How to write an amazing essay
Academic essay writing is a style that anyone can learn to produce, once they know the basics of writing an essay. An academic essay should provide a solid, debatable thesis that is then supported by relevant evidence—whether that be from other sources or from one’s own research. Most research follows a standard set of guidelines. Remembering some basic principles for academic essay writing will allow you to create valuable, persuasive papers, even if you’re under a time crunch.
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Make an outline. Know what you are going to write about before you start writing
Before you even start writing an essay, it is important to know what you want to say. The easiest way to narrow down a thesis and create a proper argument is to make a basic outline before you begin writing your essay. The basic structure of an academic essay includes the following elements: an introduction that includes the thesis; the body of the essay, which should include separate paragraphs discussing evidence that supports the thesis; and a conclusion that ties everything together and connects it to the thesis. When it comes to how much evidence should be included in an academic essay, a good guideline is to include at least three solid points that directly support your thesis.
Write about your interests. If at all possible, within the constraints of your topic, choose a subject that offers you some enjoyment. For example, if you are free to write on any of the novels discussed during the term, write on the ones you liked best (or hated the least). If the topic asks you to analyze a character, pick the one who angered you the most or seemed most like you. You’ll have more opinions if you have some attachment to the topic. In subjects that bore you to tears, choose the approach that offers the most pieces of evidence, e.g., the longest book, the topic your professor spent the most time on, etc.
Acquire a solid understanding of basic grammar, style, and punctuation
Grammar, style, and punctuation are incredibly important if you want your research to be understood and taken seriously. Before writing an essay, make sure you have a solid understanding of basic grammar. Grammar basics include verb and subject agreement, proper article and pronoun usage, and well-formed sentence structures. Make sure you know the proper uses for the most common forms of punctuation. Be mindful of your comma usage and know when a period is needed. Finally, in academic essay writing, voice is important. Try to use the active voice instead of the passive whenever possible (e.g., “this study found” instead of “it was found by this study”). This will make the tone of your essay stronger. Ensure your language is concise. Avoid transition words that don’t add anything to the sentence and unnecessary wordiness that detracts from your argument.
Use the right vocabulary. Know what the words you are using actually mean. How you use language is important, especially in academic essay writing. When writing an academic essay, remember that you are trying to persuade others that you are an expert who can make an intelligent argument. Using big words just to sound smart often results in the opposite effect—it is easy to detect when someone is overcompensating in their writing. If you aren’t sure of the exact meaning of a word, you risk using it incorrectly. Using obscure language can also take away from the clarity of your argument—you should consider this before you pull out that thesaurus to change that perfectly good word to something completely different.
Understand the argument and critically analyze the evidence
In the process of writing an academic essay, you should always have your main argument in mind. While it might be tempting to go off on a tangent about some interesting side note to your topic, doing so can make your writing less concise. Always question any evidence you include in your essay; ask yourself, “Does this directly support my thesis?” If the answer is “no,” then that evidence should probably be excluded. When you are evaluating evidence, be critical and thorough. You want to use the strongest research to back up your thesis. Everything you include should have a clear connection to your topic and your argument. When you have a general idea of what you hope to discuss, start searching for facts to back up your case. Pore over the texts, your notes, and approved secondary sources for arguments that support your theory. Remember that all good papers aim to prove a point, and you’ll do that successfully only if you have evidence to back up your claims. A preliminary fact-finding mission will help you determine the validity of your theory. It will also provide ideas to shape the thesis statement.
Know how to write a proper conclusion that supports your research
One of the most overlooked areas of academic essay writing is the conclusion. Your conclusion is what ties all your research together to prove your thesis. It should not be a restatement of your introduction or a copy-and-paste of your thesis itself. A proper conclusion quickly outlines the key evidence discussed in the body of an essay and directly ties it to the thesis to show how this evidence proves or disproves the main argument of one’s research. There have been countless great essays written, only to be derailed by vague, weakly worded conclusions. Don’t let your next essay be one of those.
Don't postpone the inevitable
You may be tempted to leave the difficult work of honing your thesis statement until after you’ve written the first draft of your paper; however, laboring over it at the beginning of the essay writing process will make your life easier. Once you know where your paper is headed and what you are trying to prove, the writing process will flow much more smoothly than if you launch yourself into the labyrinth without a guide.
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