Essay Writing Tips

Essay Writing Tips

There are a few simple ways to ensure that your college essay is a  good one. First, pick a subject that you care about, if possible.  If you have a genuine interest in the topic at hand, it will come through in the quality of your work, and your writing will naturally sound much more enthusiastic.  It is also much more likely that you will be educated on the subject, which may spare you some time that might otherwise have been dedicated to research. If the topic is assigned, of course, this can’t be helped.


Keep Your Audience in Mind

Who is going to read this essay upon its completion? If you are writing for a teacher, you will want to take care to make sure that your essay is properly formatted, and that all instructions have been followed. If you are writing an opinion piece for a personal website or a column in the school paper, though, you may benefit from using a more casual style of writing or establishing a strong “voice” of your own. In situations where a more professional tone is needed, avoid using slang words or writing in the first person perspective, as it will detract from the points you are trying to make. Conversely, writing in a cold, clinical manner will alienate readers if your objective is to get them to relate to you.  For students looking to expand their essay-writing skills to help them with better grades while in college, we recommend the book Writing Essays in English Language and Linguistics: Principles, Tips and Strategies for Undergraduates

Don’t Wait Until the Last Minute to Write Your Essay

Also important is the time you spend writing your essay. Some will wait until the night before the deadline before rushing to complete it, and it will show in the final product. If you take your time and apply yourself consistently, that, too will show in the final product. Consider writing an outline before you start on the essay itself; by doing so, you will be able to organize your points and clearly elaborate on each one, which can mean the difference between having a hard time putting your thoughts into words (and possibly getting frustrated as a result), and writing the essay quickly and efficiently, with time to spare.

Featured Video: Tips for Writing the Perfect College Essay


Find Out What Topics You’ll Be Writing About and Prepare Far in Advance

When it comes to writing college admissions essays, the best idea is to find out what essay topics you’ll be writing about from the colleges your applying for.  This can be done as soon as the applications for your entering freshman class are available.   Then get to work right away on developing an outline for your essays.  Keep working on the outline for a day or two.  Then you’re ready to flesh out the content of your essays.  Try to work on the essay for about an hour maximum.  Then leave it until the following day and read through it to see how you can improve on it.  Let your parents, teachers, and counselors take a look at the essay to see if there are any points that don’t make sense from their points of view.  See where your wording can be improved or needs change.  It helps to read your essay aloud to gain an understanding of how it sounds.

Each time you look through your essay, try to spot locations of vagueness.  Are there any clichés in your essay?  Make sure to eliminate trite passages and clichés.  Create original descriptions and vivid images instead.

Lastly, be sure to check your work for typographical and syntax errors, as well as misspellings.  Most word processing programs come with a built-in spell check, and some even include a tool that will browse for broken sentence fragments. Both of these are very valuable and should be used at every opportunity. Revision is key.  If you plan far enough in advance, you can enjoy the luxury of letting your essay sit a few days before you look at it again.  You’ll look at the essay differently after waiting a couple of days.  Take the opportunity to make any improvements to your essay with each revision.