Common Essay Mistakes All Good Writers Should Avoid
Essays are an integral part of formal education in all developed countries, including the USA and UK. A student who wants to get a degree should be prepared to submit dozens of written assignments on regular basis. Moreover, students are expected to submit well-written essays and research papers and the requirements to their writing increase every year. The rising writing standards are not easy to meet, especially if you are an ESL student. At the same time, there are a number of common essay mistakes all students are prone to make, which means that if you familiarize yourself with them in advance, you will be in a better position when working on your next written assignment. This essay about mistakes is indispensable for someone who wants to improve their writing skills in a matter of minutes.
Common Mistakes in Writing
Even if you consider yourself a writing guru, there is always room for improvement. The following common essay mistakes have ruined more than one paper that otherwise would be brilliant. Every essay you submit has a direct influence on you GPA, so it is better to pay more attention to academic writing. Although the requirements to papers differ from school to school, there is an exhaustive list of rules and standards that are applicable to any paper. Have a look at the list of most common errors in writing essays and make your papers better by avoiding these errors.
- A part of an essay is missing
A standard essay must contain the following paragraphs:
- Introduction with a clear thesis statement
- Body paragraphs that support the thesis statement
- Conclusion that wraps up the discussion
For some reason, students frequently omit some of these components, probably assuming that the reader will not notice that. Yet, the essay structure is the first thing your professor will evaluate while reading your paper.
- Boring introductory paragraph
Start your introduction with one of the following:
- A joke
- An intriguing fact
- A relevant quote
Try not to overload the introduction with irrelevant details and remember to create a clear and succinct thesis statement. You might even include a question within the introduction but make sure your essay answers that question.
- Missing Examples
Examples and other evidence are necessary if your aim is to cover the topic in depth. This does not mean that the paper has to be replete with examples and quotes rather than your own discussion, of course. Moreover, beware copy pasting because it qualifies as plagiarism and will inevitably get you into trouble. Instead, you may want to describe some real-life experience that illustrates the topic the best. This is particularly important if you are writing a personal statement.
- Vague Structure
Ambiguous structure is among top college essay mistakes. Avoid it by following the structure that has been described earlier in this article. Additionally, return to the thesis statement from time to time to make sure you do not divert from the main idea of the essay. Recommend creating an outline prior to writing the essay.
- Insufficient Time
This is not really a mistake, of course. Yet, it is necessary that you start working on your essay ASAP. Thinking that there is still enough time to complete the assignment is a trap that many students have fallen into. This is bad for your essay not only because you will lose points for late submission but also because a looming deadline adds to your stress, which results in poorly written papers.
On the one hand, you should try to present yourself in the best light, especially when you are working on a personal statement. On the other hand, try not to cross the line between describing your best qualities and bragging. Do not lie about your experience, traits, or achievements.
- Not Explaining What You Mean
Omit complicated terms and words, especially if you do not fully understand their meaning. As a general rule of thumb, if you have a slightest doubt about the meaning of a word, use your dictionary. This will not only help you avoid silly mistakes but will also enrich your active vocabulary.
- Using Informal Language
Use formal English (either US or UK). This means avoiding jargon, slang, and colloquialisms. Besides, it is also recommended to use the same language when talking to your teacher in person or via email.
- Writing Long Sentences
Long sentences are confusing. Also, they usually lead to mistakes in punctuation and grammar. Another mistake students make when they create long sentences is wordiness, i.e. using many words to describe an idea that could be described by a single term. As you write academic essays, strive for conciseness and clarity. Besides, most essays are relatively short, between 500-600 words, so it is better to use them wisely.
- Relying on Outdated Sources
Most universities ask students to use current publications when doing research. This means that the sources you cite in your essay should be published no more than 5 years ago. In addition, the sources have to be scholarly and relevant to the topic of your discussion.
Now that you are aware of the most common essay mistakes, you can use the knowledge to create better papers. If you experience some difficulties, you can purchase an essay written by an expert and use it as an example.
- Numerous Arguments
You have probably heard a lot of tips on how to write a good essay. Most of them stress the necessity to include a solid argument in your thesis statement. Although this is a good way to start, there are several more rules that you should keep in mind. Sometimes in an attempt to defend their thesis properly, students include too many arguments and fail to support each of them. It is good to have many facts, quotes, and statistics to support your thesis, but as you write a 5-paragraph essay, you have to prioritize and choose only those that you consider the most relevant. Similarly, do not try to complicate your ideas by treeing to make it sound more sophisticated. Terms you are not familiar with are the words to avoid in essays.
Plagiarism is considered a violation of academic integrity in most institutions and will most likely be detected in your essay. Of course, students are expected to rely on outside sources when doing a research but their own ideas and words that have to form the bulk of their discussion. This means that you should cite all the sources that you use.
Make sure your essay is unique and properly referenced before submitting it to your professor.
- Unclear Introduction or/and Conclusion
Introduce the main ideas and describe the main concepts in the first paragraph of the paper. The same ideas have to be briefly summarized in conclusion. This sound so simple but it is utterly surprising how complicated introductions and conclusions might be in students’ essays. Make introduction and conclusion simple by reading them out loud and revising them as many times as needed.
- Ignoring Professor’s Instructions
So your professor asked to submit a 700-word research paper, but you find this topic very interesting, so you decided to write a 5-page research paper with an abstract and stuff thinking that it might earn you some extra points. Well, the effect will be quite the opposite. First of all, this is a downright violation of requirements. Second, your professor is a busy person who, most definitely, has more interesting things to read in their free time. So, please, read the instructions carefully and make sure to follow them precisely.
- Being Unable to Admit That You Need Help with Your Essay
If you are in the middle of exam week and you have a pile of essays to complete, then you are in trouble. Do you need some help with your projects? There is nothing to be ashamed of because this situation is rather common among students. Besides, nowadays you can easily find a reliable essay writing company that will provide you with qualified assistance and will help you meet the deadlines. Use this wonderful opportunity to collaborate with a professional writer and hone your own writing skills.
- Skipping the Post-Writing Procedures
You have just finished writing your essay and think that you are done with the task? Then you are committing one of the common essay mistakes because editing, revising, and proofreading are just as important as writing.
After making sure that your paper has an impeccable structure, follows the requirements, and is free form grammar mistakes, proofread it one more time and submit it.
The Three S’s of Essay Writing
One of the mistakes students make is discussing too many topics simultaneously. As the result, they include many irrelevant ideas and make their discussion off topic.
How to correct an essay: study the essay prompt carefully and formulate a thesis statement that will guide your discussion. Do your best to stay focused and omit ideas that are not directly related to the ones mentioned in the thesis statement.
Sometimes students also include adjectives that they cannot substantiate. The solution in this case would be avoiding colorful and emotional language. Instead of describing how things are done, provide evidence that demonstrates it. This also means using relevant and reliable sources and citing them correctly.
Run-on sentences and misplaced commas are some of the most common errors in writing.
How to correct an essay: there is no easy way to do it. You have to study grammar. For starters, you can read a chapter about the correct ways of combining phrases into sentences.
One thing that annoys professors even more than incorrect punctuation is passive voice. Of course, there is nothing wrong about using a couple of sentences in passive voice but many students use it too frequently.
How to correct an essay: change passive sentences into active ones. To do this, learn how to find a subject in a sentence.
It is easy to include plagiarism, especially if your paper is based on research. However, not giving credit to the sources will result in a lower grade.
How to correct an essay: learn about the most common ways of quoting books and articles. Note that you should adhere to one style throughout the paper.
Follow these easy tips and you will surely get a better grade for your essay this time. With every next essay, your skills will become stronger and you will enjoy the writing process more and more.
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Samantha has 5+ years of professional writing experience. She is a talented, skillful, and resourceful writer who holds a Master's degree in Geography. Samantha has successfully completed a lot of articles on climate change, energy conservation, and proper environmental management for scientific journals. She offers a distinctive approach to any subject matter. View all posts...