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How to Write Better Essays: 8 Common Mistakes You Need to Avoid

Indilens Web Team: There is a lot of information available on how to write a great essay, or how to write better essays¸ but how do we know what a good essay should look like to begin with? Instructors rarely tell us what a good essay looks like by itself; only in relation to how ours can improve, so how do we know what a good essay should look like? When writing essays, we should aim to have a well-laid out argument, both in writing and in terms of how it shows off our research skills. The writing itself should be appropriate to the type of essay which is asked for, and the formatting needs to be appropriate as well (i.e. APA formatting for science papers, and MLA for arts subjects, among others).

Incorrect Thesis Statement

The first answer to the question how do you write an essay will usually involve the thesis statement. A thesis statement is the main argument of the essays we write, so it has to be correct, and, above all, it has to be connected with the arguments being made in the essay itself. Too often, we write our thesis statement, and then get completely carried away with our arguments in the essay itself to the point that the thesis statement no longer accurately describes our argument.

The Essay Does Not Have a Narrow Focus

When writing a college essay, it can be difficult to accurately define the limits of the topic we are working on. Ideally, topics should be wide enough to be able to handle proper research, since that is part of what essay writing is supposed to teach. However, there can sometimes be times when our research focus is too general, leading to an essay which has too general a focus. Narrowing a topic down is what gives it the angle we need – if a topic is too general, then we can’t say anything new, because we have nothing to latch onto.

Body Paragraphs Don’t Have Subtopics

When it comes to how to write a good college essay, it is important to remember that the general topic of the entire essay should be split into various smaller subtopics for each of the body paragraphs. Having each body paragraph tackle a separate part of the overall topic allows us to show both our understanding of the topic as a whole, and also give us the means to show how we are understanding the topic, and how to properly write about it. Not having subtopics means that we have not understood the topic properly, or that we do not understand how to write properly.

Too Many Arguments

It is easy to pick up that we need strong arguments for our essays, but sometimes, when doing the research to write an essay, it can be easy to go overboard and come up with too many arguments for the type of essay being done. Most essays have between three to five body paragraphs (the main part of the essay), and each paragraph should have one argument within it – no more than that. Additionally, while these ideas and arguments need to be backed up with evidence and quotations, there should be a limit on them as well, to avoid the paper becoming too cluttered.

No Checking of Sources

Sources are very important when we are writing essays, as they form the backbone of it and give us our evidence for our arguments. Sources always need to be valid – usually peer-reviewed, so that we can sure that the information they give is correct. Not checking sources means that we can be caught using information which is false, or which is corroborated properly. This means that our essay, and our arguments, all lose credibility from those sources which are not credible in themselves.

Over-Reliance on Spell Checkers

Technology is something which can save us a lot of time and effort, but that does not mean it should be relied on uncritically. Spell checkers in particular are extremely useful when writing essays, but they do not spot everything, and they cannot always be trusted. Use the spellchecker on your machine by all means, but do not forget to do a check of your own. Proofread using your own eyes, and make sure that you check every page. If you can manage it, ask someone you know to look over your work too, just to see if there is anything you yourself have missed.

Final Conclusion

As the presence of online essay writing services such as essayzoo.org shows, writing an essay can be difficult in many ways. What compounds the difficulty is that we are never directly taught what a good essay looks like – we are only shown what a good essay looks like by being told what we are doing wrong. This article discussed the various ways in which essays could be wrong, without us even knowing about it, by listing the most common ways in which we make mistakes.