Creating Top-Quality Essays: 7 Tips and Tricks
It’s Friday afternoon. You should be out with friends, but you have a paper due on Monday, and because you chose to procrastinate, you’re pressed for time. You stare blankly at a page, willing yourself to write, but you just can’t seem to put any words onto paper. If this has happened to you (or if this is currently you), don’t worry — many students struggle with writing, too. To help you become a better writer, we’ve put together a few tips on how to craft essays that are worthy of an A:
1. Choose a compelling topic
What do you want to write about? In most cases, your professor will provide you with a prompt such as “social media’s impact on children”. From there, you can craft a more specific topic, or as it’s commonly called in academia, a thesis statement.
How your thesis is worded will depend on what type of essay you’re writing. One of the most common types of essays you’ll have to write in university is a persuasive essay. In persuasive writing, the best way to choose a thesis is by starting with a question, such as “What is social media’s impact on children?”.
After doing a bit of reading, you should be able to formulate a tentative answer. You could assert that:
Social media causes low self-esteem among children.
This, however, is a weak thesis. As a rule of thumb, the thesis should not only contain your stand but also be specific. To further tweak that thesis, ask yourself why social media causes low self-esteem. A stronger thesis would look something like this:
Constant comparison causes low self-esteem among children exposed to social media sites.
If your professor has given you free rein over what to write, here are a few tips to consider in choosing a topic:
- Write something you are genuinely curious about.
- Choose a topic with concepts you can grasp (e.g. don’t write about cryptocurrency if you aren’t familiar with it!).
- Make sure the topic can be backed by evidence.
- Concentrate on one central point.
2. Create an outline
Once you’ve done your research, pour out all of your ideas onto paper. There’s no need for well-written sentences for now. Simply write what first comes to mind to create a pool of ideas to pull from. Don’t worry if your ideas don’t seem fully fleshed out at this point — they’re not supposed to.
Once you’ve completed your outline, pare it down to the most critical points. Get the not-so-good ideas out of the way as they can be distracting to your reader. Select only the points that support the thesis.
A good rule of thumb is to assign one idea per paragraph. So, if you have three ideas, you’ll have to write about five paragraphs (one introduction, three body paragraphs, and one conclusion).
3. Write in a formal (but not too formal) tone
While you should write in a formal tone, that doesn’t mean you have to be overly formal. Don’t aim to sound smart by using big words. Remember, it’s not always about the words you choose but how clearly you can communicate your ideas.
Use words that you’re comfortable with and don’t worry if your sentence structure seems too simple. Aim to write in a way that can be widely understood, even by people who aren’t familiar with your topic.
4. Hook readers from the first sentence
The goal of your introduction is to grab your reader’s attention. By starting strong, you’ll be able to reel your readers in and tempt them to read until the end. Write something that will spark your reader’s curiosity and isn’t too generic. Another way to address your essay is with a shocking statistic, for example, “More than 1 million species are at risk of extinction.”
Even if the introduction is supposed to give readers an overview of what you’re going to be talking about, it shouldn’t give everything away. Be as brief as possible so you don’t deter your readers. It doesn’t need to be paragraphs long as you’ll be able to expound on your ideas later on.
5. Be objective and cite sources
Compared to non-academic writing that merely informs readers, academic writing aims to prove a point. It uses evidence that, when taken collectively, coincides with the thesis. With that said, writing academic papers requires you to be objective and back your claims with data.
To illustrate, suppose you’ve been assigned the topic of “virtual events”. A non-academic take on that topic could be about the best content ideas for virtual events. This is because it doesn’t discuss anything that needs to be proven — it simply puts together some suggestions.
On the contrary, an academic approach could discuss why virtual events will continue to rise in popularity even post-pandemic (this can also be considered your thesis). Using data, studies, and statistics, you can then explain why you believe that to be true. For instance, you could cite a study on people’s preference for virtual events and anchor your assertion on that.
6. Edit and edit again
Never — we repeat, never — turn in your work if it hasn’t been reviewed at least twice. Once you’ve completed your piece, read it and then read it again. Since it’s a draft, there are bound to be typos, grammatical errors, punctuation mistakes, and more. You need to proofread your content multiple times to make sure it’s consistent and clear.
If you are proofreading it yourself, take a break from your essay after the first draft, and then come back to it only after a day or two. Proofreading immediately after writing makes you more prone to overlooking mistakes. You could also ask professional writers to proofread it for you.
7. Write an attention-grabbing title
If your title does not draw your audience in, they will not read the rest of your essay regardless of how good it is. As a general rule, the title should give the reader an idea of what your essay will be about. It should grab people’s attention, set the tone, and include concepts related to your main topic.
Always write the title last. Coming up with a title can be time-consuming — the time spent crafting a title could be used to do research instead. Write the contents first to have a clear idea of what you want to convey. In most cases, the title will come to you as you write, anyway.
Wow your professors with quality writing
Whether you’re writing an essay to get into college or trying to get an A on your assignment, these tips can make your work the best it can be. We know writing isn’t always easy, but with a bit of practice, it will no longer be a dreaded task but a challenge you’re willing to overcome.