Thursday, 23 April 2015

Improve your essay writing marks with these 3 tips

Follow these three tips to improve your essay writing marks. These tips are from the Canadian Proofreading site

The first point is simple: create an outline BEFORE you start writing. There are a couple of reasons for this. In creating an outline, you are thinking about the big picture. You can map out how you are going to organize your arguments, and you can make some notes about the evidence you are going to present.

Remember: each paragraph should be organized about some evidence, either a citation directly from a work you are writing about (as in an English essay) or a citation from an expert (peer-reviewed) in the field. Most of the paragraph will be taken up by evaluating the evidence, connecting the evidence to other evidence, or discussing the importance of the evidence for your thesis. So your outline should indicate what evidence you are going to introduce, or what main argument you are going to make with some notes about what evidence supports it. Creating an outline is simply a roadmap to organize your presentation of evidence.

I edit a lot of essays that were clearly written without an outline. They tend to wander. The paragraphs are disjointed. The evidence is not clearly connected with the thesis. They lose marks (less so after I edit them).

Second, condense sentences. The most common problem is as cited in the second point in the graphic. People seem to need to remind the reader that the evidence came from a study. That's not needed. All the evidence comes from studies. That's the scientific method! All you need to do is tell the reader who did the study (and when) and present the findings. The examples shown are not the most egregious waste of words I've seen. Often writers spend a dozen words preparing the reader for some evidence when only a few will suffice. In the proofreading process, I reserve a whole step for looking at sentences thinking about whether there is a way to make the same point in a more concise way. Your professors will be grateful. Of course, if you are filling up words to meet your minimum word count, then you'll pay for that with your marks.

Finally, use transition words. Transition words connect ideas. They can continue an idea, or they can introduce a new idea. Transition words can be used within paragraphs or to connect paragraphs. Often, students are criticized by teachers for their failure to use transition words. This happens when ideas are suddenly thrust into an essay without preparing the reader.

Use of these rhetorical techniques will make your essay flow more smoothly, and your marks will improve.

What other techniques can you suggest for improving essay writing marks? Spam comments will be deleted.