Unsure of how to piece together a thousand-word essay on a topic you barely understand? Worried about receiving another 'C'? Worried about your parents seeing that 'C'? Though personal experience, here are five things I’ve learned to keep in mind when writing that dreaded essay. These tips should help you turn that jumble of incoherent ideas into a proper 'A'-grade paper!
This is something that almost doesn’t need to be said, as chances are your English teacher will be screaming it at you from a mile away. Unless you have explicit permission otherwise, always write your essay in the third person. Phrases such as “I think” and “In my opinion” are absolutely unnecessary and will likely earn you a giant red circle with a mocking comment beside them. Remember it is assumed that your essay is your opinion.
Excited about wowing your teacher with original sentence structures and unique shifts in topic? Trust me: they won’t be impressed. Save the creativity for narratives and doodling and instead focus on keeping your essay as logical and systematic as possible. That means organizing it with an intro paragraph, body paragraphs, and concluding paragraph, in that order. Make sure that the intro sentences correspond to the body paragraphs and that the concluding paragraphs summarize the previous points.
Do you have a five-year-old brother or sister? Read your finished essay to them and see if they get the gist of it. Chances are they won’t, but if they do, then you know your essay is a winner (or your sibling is a genius). Don’t assume that just because your teacher has a doctorate in English and could recite Shakespeare backwards that he or she will go to the trouble of filling in the blanks of your work.
As contradictory as this may sound, it’ll work to your best advantage to keep your teacher entertained while they sludge through your work (and everyone else’s), while at the same time maintaining the precision and structure expected of a professional essay. Throw in a fancy word here, an interesting point there, and pray that your teacher hasn’t read the same thing 50 times already.
No list of writing tips would be complete without this sacred technique, and no successful writer would be successful without utilizing it. Always edit. Not once, not twice, but multiple times. If you want to avoid the embarrassment of typos and a bad grade, make sure that what you write is actually what you meant to write. And if you’re not sure whether or not you wrote what you meant to write, have someone else (preferably not a five-year-old) proofread it for you.
Note: These strategies are not meant for narrative essays. That’s a whole other ballpark.