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Baby Steps: 10 Proven Tips to Write Better Essays in English
If writing an essay sounds a little bit scary, just think of it as a chance to improve your writing skills .
Nobody expects your first essay to be perfect. Just make sure you learn something new every time you write an essay, and you will grow your abilities.
We’re going to help you out with ten tips for writing better essays while you’re learning English .
1. Create a Word Bank
2. act like a reporter, 3. create topic sentences, 4. argue both sides, 5. read backwards, 6. use an online thesaurus and a dictionary, 7. combine and separate sentences, 8. have a native english speaker edit your essay, 9. review the whole essay with your friend, then rewrite it, 10. use online apps, and one more thing....
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This is an interesting approach to writing your essay. First, choose a topic and write a thesis . A thesis is the main argument of your essay. For instance, if your topic is reading, your thesis might be “Reading makes you smarter.”
Once you have a thesis, think about your main topic and find words that relate to it in different ways. Then, branch out (broaden, diversify) your list to words that aren’t as closely related to your main topic.
For the example above, your primary list might include words like “books,” “reading” and “intelligent.” Your other “branched out” list might include “Harry Potter,” “reading by a fire” or “test scores.”
This process will help expand your vocabulary over time. Using these words when you write will also make your essay more vibrant (energetic, colorful).
When you are first assigned the topic, go ahead and really explore the possible options for your thesis. Ask questions. Get curious. The more questions you ask before you start writing, the more information you will have to use in the essay.
A strong essay is one that covers a lot of content in a succinct (short, to-the-point) way. This process of acting like a reporter will give you valuable quotes, resources and vocabulary to begin the writing process.
For instance, if you’re writing about a new diet plan , you might ask questions like, “Who is the best candidate for this diet plan?,” “How can someone get started?” and “What is the hardest part of this plan?”
A topic sentence is the first sentence in a paragraph, and it summarizes the rest of the paragraph. You can create them first to help you stay on track when writing your essay.
For the thesis “Reading makes you smarter,” one paragraph’s topic sentence might be, “Newspapers make you more aware of current events.” Another paragraph’s topic sentence could be, “Reading plays and classic literature will make you more cultured.”
If you’re writing about the three main issues facing writers today, you could write three full sentences that each address one main issue. Set these aside. Then, when you start writing the essay, refer to your topic sentences to create a solid structure that begins at point A and ends at point C.
If you have to write a longer or more complex essay, it might help to outline both sides of the argument before you start writing. When you write the essay, you will need to choose one side to focus on. But as you prepare, having a side-by-side list of points can be helpful in developing your thesis.
Also, by arguing for the opposite side of your opinion, you will learn which points you need to better address in your essay. You will learn more about the topic, and you will gain more vocabulary words to enrich the essay.
As an example, you might be writing an essay arguing that people should drink less coffee. To argue both sides, you’ll need to consider the opposite side: the benefits of coffee. How will people quit if they are addicted? What about the antioxidants in coffee? Aren’t those good for you? Really explore the entire concept (both sides of the argument) before you write.
Proper grammar is difficult for even the most fluent English speakers. Because you are learning English, you actually have an advantage. Many native speakers learned improper grammar from the start. It’s difficult to undo the damage caused by a lifetime of writing improperly.
As you learn the English language, make a serious effort to practice your grammar and sentence structure. One way to spot improper grammar in your own English writing is to read each sentence backwards (start with the last word and end with the first). This way, you won’t be fooled by how the words sound when you read them in your head.
Is everything in the correct tense (past, present, future, etc.)? If you’re writing about plurals, are the possessive nouns plural? Are the apostrophes in the right places? Does every sentence end with a punctuation mark (period, question mark, exclamation point)? Reading the text backwards makes you focus on the rules of grammar instead of the flow of the sentence.
You might have learned a large number of fancy words when studying for an entrance exam. But before you start using them in academic essays, be very sure you know what they mean in the context of your essay. This is where the dictionary can come in handy .
A thesaurus is another valuable tool when writing an essay. A thesaurus tells you synonyms, or words that have the same or a similar meaning to the word you look up. It’s important because it can add some volume to your essay and increase the impact of your words.
For example, if you’re writing about cooking, the words “stir” and “add” might come up a lot. This repetition is boring for a reader.
So instead of constantly saying, “Add the tomato” and “add the eggs,” a thesaurus will teach you to say things like “whisk in the eggs” or “gently fold in the tomatoes.” See? It sounds a lot better and adds interest to your essay.
Visual Thesaurus is a resource that works just like a regular thesaurus, but it also shows you the connections between the words. For example, if you type in the word “stir,” you’ll immediately see a whole circle of other words connected to “stir” with lines. From there, you can click on any of the words in the circle (like “move,” in this case) and then see all the words related to that word. This helps you find and learn new words quickly, and it’s also fun!
Once the essay is written, go back through the writing to find any sentences that seem too long or wordy. Break these into two or more sentences.
For example, the following sentence is too long, which makes it unclear:
If you want to write in another language, you need to practice writing in creative ways, like writing on a blog, writing fun poems or texting a friend who speaks the language you’re learning every day.
Instead, you could write it as two clearer sentences (with less repetition of the word “writing”):
If you want to write in another language, you need to practice in creative ways every day. For example, you could start a blog, create fun poems or text a friend.
Do the opposite with sentences you find too short.
Also, look for sentences that are very closely related to one another. If two sentences seem like the thoughts are connected, you can combine them with a semicolon ( ; ).
For example, the following sentences are very closely related:
Learning to write in another language can be really difficult, especially when you’re first getting started. That’s why it helps to practice every day.
That’s why you could write it this way:
Learning to write in another language can be really difficult, especially when you’re first getting started; daily practice is helpful.
Meet up with a friend who is fluent in English (or, at least, more fluent than you). This friend can edit your essay and point out any repetitive errors.
If they find mistakes that you make often, you will be able to watch more closely for that error as you write future essays. This friend will also be able to point out grammatical or spelling errors that you might have missed.
If you don’t have any friends who are fluent in English, you can use a website like Conversation Exchange . This is a free site where native English speakers will correct your writing. In exchange, you correct the writing of someone learning your native language.
Once you and your friend have both reviewed your essay and marked any mistakes, rewrite the whole thing. This step is important. Just noting that you made some mistakes will not help you learn how to avoid them in the future.
By rewriting the essay with the corrections in mind, you will teach yourself how to write those sections properly. You will create a memory of using proper grammar or spelling a word correctly. So, you will be more likely to write it correctly next time.
Lastly, there are some fantastic online resources that can help improve your writing. For instance, Hemingway Editor can review your document to find any confusing or wordy sentences. You can rewrite these to make them easier to understand.
You could also head over to Essay Punch to find resources, tools and support that can help improve your writing skills. Grammar Book is a great resource for practicing proper grammar and spelling.
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Since many online resources are readily accessible, feel free to experiment with your options. Try to find the ones that cater best to your learning habits and needs.
The advice in this post is mainly for improving your essay writing over time. However, if you want a more professional opinion for an important essay, you can also use Scribendi . Scribendi is an online essay editing resource that helps with academic and admissions essays. If you’re applying to a school or are writing an important paper, you may want to consider their services to make sure your essay is the best it can be.
Learning a new language is certainly an ambitious (challenging) task. There are so many small details to learn, and the process takes a lot of time and commitment. But with practice and study, you will improve.
It takes even more effort to become a strong writer in a new language, but these tips will help you get started.
Hopefully, you were able to find one or two tips that you believe will help you improve your essay writing abilities. Over time, try to use all of these strategies (or at least more than one) in your writing routine. Good luck!
If you like learning English through movies and online media, you should also check out FluentU. FluentU lets you learn English from popular talk shows, catchy music videos and funny commercials , as you can see here:
If you want to watch it, the FluentU app has probably got it.
The FluentU app and website makes it really easy to watch English videos. There are captions that are interactive. That means you can tap on any word to see an image, definition, and useful examples.
FluentU lets you learn engaging content with world famous celebrities.
For example, when you tap on the word "searching," you see this:
FluentU lets you tap to look up any word.
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Start using the FluentU website on your computer or tablet or, better yet, download the FluentU app from the iTunes or Google Play store. Click here to take advantage of our current sale! (Expires at the end of this month.)
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How to Write an Essay
Last Updated: February 1, 2024 Fact Checked
This article was co-authored by Christopher Taylor, PhD and by wikiHow staff writer, Megaera Lorenz, PhD . Christopher Taylor is an Adjunct Assistant Professor of English at Austin Community College in Texas. He received his PhD in English Literature and Medieval Studies from the University of Texas at Austin in 2014. There are 18 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page. This article has been fact-checked, ensuring the accuracy of any cited facts and confirming the authority of its sources. This article has been viewed 7,906,370 times.
An essay is a common type of academic writing that you'll likely be asked to do in multiple classes. Before you start writing your essay, make sure you understand the details of the assignment so that you know how to approach the essay and what your focus should be. Once you've chosen a topic, do some research and narrow down the main argument(s) you'd like to make. From there, you'll need to write an outline and flesh out your essay, which should consist of an introduction, body, and conclusion. After your essay is drafted, spend some time revising it to ensure your writing is as strong as possible.
Understanding Your Assignment
- The compare/contrast essay , which focuses on analyzing the similarities and differences between 2 things, such as ideas, people, events, places, or works of art.
- The narrative essay , which tells a story.
- The argumentative essay , in which the writer uses evidence and examples to convince the reader of their point of view.
- The critical or analytical essay, which examines something (such as a text or work of art) in detail. This type of essay may attempt to answer specific questions about the subject or focus more generally on its meaning.
- The informative essay , that educates the reader about a topic.
- How long your essay should be
- Which citation style to use
- Formatting requirements, such as margin size , line spacing, and font size and type
Christopher Taylor, PhD
Christopher Taylor, Professor of English, tells us: "Most essays will contain an introduction, a body or discussion portion, and a conclusion. When assigned a college essay, make sure to check the specific structural conventions related to your essay genre , your field of study, and your professor's expectations."
- If you're doing a research-based essay , you might find some inspiration from reading through some of the major sources on the subject.
- For a critical essay, you might choose to focus on a particular theme in the work you're discussing, or analyze the meaning of a specific passage.
- If you're having trouble narrowing down your topic, your instructor might be able to provide guidance or inspiration.
Planning and Organizing Your Essay
- Academic books and journals tend to be good sources of information. In addition to print sources, you may be able to find reliable information in scholarly databases such as JSTOR and Google Scholar.
- You can also look for primary source documents, such as letters, eyewitness accounts, and photographs.
- Always evaluate your sources critically. Even research papers by reputable academics can contain hidden biases, outdated information, and simple errors or faulty logic.
Tip: In general, Wikipedia articles are not considered appropriate sources for academic writing. However, you may be able to find useful sources in the “References” section at the end of the article.
- You might find it helpful to write your notes down on individual note cards or enter them into a text document on your computer so you can easily copy, paste , and rearrange them however you like.
- Try organizing your notes into different categories so you can identify specific ideas you'd like to focus on. For example, if you're analyzing a short story , you might put all your notes on a particular theme or character together.
- For example, if your essay is about the factors that led to the end of the Bronze Age in the ancient Middle East, you might focus on the question, “What role did natural disasters play in the collapse of Late Bronze Age society?”
- One easy way to come up with a thesis statement is to briefly answer the main question you would like to address.
- For example, if the question is “What role did natural disasters play in the collapse of Late Bronze Age society?” then your thesis might be, “Natural disasters during the Late Bronze Age destabilized local economies across the region. This set in motion a series of mass migrations of different peoples, creating widespread conflict that contributed to the collapse of several major Bronze Age political centers.”
- When you write the outline, think about how you would like to organize your essay. For example, you might start with your strongest arguments and then move to the weakest ones. Or, you could begin with a general overview of the source you're analyzing and then move on to addressing the major themes, tone, and style of the work.
- Point 1, with supporting examples
- Point 2, with supporting examples
- Point 3, with supporting examples
- Major counter-argument(s) to your thesis
- Your rebuttals to the counter-argument(s)
Drafting the Essay
- For example, if you're writing a critical essay about a work of art, your introduction might start with some basic information about the work, such as who created it, when and where it was created, and a brief description of the work itself. From there, introduce the question(s) about the work you'd like to address and present your thesis.
- A strong introduction should also contain a brief transitional sentence that creates a link to the first point or argument you would like to make. For example, if you're discussing the use of color in a work of art, lead-in by saying you'd like to start with an overview of symbolic color use in contemporary works by other artists.
Tip: Some writers find it helpful to write the introduction after they've written the rest of the essay. Once you've written out your main points, it's easier to summarize the gist of your essay in a few introductory sentences.
- For example, your topic sentence might be something like, “Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes stories are among the many literary influences apparent in P. G. Wodehouse's Jeeves novels.” You could then back this up by quoting a passage that contains a reference to Sherlock Holmes.
- Try to show how the arguments in each paragraph link back to the main thesis of your essay.
- When creating transitions, transitional phrases can be helpful. For example, use words and phrases such as “In addition,” “Therefore,” “Similarly,” “Subsequently,” or “As a result.”
- For example, if you've just discussed the use of color to create contrast in a work of art, you might start the next paragraph with, “In addition to color, the artist also uses different line weights to distinguish between the more static and dynamic figures in the scene.”
- For example, if you're arguing that a particular kind of shrimp decorates its shell with red algae to attract a mate, you'll need to address the counterargument that the shell decoration is a warning to predators. You might do this by presenting evidence that the red shrimp are, in fact, more likely to get eaten than shrimp with undecorated shells.
- The way you cite your sources will vary depending on the citation style you're using. Typically, you'll need to include the name of the author, the title and publication date of the source, and location information such as the page number on which the information appears.
- In general, you don't need to cite common knowledge. For example, if you say, “A zebra is a type of mammal,” you probably won't need to cite a source.
- If you've cited any sources in the essay, you'll need to include a list of works cited (or a bibliography ) at the end.
- Keep your conclusion brief. While the appropriate length will vary based on the length of the essay, it should typically be no longer than 1-2 paragraphs.
- For example, if you're writing a 1,000-word essay, your conclusion should be about 4-5 sentences long.  X Research source
Revising the Essay
- If you don't have time to spend a couple of days away from your essay, at least take a few hours to relax or work on something else.
- Excessive wordiness
- Points that aren't explained enough
- Tangents or unnecessary information
- Unclear transitions or illogical organization
- Spelling , grammar , style, and formatting problems
- Inappropriate language or tone (e.g., slang or informal language in an academic essay)
- You might have to cut material from your essay in some places and add new material to others.
- You might also end up reordering some of the content of the essay if you think that helps it flow better.
- Read over each line slowly and carefully. It may be helpful to read each sentence out loud to yourself.
Tip: If possible, have someone else check your work. When you've been looking at your writing for too long, your brain begins to fill in what it expects to see rather than what's there, making it harder for you to spot mistakes.
You Might Also Like
- ↑ https://www.yourdictionary.com/articles/essay-types
- ↑ https://students.unimelb.edu.au/academic-skills/resources/essay-writing/six-top-tips-for-writing-a-great-essay
- ↑ https://owl.purdue.edu/owl/general_writing/common_writing_assignments/research_papers/choosing_a_topic.html
- ↑ https://writingcenter.fas.harvard.edu/tips-reading-assignment-prompt
- ↑ https://library.unr.edu/help/quick-how-tos/writing/integrating-sources-into-your-paper
- ↑ https://advice.writing.utoronto.ca/researching/notes-from-research/
- ↑ https://writingcenter.fas.harvard.edu/pages/developing-thesis
- ↑ https://writingcenter.fas.harvard.edu/pages/outlining
- ↑ https://lsa.umich.edu/sweetland/undergraduates/writing-guides/how-do-i-write-an-intro--conclusion----body-paragraph.html
- ↑ https://owl.purdue.edu/owl/general_writing/academic_writing/essay_writing/argumentative_essays.html
- ↑ https://writingcenter.unc.edu/tips-and-tools/transitions/
- ↑ https://lsa.umich.edu/sweetland/undergraduates/writing-guides/how-do-i-incorporate-a-counter-argument.html
- ↑ https://www.plagiarism.org/article/how-do-i-cite-sources
- ↑ https://writingcenter.unc.edu/tips-and-tools/conclusions/
- ↑ https://www.utsc.utoronto.ca/twc/sites/utsc.utoronto.ca.twc/files/resource-files/Intros-Conclusions.pdf
- ↑ https://owl.purdue.edu/owl/general_writing/the_writing_process/proofreading/steps_for_revising.html
- ↑ https://open.lib.umn.edu/writingforsuccess/chapter/8-4-revising-and-editing/
- ↑ https://writing.ku.edu/writing-process
About This Article
If you need to write an essay, start by gathering information from reputable sources, like books from the library or scholarly journals online. Take detailed notes and keep track of which facts come from which sources. As you're taking notes, look for a central theme that you're interested in writing about to create your thesis statement. Then, organize your notes into an outline that supports and explains your thesis statement. Working from your outline, write an introduction and subsequent paragraphs to address each major point. Start every paragraph with a topic sentence that briefly explains the main point of that paragraph. Finally, finish your paper with a strong conclusion that sums up the most important points. For tips from our English Professor co-author on helpful revision techniques, keep reading! Did this summary help you? Yes No
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How To Write An Essay: Beginner Tips And Tricks
Many students dread writing essays, but essay writing is an important skill to develop in high school, university, and even into your future career. By learning how to write an essay properly, the process can become more enjoyable and you’ll find you’re better able to organize and articulate your thoughts.
When writing an essay, it’s common to follow a specific pattern, no matter what the topic is. Once you’ve used the pattern a few times and you know how to structure an essay, it will become a lot more simple to apply your knowledge to every essay.
No matter which major you choose, you should know how to craft a good essay. Here, we’ll cover the basics of essay writing, along with some helpful tips to make the writing process go smoothly.
Photo by Laura Chouette on Unsplash
Types of Essays
Think of an essay as a discussion. There are many types of discussions you can have with someone else. You can be describing a story that happened to you, you might explain to them how to do something, or you might even argue about a certain topic.
When it comes to different types of essays, it follows a similar pattern. Like a friendly discussion, each type of essay will come with its own set of expectations or goals.
For example, when arguing with a friend, your goal is to convince them that you’re right. The same goes for an argumentative essay.
Here are a few of the main essay types you can expect to come across during your time in school:
This type of essay is almost like telling a story, not in the traditional sense with dialogue and characters, but as if you’re writing out an event or series of events to relay information to the reader.
Here, your goal is to persuade the reader about your views on a specific topic.
This is the kind of essay where you go into a lot more specific details describing a topic such as a place or an event.
In this essay, you’re choosing a stance on a topic, usually controversial, and your goal is to present evidence that proves your point is correct.
Your purpose with this type of essay is to tell the reader how to complete a specific process, often including a step-by-step guide or something similar.
Compare and Contrast Essay
You might have done this in school with two different books or characters, but the ultimate goal is to draw similarities and differences between any two given subjects.
The Main Stages of Essay Writing
When it comes to writing an essay, many students think the only stage is getting all your ideas down on paper and submitting your work. However, that’s not quite the case.
There are three main stages of writing an essay, each one with its own purpose. Of course, writing the essay itself is the most substantial part, but the other two stages are equally as important.
So, what are these three stages of essay writing? They are:
Before you even write one word, it’s important to prepare the content and structure of your essay. If a topic wasn’t assigned to you, then the first thing you should do is settle on a topic. Next, you want to conduct your research on that topic and create a detailed outline based on your research. The preparation stage will make writing your essay that much easier since, with your outline and research, you should already have the skeleton of your essay.
Writing is the most time-consuming stage. In this stage, you will write out all your thoughts and ideas and craft your essay based on your outline. You’ll work on developing your ideas and fleshing them out throughout the introduction, body, and conclusion (more on these soon).
In the final stage, you’ll go over your essay and check for a few things. First, you’ll check if your essay is cohesive, if all the points make sense and are related to your topic, and that your facts are cited and backed up. You can also check for typos, grammar and punctuation mistakes, and formatting errors.
The Five-Paragraph Essay
We mentioned earlier that essay writing follows a specific structure, and for the most part in academic or college essays , the five-paragraph essay is the generally accepted structure you’ll be expected to use.
The five-paragraph essay is broken down into one introduction paragraph, three body paragraphs, and a closing paragraph. However, that doesn’t always mean that an essay is written strictly in five paragraphs, but rather that this structure can be used loosely and the three body paragraphs might become three sections instead.
Let’s take a closer look at each section and what it entails.
As the name implies, the purpose of your introduction paragraph is to introduce your idea. A good introduction begins with a “hook,” something that grabs your reader’s attention and makes them excited to read more.
Another key tenant of an introduction is a thesis statement, which usually comes towards the end of the introduction itself. Your thesis statement should be a phrase that explains your argument, position, or central idea that you plan on developing throughout the essay.
You can also include a short outline of what to expect in your introduction, including bringing up brief points that you plan on explaining more later on in the body paragraphs.
Here is where most of your essay happens. The body paragraphs are where you develop your ideas and bring up all the points related to your main topic.
In general, you’re meant to have three body paragraphs, or sections, and each one should bring up a different point. Think of it as bringing up evidence. Each paragraph is a different piece of evidence, and when the three pieces are taken together, it backs up your main point — your thesis statement — really well.
That being said, you still want each body paragraph to be tied together in some way so that the essay flows. The points should be distinct enough, but they should relate to each other, and definitely to your thesis statement. Each body paragraph works to advance your point, so when crafting your essay, it’s important to keep this in mind so that you avoid going off-track or writing things that are off-topic.
Many students aren’t sure how to write a conclusion for an essay and tend to see their conclusion as an afterthought, but this section is just as important as the rest of your work.
You shouldn’t be presenting any new ideas in your conclusion, but you should summarize your main points and show how they back up your thesis statement.
Essentially, the conclusion is similar in structure and content to the introduction, but instead of introducing your essay, it should be wrapping up the main thoughts and presenting them to the reader as a singular closed argument.
Photo by AMIT RANJAN on Unsplash
Steps to Writing an Essay
Now that you have a better idea of an essay’s structure and all the elements that go into it, you might be wondering what the different steps are to actually write your essay.
Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. Instead of going in blind, follow these steps on how to write your essay from start to finish.
Understand Your Assignment
When writing an essay for an assignment, the first critical step is to make sure you’ve read through your assignment carefully and understand it thoroughly. You want to check what type of essay is required, that you understand the topic, and that you pay attention to any formatting or structural requirements. You don’t want to lose marks just because you didn’t read the assignment carefully.
Research Your Topic
Once you understand your assignment, it’s time to do some research. In this step, you should start looking at different sources to get ideas for what points you want to bring up throughout your essay.
Search online or head to the library and get as many resources as possible. You don’t need to use them all, but it’s good to start with a lot and then narrow down your sources as you become more certain of your essay’s direction.
After research comes the brainstorming. There are a lot of different ways to start the brainstorming process . Here are a few you might find helpful:
- Think about what you found during your research that interested you the most
- Jot down all your ideas, even if they’re not yet fully formed
- Create word clouds or maps for similar terms or ideas that come up so you can group them together based on their similarities
- Try freewriting to get all your ideas out before arranging them
Create a Thesis
This is often the most tricky part of the whole process since you want to create a thesis that’s strong and that you’re about to develop throughout the entire essay. Therefore, you want to choose a thesis statement that’s broad enough that you’ll have enough to say about it, but not so broad that you can’t be precise.
Write Your Outline
Armed with your research, brainstorming sessions, and your thesis statement, the next step is to write an outline.
In the outline, you’ll want to put your thesis statement at the beginning and start creating the basic skeleton of how you want your essay to look.
A good way to tackle an essay is to use topic sentences . A topic sentence is like a mini-thesis statement that is usually the first sentence of a new paragraph. This sentence introduces the main idea that will be detailed throughout the paragraph.
If you create an outline with the topic sentences for your body paragraphs and then a few points of what you want to discuss, you’ll already have a strong starting point when it comes time to sit down and write. This brings us to our next step…
Write a First Draft
The first time you write your entire essay doesn’t need to be perfect, but you do need to get everything on the page so that you’re able to then write a second draft or review it afterward.
Everyone’s writing process is different. Some students like to write their essay in the standard order of intro, body, and conclusion, while others prefer to start with the “meat” of the essay and tackle the body, and then fill in the other sections afterward.
Make sure your essay follows your outline and that everything relates to your thesis statement and your points are backed up by the research you did.
Revise, Edit, and Proofread
The revision process is one of the three main stages of writing an essay, yet many people skip this step thinking their work is done after the first draft is complete.
However, proofreading, reviewing, and making edits on your essay can spell the difference between a B paper and an A.
After writing the first draft, try and set your essay aside for a few hours or even a day or two, and then come back to it with fresh eyes to review it. You might find mistakes or inconsistencies you missed or better ways to formulate your arguments.
Add the Finishing Touches
Finally, you’ll want to make sure everything that’s required is in your essay. Review your assignment again and see if all the requirements are there, such as formatting rules, citations, quotes, etc.
Go over the order of your paragraphs and make sure everything makes sense, flows well, and uses the same writing style .
Once everything is checked and all the last touches are added, give your essay a final read through just to ensure it’s as you want it before handing it in.
A good way to do this is to read your essay out loud since you’ll be able to hear if there are any mistakes or inaccuracies.
Essay Writing Tips
With the steps outlined above, you should be able to craft a great essay. Still, there are some other handy tips we’d recommend just to ensure that the essay writing process goes as smoothly as possible.
- Start your essay early. This is the first tip for a reason. It’s one of the most important things you can do to write a good essay. If you start it the night before, then you won’t have enough time to research, brainstorm, and outline — and you surely won’t have enough time to review.
- Don’t try and write it in one sitting. It’s ok if you need to take breaks or write it over a few days. It’s better to write it in multiple sittings so that you have a fresh mind each time and you’re able to focus.
- Always keep the essay question in mind. If you’re given an assigned question, then you should always keep it handy when writing your essay to make sure you’re always working to answer the question.
- Use transitions between paragraphs. In order to improve the readability of your essay, try and make clear transitions between paragraphs. This means trying to relate the end of one paragraph to the beginning of the next one so the shift doesn’t seem random.
- Integrate your research thoughtfully. Add in citations or quotes from your research materials to back up your thesis and main points. This will show that you did the research and that your thesis is backed up by it.
Writing an essay doesn’t need to be daunting if you know how to approach it. Using our essay writing steps and tips, you’ll have better knowledge on how to write an essay and you’ll be able to apply it to your next assignment. Once you do this a few times, it will become more natural to you and the essay writing process will become quicker and easier.
If you still need assistance with your essay, check with a student advisor to see if they offer help with writing. At University of the People(UoPeople), we always want our students to succeed, so our student advisors are ready to help with writing skills when necessary.
How to Write Masterful Topic Sentences for Essays
A topic sentence, usually the first sentence in a paragraph, introduces the main idea of that paragraph and sets its tone. A topic sentence is especially important in essays , where topics change from paragraph to paragraph. This makes knowing how to write a topic sentence crucial for any student or writer.
Of course, writing a topic sentence yourself isn’t always easy. How do you start one? What details should you include—or not include? This quick guide explains everything you need about how to write a topic sentence, with plenty of examples sprinkled throughout.
Here’s a tip: Want to make sure your writing shines? Grammarly can check your spelling and save you from grammar and punctuation mistakes. It even proofreads your text, so your work is extra polished wherever you write.
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Purpose of a topic sentence
On the surface, the purpose of a topic sentence is merely to present the main idea of the paragraph so that the reader knows what to expect. However, the best topic sentences do a little more.
First, topic sentences string together paragraphs in a way that progresses nicely and facilitates reading. Moving from one paragraph to another can feel jarring and abrupt, so topic sentences help maintain the flow of the overall piece of writing—and readers’ focus as a result.
Moreover, topic sentences also “preview” what the reader can expect from the rest of the paragraph. Based on the topic sentence, the reader can figure out if the paragraph will contain a list, statistical data, anecdotal evidence, persuasive opinions, a narrative, or something else.
If the same paragraph covers opposing points of view, you may need two or more topic sentences to show the reader the main idea has changed. The most common example of this is in paragraphs that compare or contrast positions, in which case each perspective needs its own introduction .
For these types of paragraphs , you could introduce your first idea with the opening topic sentence, then provide one or two sentences of support, and afterward introduce a second topic sentence known as a pivot (explained below). The pivot topic sentence introduces the paragraph’s second main idea or contradicting point of view, also followed by one or two sentences of support.
Different types of essays use topic sentences differently as well. Argumentative essays and persuasive essays may have more opinionated topic sentences, whereas those in expository essays would stick to facts. Compare-and-contrast essays , which alternate between opposite sides of a topic, rely on topic sentences to ease those transitions, on top of everything else.
This is true not just for different essay types, but also different paragraph types as well. Even within the same essay, the author may switch up paragraph styles between expository, descriptive, persuasive, and narrative —in that case, each requires a slightly different style of topic sentence.
Topic sentence vs. thesis statement
If you’re also learning about how to write a thesis paper , you may get topic sentences confused with thesis statements. Basically, topic sentences introduce the main idea of a paragraph, whereas thesis statements introduce the main idea of the entire paper or essay. Both serve the same function—preparing the reader with a preview—but in different capacities.
Topic sentence types and examples
Before you learn how to write a topic sentence, it helps to see what different forms they can take. Here we explain the different types, along with some topic sentence examples.
This is the most basic type of topic sentence, in which the author makes a general statement that the rest of the paragraph elaborates on.
New research indicates a link between a person’s cognitive style and the type of content they post on Twitter.
Those weeks at the farmhouse gave me some of the best memories of my life.
To break up the monotony of using the same sentence types over and over again, you can phrase your topic sentences as direct commands or requests to your readers.
Take a look at the data to see what I mean.
Now let’s consider the alternative.
Opening a paragraph with a question is a great way to get the reader interested and involved, as long as you stay on topic.
What would you do if you became a millionaire overnight?
How many countries are prepared for a change in sea levels?
If you have a complicated topic that covers multiple ideas, you may want to use a complex topic sentence. Even though these would still qualify as “statements,” they address more than one main idea.
Although the majority of people still believe in alpha wolf theory, the truth is that wolf packs in nature don’t necessarily have a designated leader.
As appealing as Ayn Rand’s ideas may seem to some, the logical and evidential support just isn’t there.
While all topic sentences have to deal with transitions to a degree, in some cases they can be purely transitional. These work best in circumstances when the topic changes drastically by drawing attention to the switch.
However, not everyone agrees.
This was just the way the world was, and perhaps always would have been, if a random apple had not fallen onto the head of a young Isaac Newton.
Similar to purely transitional sentences, pivot sentences are embedded within a paragraph— not at the beginning—to indicate a shift from one topic to another. They often include conjunctive adverbs such as however , meanwhile , furthermore , etc.
By contrast, Nikola Tesla saw alternating current as a better solution.
However, the Bears’ winning streak could not last forever.
How to write a good topic sentence
Topic sentences follow many of the usual guidelines for writing sentences , but there are a few particular tips just for them.
1 Get the reader interested with a hook
Good topic sentences usually include a “hook,” or something that makes people want to read more. While some are more common than others, you can hook your readers in a variety of ways:
- Shocking revelations , like surprising facts or impressive data
Despite the record-breaking turnouts, only one percent of the teams managed to complete the first challenge.
- Mystery , which is especially useful with interrogative topic sentences
What finally changed the senator’s mind?
- Emotion , or encouraging the reader to form a personal connection with the topic
Living with a dog has its difficulties, but not as many as living without one.
2 Find a middle ground between general and specific
One of the biggest challenges in writing topic sentences is learning how much to include and how much to save for the rest of the paragraph. In short, you want to say just enough so that the reader knows what the paragraph is about, and ideally gets interested. Everything else should wait until the supporting sentences.
For example, let’s look at a topic sentence for a paragraph about an apartment, from Meghan Daum’s essay “ My Misspent Youth ”:
There was nothing particularly fancy about the place.
The remaining paragraph is full of specific details about the apartment, but Daum doesn’t mention them in the opening sentence. Likewise, she doesn’t ignore the description altogether, giving a glimpse to the reader to pique their curiosity and prepare them for a paragraph describing the place.
3 Be clear above all
The most important part of topic sentences is clarity. Even if you get the reader excited and eager to read more, it won’t matter if they don’t know what they’re reading about.
This may be easy enough when just writing a single topic sentence, but it gets harder when writing sentence after sentence for hours on end. After a while, you get bogged down by your own thoughts and concerns about the essay and may momentarily forget about the reader’s perspective.
If that writing process sounds familiar, try Grammarly. Our product not only catches typos and grammar mistakes, but also points out mismatched tone , weak word choice , and even assesses clarity.
You have enough things to worry about when writing an essay; don’t let the high-priority concerns like clarity fall through the cracks. Try Grammarly for free to see for yourself.
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How to write an essay in English
By ielts expert, 29 june 2023 - 16:00.
Many students say writing is the worst part of their English, but it’s often just a case of confidence. With practice, and the tips in this post, you can gain the confidence you need to maximise your English and really show it off. This post will look at the three stages of writing - planning, writing the text and reading it back.
If you are preparing for an exam, please be aware that for the latest information on exam format you should always go straight to the source – IELTS website . You can practice free online IELTS Academic Writing tests or General Training Writing tests . You can also practice writing your answer by downloading an IELTS Writing Answer Sheet .
Planning is an integral part of your writing. You might say “I don’t plan”, but somewhere in your subconscious, you do! By raising your awareness of your own planning process you can improve enormously. As a teacher, I see many students who plan and many who don’t. In general, the students that plan produce much better work, so if you are in the “no plan” camp, you should at least experiment with some of the ideas coming up.
Planning 1: Address the question
If you are writing for a class assignment or an exam, it is crucial that you address the question given. Adequate planning (five minutes is better than nothing) will keep you on track.
Start by breaking the question down into its parts. There will usually be two or three aspects to the question. You want not only to cover all aspects of the question, but also make it obvious to your teacher or the examiner that you have done so, and the best way to demonstrate this is to give each aspect its own paragraph.
Planning 2: Brainstorm vocabulary as well as ideas
Once you have identified your paragraphs, think about what vocabulary you have at your disposal. Perhaps you would like to write one paragraph from a particular angle, but when you start planning you might find there are holes in your vocabulary and you are better able to write from a different angle. Choose ideas which best overlap with what you can clearly state in English.
Planning 3: Write chunks of language
Even with all the vocabulary in the world, some ideas are complex to express in writing. Causality, speculation and hypothetical scenarios are all abstract concepts which make it more challenging to say exactly what you want, but these are also an opportunity to push your English ability to the max and show your grammatical range.
Sound out in your head how you will make your arguments, and when you get stuck, try writing this part down in your plan. It might be a whole sentence of just a clause. This will help you decide if you have enough English ability to get across a really impressive idea, or if you need to simplify your thoughts in order to remain clear to the reader.
Writing the text 1: Use your plan!
I have seen many students write logical, competent plans that address the question, only to go off on a random tangent when they start writing!
Of course, you might change some things as you go along, for example if you have a new idea, but keeping an eye on your plan will prevent you from getting distracted and bring you back to the question you must answer. It will also keep you aware of how you are doing for word count and time.
Writing the text 2: Write your introduction last
You should at least consider this idea. The purpose of an introduction is to tell the reader what they are going to read, so how can you write the introduction when you haven’t written the content yet?
Introductions are fiddly to write on a blank canvas, but much easier when we already have the content written in front of us.
If you are writing on paper, it is still possible to write the introduction last - you just need to leave a few lines for it.
Writing the text 3: Make sure your introduction and conclusion match
Your introduction and conclusion should also match the content of your main body paragraphs. This might seem obvious, but I wish I had a euro for every time I have seen an introduction passionately in favour of something followed by body paragraphs and a conclusion that were passionately against.
This problem can be avoided by writing your conclusion last, as suggested above. It will also be avoided by planning, and thinking a little more deeply how you feel about the question before you start. When I say a little more deeply, I’m talking about a minute or so, not hours.
Writing the text 4: Use linkers
Linkers are often misunderstood as simply a way of showing “formal English” but in fact, we use linkers all the time, even when chatting with friends. We use them in speech and in writing to indicate “I’m going to add to what was just said,” “I’m going to contradict what was just said,” and generally to help the listener or reader understand where we are going next.
After writing the text
This is another area where many students are very reluctant - you need to read what you wrote!
Check for spelling errors, missing third person s, capital letters, whatever errors you are prone to make… and if you don’t know what errors you are prone to make, it’s because you aren’t checking your writing, so you need to start today! You can be the expert on your own writing strengths and weaknesses, and this will just make you better and better.
Moreover, you should read back your text because it’s enjoyable to see how skillfully you put your ideas down and how convincing your arguments are. You did it! Well done! Enjoy the moment with some positivity!
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English essays are an essential part of academic life, whether you’re in high school, college, or pursuing a higher degree. Knowing how to write a well-structured and engaging essay is critical for success. This article will guide you through the process of writing an excellent English essay, from understanding the assignment to proofreading your final draft.
1. Understand the Assignment
Before you start writing, ensure that you thoroughly understand the assignment. Take note of the instructions and guidelines provided by your teacher or professor. Determine critical details such as the essay length, format, citation style, and due date. If any part of the task is unclear to you, don’t hesitate to ask for clarification.
2. Choose a Topic
If you’re given a broad topic, narrow it down to something more specific and manageable. Select a topic that genuinely interests you since this will motivate you during the writing process. Keep in mind that your topic should be relevant and meet the assignment’s requirements.
3. Conduct Research
Research is crucial as it ensures that your essay is well-informed and grounded in facts. Visit your library or use reliable online sources like academic databases and scholarly articles to gather relevant information. Make sure to take detailed notes during your research and appropriately credit your sources.
4. Organize Your Thoughts
After conducting research, it’s crucial to organize your thoughts logically. Create an outline for your essay that includes an introduction, body paragraphs, and conclusion. For each body paragraph, note down the main point you wish to discuss and list supporting evidence from your research.
5. Write Your Thesis Statement
Your thesis statement is a vital part of any essay as it guides your entire paper’s content and direction. It should be clear and specific, outlining what you will argue or discuss in the essay. Usually found at the end of your introduction paragraph, this statement will serve as a roadmap for your readers.
6. Write the Introduction
The introduction sets the tone for your entire essay, so it’s essential that you grab your readers’ attention. Begin with an opening sentence that is captivating and relevant to your topic. Provide some background information on the issue, followed by your thesis statement.
7. Develop Body Paragraphs
Each body paragraph should focus on one main point and include evidence to support it. Start with a topic sentence, present your arguments clearly, and provide credible sources as evidence. Remember to analyze the information instead of merely presenting facts. You should also use transition words and phrases to help your arguments flow smoothly.
8. Craft Your Conclusion
The conclusion is where you summarize and restate your thesis statement and main arguments. Remember not to introduce new ideas or evidence in this section but merely wrap up what has been discussed in the essay.
9. Revise and Edit Your Essay
Proofread your essay meticulously after finishing the first draft. Pay attention to grammar, sentence structure, punctuation, spelling, and content consistency. Don’t be afraid to reword sentences or eliminate unnecessary information for clarity and concision.
10. Format Your Essay
Ensure that you follow the required citation format (MLA, APA, Chicago) for references and formatting guidelines such as margins, font size, spacing, etc., as outlined in the assignment instructions.
Writing an excellent English essay requires patience, planning, research, organization, and revision. Follow these steps closely to create an engaging and well-written essay that showcases your thoughts cogently and convincingly. With practice and dedication, you can hone your skills and become a proficient essay writer in no time.
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EU AI Act: first regulation on artificial intelligence
The use of artificial intelligence in the EU will be regulated by the AI Act, the world’s first comprehensive AI law. Find out how it will protect you.
As part of its digital strategy , the EU wants to regulate artificial intelligence (AI) to ensure better conditions for the development and use of this innovative technology. AI can create many benefits , such as better healthcare; safer and cleaner transport; more efficient manufacturing; and cheaper and more sustainable energy.
In April 2021, the European Commission proposed the first EU regulatory framework for AI. It says that AI systems that can be used in different applications are analysed and classified according to the risk they pose to users. The different risk levels will mean more or less regulation. Once approved, these will be the world’s first rules on AI.
Learn more about what artificial intelligence is and how it is used
What Parliament wants in AI legislation
Parliament’s priority is to make sure that AI systems used in the EU are safe, transparent, traceable, non-discriminatory and environmentally friendly. AI systems should be overseen by people, rather than by automation, to prevent harmful outcomes.
Parliament also wants to establish a technology-neutral, uniform definition for AI that could be applied to future AI systems.
Learn more about Parliament’s work on AI and its vision for AI’s future
AI Act: different rules for different risk levels
The new rules establish obligations for providers and users depending on the level of risk from artificial intelligence. While many AI systems pose minimal risk, they need to be assessed.
Unacceptable risk AI systems are systems considered a threat to people and will be banned. They include:
- Cognitive behavioural manipulation of people or specific vulnerable groups: for example voice-activated toys that encourage dangerous behaviour in children
- Social scoring: classifying people based on behaviour, socio-economic status or personal characteristics
- Biometric identification and categorisation of people
- Real-time and remote biometric identification systems, such as facial recognition
Some exceptions may be allowed for law enforcement purposes. “Real-time” remote biometric identification systems will be allowed in a limited number of serious cases, while “post” remote biometric identification systems, where identification occurs after a significant delay, will be allowed to prosecute serious crimes and only after court approval.
AI systems that negatively affect safety or fundamental rights will be considered high risk and will be divided into two categories:
1) AI systems that are used in products falling under the EU’s product safety legislation . This includes toys, aviation, cars, medical devices and lifts.
2) AI systems falling into specific areas that will have to be registered in an EU database:
- Management and operation of critical infrastructure
- Education and vocational training
- Employment, worker management and access to self-employment
- Access to and enjoyment of essential private services and public services and benefits
- Law enforcement
- Migration, asylum and border control management
- Assistance in legal interpretation and application of the law.
All high-risk AI systems will be assessed before being put on the market and also throughout their lifecycle.
General purpose and generative AI
Generative AI, like ChatGPT, would have to comply with transparency requirements:
- Disclosing that the content was generated by AI
- Designing the model to prevent it from generating illegal content
- Publishing summaries of copyrighted data used for training
High-impact general-purpose AI models that might pose systemic risk, such as the more advanced AI model GPT-4, would have to undergo thorough evaluations and any serious incidents would have to be reported to the European Commission.
Limited risk AI systems should comply with minimal transparency requirements that would allow users to make informed decisions. After interacting with the applications, the user can then decide whether they want to continue using it. Users should be made aware when they are interacting with AI. This includes AI systems that generate or manipulate image, audio or video content, for example deepfakes.
On December 9 2023, Parliament reached a provisional agreement with the Council on the AI act . The agreed text will now have to be formally adopted by both Parliament and Council to become EU law. Before all MEPs have their say on the agreement, Parliament’s internal market and civil liberties committees will vote on it.
More on the EU’s digital measures
- Cryptocurrency dangers and the benefits of EU legislation
- Fighting cybercrime: new EU cybersecurity laws explained
- Boosting data sharing in the EU: what are the benefits?
- EU Digital Markets Act and Digital Services Act
- Five ways the European Parliament wants to protect online gamers
- Artificial Intelligence Act
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- Choosing Your College Essay Topic | Ideas & Examples
Choosing Your College Essay Topic | Ideas & Examples
Published on October 25, 2021 by Kirsten Courault . Revised on July 3, 2023.
A strong essay topic sets you up to write a unique, memorable college application essay . Your topic should be personal, original, and specific. Take time to brainstorm the right topic for you.
Table of contents
What makes a good topic, brainstorming questions to get started, discover the best topic for you, how to make a common topic compelling, frequently asked questions about college application essays, other interesting articles.
Here are some guidelines for a good essay topic:
- It’s focused on you and your experience
- It shares something different from the rest of your application
- It’s specific and original (not many students could write a similar essay)
- It affords the opportunity to share your positive stories and qualities
In most cases, avoid topics that
- Reflect poorly on your character and behavior
- Deal with a challenge or traumatic experience without a lesson learned or positive outlook
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Spend time reflecting on and writing out answers to the following questions. After doing this exercise, you should be able to identify a few strong topics for your college essay.
Writing about yourself can be difficult. If you’re struggling to identify your topic, try these two strategies.
Start with your qualities
After identifying your positive qualities or values, brainstorm stories that demonstrate these qualities.
Start with a story
If you already have some memorable stories in mind that you’d like to write about, think about which qualities and values you can demonstrate with those stories.
Talk it through
To make sure you choose the right topic, ask for advice from trusted friends or family members who know you well. They can help you brainstorm ideas and remember stories, and they can give you feedback on your potential essay topics.
You can also work with a guidance counselor, teacher, or other mentor to discuss which ideas are most promising. If you plan ahead , you can even workshop multiple draft essays to see which topic works best.
If you do choose a common topic, ensure you have the following to craft a unique essay:
- Surprising or unexpected story arcs
- Interesting insight or connections
- An advanced writing style
Here are a few examples of how to craft strong essays from cliché topics.
Here’s a checklist you can use to confirm that your college essay topic is right for you.
College essay topic checklist
My topic is focused on me, not on someone else.
My topic shares something different from the rest of my application.
My topic is specific and original (not many students could write a similar essay).
My topic reflects positively on my character and behavior.
If I chose to write about a traumatic or challenging experience, my essay will focus on how I overcame it or gained insight.
If I chose a common topic, my essay will have a surprising story arc, interesting insight, and/or an advanced writing style.
It looks like your topic is a good choice. It's specific, it avoids clichés, and it reflects positively on you.
There are no foolproof college essay topics —whatever your topic, the key is to write about it effectively. However, a good topic
- Is meaningful, specific, and personal to you
- Focuses on you and your experiences
- Reveals something beyond your test scores, grades, and extracurriculars
- Is creative and original
Yes—admissions officers don’t expect everyone to have a totally unique college essay topic . But you must differentiate your essay from others by having a surprising story arc, an interesting insight, and/or an advanced writing style .
To decide on a good college essay topic , spend time thoughtfully answering brainstorming questions. If you still have trouble identifying topics, try the following two strategies:
- Identify your qualities → Brainstorm stories that demonstrate these qualities
- Identify memorable stories → Connect your qualities to these stories
You can also ask family, friends, or mentors to help you brainstorm topics, give feedback on your potential essay topics, or recall key stories that showcase your qualities.
Most topics are acceptable for college essays if you can use them to demonstrate personal growth or a lesson learned. However, there are a few difficult topics for college essays that should be avoided. Avoid topics that are:
- Overly personal (e.g. graphic details of illness or injury, romantic or sexual relationships)
- Not personal enough (e.g. broad solutions to world problems, inspiring people or things)
- Too negative (e.g. an in-depth look at your flaws, put-downs of others, criticizing the need for a college essay)
- Too boring (e.g. a resume of your academic achievements and extracurriculars)
- Inappropriate for a college essay (e.g. illegal activities, offensive humor, false accounts of yourself, bragging about privilege)
Here’s a brief list of college essay topics that may be considered cliché:
- Extracurriculars, especially sports
- Role models
- Dealing with a personal tragedy or death in the family
- Struggling with new life situations (immigrant stories, moving homes, parents’ divorce)
- Becoming a better person after community service, traveling, or summer camp
- Overcoming a difficult class
- Using a common object as an extended metaphor
It’s easier to write a standout essay with a unique topic. However, it’s possible to make a common topic compelling with interesting story arcs, uncommon connections, and an advanced writing style.
If you want to know more about academic writing , effective communication , or parts of speech , make sure to check out some of our other articles with explanations and examples.
- Writing process
- Transition words
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- How to end an email
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- How to start an email
- I hope this email finds you well
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