If you want to write better college essays, you need to read more and practice. But how do you tell if your skills are actually improving? This article will take you through the basic tips that you can employ to skyrocket your writing skills and write relatively fast.
What is an essay?
The word ‘essay’ is derived from the Latin word ‘xagium‘ that means ‘the presentation of the case?’
In the 1590s, the Online Etymology Dictionary defined it as “trial, attempt, endeavor,” also “short, discursive literary composition.”
An essay can also be defined as a piece of writing that introduces and supports a particular thesis or proposition.
What are the types of essays?
The exact number of types of essays remains undecided – some scholars say it’s six while others argue it is nine. However, I found these ten to be the most common ones:
- Descriptive Essay
- Argumentative or Persuasive Essay
- Compare and Contrast Essay
- Cause and Effect Essay
- Pros and Cons Essay
- Expository Essay
- Defination Essay
- Process Essay
- Critical Analysis Essay
- Problem and Solution Essay
Now that you understand the meaning of essays, let’s dive into the writing tips.
How to Write Great College Essays
Queries like how long should a college essay be, how to format an essay, how to write better papers in school, how to improve my essay grades, and tips to writing university application essays are popular on the web.
So, how do you write Quality papers Fast? The following tips will get you started, and with practice, you will eventually boost your research and writing skills. Get to learn how to format and proofread your papers as well.
1. Comprehend the Prompt
Before writing your paper, read the instructions inside out. And seek clarifications from the professor if you’re unsure of what you’re required to write. You have to understand the assignment before you even think of finding a topic or writing an outline.
More importantly, the prompt helps you structure your paper, as you’d know which parts to give more attention to or allocate more word count.
You’d also understand the type of paper that the professor expects you to write and the referencing format to use. Failure to use the correct format could harm your grades as well.
But that’s not all. You should never exceed the maximum word limit while writing your papers. While some professors accept an allowance of up to 10% (+ or -), others would penalize you for exceeding the limit.
By understanding the prompt or marking rubric, you’ll know the topic to select and learn exactly how the professor expects you to write and present your content.
It’s only after comprehending the instructions or prompt that you should select the topic to write your college essays on. Or even select one if given a list to choose from.
2. Find a Good Essay Topic
An essay topic is the main idea or subject that an article is based on. Simply put, it is the central point of a paper. For instance, you can write an article on the topic – Causes and Effects of Environment Pollution and How to Mitigate Them.
If the professor has assigned you a specific topic or given a list to choose from, your work is easier here. All you need is to familiarize yourself with it, conduct background research, find relevant sources, and write your paper.
But if that’s not the case, do this:
- Interpret the instructions and brainstorm some topic ideas.
- List some topics that you would consider writing about.
- Compare the topics, bearing in mind the purpose of the essay and your interest.
- Eliminate those topics that are not relevant to address the question.
- Get rid of the ones that you are not interested in or are rather too complex to handle.
- Ultimately, you will have a few topics from which you can make the final choice.
Writing an Argumentative Paper? Check out these 150+ Argumentative Essay Topics.
For some papers, especially the long ones, the professor may require you to turn in the topic for approval. So, make sure you do it.
Now that you have the topic, proceed and write an outline.
3. Prepare an Essay Outline
An essay outline refers to a plan for your academic paper. It helps you structure your report and organize the main points into paragraphs so it would be easier to write an excellent article.
As a writer, outlining helps you understand how to connect all the information to support the thesis statement and claims of the paper.
For instance, while writing an outline for a five-paragraph essay, you should first introduce your topic and then state the thesis statement.
Then, you should select three main ideas to focus on and dedicate one paragraph for each. And finally, write a brief conclusion section.
It would be best to list a few references that you plan to use while writing your paper.
And by the way, do you write your introduction paragraph before the body paragraphs or vice versa? Leave a comment.
4. Write the Body Paragraphs
Now that you already have a topic, and essay outline, write the body paragraphs first. Since the initial thesis may change throughout the writing process, starting with the introduction paragraph first is not the best approach.
If you alter the thesis statement, you may have to rewrite the entire introduction paragraph. Instead, write the main arguments first, or at least, the most detailed ones, and then write the introduction section.
While writing your body paragraphs, present your arguments and defend them with reliable and verifiable facts. Remember, the first body paragraph should present the strongest argument supporting the thesis statement.
Remember, you should state the main argument or topic sentence first, and then the additional sentences should explain it. And the last sentence should conclude the paragraph and prepare the reader for the second body paragraph.
Now, follow the same format while writing the other body paragraph. And most importantly, support all your arguments with relevant facts and figures, and cite correctly.
Bonus tip – you should write the body paragraphs of your college essays with the thesis statement in mind. Please make sure the topic sentences and their corresponding sentences defend the thesis.
Learn how to format your paragraphs automatically in Microsoft Word.
5. Writing an Introduction Paragraph
Now that you are done writing the body paragraphs, writing an introduction one is a lot easier.
Have you heard of the “general to specific” essay structure? It simply means that while writing your intro, you should first present the topic or the problem that your essay seeks to respond to and then narrow down your argument to the main thesis.
A perfect introduction paragraph, other than containing some background information about the topic, should have a thesis statement. A thesis refers to a mini-outline that informs the reader what the essay will be about.
Your thesis statement ought to introduce the reader to the main context of your college essay. And most importantly, be simple and clear.
More so, the last sentence of your essay should contain a transitional “hook” that switches the reader from the introduction paragraph to the first body paragraph.
You can also download free samples to help you write quality essays for college.
6. Write the Conclusion Paragraph
Understanding how to compose a conclusion paragraph is another tip that could boost your ability to write exceptional college essays. And even better, earn you some more marks.
Did you know that a good number of students lose marks by simply copy-pasting information in other paragraphs into the conclusion paragraph? Although you ought to restate the thesis and main arguments while concluding your paper, always do it uniquely.
The concluding paragraph should also summarize the main arguments throughout the paper, not just the introduction paragraph. You should prove that you are confident that you have proven your point.
I hope you have understood how to write exceptional essays. However, these tips are applicable even in other types of academic papers, like research, dissertation, and bibliographies.
7. Polish and Submit
After writing your paper, you should recheck the instructions and make sure you have met all the requirements.
Then you should proofread word-by-word and eliminate any traces of grammar, punctuation, or spelling errors. And then confirm if you have cited all the materials used to write the paper.
Also, confirm whether you have applied the appropriate referencing style. Some institutions use APA, MLA, or Harvard styles, while others have their own.
Then check for plagiarism, and make sure your paper is 100% unique. If you get stuck with checking or removing plagiarism from your papers, we can do it for you for free.
Now, recheck the instructions, go through your content, and submit.
Write Better Essays and Boost College Grades
There are many ways that you can improve your college grades. For instance, you may hire an expert from SmartWrite to take you through the writing process.
Alternatively, you can read essays and guides online (like this one) and start practicing. And eventually, you’ll end up being a pro writer.
Here are some things that you can do to earn more marks on your academic papers.
1. Re-read the Instructions
Most professors explain how marks will be allocated in an essay. So, all you have to do is cross-check the instructions and prompt while writing your college essay.
And more importantly, you should give more attention to the sections with the highest marks. But that doesn’t mean you should disregard the other sections.
If the maximum word count is set, do not exceed. And then, proofread your essay thoroughly.
Read the instructions a few times, and if you are unsure, always seek clarification from the professor. Rather ask than write a completely out-of-topic paper that will fail.
2. Proofread your Work
You should always proofread your content, as it provides the final polish to your words while still ensuring the message is clear.
Proofreading is an essential part of the writing process that enables the writer to scrutinize a written document to trace and correct grammar, spelling, vocabulary, and punctuation errors.
However, be careful not to over-rely on grammar correction tools like in-build grammar check in Microsoft Word and Grammarly. Or even worse, ask your friends to proofread the essay for you.
Instead, do it manually, or hire our experts to polish your content for you.
3. Avoid Plagiarism
Plagiarism is regarded as the most serious academic crime, or do you disagree? It can be categorized into complete, source-based, direct, paraphrasing, mosaic, or accidental plagiarism, among other forms.
One way to avoid this crime is to write in your own words rather than paraphrasing. More so, you should always cite to acknowledge the authors whose works you have used to back up your main points in your essay.
You can also avoid it by writing original content and not copying directly from the sources. And limiting the number of direct quotes, you include in your papers unless the instructions state otherwise.
Lastly, avoid sharing your documents or exposing them in such a way that third parties can access them.
4. Cite Properly
As stated earlier, citing inappropriately or failing to cite or reference your work is a form of plagiarism. But that’s not all. You should make sure you are consulting reliable sources – not blogs but peer-reviewed articles.
One importance of citing is that it shows the professor or the reader that you have done proper research. This is one of the reasons why professors ask you to list the sources used to get your information.
More so, it enables you to give credit to other researchers for using their ideas.
To write your college essays and get more grades, you should also employ an appropriate referencing style. For instance, you could use APA, Harvard, Chicago, or Turabian with Footnotes.
Always confirm the referencing style you should use with the professor, or check the instructions.
Essay Writing Do’s and Don’ts
You want to write better college essays, right? Here are some things that you should and should not do.
5 Essay Writing DO’s
Here are the things you should do to boost your essay writing skills and grades.
Cite Examples and Facts – you should use enough examples and facts throughout your paper to emphasize the important points. But failure to provide their sources will cause you more harm than good.
Discuss Literature in Present Tense – while writing your essays or any other academic paper, it would be best if you avoid using past tense while discussing literature. Use phrases like ‘argues that’ or ‘claims that’ instead of ‘argued that’ or ‘claimed that.’
Transit between Paragraphs – some of the transition words that you can use in your essays include: likewise, similarly, however, on the other hand, notwithstanding, in contrast, in spite of, and many more.
Respond to prompt – I insist that you always consult the prompt to write a perfect college essay.
Chose Correct Language – the key to writing excellent academic papers is to use plain language that will convey your words clearly, while still using linking words to balance your argument. You should (must) avoid vague words or phrases at all costs.
5 Essay Writing Don’ts
Avoid these things and see your essay grades improve:
Forgetting to Proofread – you should never fail to proofread your document before submission. It will help you eliminate formatting, spelling, and punctuation errors and make sure you apply the correct formatting style.
Providing too Many Facts – in addition to giving information and citing them, interpret them and show how they back up your thesis or topic. Don’t fill your essay with quotes and citations, and forget to play your part.
Straying from the thesis – don’t lose focus. You should write your content with the theme, topic, or thesis statement in mind. While your body paragraphs should back up the thesis, the conclusion paragraph should restate it uniquely.
Too Long Sentences – have you ever encountered a full paragraph with three long sentences? It’s hard to read and follow up, and some points may get unclear along the way. To avoid such, always use short sentences while writing your essays.
Don’t Plagiarize – don’t copy other people’s work or fail to reference materials used to back up the argument.
Seek Professional Help
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Essays are unavoidable in college, and that’s why you should learn how to write them fast and better.
Before writing your paper, you should first comprehend the instructions or prompt to understand where the marks lie. Then you can proceed and select a topic, conduct background research around it and prepare an outline.
Having written an outline, you should go ahead and write the body paragraphs first, and then write your introduction and conclusion paragraphs. Most college essays have five paragraphs, but longer writings have more.
Most importantly, make sure each body paragraph has a different idea and build on the thesis statement.
Should you have any concerns on how to write college essays, feel free to leave a comment.