For many of us, writing essays has been a staple for our education. From the time we pick up a pencil and learn to form sentences on paper, teachers and professors have been assigning essays from book reports all the way to dissertations. Still, nearly 40% of high school students taking the ACT lacked the necessary English skills to carry them through college level courses, and it’s affecting their ability to get a job.
The foundations of essay writing lie in our own reading comprehension, research and analysis, and simple attention to detail. Those with high essay writing skills understand the importance of preparing beforehand through research, outlines, personal deadlines, and of course, revising. When inspirations strikes it may be conducive to jump right into that first paragraph, but for long term success it pays to plan ahead and organize your thoughts. Be sure to chose your sources carefully, keep open questions for further research, and don’t be afraid to paraphrase for your own notes to help avoid accidental plagiarism.
When it’s time to actually start writing, an outline is your best friend. The body of the essay is where the bulk of information will lie, so organizing these paragraphs ahead of time will help keep your eye on the prize. Begin with short summaries of each paragraph to build upon later, while still keeping the order and chronology in tact. As a quick reminder, the thesis should not be buried and instead should be clear and within the first paragraph introduction. At the other end, the concision should read just a summarization of the above points, should not introduce more information, and should leave the reader with a call to action of a powerful final statement.
The final, and possibly most time consuming step is proofreading and revision. From misused commas to run on sentences, catching our own mistakes is one of the most difficult aspect of essay writing. Getting an extra pair of eyes on your work is a good idea, but is not always possible. Spelling errors are some of the easiest to spot, we have spell-check to thank for that, but there are discrepancies that the computer doesn’t see. Proofread your work at various stages to avoid leaving mistakes behind; this will also save yourself a headache when the deadline draws near.
Looking to brush up on your essay writing skills? Take a look at this infographic for a refresher on the ins and outs of essay writing, how to improve your writing and proofreading skills, and how to make your work stand out among the rest.