assistance from a recognized service. Experts can assist you in writing your college essay and meeting strict deadlines.

Summing up: 6 tips to write a good essay

When it comes time for students to put pen to paper and begin writing an essay, most students will benefit from a simple guide to writing an essay and how to form the overall structure.

Our tips to write a good essay include following a basic structure, choosing your subject and argument based on your interests, and scheduling your time well. Finally, editing and avoiding distractions are key to the writing process and the creation of most essays that achieve top grades.

The main takeaways from our 6 tips for writing essays are to know what argument you want to commit to paper before you begin, remember that every argument you make has to follow logically from the last and be backed up by evidence or a personal example (if applicable), and to proofread your essay and remember that the first draft is never the final draft.

With these pieces of advice in mind, you will produce a well-written, well-argued academic essay.

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