Writing a Good Essay
What’s a good essay? It’s an essay written in impeccable English. Writing a good essay leads to a composition that communicates compellingly. And work that adds real value. But “good” is relatively subjective. What looks like a perfect paper to you might not look as appealing to your professor. Perhaps we should say a good essay is a paper that follows your professor’s instructions. It’s a paper they’d love to grade.
Most importantly, it’s writing that earns you an excellent letter grade. Here are actionable tips on writing an excellent essay:
A Good Essay Follows Instructions
That’s where writing a good essay begins. You must clearly understand your teacher’s essay question. Otherwise, you’ll end up with a paper that doesn’t answer the question.
So, look at the action verbs used. Does your professor want you to describe, explain, or discuss? Do they need you to analyze, compare or contrast? The action verbs used indicate the type of essay you’re supposed to write. For example, “analyze” should lead you to a high-quality analytical essay. “Compare and contrast” should have you writing a top-notch compare-and-contrast essay.
Look at the Rubric
Your teacher will likely provide their rubric along with the instructions. The rubric guides how your professor awards points during grading. Scrutinize the document. How many points can you get for a well-written essay introduction? How many points will you get for accurately written in-text and full citations? The rubric indicates the areas that demand the most mental energy and time. That doesn’t in any way suggest some areas of your essay shouldn’t be perfect. You’ll have to earn your grades. They won’t just happen.
Sometimes, your teacher will give instructions regarding the format you’re to follow. Where that’s the case, be sure to read and understand your teacher’s directions. You’ve likely read tons of other articles on writing a good essay. What do they say? They all tell you an essay has three parts namely an introduction, a body, and a conclusion. And they’re right.
But knowing that isn’t enough. A brief essay might successfully follow the “introduction, three body paragraphs, and conclusion” structure. But longer pieces might prefer a different structure. You’d need to modify the usual structure a bit.
Longer Essays Can be More Challenging to Write than Shorter Compositions
Longer essays tend to be more complicated than shorter ones. Sure, longer compositions still feature the three parts — intro, body, and conclusion. But each section (excluding the conclusion) may have headings and subsections. It depends on the nature of your research. It might also depend on the discipline in question.
For example, an essay in botany might favor a different structure than a nursing essay. And writing a good essay in the humanities might be somewhat different than an essay in the “hard sciences.”
Style is all about how you compose your sentences. Now, there are a gazillion rules that guide academic writing. Committing all of them to memory can be tough. But as you write more, those rules and conventions become a permanent part of your “writing self.”
Essay writing is formal writing. This article will not explore all the rules involved. But these five tips should help you stay on track:
- Communicate using the most straightforward words you can find.
- Avoid using contractions, colloquialisms, and first-person pronouns such as “I,” “you” or “We.”
- Avoid using too many phrasal verbs — use them sparingly. Sometimes, it’s best to avoid them altogether.
- Use adverbs and adjectives with restraint.
- Focus on communicating the message. Using flowery language to say nothing might annoy your readers (professor) and hurt your grades.
While you can present opinions, essays are not about airing one’s views. Readers must not find in your work any unsupported claims. You should understand all the rules and conventions followed by the editorial style your professor or discipline prefers.
You can find useful information about writing citations here. Writing in-text and full citations manually can consume quite a chunk of your time. Besides, you might end up making lots of mistakes.
Consider using online referencing tools. Citation tools allow you to cite references fast and correctly. Whether the required format is APA, MLA, Harvard, or IEEE, the right tool will get it right. Bibme.com is a great referencing tool. But you can use any other that works for you.
What prevents you from writing a good essay now? Understand the question asked. Study your teacher’s rubric. It can help you identify the areas that require more attention. Take care of structure, style, and citations. In the end, you’ll have an essay that shines.