It’s the one aspect of college that most students dread: essay writing. Virtually every class will require you to write at least one essay, and there may be a laundry list of requirements or questions you’ll have to answer in your paper.

Instead of panicking about your upcoming essays, use these tips to improve your essay writing and impress your professor.

1. Expand Your Vocabulary

Expanding your vocabulary will help you express your thoughts in a more clear, concise way. Keep in mind that expanding your vocabulary doesn’t necessarily mean that you should drag out your sentences unnecessarily. 

Get your point across in as few words as possible and in an eloquent way. 

How can you expand your vocabulary?

  • Read more. When you read more books and other publications, you’re bound to come across more unfamiliar words. Keep a dictionary nearby so that you can quickly look up the words you don’t know.
  • Subscribe to a “word a day” email.
  • Keep a thesaurus on hand.

2. Read Other Essays

Reading is one of the best ways to improve your writing. Each time you pick up a new book or read a new article in a magazine, you expose yourself to new writing styles and ideas. Use these as inspiration and to improve your writing.

Try to read a wide range of essays, including those that challenge your beliefs or discuss subjects you’re unfamiliar with. 

When reading these essays, ask yourself:

  • What do you like about them?
  • What don’t you like about them?
  • How persuasive are they?
  • Is the argument balanced and supported?
  • Has the writer used new techniques you’re unfamiliar with?

Reading more essays will also help you better understand formatting and what should and shouldn’t be included in this type of writing.

3. Include Quotes

Essays give you a chance to include quotes from other people and texts. When cited properly, quotes can add some dimension to your essay and keep the reader engaged. It also demonstrates how well-read you are.

While quotes can make a great addition to your essay, it’s important not to go overboard. You don’t want to appear as if you’re hiding behind other people’s words. Simply add quotes when you feel it’s appropriate or relevant. Your opinions and arguments should make up the majority of the essay.

4. Work on Your Tone of Voice, Syntax and Punctuation

Sophisticated sentence structures can make your essay sound more intelligent and well-written. The most important thing is to ensure that your writing is easy to understand, but you can do this while using interesting syntax that doesn’t take away from your meaning.

Grammar is of the utmost importance when writing your essay, so don’t forget this crucial part. 

Write in the active voice rather than the passive voice. Doing so will give your writing a sense of immediacy and keep readers engaged. 

5. Write Your Thesis Statement First

After you’ve chosen your topic and argument, write your thesis statement. The thesis statement tells the reader what your essay is all about – and your side of the argument. 

A good thesis has two parts: the topic and the point of the essay. 

You may need to write several thesis statements before you find the right one for your essay. Just make sure that it conveys your point clearly and concisely.

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