I remember going into University for a degree in computers. I studied computer programming, and my writing skills were not refined. As a programmer, I didn’t see the need to worry about perfect grammar.
But then I realized that I had to take a slew of core classes; far more than my computer classes.
Essays and academic writing may as well have been my specialization because every teacher seemed to want an essay or two every semester.
The good news is that you can improve your essay writing quickly. These quick and easy tips can help:
1. Start with Your Basic Outline First
The outline will often include:
- Introduction, including thesis
- Body of the essay
- Paragraphs supporting the thesis
- Conclusion that ties the essay together
When you have an outline to follow, it will make writing your essay more fluid, and will strengthen your essay writing in the process.
2. Develop a Thesis Properly
Your thesis is the essence of your essay. When you’re making a claim, the point you’re trying to make to the reader is the thesis. The paragraphs in your essay’s body will revolve around supporting the thesis.
The thesis statement will be one or two sentences in your introduction paragraph where you make your position on the topic of the essay known.
A strong thesis will include:
- Introductory paragraphs that clearly introduce the thesis to the reader.
- A body that supports the thesis statement, with at least three supporting paragraphs.
- A conclusion that aims to do one thing: prove your stance on the thesis.
Once you have a strong thesis, it’s time to start cleaning things up.
3. Clean-up Your Work with Grammar Editing and Punctuation
A lot of people will use a service like to make sure that their grammar and punctuation are correct. There's nothing wrong with these services. They can help clean-up your work and reduce some of those red lines that your teacher makes when marking the paper.
But you should start learning the basic grammar, style and punctuation required for an essay.
Keep in mind that essay and academic writing is far stricter and more rigid than what would be acceptable in a blog post.
A few of the key points you’ll want to master are:
- Verb and subject agreement must be followed.
- Comma usage is huge and complex, so make sure you .
- Voice is very important in academic writing, so try to use the active voice at all times.
You'll also want to go through your essay several times, revising it to reduce wordiness that can clutter up your essay. The goal is to focus on your essay’s argument. Wordiness will detract from the focus of your argument.
4. Work on Your Vocabulary Usage
Vocabulary can be very complex. There are words that people have never heard of in their lives, and then 20 years into their life, this new word pops up. There are also words that may be common in one field that you would never hear outside of the profession.
When you start writing, it’s easy to try and inject large, complex words to sound “smart.”
This is a bad idea.
Keep your vocabulary simple because trying to sound “smart” will often be seen as you trying to overcompensate for your writing. You may also be using words that take attention away from key points inside of your essay.
Obscure language may sound great, but if no one knows what you’re talking about, it’s time to replace some of those overcomplicated words in your essay.
If a word fits naturally, there’s no need to pull out a thesaurus to find a complex word to replace it. Sometimes, simple words work best.
I suggest allowing multiple people to read your essay. They can provide feedback on the vocabulary usage to ensure that readers will actually know what you’re trying to convey in your writing.