Essay writing is an essential skill that helps students, professionals, and anyone who wishes to communicate express their thoughts and ideas clearly. However, not only students but also professionals face a lot of difficulty while writing a good essay. Like any other skill, there are many common mistakes that we make. These mistakes, in fact, make our writing less effective. So, we have dug deep to figure out what are the top 10 essay writing mistakes that we should avoid to ace essay writing.
In this article, we will discuss each mistake thoroughly. Besides that, we will also give you some tips on how to avoid each mistake. We believe that this way you can become a better writer and write more convincing and effective essays.
Top 10 Essay Writing Mistakes
Writing an essay is not just about putting words onto a paper. Instead, it is an effective way of sharing your thoughts, ideas, and arguments. Some essays aim to share the writer’s view, some illustrate the topic under discussion, while others try to convince the reader about something. Nonetheless, each essay has its own purpose and format. Besides, there are rules and regulations that writers should follow to write a good essay. If you fail to follow any of them, your essay might lose its effectiveness.
Therefore, it is essential to understand the basic rules of writing a good essay. Besides that, one should understand what are the top 10 essay writing mistakes and how to avoid them. Hence, let us dive deep into each of them one by one.
1. Lack of Clarity and Focus
One of the most common mistakes that students usually make is the lack of clarity and focus. This mistake usually happens when you can not define a clear and central idea in your essay. As a result, your readers might feel confused while figuring out the main idea or argument of your essay.
After all, an essay that does not have a clear idea or main argument usually fails to deliver the main idea or argument of the writer to the reader. Besides, the lack of clarity results in a weak essay that fails to either convince the reader or leave a lasting impression.
For instance, consider you are writing an essay on climate change. The essay starts with the effects of factors, such as pollution. However, suddenly jumps to deforestation and then to renewable energy without building a clear connection or smooth transition. This type of essay lacks clarity which makes it harder for readers to understand the main idea of the essay.
But it is essential to avoid repeating such a mistake. If you want your essays to have clarity and focus, you have to follow the following tips:
- Establish a Clear Thesis Statement: Building a strong thesis statement is essential. Basically, the purpose of a clear thesis statement is to guide the entire essay and give it a clear direction to let your readers understand what they should expect from your essay. For instance, if you are writing an essay on climate change, your thesis statement could be “Climate change caused by humans is a serious danger to the Earth.”. This thesis statement is not only concise but also clear. Without beating around the bush, it clearly indicates those climate change factors that are caused by humans themselves.
- Use Topic Sentences: Each paragraph of your essay should have a strong topic sentence. And the topic sentence of each paragraph should connect back to your thesis statement. They should be clear and concise.
- Stay on Topic: While writing your essay, make sure that you stick to your main argument. Avoid introducing new ideas and arguments in the middle of your essay or in between your paragraphs. All in all, each idea, supporting idea, or example in your essay should directly relate to your main argument or thesis statement.
- Revise and Edit for Clarity: Once you finish writing your essay, ensure that you reread it and check if everything is clear. Besides, make sure that everything in your essay mainly contributes to the overall meaning of your essay. If you find anything vague or unclear, make sure that you edit it.
2. Poor Organization and Structure
Another one of the top 10 essay writing mistakes is poor organization and structure. Such a problem usually occurs when you fail to build a logical flow and organize your essays well enough. This makes your essays challenging for your readers to follow the main idea of the essay.
In fact, a less organized essay confuses the reader and makes it challenging for them to understand or engage with the content of the essay. As a result, your reader might soon lose their interest and miss the significance of your thesis statement.
For instance, imagine reading an essay that jumps from one idea or argument to another without any clear or smooth transition. If we take the above example, consider it starts with climate change and suddenly starts discussing the impacts of melting glaciers which is then followed by the impacts of rising sea levels or renewable energy and jumps back to the initial discussion. Such a type of disorganization disrupts the flow of writing and your reader might soon lose interest.
If you are wondering how to avoid poor essay organization and structure, follow the tips below:
- Create an Outline: Before you actually start writing your essay, take your time and create an actionable essay outline. The outline basically helps identify the main ideas and arguments and their order. A good outline basically serves as a roadmap for your essay and makes sure that your essay has a logical flow.
- Employ the Classic Essay Structure: A traditional essay has three main parts: an introduction, body, and conclusion. The introduction of your essay should introduce your thesis statement or the main argument. Then, the body of your essay should support your thesis statement and develop your argument. Lastly, the conclusion should summarize the main ideas of your essay.
- Incorporate Transition Words: Add transition words, such as in addition, moreover, nonetheless, and on the other hand, between paragraphs and sentences to guide your readers from one idea to the other smoothly. These words help in building coherence.
- Stick to Chronological Order: While writing an essay, always follow a chronological order. Work from most important to least. For instance, if you are writing a historical analysis essay, follow a chronological order. Start from past events and make your way to the newest ones.
Indeed, if your essays are built organized, and well-structured, it will be easier for readers to understand and engage with your content. Besides that, your arguments will be more persuasive and impactful.
3. Ignoring Proofreading and Editing
Students usually think that their work is done once they have completed putting ideas on the paper. However, that is not just enough. If you want to ace writing an essay, you should read and reread your essay once you have completed writing. As a student, you should always remember to proofread and edit your papers, including essays, to ensure that everything is on point. You have to ensure that there are no grammatical, punctuation, spelling, or formatting errors in your essay.
Because if your essays are steeped with errors, they lose their overall quality. Besides, it also affects the credibility of the writer. Because these errors make it harder for readers to read and understand your essays. As a result, they instantly lose their interest and might quit reading.
It is highly important to avoid making spelling, grammatical, punctuation, and formatting mistakes while writing essays. So, if you want to avoid, follow the tips below:
- Give it Time: Once you finish writing your essay, it is a must to take a break before you start editing your essay. Otherwise, you will easily feel burned out and exhausted.
- Proofread at Least Twice: We believe that you should at least review your essay a couple of times before you hand over your essay to your professor. So, carefully read your essay to identify mistakes and areas that you need to work on. Besides, pay attention to any mistakes that may lead to subject-verb agreement or weak sentence structure.
- Use Online Tools: There are a number of online tools and software available that you can use to proofread your essay. A few of the best ones are Grammarly, Linguix, ProWritingAid, and Hemingway Editor. These tools will make your easier and more comfortable.
- Read Aloud: Reading aloud is one of the best methods that A+ students swear by. It helps in identifying unclear sentences, missing words, and misplaced punctuation.
- Seek Peer Feedback: If available, ask your friends to help you out in reviewing your essays. Because a fresh perspective is usually the best solution to identifying mistakes that you might overlook otherwise.
- Format and Style: Professors usually ask their students to stick to the required writing and citation style. So make sure that you follow these instructions. After all, consistency in both writing and citation is essential in academia.
In addition, you not only avoid mistakes by proofreading your essay but also refine your work. Besides, a well-edited essay illustrates the credibility and professionalism of the writer.
Plagiarism is a serious issue when it comes to academic papers. Therefore, it has to be one of the top 10 essay writing mistakes. It is basically the act of using somebody else’s words, ideas, content, or work without giving them credit for it. Besides, not only directly copying somebody else’s work is considered plagiarism but also paraphrasing them.
In academic reference, it is unethical and anyone who does so has to face it consequences. For instance, you are writing an essay on the historical significance of World War I. If you copy and paste data from books and websites without adding references, you will be accused of plagiarism.
Thus, using somebody else’s work without acknowledging their effort risks your reputation and the credibility of your work. Therefore, it is highly essential to avoid doing so. With that being said here are a few things that we recommend:
- Proper Citation: Whenever you feel that you need to back your ideas and arguments with somebody else’s work, make sure that you add in-text citations and a reference list wherever possible. Besides, while doing your research for your essay, take detailed notes. And add the source of all the data that you note down.
- Understand Paraphrasing: If you are paraphrasing somebody else’s work, make sure that you do it properly. Paraphrasing basically means that you rephrase somebody else’s work without changing its meaning. However, make sure that you give them credit for their work. Moreover, ensure that you seek permission before you write your essay.
- Use Quotation Marks: When you are quoting somebody else in your essays, make sure that you use quotation marks and add an in-text citation right after the quote. As I said above, before
- Use Plagiarism Detection Tools: Whenever you write an essay or any other paper, it is always good to proofread it. And it is equally good if you check your essay for plagiarism. There are a number of plagiarism tools out there. You can use these tools online and ensure that your paper is plagiarism-free.
By avoiding plagiarism in your essays, you not only follow ethical obligations but also demonstrate your commitment to your work and responsibility. So, your essay will show your integrity and credibility.
5. Lack of Evidence and Support
People usually think that they know enough about a certain topic. So, when they are assigned to write an essay about it, they usually do not bother doing any research to collect valuable information. Therefore, one of the top 10 essay writing mistakes is failing to provide enough effective evidence to support your arguments and claims. This means that you are claiming XYZ without offering any facts, examples, or stats to back it up.
Besides, an essay that does not have sufficient evidence comes across as ineffective and unconvincing. Besides, this may also cause your readers to question the credibility and validity of your arguments and claims. For instance, you are writing an essay on how climate change is causing more frequent and acute hurricanes. Your essay will not be effective enough if you do not cite scientific studies, actual examples, and statistics.
Hence, it is highly important to add enough details, facts, and evidence to back your arguments and thesis statement of your essay. So, follow the tips below to write an effective essay.
- Research Thoroughly: Before you start writing an essay, take your time and patiently gather enough data and examples that support your thesis statement. However, you should only use trustworthy and credible sources, including journals, government reports, and expert recommendations.
- Cite Your Sources: Whenever you support your argument in your essay with somebody else’s work, make sure that you give them credit. We keep repeating this in this article because it is highly essential to do so.
- Use Specific Examples: Instead of beating around the bush, be specific. Only add data, case studies, examples, and supporting materials that you require. For instance, if you are writing an essay on unemployment, add data about the employment rate and GDP growth.
In addition, if you add relevant data and evidence, you not only support your own argument but also inform and engage your readers and enhance the credibility of your work. Because a well-supported essay can easily persuade the reader and leave a long-lasting impression.
6. Overly Complex Language
Most students believe that using vocabulary, jargon, and intricate sentences makes their writing look more professional. However, that is not completely true. When it comes to writing essays, it is always recommended to use a language or writing style that anyone can understand. Because complex language can make it difficult for your readers to understand your argument causing confusion and frustration. As a result, your argument and message may get lost in the complexity of your word.
For instance, you are writing an essay on artificial intelligence. While writing, you might find it fun and professional to add technical and dense terms assuming that your readers will be able to comprehend your point of view. On the other hand, it will exclude a broader audience and cause confusion.
Therefore, it is essential to avoid using complex language. So, here are a few things that you can do to avoid complex language in your essays.
- Know Your Audience: Whether you host an event with a killing anchoring script or write an essay, make sure that you know your audience. So, when you start writing your essay, understand whether or not your audience or readers are familiar with the topic or not. Besides that, figure out their reading comprehension level. Then, tailor your writing style and essay content according to them.
- Use Clear and Simple Language: While using difficult language may seem cool and professional, writing in an easier language will surely target a larger audience and leave a more lasting impression. So, opt out of words and phrases and be clear and concise.
- Define the Technical Terms: If you are using technical and complex terms and phrases, make sure that you define them in your essay. This is important to ensure that your readers understand what you are talking about. Moreover, you should also avoid using any jargon. Because it is always better to use simpler words and terms if you can convey your message.
- Break Down Complex Ideas: Other than technical terms, if you are adding any complex idea in your essay, try breaking it down into simpler and easily understandable explanations.
- Use Readability Tools: Another easy way to improve the readability of your essays and other academic papers is to use readability tools. These tools help you find out the readability score of your essay and which category of readers can easily understand your content.
- Seek Feedback: If accessible, ask your friends to read your essays. This is one of the best methods to find out whether or not you have successfully conveyed your message and your essay is easy to understand.
By using simpler words, phrases, and terms, you ensure that your essay can easily be understood by a larger group of people and that your message is easily conveyed or the target is achieved. Therefore, we had to add this to our list of top 10 essay writing mistakes.
7. Lack of Originality
Imagine you are writing an essay on a classical literary work. In such a case, it is indeed good to summarize the existing analysis. However, if you do not offer any personal thoughts or interpretations, you will definitely miss the opportunity to contribute to the discussion.
So, whether you write your essays on your own or take ideas from different sources, it is essential to be able to own your ideas and arguments in your essay. If you fail to instill originality in your essays, they will lack the touch of unique perspective and creativity. As a result, your essays will sound more like formulaic and derivative.
Besides, it will not be able to inspire or persuade your readers. Consequently, your readers may also lose their interest. So, it is equally essential to avoid such a mistake as much as it is important to avoid the rest of the top 10 essay writing mistakes that we have discussed in this article.
- Research Thoroughly: As we have already mentioned above, you should thoroughly research the topic before you start writing. And we can not emphasize it enough. Comprehensive research helps you to understand what already exists. Besides that, it helps you identify the gaps or areas that require a new or unique perspective.
- Formulate a Distinct Thesis Statement: While writing essays, you should always try to craft a unique argument or thesis statement. Besides, you should always avoid stating obvious thoughts and arguments. Instead, try challenging conventional ideas.
- Personal Reflection: To avoid the lack of originality, one of the most obvious things that you can do is to add your personal thoughts, experiences, and ideas which helps you build authenticity and add personal touch to your essays.
- Creative Example: An essay that only states facts can sometimes be too formulaic and boring to read. Therefore, we recommend that you try adding creative examples, analogies, and anecdotes to make it more interesting, engaging, and memorable for your readers.
- Interdisciplinary Insights: Wherever it is possible, try adding data or insight from different fields and disciplines. Doing so will help you offer a multidimensional perspective to your readers.
- Welcome Counterarguments: An essay becomes 10 times more interesting to read when the writer does not only offer his viewpoints but also welcomes contradictory arguments. Engaging with counterarguments helps writers present more analytical, well-researched, and original arguments.
Nonetheless, by ensuring the originality of your essays, you set yourself apart in the race. Meanwhile, by a great opportunity, you can showcase yourself as a thoughtful and creative writer. Because you prove that your ideas, arguments, and insights do not just exist but also contribute to the discussion effectively. This leaves a stronger impact on your readers. Because original pieces of work, including essays, are more likely to be remembered for a longer period of time.
8. Disregarding the Assignment Instructions
Whenever you are assigned to write an essay, you will get a set of instructions that you need to follow while writing the essay. Meanwhile, people usually do not realize the fact that neglecting or deviating from those essay instructions is one of the top 10 essay writing mistakes that they should avoid.
If you fail to follow those instructions or overlook anyone of them, you might get lower grades or even fail to meet the objectives of the assignment. Besides that, it also shows a lack of attention, and responsibility, and an inability to execute tasks as required.
For instance, you are assigned to write a 1,500-word argumentative essay on a specific essay. However, you end up delivering a 1,000-word descriptive essay on the assigned topic. There is no doubt that it shows that you have not paid any attention to the instructions. Consequently, you may receive a lower or even failing grade.
Therefore it is essential to avoid making such mistakes.
- Read the Instructions Carefully: When you are assigned to write an essay, you should thoroughly read and understand the instructions that your professor gives. You can also take a sticky note and note down details such as the word count, topic, formatting requirements, due dates, and/or any other specific instructions.
- Ask for Clarification: If you do not understand any of the instructions, do not hesitate to ask your fellows or teacher for clarification. Because it is always beneficial to ask questions early on and then to guess something and risk your grades.
- Create an Outline: Creating an outline is one of the best methods to write a good essay. So, before you start writing your essay, you should create an outline keeping the instructions in mind. This way you can ensure that your essay assignment follows all the instructions.
- Use Checklist: Besides taking notes, you can also create a checklist when you are assigned an essay. You can create the checklist based on the instructions that your teacher gives. So, when you write your essay, you can review whether or not you have missed any instructions from your checklist.
By sticking to the assignment instructions, you showcase your interest, and ability to follow guidelines, and meet expectations. Because these are a few important academic skills that every student has to develop to succeed in their academic journey.
9. Inconsistent Formatting and Citation Styles
One of the top 10 essay writing mistakes that students usually make is inconsistent formatting and citation styles. This usually makes your essay appear unprofessional and difficult to follow. After all, consistent citation and formatting make your essays be more aesthetically pleasing but they are also essential to convey information accurately. Besides, proper citation helps your readers locate information and verify your sources more easily.
Therefore it is highly important to avoid making such a mistake. Here are a few things that we recommend that you do.
- Choose and Stick to a Style Guide: When you start writing your assignment, you should first figure out which citation and formatting style you want to adapt to. There are a number of styles, including Chicago, APA, MLA, and Harvard. Usually, teachers recommend one on the instruction guide that they provide. However, if you have not been assigned one you should definitely pick one. Then, you should use the same style consistently in your essay. Pay attention to details such as font style, font size, line spacing, margins, and heading style.
- Citation Management Tools: To make your work easier, you can also choose to use citation management tools, such as Zotero and EndNote. These tools help you generate and manage citations according to your chosen style.
- Create a Style Sheet: While you are in college, you might need to write a bunch of papers. So, you can create a style sheet that includes the formatting and citation rules and guidelines that you need to follow in your essays and other papers.
Nonetheless, maintaining a consistent formatting and citation style in your essays makes them appear more professional, clear, and credible.
10. Lack of a Clear Thesis Statement
A strong thesis statement is the foundation of a well-structured and effective essay. Because without a well-defined thesis statement, an essay lack not only lacks direction but also fails to meet the objective of writing the essay. So, your readers will struggle to find and understand the main argument and purpose of the essay. As a result, your readers will soon get bored reading your essay.
However, if you fail to craft a clear thesis statement, you might also fail to convince or persuade your reader. Because a strong thesis statement not only presents the writer’s point of view but it also sets the stage for reasoning and facts that support the writer’s point of view.
Hence, it is essential to write a strong thesis statement. Here are a few things that you can do to avoid the lack of a clear thesis statement.
- Understand the Purpose: Before you start writing your essay, figure out and understand why you are writing. Figure out what is the purpose of the essay and what you want to achieve as the writer. Doing so will help you build a stronger argument.
- Be Specific: The main characteristics of a good thesis statement are being clear, concise, and to the point. So, avoid beating around the bush. Instead, focus on a single and clear argument.
- Debatable and Arguable: A good thesis statement is always open to debate. So, one can easily challenge and discuss counterarguments. So, make sure that there is room for debate when writing a thesis statement.
To conclude, an unclear and vague thesis statement is one of the top 10 essay writing mistakes that you should avoid. Because a clear thesis statement provides direction, focus, and clarity, and is always open for discussion. Moreover, you learn how to write a good thesis statement from the article below.
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