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5 Ways to Improve Your Essay Writing Skills

For many students, writing can be a complex skill to master, but one that’s necessary in order to successfully go through college. Almost everything is based on writing during your school years, and a student who has good skills in writing can do better in many areas - including essay writing.

You’ve probably already been told to be able to express wonderful ideas in essay writing, but that it needs a bit of polishing. Whether you want to boost your grades or just want to improve your skills in essay writing, the following basic writing tips are your stepping-stone towards becoming a great essayist.


Tip #1: Prepare an outline.

Before you even think about writing your essay, make sure to do your research on the assigned topic. This way, you can capture all the main points of an argument.
  • Include all evidence and facts in order to effectively structure the points you want to hit.
  • Make sure the outline you create will be the same as your final essay.
  • Follow the traditional five-paragraph essay structure (introduction, three paragraphs for the body, and a conclusion).

Tip #2: Follow the traditional structure.

Once you’ve completed your outline, it’s time to start writing your essay.

In the introduction, you must include your thesis statement. This states the main point of your essay, which includes strong examples and images that will captivate and pull your reader in. But instead of just acting as a summary for your topic, a thesis statement should:
  • present the main idea and compel your audience to keep reading;
  • present a strong argument instead of simply stating facts; 
  • be one sentence long and should be able to back up your statement in the body of your essay.
Your strongest points must support your thesis statement, which will go in the first and second paragraphs in the body of your essay. The second strongest points will go in the third paragraph. 

For the conclusion, you need to restate your thesis, include a summary of what the audience just read, as well as information that will mark the end of your essay. 

Tip #3: Use active voice. 

Spruce up your essay by writing in the active voice. This simply means that the subject of the sentence is performing the action, and not receiving it. Below is an example:

Harry ate the apple.

The apple was eaten by Harry.

Sometimes, you might forget you’re already writing in the passive voice. To avoid this, just look for the verb ‘to be’ (is, are, was, were, am, be, being, been), often followed by a past participle (i.e. a verb ending with ‘-ed’). And then, ask yourself who’s performing the action (verb). Simply move the subject in front of the verb and make changes to the grammar, if necessary. 

Tip #4: Proofread and edit your work.

Now that you’re done writing your essay, it’s time to put some finishing touches: Proofread and edit your paper whenever necessary. 

Read each sentence and try to find grammar and spelling mistakes. Then, read it aloud to check how it sounds. Does everything flow nicely? Is every sentence relevant and engaging? Is it too wordy? Did I write it in active voice? 

If you think these seem like a lot to remember, well you’re probably right. You can have a friend read it to you and give you pointers. Or if you need more help along the way, you can turn to an expert essayist. There are a lot of essay writing service reviews out there that you can refer to for help.

Lastly, don’t be afraid to rewrite some parts of your paper, especially if they’re not as strong or compelling as you’d like them to be. It takes a lot of work and refinement to create a winning essay but soon enough, you’ll have the confidence to turn in a paper that will show how much your essay writing skills has improved.

Tip #5: Avoid repetition. 

Yes, it can be difficult to write a 1000-word essay on a single idea, but avoiding repetition is key to improving your essay writing skills. Here are ways to avoid repetitive words/phrases and wordiness in your essay:
  • If you need to keep the idea, try to replace it with a similar word or phrase. This could mean replacing a pronoun for a name (i.e. ‘she’ instead of ‘Anne’) or other alternatives. 
  • Use the thesaurus only to recap words you already know. Avoid choosing unfamiliar words just to sound good. Sometimes, this hurts your essay more than the original repetition. 
  • This can be a bit difficult, but usually the most effective: Start by underlining the repetitive word or phrase. Then, circle the keywords in a sentence. And then, try to create a new sentence with the encircled words, but one that doesn’t include repetitions. You may have to add more ideas around this new sentence, but this has been proven time and again to help improve the overall quality of an essay. 

About the writer: After earning her Master’s Degree in Education, Carol Duke has dedicated her life to becoming a lecturer and school supervisor. While her main focus is on teaching modern ways of learning, she also dedicates her time to freelance writing and blogging. Carol loves hiking and mountain-climbing, and dreams of climbing Mt. Everest one day.


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