When professors assign another paper, they rarely explain what you’re supposed to do. You get vague instructions such as ‘write an essay on the international policies regarding the Syrian conflict’. Wait… what exactly is an essay? Are you supposed to give your personal opinions on the matter, or should you just present the reality? Should you offer possible solutions? How many arguments should you elaborate?
As it turns out, students need a separate course on essay writing in order to be able to construct excellent academic papers. When you read different guides, you get a broad framework of the paper. However, as all other students, you still end up making mistakes your professor doesn’t want to see. If you start planning and writing the paper with these mistakes in mind, you’ll end up with a better result. Let’s see which 5 essay writing mistakes you should avoid.
1. Lack of focus
Your professor imposed a clear question when he assigned the essay. If you don’t provide a specific answer in your paper, you efforts will go in vain. Let’s take the above-mentioned example about the Syrian conflict. You need to elaborate the international policies, not the reasons for the conflict and the internal situation.
Read the prompt very carefully. Think about it and search for very precise resources. If you don’t understand exactly what the professor expects, don’t hesitate to ask. Write an outline and make sure to stick within that framework. Planning gives you focus, so don’t skip that stage under any circumstances.
2. Missing the chance to make a good first impression
You always think about the first impression you make: when meeting a new friend, professor, potential internship provider… Why do you keep forgetting about the initial impact of the essay? The introduction is possibly the most important part of the paper. This is your chance to grab the reader’s attention and make him interested in the arguments you can offer.
Here are a couple of mistakes to avoid if you want to write a great introductory paragraph:
- Don’t start with the thesis statement. It should be provided in the final part of the introduction.
- Don’t announce the topic. Avoid phrases like ‘In this essay, I will talk about…” Guide the reader to the main points of your essay with an intriguing triggering statement that asks for more explanations.
- Don’t write a general introduction! Every single sentence you write has to be related to the thesis statement.
- Do not use a dictionary definition of the concepts as an opener. That’s the most boring introduction you can think of.
3. Failing to respect the word limit
If your professor asks for a 600-word essay, then he doesn’t plan to spend more than 15 minutes on each student’s assignment. He won’t be happy if you submit a paper of 1000+ words. Do not write more than 90 words above the given limit. An essay that’s too long won’t give you extra points; it will just present you as someone who doesn’t know how to follow instructions.
If, on the other hand, you submit a paper that’s too short, your professor will conclude that it lacks sufficient argumentation. When you try to make the essay longer, do not paraphrase statements that you’ve already written. Expand without losing on quality!
4. Improper research
Make sure to remember this piece of advice: never list Wikipedia among the sources. Professors think it’s an irrelevant online resource that can be adjusted by any layman. This website can serve as your starting point. Take a look at the references at the bottom of the page you’re reviewing; they usually contain high-quality materials that will provide you with good arguments.
Google is not the best search engine when you want to locate academic and scientific data. Many students make a serious mistake when they base their papers upon the first few pages they find in Google results.
5. Improper tone and style
An essay is not the type of project that allows you to write in conversational tone. This is not blogging! Most topics require you to be serious and present a solid thesis statement that reflects the reality. You should convince the reader that you have a point not through humor, but through arguments that add value to the paper.
The biggest problem imposed by academic writing is style. Students don’t know how to express themselves like academic citizens, since no one has ever taught them about that skill. Here is something you can do: read as many marvelous essay samples as possible. Also, you can always get help from the best essay writing service. Analyze the style of great authors and try to discover your own voice. Follow the formatting patterns and make sure to reference each source properly. That’s all part of the style.
If you make sure to avoid the above-listed mistakes, you’ll be on your way to complete an excellent essay!