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How to Write Better Essays: 6 Practical Tips
The best students love writing essays because they’re a chance to shine; they’re an interesting intellectual exercise in which the writer must craft thoughtful arguments on complicated topics within the restrains of a prescribed and often limitary word count.
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For many such students, each essay brings with it the challenge of making it that little bit better than the last one. The problem is that when you write essays regularly, it’s effortless to get stuck in a rut of repeating the same formula each time – particularly when you already receive good feedback from the teachers who read them. So how do you take your essays to the next level and go from good to brilliant? Here are some practical tips and mechanisms that will help you write consistently exceptional essays.
1. Read other people’s essays
Suggest to share your essays with other people and they may comeback the favour. Even better: commence a examine group.
Just as the books you read subconsciously help mould your own writing style. so reading other people’s essays can help you develop and build on your own essay-writing style. Attempt to read a range of other essays, including those of your peers and of academics. Read essays on a broad multiplicity of subjects. not necessarily just those that you’re studying; different disciplines might apply different kinds of arguments or styles. so the broader you read, the more possible technologies there are for you to pick up and use in essays of your own.
As you read other people’s essays, don’t just take them at face value. Be critical: what do you like about them? What don’t you like about them? How persuasive do you think they are? Is the argument a balanced one, with points adequately supported with evidence? Has the writer used any mechanisms you’ve not seen before?
Another good source of essays is the broadsheet newspapers. Read the opinion chunks and dissect how the writer has supported their points with evidence, and again, be critical ; note where they’ve left things out to attempt to persuade you to a particular opinion. Essays should be balanced, so you can learn from the best of these writers and pick up some mechanisms to help you form a balanced chunk.
Two. Build your vocabulary and use it decently
Make use of dictionaries and thesauri.
A good vocabulary will permit you to express exactly what you mean, as clearly and concisely as possible. Economy with words is a characteristic of all good essays, because readers (and essay-markers) don’t like having their time wasted with long, rambling points that could have been voiced in half the number of words.
One way of ensuring that you can communicate clearly and to the point is through accurate and effective use of advanced vocabulary. A good essay writer should never rest on their laurels when it comes to vocabulary; it’s something you should be working on continually, as there are always fresh words to learn that could help convey a point more effectively. What’s more, deploying a good vocabulary displays intelligence and permits you to be more persuasive in your essay-writing. Here are some ways in which you can build your vocabulary:
– Subscribe to a ‘word a day’ email (such as this one from Merriam-Webster ). Create a folder in your email account for fresh word emails, so that you can file each email away and have them all in one place ready to flick through and learn from in an idle moment.
– Read widely, and refer to a dictionary for words you don’t know as you go along; this way, you’ll learn the fresh word as well as watching it in context so you know how to use it decently. Read different genres of fiction, and non-fiction covering a range of topics, and you’ll have the added bonus of widening your general skill as well as your vocabulary.
– Use a thesaurus – if you find yourself using the same words over and over again, add multitude to your language by looking up those words in a thesaurus and finding other words that mean the same thing. A word of warning: words you find in a thesaurus can’t always be used interchangeably; even words with similar meanings can differ subtly in a way that makes them inappropriate in certain contexts, so find examples of a word used correctly before you use a fresh word for the very first time.
– Learn prefixes, suffixes and roots – it sounds boring, but this shortcut will help you learn a excellent many more words. Many roots come from Latin and Greek words, such as “bene” in Latin, meaning “good”, which gives rise to words such as “benefactor”, “benevolent” and “benefit”. It’s often possible to deduce the meaning of a fresh word if you know its root and read it in context. Prefixes are added to the beginning of a word to switch the meaning, such as “semi” or “ante”, while suffixes are added to the end, such as “-able” or “-ance”.
– Commence a vocabulary book – you very likely have one if you’re learning a foreign language, so why not have one for your native language as well? Buy yourself a nice notepad and use it to collect fresh words and their meanings. The act of writing down the definition will help you recall it, and you could include an example of how the word is used to increase your chances of memorising it for use in essays. It may help to have different sections for words on particular themes; you could have a general section, and then further parts of the notebook could be dedicated to words of use in history essays, science essays and so on.
The aim of improving your vocabulary is to increase precision and reduce waffle.
Put the fresh words you’ve learned to good use right away, perhaps setting yourself the challenge of including a minimum number of fresh ones in each essay you write. This will help consolidate your skill at the same time as impressing the reader.
One significant thing to recall, tho’: don’t use big words just for the sake of it. Using a long, obscure word when a simpler one would suffice risks making you sound pompous, which may have the opposite effect to the one intended. What’s more, be wary of adding words for the sake of it; cut the waffle by reviewing each sentence and removing any words or sentences that don’t add anything to what you’re telling. Ultimately, your purpose should be to make your writing as clear and easy-to-understand as possible, so that it is a pleasure to read.
Three. Words to help develop an argument
Part of sounding intelligent in an essay is not repeating yourself; as you’re writing, concentrate on using language effectively to help build an argument and create a sense of structure. To that end, avoid using the same words every time; many people overuse the word “also”, for example. Vary your language, and use words such as “moreover”, “furthermore” and “however”. Such words help develop your argument and make the reader feel they are being guided through the problems on a sort of ‘journey’ to your conclusion.
Four. Elevator pitching your essays
Would you be able to summarise your essay inbetween floors?
We’ve most likely all had it hammered into us that we should write an essay plan before we embark writing, but before you even do that, you need to know what the argument you’re going to make actually is. Only then can you commence writing the structure for an essay that builds up to your overall conclusion. To condense what you’re attempting to say into a brief, snappy summary for you to work from, attempt making an ‘Elevator Pitch’ style summary of what you intend to write and why readers should be interested in it.
The Elevator Pitch is a technology used by salespeople when condensing the arguments for buying a product into the shortest possible summary of why a customer should consider a purchase. The salesperson is told to imagine themselves in a lift; in the time it takes for that lift to reach the desired floor, they should have given a compelling argument in favour of that product that would result in the customer buying it, or at least wanting to know more. Your Elevator Pitch for your essay should sell the idea of it to a reader, leaving them wanting to read the essay in question. This is fairly a harsh exercise, as it compels you to be ruthlessly concise in your thinking and choice of words; but you can use this summary to help you write your introduction, and it’ll help you achieve clarity in what you’re attempting to say.
Five. Tell the reader what other people say
Be aware of who the foremost writers on a subject are, even if you determine not to reference them. For example, anyone studying Beowulf should be aware of JRR Tolkien’s essay, ‘The Monsters and the Critics.’
We’ve mentioned this on a previous article on essay writing. but it seems pertinent to mention it here too. Essays are a chance for you to demonstrate off how widely read you are, so make sure you quote other people’s opinions, and original sources, on what you’re writing about. For example, if you were to write a history essay on early religious practices in Britain, you could quote original texts on that topic (such as Bede’s Ecclesiastical History of the English People ) and also mention what a range of modern scholars have to say about the topic. Contrasting views should be sought; it’s unlikely that everyone agrees on the topic, so demonstrate you’ve looked at all the possible angles.
For each of the subjects you’re studying, begin a page in a notebook for significant people in that field, with a summary of when they lived and what their views are. That way, you’ll have something to refer to when you’re writing an essay and want to consult adequate scholars or other writers whose opinions you might wish to include.
Don’t quote too much; mix citations with your own opinions so that it doesn’t look as however you have to hide behind other people’s words. It’s fine to disagree with a scholar you quote, provided you can give evidence and reasoning for doing so. This shows that you have thought about it and made your own mind up, rather than blindly accepting what that scholar has said; this demonstrates strong critical reasoning abilities, one of the hallmarks of brilliant students.
6. Syntax, punctuation and tone of voice
Be fair: do you find your tone of voice interesting?
You may not consciously realise it when you’re reading, but sophisticated sentence structures make the world of difference to how intelligent you sound. As we’ve already said, the most significant consideration when you’re writing is making yourself effortless for readers to understand; but you can still do this and utilise a range of interesting syntax at the same time. Employ a multitude of sentence structures, long and brief, but don’t let your sentences become too long and rambling, or they become difficult to read. Effective punctuation is vital in conveying your arguments persuasively; the last thing a teacher or lecturer wants to read is an essay riddled with poor grammar. What’s more, the reader shouldn’t have to read a sentence more than once to understand it.
You most likely already have a tone of voice you use for writing essays, but is it interesting and engaging? Read through some of your old essays and ask yourself honestly whether you find them absorbing. If they’re not, it could well be because you’ve not established the right tone of voice. Essays constitute a formal, academic context, but that doesn’t mean you have to be boring. A certain tone of voice will help showcase the reader that you know what you’re talking about and reassure them that they’re in safe palms.
Writing in the active rather than the passive voice is a well-known trick of the trade that writers use to give their writing a sense of immediacy and make it more compelling; you too can deploy this technology in your essays by steering clear of the passive voice (for example, rather than writing “Much work is being done to…”, say “Scholars are putting a superb deal of effort into…”). Over the course of an entire essay, you’d be astonished what a difference this makes to your tone.
We hope you’ve found these tips and technics useful and that they help you take your essay-writing to fresh heights. If you have any tips you’d like to share with us, do let us know by leaving a comment below!
89 Responses to «How to Write Better Essays: 6 Practical Tips»
June Ten, 2014 at Four:16 pm, Jedi Santos said:
Thanks for the tips!I’m looking forward for more! ??
JUNIOR ENGLISH PROGRAMME FOR AGES 8 – 12