10 Pitfalls In Writing An Essay: What Not To Do

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Writing an essay can be a challenge on its own, but if you really wish to impress your professor, you better start off with clearing up the following pitfalls in writing an essay:

1. Not enough evidence

A lawyer never comes to court with an empty briefcase and a writer can not prove an argument without evidence either. Because of lack of research and evidence your essay will look like a rant, a story, a bunch of undefined assertions without any proof. Keep in mind that you should always have quotes from the source you are using as they will demonstrate and prove what you are writing about.

2. Plagiarism or Incorrect Citing

Every professor spends a lot of time explaining to the students the importance of proper citing and the danger of plagiarism. But even the threat of being expelled for not citing does not solve the problem and academic theft is still one of the most common mistakes students make. Any information, even if it is paraphrased, has to be properly cited. Your professor can provide the citation requirements.

writing-essay-studentsnepal3. Grammatical Mistakes

Even if your paper has a brilliant content, grammar issues will sink it. The most common grammar mistakes are:

  • Misuse of semicolon;
  • Improper use of possessive apostrophes;
  • Confusion with words that spelled differently, but sound the same;
  • Incomplete sentences;
  • Inconsistent tense.

Nowadays there are plenty of services that will check your paper for grammar and spelling mistakes. Use them to your advantage as there is really no excuse for poor grammar.

4. Repeated Introduction in the Conclusion

The last paragraph of your paper is not a paraphrased version of the opening. The conclusion has to show progress made throughout the paper. Remember, it is not only boring to read the same paragraph, but you are also leaving the thought process at the same spot where you found it. The best way to conclude the essay is to abandon the reader with a question or an idea.

5. Too Cliche

Think about your reader. If your essay is boring and full of cliches (such as starting an essay with a famous quotation, using an ordinary everyday object to describe your personality trait or just using the standard phrases), your work will be lost in hundreds of other students’ essays. Make it sincere and honest, use the appropriate wording, and phrases to make it memorable to the reader.

6. Failing to follow formatting instructions

The majority of professors always specify their formatting requirements – length, margins, style, citation style, fonts, spacing, and so on. In addition to that, there are standard rules, almost always applicable to any paper. Failing to follow these instructions will make you look like a poor, not diligent student. That’s not the kind of reputation you want to create for yourself!

7. Poor title choice

Using a generic title or even forgetting one is actually another of the most common mistakes students make. What will make your written work stand out is a catchy, interesting, and, of course, relevant title.

8. Absence of thesis

Any essay has to have an argument; otherwise, it will be a paper stating what has already been established as a fact. The best way to write a stellar thesis is to ask the “so what” question. Unless you can define the topic of the essay and its importance, you can not make anyone else care about it.

9. Too personal

Do not overload an essay with your own thoughts and feelings about the topic. Unless, of course, you are the subject of the essay…  Leave all personal details for another occasion. The essay has to show your thought process and your ability to express it.

10. Overusing “to be” verbs

The most common stylistic mistakes are overusing verbs “to be” and writing in passive voice. We use the latter one when it is not clear who is performing the action. If you know who performed the action, do not use the passive voice as it might cause confusion.  It also leads to overusing of “to be” verbs (were, was, is, etc.) Your essay will look much better if you substitute them for the action words that give a reader way more information.

Written By: Alice Jones

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