Throughout your academic career, chances are that you will receive many essay writing assignments. Essay writing can take many forms, including descriptive, persuasive, analytical, and narrative. While each style requires certain elements to be effective, the challenges present in constructing an essay can pertain to all forms of writing.
One of the most fundamental challenges to writing a quality essay is to construct a solid thesis statement. Without a strong thesis statement, your essay will lack direction and will leave your reader wondering about what exactly you're going to be writing. Your thesis statement should be clear, direct and specific to your topic. It should pass the "So what?" test, meaning that your reader should understand why this issue is important. It should also answer how and why you plan to prove your point.
Another challenge to overcome when writing an essay focuses on organization. To be effective, an essay must follow a logical sequence. The five-paragraph essay is the most common essay format and includes an introduction, three body paragraphs and a conclusion. For instance, if you're writing a five-paragraph persuasive essay about whether colleges should pay athletes, you'll likely want each body paragraph to focus on one of your supporting reasons as to why you feel they should. Longer essays can use this approach as a starting point; you'll need to add body paragraphs where appropriate to meet your assignment's requirements.
Find Your Style
"Style" is the way you express yourself in your writing. According to Wheaton College, it encompasses word choice (diction), sentence structure and tone. The writing assignment itself determines the style; for instance, an analytical essay would require formal diction, sophisticated vocabulary and a serious tone. A narrative essay, on the other hand, may be much more relaxed, allow room for informal diction like slang, and even take on a humorous tone. Sentence structure is also an important component of your writing style. To prevent your writing from having a monotonous, staccato style, The OWL, Purdue University's Online Writing Lab, suggests that you vary your sentence structure by mixing simple sentences with longer, more complex sentences. Finally, for pacing purposes, you'll want to avoid passive voice; rather, try incorporating active, descriptive verbs as much as possible.
Of course, essays are only effective if they are readable. Even if your argument is valid and your supporting reasons are justifiable, it will lose impact if it's full of grammar, spelling, punctuation and capitalization errors. Before handing in a final copy, be sure you've triple-checked it for these types of errors. If proofreading isn't your strong point, try asking a friend, a teacher or a tutor to review it with you. The last thing you want is to lose points on an otherwise informative essay because you overlooked easily correctable mistakes.
You can overcome all of these challenges easily, as long as you set aside enough time to work on your essay. If the essay is due in two weeks, it may be tempting to wait until the day before it's due to start, especially if your schedule is rigorous or you're involved in other activities. Time management is the key. You want to allow enough time to conduct research if needed, to write a rough draft, to revise and to revise again if need be. After all, taking a sufficient amount of time to work on your essay can mean the difference between an A and a C on the paper.
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