Writing essays in college is quite different from what you may have been used to in high school. Even if your teachers considered you to be pretty good at writing back then, it does not guarantee that you will excel in the same way from now on. College-level essay writing requires a lot more structure and consistency – you cannot just express your thoughts in any way you want and expect your professors to give you a high grade. However, there are relatively surefire ways to improve your essay writing fast without taking a separate writing course. You will find some of them in this article.
What to Do Before You Start Writing
Whether you receive a topic as a part of your assignment or have an opportunity to choose one yourself, do not jump straight into the action and start writing. Many students make this mistake, only to discover halfway through that they missed something crucial about their topic and now have to rewrite a few paragraphs or even the entire essay from scratch. Instead, take your time to do some background research on the subject. Find out if your assumptions about the topic are correct and whether you have to use some additional sources of information to avoid mistakes. Look for the works by the foremost authorities on the subject. Single out the main points you will have to mention throughout your essay.
Once you’ve gathered the necessary data and decided what you will write about, formulate your thesis statement – that is, the main thought or idea you would like to express in your writing, boiled down to a single sentence. Remember that a thesis statement has to:
- Be concise – you should be able to express the entire primary idea of your essay in a single sentence. If you find it hard to do, it most likely means that your thesis statement is not specific enough;
- Be unambiguous – there should not be a way to interpret your thesis statement in more than one way. Try showing it to somebody whose opinion you trust and ask how he/she understands it – if you see any deviations from what you meant, find a way to express yourself more precisely;
- Answer a question – it means that your thesis statement should be, well, a statement expressing your opinion.
Now that you have the idea that will be at the core of your essay, it is time to move on to writing – or, instead, prepare yourself for it. Before you start, it is good to get acquainted with a few essays of the same type and preferably on the same topic written by more experienced people. You may look for them online or get a few from legit essay writing services and study them carefully. Until you are more confident about your writing, it is safer to imitate what others do.
Writing an Excellent Essay
So, the preparation is done. What now? Start writing with the main part of the essay, the body paragraphs. Usually, students write the parts of the essay in the order of appearance – introduction, body paragraphs, conclusion. It is a viable but suboptimal approach – until you know for sure how the main part of the essay will turn out, you cannot be sure your introduction will fit it. If the essay takes you in an unexpected direction, you may have to rewrite the introduction, wasting extra time.
When writing the body paragraphs, stick to the formula of one point per paragraph. Introduce a point, support it with accompanying evidence, sum things up, connect this paragraph with the following one, and move on to it.
Introduce the points in a certain order and decide what that order would be beforehand. What to choose here depends on your approach. You may start with the point containing the strongest argument in favor of your thesis statement and move on to lesser arguments later. Also, you may do vice versa and start with the least important argument, gradually ramping up the intensity of your case. You may start with arguments supported by authorities on the subject and move on to the ones invented by yourself – it all depends on your purposes.
After you are done with the body paragraphs, write the introduction, trying to make the first sentence as gripping and attention-grabbing as possible. It makes the first impression, and this impression should be strong. Then there is only the small business of writing the conclusion. Sum things up, point out the limitations of your research, show possible further venues of work, and finish with that.
What to Do After the Essay Is Done
Many students finish right there and happily submit the essay as it is – which is a big mistake. The first draft of the paper can almost always be improved upon.
Set the essay aside for a few days if you can afford it, or at least for a few hours. Look at it with fresh eyes, and you will probably see many large and small flaws. When editing and proofreading, work on one type of potential mistake at a time – it will increase the likelihood of locating them.
Give your essay to somebody for reading and ask for his/her input.
What can be improved?
What parts can be formulated better?
What is hard to understand?
Somebody else is always better at catching mistakes than the author of the paper – after all, you know every line of your essay and are prone to skipping over entire fragments when proofreading and editing it.
Reading the essay aloud can also help you find some mistakes, especially those in the wording and stylistics. What looks natural on paper may turn out to sound awkward when you try to pronounce it.
What influences the success of a college-level essay is, first and foremost, structure and your ability to follow through with the plan you have formulated in the beginning. We hope this article will help you build up this skill.