tips on writing essays

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A (Very) Simple Way to Improve Your Writing

  • Mark Rennella

tips on writing essays

It’s called the “one-idea rule” — and any level of writer can use it.

The “one idea” rule is a simple concept that can help you sharpen your writing, persuade others by presenting your argument in a clear, concise, and engaging way. What exactly does the rule say?

  • Every component of a successful piece of writing should express only one idea.
  • In persuasive writing, your “one idea” is often the argument or belief you are presenting to the reader. Once you identify what that argument is, the “one-idea rule” can help you develop, revise, and connect the various components of your writing.
  • For instance, let’s say you’re writing an essay. There are three components you will be working with throughout your piece: the title, the paragraphs, and the sentences.
  • Each of these parts should be dedicated to just one idea. The ideas are not identical, of course, but they’re all related. If done correctly, the smaller ideas (in sentences) all build (in paragraphs) to support the main point (suggested in the title).

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Where your work meets your life. See more from Ascend here .

Most advice about writing looks like a long laundry list of “do’s and don’ts.” These lists can be helpful from time to time, but they’re hard to remember … and, therefore, hard to depend on when you’re having trouble putting your thoughts to paper. During my time in academia, teaching composition at the undergraduate and graduate levels, I saw many people struggle with this.

tips on writing essays

  • MR Mark Rennella is Associate Editor at HBP and has published two books, Entrepreneurs, Managers, and Leaders and The Boston Cosmopolitans .  

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tips on writing essays

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  • Example of a great essay | Explanations, tips & tricks

Example of a Great Essay | Explanations, Tips & Tricks

Published on February 9, 2015 by Shane Bryson . Revised on July 23, 2023 by Shona McCombes.

This example guides you through the structure of an essay. It shows how to build an effective introduction , focused paragraphs , clear transitions between ideas, and a strong conclusion .

Each paragraph addresses a single central point, introduced by a topic sentence , and each point is directly related to the thesis statement .

As you read, hover over the highlighted parts to learn what they do and why they work.

Table of contents

Other interesting articles, frequently asked questions about writing an essay, an appeal to the senses: the development of the braille system in nineteenth-century france.

The invention of Braille was a major turning point in the history of disability. The writing system of raised dots used by visually impaired people was developed by Louis Braille in nineteenth-century France. In a society that did not value disabled people in general, blindness was particularly stigmatized, and lack of access to reading and writing was a significant barrier to social participation. The idea of tactile reading was not entirely new, but existing methods based on sighted systems were difficult to learn and use. As the first writing system designed for blind people’s needs, Braille was a groundbreaking new accessibility tool. It not only provided practical benefits, but also helped change the cultural status of blindness. This essay begins by discussing the situation of blind people in nineteenth-century Europe. It then describes the invention of Braille and the gradual process of its acceptance within blind education. Subsequently, it explores the wide-ranging effects of this invention on blind people’s social and cultural lives.

Lack of access to reading and writing put blind people at a serious disadvantage in nineteenth-century society. Text was one of the primary methods through which people engaged with culture, communicated with others, and accessed information; without a well-developed reading system that did not rely on sight, blind people were excluded from social participation (Weygand, 2009). While disabled people in general suffered from discrimination, blindness was widely viewed as the worst disability, and it was commonly believed that blind people were incapable of pursuing a profession or improving themselves through culture (Weygand, 2009). This demonstrates the importance of reading and writing to social status at the time: without access to text, it was considered impossible to fully participate in society. Blind people were excluded from the sighted world, but also entirely dependent on sighted people for information and education.

In France, debates about how to deal with disability led to the adoption of different strategies over time. While people with temporary difficulties were able to access public welfare, the most common response to people with long-term disabilities, such as hearing or vision loss, was to group them together in institutions (Tombs, 1996). At first, a joint institute for the blind and deaf was created, and although the partnership was motivated more by financial considerations than by the well-being of the residents, the institute aimed to help people develop skills valuable to society (Weygand, 2009). Eventually blind institutions were separated from deaf institutions, and the focus shifted towards education of the blind, as was the case for the Royal Institute for Blind Youth, which Louis Braille attended (Jimenez et al, 2009). The growing acknowledgement of the uniqueness of different disabilities led to more targeted education strategies, fostering an environment in which the benefits of a specifically blind education could be more widely recognized.

Several different systems of tactile reading can be seen as forerunners to the method Louis Braille developed, but these systems were all developed based on the sighted system. The Royal Institute for Blind Youth in Paris taught the students to read embossed roman letters, a method created by the school’s founder, Valentin Hauy (Jimenez et al., 2009). Reading this way proved to be a rather arduous task, as the letters were difficult to distinguish by touch. The embossed letter method was based on the reading system of sighted people, with minimal adaptation for those with vision loss. As a result, this method did not gain significant success among blind students.

Louis Braille was bound to be influenced by his school’s founder, but the most influential pre-Braille tactile reading system was Charles Barbier’s night writing. A soldier in Napoleon’s army, Barbier developed a system in 1819 that used 12 dots with a five line musical staff (Kersten, 1997). His intention was to develop a system that would allow the military to communicate at night without the need for light (Herron, 2009). The code developed by Barbier was phonetic (Jimenez et al., 2009); in other words, the code was designed for sighted people and was based on the sounds of words, not on an actual alphabet. Barbier discovered that variants of raised dots within a square were the easiest method of reading by touch (Jimenez et al., 2009). This system proved effective for the transmission of short messages between military personnel, but the symbols were too large for the fingertip, greatly reducing the speed at which a message could be read (Herron, 2009). For this reason, it was unsuitable for daily use and was not widely adopted in the blind community.

Nevertheless, Barbier’s military dot system was more efficient than Hauy’s embossed letters, and it provided the framework within which Louis Braille developed his method. Barbier’s system, with its dashes and dots, could form over 4000 combinations (Jimenez et al., 2009). Compared to the 26 letters of the Latin alphabet, this was an absurdly high number. Braille kept the raised dot form, but developed a more manageable system that would reflect the sighted alphabet. He replaced Barbier’s dashes and dots with just six dots in a rectangular configuration (Jimenez et al., 2009). The result was that the blind population in France had a tactile reading system using dots (like Barbier’s) that was based on the structure of the sighted alphabet (like Hauy’s); crucially, this system was the first developed specifically for the purposes of the blind.

While the Braille system gained immediate popularity with the blind students at the Institute in Paris, it had to gain acceptance among the sighted before its adoption throughout France. This support was necessary because sighted teachers and leaders had ultimate control over the propagation of Braille resources. Many of the teachers at the Royal Institute for Blind Youth resisted learning Braille’s system because they found the tactile method of reading difficult to learn (Bullock & Galst, 2009). This resistance was symptomatic of the prevalent attitude that the blind population had to adapt to the sighted world rather than develop their own tools and methods. Over time, however, with the increasing impetus to make social contribution possible for all, teachers began to appreciate the usefulness of Braille’s system (Bullock & Galst, 2009), realizing that access to reading could help improve the productivity and integration of people with vision loss. It took approximately 30 years, but the French government eventually approved the Braille system, and it was established throughout the country (Bullock & Galst, 2009).

Although Blind people remained marginalized throughout the nineteenth century, the Braille system granted them growing opportunities for social participation. Most obviously, Braille allowed people with vision loss to read the same alphabet used by sighted people (Bullock & Galst, 2009), allowing them to participate in certain cultural experiences previously unavailable to them. Written works, such as books and poetry, had previously been inaccessible to the blind population without the aid of a reader, limiting their autonomy. As books began to be distributed in Braille, this barrier was reduced, enabling people with vision loss to access information autonomously. The closing of the gap between the abilities of blind and the sighted contributed to a gradual shift in blind people’s status, lessening the cultural perception of the blind as essentially different and facilitating greater social integration.

The Braille system also had important cultural effects beyond the sphere of written culture. Its invention later led to the development of a music notation system for the blind, although Louis Braille did not develop this system himself (Jimenez, et al., 2009). This development helped remove a cultural obstacle that had been introduced by the popularization of written musical notation in the early 1500s. While music had previously been an arena in which the blind could participate on equal footing, the transition from memory-based performance to notation-based performance meant that blind musicians were no longer able to compete with sighted musicians (Kersten, 1997). As a result, a tactile musical notation system became necessary for professional equality between blind and sighted musicians (Kersten, 1997).

Braille paved the way for dramatic cultural changes in the way blind people were treated and the opportunities available to them. Louis Braille’s innovation was to reimagine existing reading systems from a blind perspective, and the success of this invention required sighted teachers to adapt to their students’ reality instead of the other way around. In this sense, Braille helped drive broader social changes in the status of blindness. New accessibility tools provide practical advantages to those who need them, but they can also change the perspectives and attitudes of those who do not.

Bullock, J. D., & Galst, J. M. (2009). The Story of Louis Braille. Archives of Ophthalmology , 127(11), 1532. https://​doi.org/10.1001/​archophthalmol.2009.286.

Herron, M. (2009, May 6). Blind visionary. Retrieved from https://​eandt.theiet.org/​content/​articles/2009/05/​blind-visionary/.

Jiménez, J., Olea, J., Torres, J., Alonso, I., Harder, D., & Fischer, K. (2009). Biography of Louis Braille and Invention of the Braille Alphabet. Survey of Ophthalmology , 54(1), 142–149. https://​doi.org/10.1016/​j.survophthal.2008.10.006.

Kersten, F.G. (1997). The history and development of Braille music methodology. The Bulletin of Historical Research in Music Education , 18(2). Retrieved from https://​www.jstor.org/​stable/40214926.

Mellor, C.M. (2006). Louis Braille: A touch of genius . Boston: National Braille Press.

Tombs, R. (1996). France: 1814-1914 . London: Pearson Education Ltd.

Weygand, Z. (2009). The blind in French society from the Middle Ages to the century of Louis Braille . Stanford: Stanford University Press.

If you want to know more about AI tools , college essays , or fallacies make sure to check out some of our other articles with explanations and examples or go directly to our tools!

  • Ad hominem fallacy
  • Post hoc fallacy
  • Appeal to authority fallacy
  • False cause fallacy
  • Sunk cost fallacy

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tips on writing essays

An essay is a focused piece of writing that explains, argues, describes, or narrates.

In high school, you may have to write many different types of essays to develop your writing skills.

Academic essays at college level are usually argumentative : you develop a clear thesis about your topic and make a case for your position using evidence, analysis and interpretation.

The structure of an essay is divided into an introduction that presents your topic and thesis statement , a body containing your in-depth analysis and arguments, and a conclusion wrapping up your ideas.

The structure of the body is flexible, but you should always spend some time thinking about how you can organize your essay to best serve your ideas.

Your essay introduction should include three main things, in this order:

  • An opening hook to catch the reader’s attention.
  • Relevant background information that the reader needs to know.
  • A thesis statement that presents your main point or argument.

The length of each part depends on the length and complexity of your essay .

A thesis statement is a sentence that sums up the central point of your paper or essay . Everything else you write should relate to this key idea.

A topic sentence is a sentence that expresses the main point of a paragraph . Everything else in the paragraph should relate to the topic sentence.

At college level, you must properly cite your sources in all essays , research papers , and other academic texts (except exams and in-class exercises).

Add a citation whenever you quote , paraphrase , or summarize information or ideas from a source. You should also give full source details in a bibliography or reference list at the end of your text.

The exact format of your citations depends on which citation style you are instructed to use. The most common styles are APA , MLA , and Chicago .

Cite this Scribbr article

If you want to cite this source, you can copy and paste the citation or click the “Cite this Scribbr article” button to automatically add the citation to our free Citation Generator.

Bryson, S. (2023, July 23). Example of a Great Essay | Explanations, Tips & Tricks. Scribbr. Retrieved January 2, 2024, from https://www.scribbr.com/academic-essay/example-essay-structure/

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Shane finished his master's degree in English literature in 2013 and has been working as a writing tutor and editor since 2009. He began proofreading and editing essays with Scribbr in early summer, 2014.

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Ultimate Guide to Writing Your College Essay

Tips for writing an effective college essay.

College admissions essays are an important part of your college application and gives you the chance to show colleges and universities your character and experiences. This guide will give you tips to write an effective college essay.

Want free help with your college essay?

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Writing a strong college admissions essay

Learn about the elements of a solid admissions essay.

Avoiding common admissions essay mistakes

Learn some of the most common mistakes made on college essays

Brainstorming tips for your college essay

Stuck on what to write your college essay about? Here are some exercises to help you get started.

How formal should the tone of your college essay be?

Learn how formal your college essay should be and get tips on how to bring out your natural voice.

Taking your college essay to the next level

Hear an admissions expert discuss the appropriate level of depth necessary in your college essay.

Student Stories

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Student Story: Admissions essay about a formative experience

Get the perspective of a current college student on how he approached the admissions essay.

Student Story: Admissions essay about personal identity

Get the perspective of a current college student on how she approached the admissions essay.

Student Story: Admissions essay about community impact

Student story: admissions essay about a past mistake, how to write a college application essay, tips for writing an effective application essay, sample college essay 1 with feedback, sample college essay 2 with feedback.

This content is licensed by Khan Academy and is available for free at www.khanacademy.org.

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Sat / act prep online guides and tips, the 13 best college essay tips to craft a stellar application.

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College Essays

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In many ways, the most labor-intensive part of your college application process is the essay. It’s not just about forwarding transcripts or entering a list of extracurricular activities—you have to craft something personal and compelling to show the admissions committee who you are beyond your resume.

In this article, we’ll go over our 13 best tips for writing college essays. We’ll give tips for every step of the process including planning, writing, and editing your essay, as well as some quick and easy tips to boost any essays you already have written! With these college essay tips, you’ll be that much closer to the best admissions essay ever!

5 Tips for College Essay Planning

Doing a good job planning makes the college essay process that much easier. These five college essay tips will help you get started and pave the way for a great final product.

#1: Make a Plan of Attack for Your Essays

The first thing you’ll need to do is identify all the essays you’ll need to write and their deadlines. It may help you to make a spreadsheet with the essay guidelines for each school, the word count, the prompts, the due date, and any special instructions. This will help you figure out:

How many essays you’ll need to write, and how long those essays need to be.

Whether you can reuse any essays: In general, you can reuse essays for prompts that are about your life, broadly similar in theme, and have a similar word count. You probably can’t reuse essays that are very specific to the college, like “Why This College” essays .

Which essay you should write first: You’ll probably want to start first on the essay with the earliest application deadline. Alternatively, if you have plenty of time or the deadlines are close together, you could start with the longest essay (which will take the most time) or the essay that will be used for the most schools (like a Common Application essay). Do what you feel most comfortable with.

With all this information gathered, you’ll be able to make a plan of attack for your essays and make sure nothing gets lost in the application shuffle. (In fact, I actually advise keeping track of all necessary components of your application in a spreadsheet for the same reason).

#2: Start Early

You want to start writing way before the deadline. If possible, give yourself at least two months, and maybe even more time if you can. This will make sure that you have enough time to adequately plan your essay, draft it, and edit it.  

And, of course, the more essays you have to write, the earlier you should start!

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#3: Choose the Right Topic

Choosing the right topic has two facets: first, choosing the right prompt (if there’s a choice) and second, choosing the right topic to write about for that prompt.

The Right Prompt

If there’s a choice of prompts, you may want to actually start by brainstorming the specific topic or thing in your life that you want to write about, and then reverse-engineer back to the most appropriate prompt. Most college essay prompts are pretty vague, so a broad range of topics and issues can be applied.

You can also use prompts to help you brainstorm if you’re having a hard time figuring out what to write about. Think about the prompt that seems most appealing to you at first. What intrigues you about it? What do you think you could communicate about yourself through that question?

Here’s some tailored guidance on some of the most common college essay prompt types . And if you’re writing a Common Application essay, here’s advice on how to choose the right Common App prompt for you .

The Right Topic

When you’re trying to choose something about your life to write about, consider the following:

What are you excited to write about? A good college essay can be about a wide variety of topics, but it should show that you’re passionate about something. This could be anything from a hobby you have to your favorite book or even your most beloved stuffed animal, just so long as you can make it memorable and positive. Also, your writing will be a lot better if you are writing about something you care about and are interested in!

Whatever you write about should be primarily about you. You should be the focal point. Even if you’re writing about someone who has influenced you, for example, you need to relate it back to yourself. What does this tell admission officers about you?

What makes you stand out? This should be something that goes beyond what’s in the rest of your application. Your test scores and GPA are already there. What really shows something unique about you?

Choose a topic you can be honest about . If you’re not being genuine, it will end up coming through in your writing. So don’t write about how much your membership in Youth Group meant to you if you only went to make your mom happy and you actually didn’t care that much.

In general, you should avoid topics that are overly controversial, like things that are politically charged, doing things that are illegal, or anything involving graphic descriptions of any bodily function. So if you’re going to write about recovering from hip surgery, probably leave out the gory details of you being constipated and your oozy scars.

Check out our 35 brainstorming techniques for college essays for even more help coming up with a topic!

If you’re really stumped, consider asking your friends and family what they think could be good topics. They may help you figure out something memorable and interesting. But also, don’t feel like you have to write about a topic just because someone else thinks it would be great. You need to be genuinely interested in what you’re writing about to write an engaging essay!

#4: Decide on Your Approach

In general, there are two main approaches you might take to write your essay. It might primarily take a narrative format, or it might take a thematic format.

In a narrative format, you’ll be relating a particular anecdote or experience and what it means to you. In a thematic format, you’ll present a particular theme—say, your love of parakeets or your secret talent for balancing books on your head—and expound on that theme in a descriptive way to reveal more about you and your personality.

Sometimes your approach will be determined by the prompt or topic that you choose. For example, if a prompt says to relate a particular event or anecdote, you’ll probably use a narrative approach. By contrast, if you want to write about how your favorite book changed your life, that will probably be a thematic essay.

#5: Write an Outline

Doing a little bit of outlining before you put fingertips to keyboard to write your essay is always a good idea. You don’t necessarily need to make a super-detailed plan before you starting writing, but a general idea of where you are going and the points you want to make will be very helpful when you start drafting. Otherwise, you may find yourself spending a lot of time staring at a blank Word document.

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Yes, good, very detailed essay plan. 

4 Top College Essay Writing Tips

Here are four tips for writing college essays and making sure your work  stands out in a good way:

#6: Use Specific Details

The more details you use, the more your writing will come alive. Try to use words that are vivid and specific, instead of ones that are vague like “nice,” “good,” and so on. This will really flesh out the scene and help the reader picture what’s going on.

So take something like this:

One of my biggest accomplishments in life was teaching my little brother to ride a bicycle. I encouraged him to keep going when he fell down. Now he’s a great cyclist!

To something more like this:

One of my biggest accomplishments in life was teaching my eight-year-old brother to ride the racy red bicycle he got for his birthday. He wanted to give up when he took a tumble and skidded across the sidewalk. But while I bandaged up his knees with Batman band-aids, I convinced him to give it another try. I told him to think about how he would be able to bike all around the neighborhood exploring. Now I smile whenever I see him zooming down our street—wearing his helmet, of course!

See the difference? Wouldn’t you rather read the second one?

#7: Be Genuine

It’s important to get beyond the superficial in your personal statement. You should be writing about something that’s genuinely important or significant to you, so try to get beyond the surface. Instead of writing vague platitudes about how you really like the violin but it’s hard, really get at the meat: did you ever think about quitting? What’s frustrated you the most? What really keeps you going?

This means you shouldn’t try to write about things where it’s too painful to be honest. So if your parents got a divorce last year, it may be too raw to write about, which is perfectly fine. If, however, they got divorced when you were 5 and you can honestly reflect on how it changed your life, go for it.

Of course, you want to be honest in a reasonable and appropriate way. If you overshare, it will make it seem like you have bad judgment or don’t understand social norms—not good impressions to give the admissions committee. So probably don’t write about how much you despise your mother and think she is evil since she had an affair with your school librarian. It’s fine to feel how you feel, but there are some things that are a little too charged to write in your college essay.

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#8: Be Unique, but Not Bizarre

You definitely want your writing to set you apart—but you want it to set you apart in a good way. This means you want high-quality writing about unique experiences and qualities you bring to the table that aren’t covered elsewhere in your application.

This does not mean you should get really avant-garde with your essay formatting. Don’t send in a piece of art instead of an essay, or make a video, or write a poem instead of an essay, unless those things are explicitly allowed.

Similarly, while your essay doesn’t have to be 100% deadly serious in tone, you should be careful with humor. This doesn’t mean absolutely no jokes or tongue-in-cheek moments or that your essay should read like an 18th-century book of sermons. But if your essay relies too much on humor, you’ve got a lot riding on whether or not the person reading your essay “gets” it. They may well be annoyed. So deploy humor carefully and selectively.

#9: Avoid Cliches and Platitudes

The more cliches you use in your writing, the more boring and less insightful your essay will be. Cliches are phrases that are so overused that they are essentially meaningless, and they are likely to make any reader roll their eyes. Phrases like “a dime a dozen,” “outside the box,” “cold as ice,” “dirt cheap,” “flash in the pan,” and so on are frequently deployed in conversation because they convey a common idea quickly. But you don’t want your essay to be common, so avoid cliches. Try to think about how you can communicate the same idea in a more specific and interesting way.

Here’s a list of over 600 cliches . But for the most part, you won’t need a list; you’ll know something is a cliche because you will have heard it a million times already.

You should also avoid platitudes or sweeping generalizations about life. These are statements that are so broad and far-reaching as to be both obvious and completely uninsightful.

So avoid making statements like “And that’s how I learned that hard work pays off,” or “There’s no ‘I’ in team.” You may think you sound sage or wise, but the truth is, platitudes are going to sound immature and poorly-formed to the reader. Similarly, don’t say things that sound like they could come from an inspirational quote account on Instagram. (See, ahem, “You miss 100% of the shots you never take,” “Shoot for the moon,” and so on.)

How do you avoid the platitude problem? Try to keep what you’re saying specific to you. So instead of saying “And that’s how I learned that hard work pays off,” try, “This experience helped me to realize that when I put concentrated effort into something that’s important to me, I can accomplish it even when there are roadblocks.” Keep the focus on what you can and will do in your own life.

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Avoid  trite sayings like this one.

2 Tips for Editing Your College Essay

You may think that once you’ve gotten a draft done that you’re good to go. Not so! Editing is one of the most important parts of writing the best college essay possible, and here are two essential college essay tips for editing.

Tip #10: Ask for Help

It’s always wise to get another set of eyes on your college essays. In fact, several sets of eyes is even better! Other people can help you make sure your essay flows, you have enough detail, that everything is relevant, and that you sound as engaging and interesting as you really are! They can also help you catch typos and other minor errors—although you’ll want to double and triple-check for that yourself before submitting.

Here’s advice on how to ask for help with all parts of the college essay process , including editing.

Tip #11: Be Prepared to Cut a Lot

Brace yourself for cutting up your initial draft into tiny little ribbons and rearranging the remaining pieces Frankenstein-style. A first draft is really just a starting place to get your ideas down before you revamp the entire thing into a more streamlined, better organized, highly polished version. So you have to be ready to let go of pieces of your essay, no matter how much you love a particular turn of phrase or analogy. The ultimate goal is to turn the rough stone of your first draft into a polished and clear piece of writing—and that’s going to take a lot of chipping and sanding!

2 Final Tips for College Essay Success

Here are two quick but essential college essay tips you can implement easily.

Tip #12: Have a Standout First Sentence

One thing you can do to give any essay a boost is to make sure that your first sentence is attention-grabbing. If you can pique the interest of the admissions counselor right away, you’ll help keep their attention throughout your essay.

Here’s our guide to getting that perfect first sentence!

Tip #13: Triple-check for Typos and Errors

The most important quick thing you can do for your essay is to make sure there are no typos or grammatical errors. It will make your essay look sloppy and unfinished, and that’s the last thing you want! College admissions officers expect a polished product, and there’s nothing less polished than misspelled words and comma splices.

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13 College Essay Tips: Key Takeaways for a Great College Essay

To recap, here’s our 13 tips for the best college essay ever:

College Essay Planning Tips:

  • Create a plan of attack for all of your essays so you can keep track of everything.
  • Start early—at least two months before the due date, if not more.
  • Choose the right prompt and topic for you.
  • Decide between a narrative or a thematic approach to the topic.
  • Outline before you start writing!

College Essay Writing Tips:

  • Use vivid, specific details.
  • Be genuine—get beyond the superficial.
  • Be unique, but not bizarre.
  • Avoid cliches and platitudes; they are boring and unimaginative.

College Essay Editing Tips:

  • Get other people to look at your essay.
  • Be prepared to change, cut, and rearrange a lot!

Final Tips for College Essays:

  • Make sure your first sentence is stellar.
  • Triple check for typos and grammatical errors!

What’s Next?

You’ve read our tips for success—now see 10 college essay mistakes to avoid .

Looking for some college essay examples? See 133 essay examples and expert analysis here , along with 11 more places to find great college essay examples .  

Check out our complete guides to ApplyTexas essays , UC Personal Insight questions , and the Common Application essay !

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12 Strategies to Writing the Perfect College Essay

College admission committees sift through thousands of college essays each year. Here’s how to make yours stand out.

Pamela Reynolds

When it comes to deciding who they will admit into their programs, colleges consider many criteria, including high school grades, extracurricular activities, and ACT and SAT scores. But in recent years, more colleges are no longer considering test scores.

Instead, many (including Harvard through 2026) are opting for “test-blind” admission policies that give more weight to other elements in a college application. This policy change is seen as fairer to students who don’t have the means or access to testing, or who suffer from test anxiety.

So, what does this mean for you?

Simply that your college essay, traditionally a requirement of any college application, is more important than ever.

A college essay is your unique opportunity to introduce yourself to admissions committees who must comb through thousands of applications each year. It is your chance to stand out as someone worthy of a seat in that classroom.

A well-written and thoughtful essay—reflecting who you are and what you believe—can go a long way to separating your application from the slew of forgettable ones that admissions officers read. Indeed, officers may rely on them even more now that many colleges are not considering test scores.

Below we’ll discuss a few strategies you can use to help your essay stand out from the pack. We’ll touch on how to start your essay, what you should write for your college essay, and elements that make for a great college essay.

Be Authentic

More than any other consideration, you should choose a topic or point of view that is consistent with who you truly are.

Readers can sense when writers are inauthentic.

Inauthenticity could mean the use of overly flowery language that no one would ever use in conversation, or it could mean choosing an inconsequential topic that reveals very little about who you are.

Use your own voice, sense of humor, and a natural way of speaking.

Whatever subject you choose, make sure it’s something that’s genuinely important to you and not a subject you’ve chosen just to impress. You can write about a specific experience, hobby, or personality quirk that illustrates your strengths, but also feel free to write about your weaknesses.

Honesty about traits, situations, or a childhood background that you are working to improve may resonate with the reader more strongly than a glib victory speech.

Grab the Reader From the Start

You’ll be competing with so many other applicants for an admission officer’s attention.

Therefore, start your essay with an opening sentence or paragraph that immediately seizes the imagination. This might be a bold statement, a thoughtful quote, a question you pose, or a descriptive scene.

Starting your essay in a powerful way with a clear thesis statement can often help you along in the writing process. If your task is to tell a good story, a bold beginning can be a natural prelude to getting there, serving as a roadmap, engaging the reader from the start, and presenting the purpose of your writing.

Focus on Deeper Themes

Some essay writers think they will impress committees by loading an essay with facts, figures, and descriptions of activities, like wins in sports or descriptions of volunteer work. But that’s not the point.

College admissions officers are interested in learning more about who you are as a person and what makes you tick.

They want to know what has brought you to this stage in life. They want to read about realizations you may have come to through adversity as well as your successes, not just about how many games you won while on the soccer team or how many people you served at a soup kitchen.

Let the reader know how winning the soccer game helped you develop as a person, friend, family member, or leader. Make a connection with your soup kitchen volunteerism and how it may have inspired your educational journey and future aspirations. What did you discover about yourself?

Show Don’t Tell

As you expand on whatever theme you’ve decided to explore in your essay, remember to show, don’t tell.

The most engaging writing “shows” by setting scenes and providing anecdotes, rather than just providing a list of accomplishments and activities.

Reciting a list of activities is also boring. An admissions officer will want to know about the arc of your emotional journey too.

Try Doing Something Different

If you want your essay to stand out, think about approaching your subject from an entirely new perspective. While many students might choose to write about their wins, for instance, what if you wrote an essay about what you learned from all your losses?

If you are an especially talented writer, you might play with the element of surprise by crafting an essay that leaves the response to a question to the very last sentence.

You may want to stay away from well-worn themes entirely, like a sports-related obstacle or success, volunteer stories, immigration stories, moving, a summary of personal achievements or overcoming obstacles.

However, such themes are popular for a reason. They represent the totality of most people’s lives coming out of high school. Therefore, it may be less important to stay away from these topics than to take a fresh approach.

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Write With the Reader in Mind

Writing for the reader means building a clear and logical argument in which one thought flows naturally from another.

Use transitions between paragraphs.

Think about any information you may have left out that the reader may need to know. Are there ideas you have included that do not help illustrate your theme?

Be sure you can answer questions such as: Does what you have written make sense? Is the essay organized? Does the opening grab the reader? Is there a strong ending? Have you given enough background information? Is it wordy?

Write Several Drafts

Set your essay aside for a few days and come back to it after you’ve had some time to forget what you’ve written. Often, you’ll discover you have a whole new perspective that enhances your ability to make revisions.

Start writing months before your essay is due to give yourself enough time to write multiple drafts. A good time to start could be as early as the summer before your senior year when homework and extracurricular activities take up less time.

Read It Aloud

Writer’s tip : Reading your essay aloud can instantly uncover passages that sound clumsy, long-winded, or false.

Don’t Repeat

If you’ve mentioned an activity, story, or anecdote in some other part of your application, don’t repeat it again in your essay.

Your essay should tell college admissions officers something new. Whatever you write in your essay should be in philosophical alignment with the rest of your application.

Also, be sure you’ve answered whatever question or prompt may have been posed to you at the outset.

Ask Others to Read Your Essay

Be sure the people you ask to read your essay represent different demographic groups—a teacher, a parent, even a younger sister or brother.

Ask each reader what they took from the essay and listen closely to what they have to say. If anyone expresses confusion, revise until the confusion is cleared up.

Pay Attention to Form

Although there are often no strict word limits for college essays, most essays are shorter rather than longer. Common App, which students can use to submit to multiple colleges, suggests that essays stay at about 650 words.

“While we won’t as a rule stop reading after 650 words, we cannot promise that an overly wordy essay will hold our attention for as long as you’d hoped it would,” the Common App website states.

In reviewing other technical aspects of your essay, be sure that the font is readable, that the margins are properly spaced, that any dialogue is set off properly, and that there is enough spacing at the top. Your essay should look clean and inviting to readers.

End Your Essay With a “Kicker”

In journalism, a kicker is the last punchy line, paragraph, or section that brings everything together.

It provides a lasting impression that leaves the reader satisfied and impressed by the points you have artfully woven throughout your piece.

So, here’s our kicker: Be concise and coherent, engage in honest self-reflection, and include vivid details and anecdotes that deftly illustrate your point.

While writing a fantastic essay may not guarantee you get selected, it can tip the balance in your favor if admissions officers are considering a candidate with a similar GPA and background.

Write, revise, revise again, and good luck!

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  • How to Write Better Essays: 5 Practical Tips

tips on writing essays

For many such students, each essay brings with it the challenge of making it that little bit better than the last one. The problem is that when you write essays regularly, it’s easy to get stuck in a rut of repeating the same formula each time – particularly when you already receive good feedback from the teachers who read them. So how do you take your essays to the next level and go from great to brilliant? Here are some practical tips and techniques that will help you write consistently impressive essays, especially if you’re considering attending an Oxford summer school .

1. Read other people’s essays

Just as the books you read subconsciously help mould your own writing style , so reading other people’s essays can help you develop and build on your own essay-writing style. Try to read a range of other essays, including those of your peers and of academics. Read essays on a wide variety of subjects, not necessarily just those that you’re studying; different disciplines might apply different kinds of arguments or styles, so the wider you read, the more possible techniques there are for you to pick up and use in essays of your own. As you read other people’s essays, don’t just take them at face value. Be critical: what do you like about them? What don’t you like about them? How persuasive do you think they are? Is the argument a balanced one, with points adequately supported with evidence? Has the writer used any techniques you’ve not seen before? Another good source of essays is the broadsheet newspapers . Read the opinion pieces and dissect how the writer has supported their points with evidence, and again, be critical; note where they’ve left things out to try to persuade you to a particular opinion. Essays should be balanced, so you can learn from the best of these writers and pick up some techniques to help you shape a balanced piece.

tips on writing essays

2. Build your vocabulary and use it properly

A good vocabulary will allow you to express exactly what you mean, as clearly and concisely as possible. Economy with words is a characteristic of all good essays, because readers (and essay-markers) don’t like having their time wasted with long, rambling points that could have been expressed in half the number of words. One way of ensuring that you can communicate clearly and to the point is through accurate and effective use of advanced vocabulary. A good essay writer should never rest on their laurels when it comes to vocabulary; it’s something you should be working on continually, as there are always new words to learn that could help convey a point more effectively. What’s more, deploying a good vocabulary displays intelligence and allows you to be more persuasive in your essay-writing. Here are some ways in which you can build your vocabulary: – Subscribe to a ‘word a day’ email (such as this one from Merriam-Webster). Create a folder in your email account for new word emails, so that you can file each email away and have them all in one place ready to flick through and learn from in an idle moment. – Read widely, and refer to a dictionary for words you don’t know as you go along; this way, you’ll learn the new word as well as seeing it in context so you know how to use it properly. Read different genres of fiction, and non-fiction covering a range of topics, and you’ll have the added bonus of widening your general knowledge as well as your vocabulary. – Use a thesaurus – if you find yourself using the same words over and over again, add variety to your language by looking up those words in a thesaurus and finding other words that mean the same thing. A word of warning: words you find in a thesaurus can’t always be used interchangeably; even words with similar meanings can differ subtly in a way that makes them inappropriate in certain contexts, so find examples of a word used correctly before you use a new word for the first time. – Learn prefixes, suffixes and roots – it sounds boring, but this shortcut will help you learn a great many more words. Many roots come from Latin and Greek words, such as “bene” in Latin, meaning “good”, which gives rise to words such as “benefactor”, “benevolent” and “benefit”. It’s often possible to deduce the meaning of a new word if you know its root and read it in context. Prefixes are added to the beginning of a word to change the meaning, such as “semi” or “ante”, while suffixes are added to the end, such as “-able” or “-ance”. – Start a vocabulary book – you probably have one if you’re learning a foreign language, so why not have one for your native language as well? Buy yourself a nice notepad and use it to collect new words and their meanings. The act of writing down the definition will help you remember it, and you could include an example of how the word is used to increase your chances of memorising it for use in essays. It may help to have different sections for words on particular themes; you could have a general section, and then further parts of the notebook could be dedicated to words of use in history essays, science essays and so on.

3. Elevator pitching your essays

We’ve probably all had it hammered into us that we should write an essay plan before we start writing, but before you even do that, you need to know what the argument you’re going to make actually is. Only then can you start writing the structure for an essay that builds up to your overall conclusion. To condense what you’re trying to say into a short, snappy summary for you to work from, try making an ‘Elevator Pitch’ style summary of what you intend to write and why readers should be interested in it. The Elevator Pitch is a technique used by salespeople when condensing the arguments for buying a product into the shortest possible summary of why a customer should consider a purchase. The salesperson is told to imagine themselves in a lift; in the time it takes for that lift to reach the desired floor, they should have given a compelling argument in favour of that product that would result in the customer buying it, or at least wanting to know more. Your Elevator Pitch for your essay should sell the idea of it to a reader, leaving them wanting to read the essay in question. This is quite a tough exercise, as it forces you to be ruthlessly concise in your thinking and choice of words; but you can use this summary to help you write your introduction, and it’ll help you achieve clarity in what you’re trying to say.

4. Tell the reader what other people say

We’ve mentioned this on a previous article on essay writing, but it seems pertinent to mention it here too. Essays are a chance for you to show off how widely read you are, so make sure you quote other people’s opinions, and original sources , on what you’re writing about. For example, if you were to write a history essay on early religious practices in Britain, you could quote original texts on that topic (such as Bede’s Ecclesiastical History of the English People) and also mention what a range of modern scholars have to say about the topic. Contrasting views should be sought; it’s unlikely that everyone agrees on the topic, so show you’ve looked at all the possible angles. For each of the subjects you’re studying, start a page in a notebook for important people in that field, with a summary of when they lived and what their views are. That way, you’ll have something to refer to when you’re writing an essay and want to consult appropriate scholars or other writers whose opinions you might wish to include. Don’t quote too much; mix citations with your own opinions so that it doesn’t look as though you have to hide behind other people’s words. It’s fine to disagree with a scholar you quote, provided you can give evidence and reasoning for doing so. This shows that you have thought about it and made your own mind up, rather than blindly accepting what that scholar has said; this demonstrates strong critical reasoning skills, one of the hallmarks of brilliant students.

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5. Syntax, punctuation and tone of voice

You may not consciously realise it when you’re reading, but sophisticated sentence structures make the world of difference to how intelligent you sound. As we’ve already said, the most important consideration when you’re writing is making yourself easy for readers to understand; but you can still do this and utilise a range of interesting syntax at the same time. Employ a variety of sentence structures, long and short, but don’t let your sentences become too long and rambling, or they become difficult to read. Effective punctuation is vital in conveying your arguments persuasively; the last thing a teacher or lecturer wants to read is an essay riddled with poor grammar. What’s more, the reader shouldn’t have to read a sentence more than once to understand it. You probably already have a tone of voice you use for writing essays, but is it interesting and engaging? Read through some of your old essays and ask yourself honestly whether you find them absorbing. If they’re not, it could well be because you’ve not established the right tone of voice. Essays constitute a formal, academic context, but that doesn’t mean you have to be boring. A confident tone of voice will help show the reader that you know what you’re talking about and reassure them that they’re in safe hands. Writing in the active rather than the passive voice is a well-known trick of the trade that writers use to give their writing a sense of immediacy and make it more compelling; you too can deploy this technique in your essays by steering clear of the passive voice (for example, rather than writing “Much work is being done to…”, say “Scholars are putting a great deal of effort into…”). Over the course of an entire essay, you’d be surprised what a difference this makes to your tone.

We hope you’ve found these tips and techniques useful and that they help you take your essay-writing to new heights. If you would like to improve your writing skills even further, then why not sign up to our Creative Writing summer school .

If you have any tips you’d like to share with us, do let us know by leaving a comment below!

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How To Write An Essay: Beginner Tips And Tricks

How To Write An Essay # Beginner Tips And Tricks

Many students dread writing essays, but essay writing is an important skill to develop in high school, university, and even into your future career. By learning how to write an essay properly, the process can become more enjoyable and you’ll find you’re better able to organize and articulate your thoughts.

When writing an essay, it’s common to follow a specific pattern, no matter what the topic is. Once you’ve used the pattern a few times and you know how to structure an essay, it will become a lot more simple to apply your knowledge to every essay. 

No matter which major you choose, you should know how to craft a good essay. Here, we’ll cover the basics of essay writing, along with some helpful tips to make the writing process go smoothly.

Ink pen on paper before writing an essay

Photo by Laura Chouette on Unsplash

Types of Essays

Think of an essay as a discussion. There are many types of discussions you can have with someone else. You can be describing a story that happened to you, you might explain to them how to do something, or you might even argue about a certain topic. 

When it comes to different types of essays, it follows a similar pattern. Like a friendly discussion, each type of essay will come with its own set of expectations or goals. 

For example, when arguing with a friend, your goal is to convince them that you’re right. The same goes for an argumentative essay. 

Here are a few of the main essay types you can expect to come across during your time in school:

Narrative Essay

This type of essay is almost like telling a story, not in the traditional sense with dialogue and characters, but as if you’re writing out an event or series of events to relay information to the reader.

Persuasive Essay

Here, your goal is to persuade the reader about your views on a specific topic.

Descriptive Essay

This is the kind of essay where you go into a lot more specific details describing a topic such as a place or an event. 

Argumentative Essay

In this essay, you’re choosing a stance on a topic, usually controversial, and your goal is to present evidence that proves your point is correct.

Expository Essay

Your purpose with this type of essay is to tell the reader how to complete a specific process, often including a step-by-step guide or something similar.

Compare and Contrast Essay

You might have done this in school with two different books or characters, but the ultimate goal is to draw similarities and differences between any two given subjects.

The Main Stages of Essay Writing

When it comes to writing an essay, many students think the only stage is getting all your ideas down on paper and submitting your work. However, that’s not quite the case. 

There are three main stages of writing an essay, each one with its own purpose. Of course, writing the essay itself is the most substantial part, but the other two stages are equally as important.

So, what are these three stages of essay writing? They are:

Preparation

Before you even write one word, it’s important to prepare the content and structure of your essay. If a topic wasn’t assigned to you, then the first thing you should do is settle on a topic. Next, you want to conduct your research on that topic and create a detailed outline based on your research. The preparation stage will make writing your essay that much easier since, with your outline and research, you should already have the skeleton of your essay.

Writing is the most time-consuming stage. In this stage, you will write out all your thoughts and ideas and craft your essay based on your outline. You’ll work on developing your ideas and fleshing them out throughout the introduction, body, and conclusion (more on these soon).

In the final stage, you’ll go over your essay and check for a few things. First, you’ll check if your essay is cohesive, if all the points make sense and are related to your topic, and that your facts are cited and backed up. You can also check for typos, grammar and punctuation mistakes, and formatting errors.  

The Five-Paragraph Essay

We mentioned earlier that essay writing follows a specific structure, and for the most part in academic or college essays , the five-paragraph essay is the generally accepted structure you’ll be expected to use. 

The five-paragraph essay is broken down into one introduction paragraph, three body paragraphs, and a closing paragraph. However, that doesn’t always mean that an essay is written strictly in five paragraphs, but rather that this structure can be used loosely and the three body paragraphs might become three sections instead.

Let’s take a closer look at each section and what it entails.

Introduction

As the name implies, the purpose of your introduction paragraph is to introduce your idea. A good introduction begins with a “hook,” something that grabs your reader’s attention and makes them excited to read more. 

Another key tenant of an introduction is a thesis statement, which usually comes towards the end of the introduction itself. Your thesis statement should be a phrase that explains your argument, position, or central idea that you plan on developing throughout the essay. 

You can also include a short outline of what to expect in your introduction, including bringing up brief points that you plan on explaining more later on in the body paragraphs.

Here is where most of your essay happens. The body paragraphs are where you develop your ideas and bring up all the points related to your main topic. 

In general, you’re meant to have three body paragraphs, or sections, and each one should bring up a different point. Think of it as bringing up evidence. Each paragraph is a different piece of evidence, and when the three pieces are taken together, it backs up your main point — your thesis statement — really well.

That being said, you still want each body paragraph to be tied together in some way so that the essay flows. The points should be distinct enough, but they should relate to each other, and definitely to your thesis statement. Each body paragraph works to advance your point, so when crafting your essay, it’s important to keep this in mind so that you avoid going off-track or writing things that are off-topic.

Many students aren’t sure how to write a conclusion for an essay and tend to see their conclusion as an afterthought, but this section is just as important as the rest of your work. 

You shouldn’t be presenting any new ideas in your conclusion, but you should summarize your main points and show how they back up your thesis statement. 

Essentially, the conclusion is similar in structure and content to the introduction, but instead of introducing your essay, it should be wrapping up the main thoughts and presenting them to the reader as a singular closed argument. 

student writing an essay on his laptop

Photo by AMIT RANJAN on Unsplash

Steps to Writing an Essay

Now that you have a better idea of an essay’s structure and all the elements that go into it, you might be wondering what the different steps are to actually write your essay. 

Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. Instead of going in blind, follow these steps on how to write your essay from start to finish.

Understand Your Assignment

When writing an essay for an assignment, the first critical step is to make sure you’ve read through your assignment carefully and understand it thoroughly. You want to check what type of essay is required, that you understand the topic, and that you pay attention to any formatting or structural requirements. You don’t want to lose marks just because you didn’t read the assignment carefully.

Research Your Topic

Once you understand your assignment, it’s time to do some research. In this step, you should start looking at different sources to get ideas for what points you want to bring up throughout your essay. 

Search online or head to the library and get as many resources as possible. You don’t need to use them all, but it’s good to start with a lot and then narrow down your sources as you become more certain of your essay’s direction.

Start Brainstorming

After research comes the brainstorming. There are a lot of different ways to start the brainstorming process . Here are a few you might find helpful:

  • Think about what you found during your research that interested you the most
  • Jot down all your ideas, even if they’re not yet fully formed
  • Create word clouds or maps for similar terms or ideas that come up so you can group them together based on their similarities
  • Try freewriting to get all your ideas out before arranging them

Create a Thesis

This is often the most tricky part of the whole process since you want to create a thesis that’s strong and that you’re about to develop throughout the entire essay. Therefore, you want to choose a thesis statement that’s broad enough that you’ll have enough to say about it, but not so broad that you can’t be precise. 

Write Your Outline

Armed with your research, brainstorming sessions, and your thesis statement, the next step is to write an outline. 

In the outline, you’ll want to put your thesis statement at the beginning and start creating the basic skeleton of how you want your essay to look. 

A good way to tackle an essay is to use topic sentences . A topic sentence is like a mini-thesis statement that is usually the first sentence of a new paragraph. This sentence introduces the main idea that will be detailed throughout the paragraph. 

If you create an outline with the topic sentences for your body paragraphs and then a few points of what you want to discuss, you’ll already have a strong starting point when it comes time to sit down and write. This brings us to our next step… 

Write a First Draft

The first time you write your entire essay doesn’t need to be perfect, but you do need to get everything on the page so that you’re able to then write a second draft or review it afterward. 

Everyone’s writing process is different. Some students like to write their essay in the standard order of intro, body, and conclusion, while others prefer to start with the “meat” of the essay and tackle the body, and then fill in the other sections afterward. 

Make sure your essay follows your outline and that everything relates to your thesis statement and your points are backed up by the research you did. 

Revise, Edit, and Proofread

The revision process is one of the three main stages of writing an essay, yet many people skip this step thinking their work is done after the first draft is complete. 

However, proofreading, reviewing, and making edits on your essay can spell the difference between a B paper and an A.

After writing the first draft, try and set your essay aside for a few hours or even a day or two, and then come back to it with fresh eyes to review it. You might find mistakes or inconsistencies you missed or better ways to formulate your arguments.

Add the Finishing Touches

Finally, you’ll want to make sure everything that’s required is in your essay. Review your assignment again and see if all the requirements are there, such as formatting rules, citations, quotes, etc. 

Go over the order of your paragraphs and make sure everything makes sense, flows well, and uses the same writing style . 

Once everything is checked and all the last touches are added, give your essay a final read through just to ensure it’s as you want it before handing it in. 

A good way to do this is to read your essay out loud since you’ll be able to hear if there are any mistakes or inaccuracies.

Essay Writing Tips

With the steps outlined above, you should be able to craft a great essay. Still, there are some other handy tips we’d recommend just to ensure that the essay writing process goes as smoothly as possible.

  • Start your essay early. This is the first tip for a reason. It’s one of the most important things you can do to write a good essay. If you start it the night before, then you won’t have enough time to research, brainstorm, and outline — and you surely won’t have enough time to review.
  • Don’t try and write it in one sitting. It’s ok if you need to take breaks or write it over a few days. It’s better to write it in multiple sittings so that you have a fresh mind each time and you’re able to focus.
  • Always keep the essay question in mind. If you’re given an assigned question, then you should always keep it handy when writing your essay to make sure you’re always working to answer the question.
  • Use transitions between paragraphs. In order to improve the readability of your essay, try and make clear transitions between paragraphs. This means trying to relate the end of one paragraph to the beginning of the next one so the shift doesn’t seem random.
  • Integrate your research thoughtfully. Add in citations or quotes from your research materials to back up your thesis and main points. This will show that you did the research and that your thesis is backed up by it.

Wrapping Up

Writing an essay doesn’t need to be daunting if you know how to approach it. Using our essay writing steps and tips, you’ll have better knowledge on how to write an essay and you’ll be able to apply it to your next assignment. Once you do this a few times, it will become more natural to you and the essay writing process will become quicker and easier.

If you still need assistance with your essay, check with a student advisor to see if they offer help with writing. At University of the People(UoPeople), we always want our students to succeed, so our student advisors are ready to help with writing skills when necessary. 

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tips on writing essays

100 Essay Writing Tips for Students (How to write a good essay)

tips on writing essays

Written by:

Natalie Hayes

Natalie Hayes

Administrator

Are you searching for the best tips to create the most compelling essay? We’ve compiled some of the best essay writing tips so that you don’t have to search far and wide to learn how to write a good essay. Take a look at these top 100 essay writing tips!

100 Essay Writing Tips

#1 Analyse the question 

#2 Define your argument

#3 Use reputable sources of evidence to support your claims (i.e. not Wikipedia)

#4 Share different perspectives

#5 On draft number 1, don’t worry about spelling, punctuation or grammar!

#6 Rewrite draft 2 on a new blank document 

#7 Use transitional phrases and words 

#8 Divide your essay into three main parts: introduction, main body, conclusion

#9 End your essay on a relevant quote 

#10 Check your spelling, punctuation and grammar in your final draft 

#11 Cite your sources correctly (check the guidelines or ask your teacher)

#12 Avoid using conjunctions at the start of sentences e.g. And / But / Also

#13 Put direct quotes in quotation marks, citing them correctly

#14 Avoid plagiarism (your teacher or the marker will know if you have copied)

#15 Rephrase your research – put it into your own words

#16 Avoid the repetition of phrases and words

#17 Use a thesaurus to find synonyms for words you have used often 

#18 Provide statistics to support your claims

#19 Include facts to support your arguments 

#20 Use emotive language where appropriate to write a compelling argument

tips on writing essays

#21 Avoid spending too much time on your introduction and conclusion 

#22 Get somebody else to proofread it

#23 Get feedback from friends and family (or even a teacher)

#24 Don’t be afraid to delete irrelevant points and evidence 

#25 Avoid slang and colloquial language 

#26 Use formal language throughout your essay 

#27 Double space your essay (check essay requirements to ensure you format it correctly)

#28 Use appropriate titles and headings 

#29 Use an appropriate font (Times New Roman, size 12 is the most common, acceptable font)

#30 Avoid images unless you have been asked to use them 

#31 Avoid talking about yourself or providing anecdotal information 

#32 Avoid cliches, try to be original in your writing 

#33 Keep your introduction and conclusion short 

#34 Stick to the word count (universities usually allow 10% over or under)

#35 Distribute the word count appropriately across your introduction, main body and conclusion (e.g. 10/80/10)

#36 Read it out loud to spot errors 

#37 Make sure your writing is clear and concise 

#38 Avoid citing sources in your bibliography that are irrelevant 

#39 Use grammar checking software to check for grammar errors

#40 Don’t depend solely on grammar checking software (because it’s a computer, it may get context wrong)

tips on writing essays

#41 Read your work critically – have you answered the question?

#42 Don’t get distracted by what you WANT to write, focus on answering the question

#43 Check the grading criteria and set your goals – if you want an A, what do you need to do to get there?

#44 Create a checklist based on the grading criteria

#45 Create a timetable to write your essay and plan your time wisely

#46 Plan your writing during times when you’re least likely to get disturbed

#47 Work in a place where you are least likely to get distracted 

#48 Write your essay in 25-minute increments and take a break after each one

#49 Have snacks and refreshments to hand

#50 Take a break after writing each draft, for example, 2 days where you don’t look at it (this will allow you to process information and go back to your essay with fresh eyes)

#51 Remember that stress doesn’t help – you’re most likely going to write well when you’re the least stressed. 

#52 If you’re struggling to write your essay at home, do it in a study group or at the library. You’ll likely be more productive surrounded by other people who are working, too. 

#53 Don’t leave it to the last minute – write several drafts in good time

#54 Plan your final week to work on formatting only (do the bulk of the work way before the final week)

#55 Swap work with a friend and give each other feedback, or do this in a group

#56 Make sure you know the submission criteria way before submitting e.g. the format of your essay, rules for submission, etc.

#57 Define the type of essay you’re writing – is it argumentative, persuasive, expository, admissions, compare/contrast, analytical or narrative? 

#58 Brainstorm the essay before writing it

#59 Keep your notes handy 

#60 Identify the gaps in your knowledge before writing 

tips on writing essays

#61 Before you begin writing, do as much productive research as you can

#62 Read relevant books and reputable articles to learn more about your topic

#63 Write notes in the form of short answers to your question, it will be easier to put them into your essay later on 

#64 If you’re finding it difficult to answer the question, more research is needed 

#65 Identify your WHY – Why do you need to write this essay? What will happen if you get an A or win the essay competition? Why is it important to you? 

#66 When essay writing is becoming a struggle, remember your WHY to keep motivated 

#67 In your introduction, remember to clearly state your topic and your main points 

#68 Avoid explaining your points in your introduction (you do that in the main body)

#69 For every point or opinion you introduce, be sure to include some evidence and an explanation

#70 Avoid filling your essay up with opinions with no supporting evidence

#71 Explain your points clearly and concisely 

#72 Stay on topic 

#73 When proofreading, consider if the essay sparks the reader’s interest. If it doesn’t, see what you can do to improve this. 

#74 Double check you have used paragraphs correctly 

#75 Ensure each argument has a single focus and a clear connection to the thesis statement

#76 Ensure you have clear transitions between your sentences and paragraphs

#77 Ensure your essay has an informative and compelling style 

#78 Try using these phrases such as: In view of; in light of; considering

#79 Use one of the following sentence structure when writing about your evidence “According to…” “…. stated that, “Referring to the views of…”

#80 Maintain an unbiased voice in your writing – your goal is to present some intriguing arguments to the reader

tips on writing essays

#81 Try using phrases such as “In order to…”, “To that end…”,  “To this end…”

#82 Use phrases like these to emphasize a point: In other words; to put it another way; that is; to put it more simply

#83 Other phrases you could use are: Similarly; likewise; another key fact to remember; as well as; an equally significant aspect of

#84 When comparing ideas or opinions, use phrases such as: By contrast; in comparison; then again; that said; yet

#85 Use these phrases to demonstrate a positive aspect of something: Despite this; provided that; nonetheless

#86 Another way to add contrast is using these phrases: Importantly; significantly; notably; another key point

#87 When giving examples, try using phrases like these: For instance; to give an illustration of; to exemplify; to demonstrate; as evidence; to elucidate

#88 Try using these phrases in your conclusion: In conclusion; to conclude; to summarise; in sum; in the final analysis; on close analysis

#89 This phrase can be used to highlight the most compelling argument in your research “the most compelling argument is…”

#90 When explaining the significance of something, use one of these phrases: Therefore; this suggests that; it can be seen that; the consequence is

#91 When summarizing, you can use some of these phrases: Above all; chiefly; especially; most significantly; it should be noted

#92 You might want to use the phrase “All things considered” when summarizing towards the end of your essay 

#93 Avoid using Wikipedia 

#94 Remember that the marker will always check to see if you have copied your work – so don’t do it

#95 Try your best

#96 Remember that writing an essay is also an opportunity to learn 

#97 Build your vocabulary while writing by using a dictionary to replace common words

#98 Make sure you understand the definition of the words you have used 

#99 Work hard but remember to take breaks 

#100 Submit your essay on time! 

tips on writing essays

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  • Essay Writing Center

General Essay Writing Tips

tips on writing essays

Despite the fact that, as Shakespeare said, "the pen is mightier than the sword," the pen itself is not enough to make an effective writer. In fact, though we may all like to think of ourselves as the next Shakespeare, inspiration alone is not the key to effective essay writing. You see, the conventions of English essays are more formulaic than you might think – and, in many ways, it can be as simple as counting to five.

Steps to Writing an Essay

Follow these 7 steps for the best results:

  • Read and understand the prompt: Know exactly what is being asked of you. It’s a good idea to dissect the prompt into parts.
  • Plan: Brainstorming and organizing your ideas will make your life much easier when you go to write your essay. It’s a good idea to make a web of your ideas and supporting details.
  • Use and cite sources: Do your research. Use quotes and paraphrase from your sources, but NEVER plagiarize.
  • Write a Draft: Ernest Hemingway once said, “The first draft of anything is always crap.” While the truth behind this statement is debatable, drafts are always a good place to get any of your “crappy” ideas out of the way and are often required by professors and instructors.
  • Make a strong thesis: The thesis (main argument) of the essay is the most important thing you’ll write. Make it a strong point.
  • Respond to the prompt: Once you have worked out any kinks in your draft, you can start writing the final draft of your essay.
  • Proofread: Read your response carefully to make sure that there are no mistakes and that you didn’t miss anything.

Of course, every essay assignment is different and it’s important to be mindful of that. If one of these steps isn’t applicable to the essay you are writing, skip it and move to the next one.

The Five Paragraph Essay

Though more advanced academic papers are a category all their own, the basic high school or college essay has the following standardized, five paragraph structure:

Paragraph 1: Introduction Paragraph 2: Body 1 Paragraph 3: Body 2 Paragraph 4: Body 3 Paragraph 5: Conclusion

Though it may seem formulaic – and, well, it is - the idea behind this structure is to make it easier for the reader to navigate the ideas put forth in an essay. You see, if your essay has the same structure as every other one, any reader should be able to quickly and easily find the information most relevant to them.

The Introduction

The principle purpose of the introduction is to present your position (this is also known as the "thesis" or "argument") on the issue at hand but effective introductory paragraphs are so much more than that. Before you even get to this thesis statement, for example, the essay should begin with a "hook" that grabs the reader’s attention and makes them want to read on. Examples of effective hooks include relevant quotations ("no man is an island") or surprising statistics ("three out of four doctors report that…").

Only then, with the reader’s attention "hooked," should you move on to the thesis. The thesis should be a clear, one-sentence explanation of your position that leaves no doubt in the reader’s mind about which side you are on from the beginning of your essay.

Following the thesis, you should provide a mini-outline which previews the examples you will use to support your thesis in the rest of the essay. Not only does this tell the reader what to expect in the paragraphs to come but it also gives them a clearer understanding of what the essay is about.

Finally, designing the last sentence in this way has the added benefit of seamlessly moving the reader to the first paragraph of the body of the paper. In this way we can see that the basic introduction does not need to be much more than three or four sentences in length. If yours is much longer you might want to consider editing it down a bit!

Here, by way of example, is an introductory paragraph to an essay in response to the following question:

"Do we learn more from finding out that we have made mistakes or from our successful actions?"

"No man is an island" and, as such, he is constantly shaped and influenced by his experiences. People learn by doing and, accordingly, learn considerably more from their mistakes than their success. For proof of this, consider examples from both science and everyday experience.

The Body Paragraphs

The middle paragraphs of the essay are collectively known as the body paragraphs and, as alluded to above, the main purpose of a body paragraph is to spell out in detail the examples that support your thesis.

For the first body paragraph you should use your strongest argument or most significant example unless some other more obvious beginning point (as in the case of chronological explanations) is required. The first sentence of this paragraph should be the topic sentence of the paragraph that directly relates to the examples listed in the mini-outline of introductory paragraph.

A one sentence body paragraph that simply cites the example of "George Washington" or "LeBron James" is not enough, however. No, following this an effective essay will follow up on this topic sentence by explaining to the reader, in detail, who or what an example is and, more importantly, why that example is relevant.

Even the most famous examples need context. For example, George Washington’s life was extremely complex – by using him as an example, do you intend to refer to his honesty, bravery, or maybe even his wooden teeth? The reader needs to know this and it is your job as the writer to paint the appropriate picture for them. To do this, it is a good idea to provide the reader with five or six relevant facts about the life (in general) or event (in particular) you believe most clearly illustrates your point.

Having done that, you then need to explain exactly why this example proves your thesis . The importance of this step cannot be understated (although it clearly can be underlined); this is, after all, the whole reason you are providing the example in the first place. Seal the deal by directly stating why this example is relevant.

Here is an example of a body paragraph to continue the essay begun above:

Take, by way of example, Thomas Edison. The famed American inventor rose to prominence in the late 19th century because of his successes, yes, but even he felt that these successes were the result of his many failures. He did not succeed in his work on one of his most famous inventions, the lightbulb, on his first try nor even on his hundred and first try. In fact, it took him more than 1,000 attempts to make the first incandescent bulb but, along the way, he learned quite a deal. As he himself said, "I did not fail a thousand times but instead succeeded in finding a thousand ways it would not work." Thus Edison demonstrated both in thought and action how instructive mistakes can be.

A Word on Transitions

You may have noticed that, though the above paragraph aligns pretty closely with the provided outline, there is one large exception: the first few words. These words are example of a transitional phrase – others include "furthermore," "moreover," but also "by contrast" and "on the other hand" – and are the hallmark of good writing.

Transitional phrases are useful for showing the reader where one section ends and another begins. It may be helpful to see them as the written equivalent of the kinds of spoken cues used in formal speeches that signal the end of one set of ideas and the beginning of another. In essence, they lead the reader from one section of the paragraph of another.

To further illustrate this, consider the second body paragraph of our example essay:

In a similar way, we are all like Edison in our own way. Whenever we learn a new skill - be it riding a bike, driving a car, or cooking a cake - we learn from our mistakes. Few, if any, are ready to go from training wheels to a marathon in a single day but these early experiences (these so-called mistakes) can help us improve our performance over time. You cannot make a cake without breaking a few eggs and, likewise, we learn by doing and doing inevitably means making mistakes.

Hopefully this example not only provides another example of an effective body paragraph but also illustrates how transitional phrases can be used to distinguish between them.

The Conclusion

Although the conclusion paragraph comes at the end of your essay it should not be seen as an afterthought. As the final paragraph is represents your last chance to make your case and, as such, should follow an extremely rigid format.

One way to think of the conclusion is, paradoxically, as a second introduction because it does in fact contain many of the same features. While it does not need to be too long – four well-crafted sentence should be enough – it can make or break and essay.

Effective conclusions open with a concluding transition ("in conclusion," "in the end," etc.) and an allusion to the "hook" used in the introductory paragraph. After that you should immediately provide a restatement of your thesis statement.

This should be the fourth or fifth time you have repeated your thesis so while you should use a variety of word choice in the body paragraphs it is a acceptable idea to use some (but not all) of the original language you used in the introduction. This echoing effect not only reinforces your argument but also ties it nicely to the second key element of the conclusion: a brief (two or three words is enough) review of the three main points from the body of the paper.

Having done all of that, the final element – and final sentence in your essay – should be a "global statement" or "call to action" that gives the reader signals that the discussion has come to an end.

In the end, then, one thing is clear: mistakes do far more to help us learn and improve than successes. As examples from both science and everyday experience can attest, if we treat each mistake not as a misstep but as a learning experience the possibilities for self-improvement are limitless.

Taken together, then, the overall structure of a five paragraph essay should look something like this:

Introduction paragraph.

  • An attention-grabbing "hook"
  • A thesis statement
  • A preview of the three subtopics you will discuss in the body paragraphs.

First Body Paragraph

  • Topic sentence which states the first subtopic and opens with a transition
  • Supporting details or examples
  • An explanation of how this example proves your thesis

Second Body Paragraph

  • Topic sentence which states the second subtopic and opens with a transition

Third Body Paragraph

  • Topic sentence which states the third subtopic and opens with a transition

Concluding Paragraph

  • Concluding Transition, Reverse "hook," and restatement of thesis.
  • Rephrasing main topic and subtopics.
  • Global statement or call to action.

More tips to make your essay shine

Planning pays.

Although it may seem like a waste of time – especially during exams where time is tight – it is almost always better to brainstorm a bit before beginning your essay. This should enable you to find the best supporting ideas – rather than simply the first ones that come to mind – and position them in your essay accordingly.

Your best supporting idea – the one that most strongly makes your case and, simultaneously, about which you have the most knowledge – should go first. Even the best-written essays can fail because of ineffectively placed arguments.

Aim for Variety

Sentences and vocabulary of varying complexity are one of the hallmarks of effective writing. When you are writing, try to avoid using the same words and phrases over and over again. You don’t have to be a walking thesaurus but a little variance can make the same idea sparkle.

If you are asked about "money," you could try "wealth" or "riches." At the same time, avoid beginning sentences the dull pattern of "subject + verb + direct object." Although examples of this are harder to give, consider our writing throughout this article as one big example of sentence structure variety.

Practice! Practice! Practice!

In the end, though, remember that good writing does not happen by accident. Although we have endeavored to explain everything that goes into effective essay writing in as clear and concise a way as possible, it is much easier in theory than it is in practice.

As a result, we recommend that you practice writing sample essays on various topics. Even if they are not masterpieces at first, a bit of regular practice will soon change that – and make you better prepared when it comes to the real thing.

General Do's and Don'ts

Do: use transitions to start new thoughts and paragraphs., don’t: start a new thought without a transition or overuse transitions., do: use paragraph structure to organize thoughts and claims., don’t: write one big paragraph without any sort of organization., do: use quotes and paraphrase to back up your claims., don’t: plagiarize., do: use active voice, meaning verbs and action words., don’t: use passive voice or i/my. try to avoid words like “have” or “be”, and never use i or my unless the essay is being written in the narrative form., do: use vivid and descriptive words to bring your essay to life., don’t: misuse words that you don’t know the meaning of., related content:, get the international student newsletter.

Essay Writing Guide

Essay Writing Tips

Last updated on: Jun 20, 2023

Essay Writing Tips - Essential Do’s and Don’ts to Craft Better Essays

By: Nova A.

Reviewed By: Jacklyn H.

Published on: Apr 16, 2019

Essay Writing Tips

Are you struggling to write compelling and effective essays? Is it difficult for you to captivate your readers and convey your ideas?

Yes, writing an essay is daunting. Many students feel overwhelmed and unsure of where to begin. 

But don't fret! There are a few simple tips and tricks that will make it easier for you to write all kinds of essays effectively. This blog will equip you with valuable essay writing tips for students that will make your essay writing process easier.   So if you're a student striving for better grades or an aspiring writer, these practical strategies will empower you to excel in writing your essays.

Let’s dive in!

Essay Writing Tips

On this Page

Best Tips for Essay Writing - The Do’s 

When it comes to essay writing , following the best practices is important for producing compelling and well-structured essays. Here are some practical tips suggested by experts that you should keep in mind.

  • Understand the Essay Prompt 

Carefully read and comprehend the essay prompt. Identify the main requirements, key terms, and any specific guidelines provided by your instructor. This will ensure that you address the prompt appropriately and stay focused on the topic.

  • Choose an Interesting Topic (if you can):

If choosing a topic is up to you, then choose carefully. Your essay topic should be genuinely interesting for you and should align with your knowledge and passion. Selecting a topic that you are curious about will make the writing process more enjoyable and engaging.

Looking for interesting topic ideas for your essay? Check out our list of 100+ engaging essay topics to choose from.

  • Plan and Outline your Essay: 

Before diving into writing, create a plan and a well-structured essay outline . This will serve as a roadmap for your essay, helping you organize your thoughts and ensure a logical flow of ideas. Outline the main points you want to cover in each paragraph, and include supporting evidence or examples.

  • Conduct Thorough Research: 

A well-researched essay demonstrates depth and credibility. Take advantage of various sources such as books, scholarly articles, reputable websites, and academic databases. Evaluate your sources to be reliable and relevant to your topic. Take notes and keep track of your sources for proper citation later on.

  • Craft a Strong Thesis Statement:  

Your thesis statement is the backbone of your essay.  Craft a concise and focused thesis statement that clearly states your main argument or position. Make sure your thesis statement is specific, debatable, and supported by evidence in your essay.

  • Use Simple & Precise Language: 

Use clear and concise language to express your ideas effectively. Avoid unnecessary jargon or overly complex word choice that may confuse your readers. Aim for clarity and ensure that your ideas are easily understood.

  • Use Transitions to Maintain a Logical and Coherent Flow: 

Transition words and phrases help connect ideas and ensure a smooth transition between body paragraphs and sentences. Use transitional words such as "however," "moreover," and "in addition" to guide your readers through your essay and maintain a cohesive flow of thoughts.

  • Use Proper Paragraph Structure:  

Each paragraph should focus on a single main idea or argument. Begin with a topic sentence that introduces the central point of the paragraph. Support your topic sentence with evidence, examples, and analysis. Use transitional words and phrases to ensure a smooth transition between paragraphs.

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  • Take Breaks and Manage Your Time: 

Writing an essay can be mentally demanding. Take regular breaks to rest and recharge your mind. Managing your time effectively will help you avoid last-minute rushes and allow for thorough editing and revision. Break down your tasks into manageable chunks and set realistic deadlines to ensure a smooth writing process.

  • Format your Essay Properly: 

Follow the formatting guidelines provided by your instructor or the specific style guide required (e.g., APA, MLA). Pay attention to font size, margins, line spacing, and indentation. Proper essay format enhances the readability and professionalism of your essay.

  • Use Grammar-Checking Tools to Detect Grammatical Errors: 

Using grammar-checking programs to catch grammar, spelling, and punctuation errors is an easier way to avoid grammatical errors. These tools can help you identify and correct mistakes, ensuring that your essay is error-free.

  • Use Citation and Referencing Tools to Ensure Consistent Style: 

When incorporating external sources, it is crucial to provide proper citations and references to give credit to the original authors and maintain academic integrity. Use citation and referencing tools such as Zotero, Mendeley, or citation generators to ensure consistent and accurate citation formatting, according to the required style guide.

  • Read Your Draft Out Loud: 

Writing a great essay requires multiple rounds of editing and revision. Review your first draft for clarity, coherence, and flow. You can do that by reading your essay out loud. It is an effective way of catching whether something is off. 

  • Get Feedback: 

Before submitting your final draft, ask a peer, professor, or writing tutor to review your essay and provide constructive feedback. This way, you can improve your arguments and overall essay.

The Don’ts of Essay Writing

Now that you know some tips that you should adopt, you should also be aware of some pitfalls to avoid. Here are the five things you should avoid to write a good essay.

  • Don't Add Irrelevant Information:  

Stay focused on your main argument and avoid including unnecessary details or information that does not contribute to the overall coherence and relevance of your essay. Keep your writing concise and ensure that every sentence serves a purpose in supporting your thesis.

  • Don't Use Complicated Language: 

While it's important to demonstrate your knowledge and understanding of the topic, avoid using unnecessarily complicated language. It may confuse or alienate your readers. Choose words and sentence structures that effectively communicate your ideas without sacrificing clarity.

  • Don't Plagiarize: 

Plagiarism is a serious offense and goes against academic integrity. Avoid copying and pasting information from sources without proper citation. Always attribute ideas and information to their original authors through appropriate referencing. Use plagiarism detection tools to double-check your work and ensure that all sources are properly cited.

  • Don't Deviate From The Essay Prompt:

Stay focused on the specific requirements and instructions provided in the essay prompt. Avoid going off on tangents or introducing unrelated ideas that can dilute the main argument. Keep your writing aligned with the prompt to showcase your ability to address the given topic effectively.

  • Don’t Exceed or Fall Short of the Word Count:

It's essential to adhere to the specified word count for your essay. Don't exceed the limit, as it may indicate a lack of conciseness and focus. Also, don’t fall short, as it indicates that you have included or explained enough points.

Keep falling short of the required word count? Learn effective ways of making an essay longer without adding irrelevant information.

To Sum Up,  

Essay writing is a valuable skill that can open doors to academic success and effective communication. 

With the helpful essay writing tips and tricks provided above, you can craft compelling essays that will engage your readers. Additionally, being mindful of things to avoid will help you steer clear of common pitfalls and ensure the quality of your work.

So try to incorporate these do’s and don'ts in your writing. Remember, essay writing is a continuous learning process, and improvement comes with practice and dedication.

Are you in need of professional assistance for writing an essay? Look no further, 5StarEssays.com will help you out! 

We are a professional academic essay writing service online . We have a team of professional essay writers you can hire for writing help

Whether you need a high school or a college essay, we’re here to relieve your burden. Our experts can write all types of essays for you, including powerful admission essays. So order your essay today!

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the best way to start an essay.

Start your essay with an interesting and engaging hook. You can start with an intriguing anecdote, a thought-provoking question, or a captivating statistic to engage your audience right from the beginning.

How can I improve my essay writing skills?

Improving essay writing skills requires practice and dedication. Start by reading widely to enhance your vocabulary and understanding of different writing styles. Additionally, seek feedback from peers or writing tutors, and engage in regular writing exercises to refine your technique.

How do I effectively structure my essay?

A well-structured essay typically consists of an introduction, body paragraphs with supporting evidence and analysis, and a conclusion. Start with a clear thesis statement, develop your main points in separate paragraphs, and ensure smooth transitions between ideas for a coherent flow.

Nova A.

As a Digital Content Strategist, Nova Allison has eight years of experience in writing both technical and scientific content. With a focus on developing online content plans that engage audiences, Nova strives to write pieces that are not only informative but captivating as well.

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Life Kit

  • Dear Life Kit
  • Life Skills

50 ways to change your life in 2024

Connie Hanzhang Jin

Malaka Gharib headshot

Malaka Gharib

Clare Schneider, photographed for NPR, 17 January 2019, in Washington DC.

Clare Marie Schneider

Handwritten text saying Life Kit's New Year's Resolution Planner: 50 ideas to help you move forward in 2024.

Got an ambition that's been on the shelf for a while? This is the year to turn it into a reality.

Maybe you've been trying to pay off your credit cards but have been struggling to save money because of inflation. Maybe you're thinking about taking the next step in your relationship but want to make sure it's the right call. Or maybe you just want to scratch some of those smaller projects off your to-do list: declutter , start flossing and make more friends at work .

Whatever your goal is, Life Kit is here to support you. This year's New Year's Resolution Planner has a fresh new mix of ideas to help you move forward in 2024.

Each episode comes with clear, practical advice on how to achieve the objective, which is important when it comes to sticking to a resolution . "Goal pursuit requires focused attention," says Elliot Berkman , a psychologist at the University of Oregon. "Our minds need to be focused on one thing," he says.

Ready to take action? Got your target set? Let's go!

This year, I want to ...

  • Ask for a raise
  • Start a side hustle
  • Quit my job
  • Shake my impostor syndrome
  • Get stronger
  • Start exercising
  • Become a runner
  • Be more flexible
  • Get healthier (without going to the gym)

Get organized

  • Keep my New Year's resolutions
  • Write to-do lists that work
  • Start a new healthy habit
  • Change my life
  • Improve my focus
  • Drink less alcohol
  • Be a morning person
  • Drink enough water
  • Try to live to 100
  • Sleep better
  • Eat more mindfully
  • Take care of my teeth
  • Mend my own clothes
  • Get into birding
  • Learn a heritage language
  • Start a creative habit
  • Find good books to read
  • Clean out my clutter
  • Prep for emergencies
  • Save time on laundry
  • Make my home more climate friendly

Mental health

  • Embrace my perfectionism
  • Explore my gender identity
  • Have more fun
  • Get better at saying 'no'
  • Deal with burnout
  • Get into meditation
  • Decide whether I want kids
  • Freeze my eggs
  • Spend more quality time with my kids
  • Be a better auntie or uncle
  • Start new traditions
  • Make a budget
  • Get out of debt
  • Find a better bank
  • Stop stress spending
  • Have fun on a budget

Relationships

  • Create a 'relationship contract'
  • Be OK with being single
  • Get married
  • Create friends at work

The episodes were created by Life Kit. Design, development and illustrations by Connie Hanzhang Jin. Production, editing and art direction by Malaka Gharib, Clare Marie Schneider, Beck Harlan and Kaz Fantone. Special thanks to Life Kit supervising editor Meghan Keane, growth editor Arielle Retting, podcast project manager Lyndsey McKenna and engagement editor Amanda Orr.

We'd love to hear from you. Leave us a voicemail at 202-216-9823 , or email us at [email protected] .

Listen to Life Kit on Apple Podcasts and Spotify, or sign up for our newsletter .

  • Life Kit: Life Skills
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  • New Year's resolutions

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  3. The Beginner's Guide to Writing an Essay

    Writing: Set out your argument in the introduction, develop it with evidence in the main body, and wrap it up with a conclusion. Revision: Check your essay on the content, organization, grammar, spelling, and formatting of your essay.

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    30 Keep reading, learning, and practicing. Read about writing to get more writing tips. (You're here, so you're off to a good start!) Read widely, and you'll learn writing tips by osmosis. And practice often. The best way to improve your writing is by doing it. And if you need a distraction-free writing space to practice, Grammarly has ...

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    The basic structure of an essay always consists of an introduction, a body, and a conclusion. But for many students, the most difficult part of structuring an essay is deciding how to organize information within the body. This article provides useful templates and tips to help you outline your essay, make decisions about your structure, and ...

  8. Example of a Great Essay

    An essay is a focused piece of writing that explains, argues, describes, or narrates. In high school, you may have to write many different types of essays to develop your writing skills. Academic essays at college level are usually argumentative : you develop a clear thesis about your topic and make a case for your position using evidence ...

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  10. Ultimate Guide to Writing Your College Essay

    Tips for writing an effective college essay. College admissions essays are an important part of your college application and gives you the chance to show colleges and universities your character and experiences. This guide will give you tips to write an effective college essay. Want free help with your college essay?

  11. The 13 Best College Essay Tips to Craft a Stellar Application

    In many ways, the most labor-intensive part of your college application process is the essay. It's not just about forwarding transcripts or entering a list of extracurricular activities—you have to craft something personal and compelling to show the admissions committee who you are beyond your resume.

  12. How to Write Dazzlingly Brilliant Essays: Sharp Advice for Ambitious

    Rachel McCombie, a graduate of St John's College, Oxford, shares actionable tips on taking your essays from "Good" to "Outstanding." For ambitious students, essays are a chance to showcase academic flair, demonstrate original thinking and impress with advanced written English skills. The best students relish the challenge of writing essays because they're a chance to...

  13. 12 Strategies to Writing the Perfect College Essay

    Jul 26, 2022 7 minute read When it comes to deciding who they will admit into their programs, colleges consider many criteria, including high school grades, extracurricular activities, and ACT and SAT scores. But in recent years, more colleges are no longer considering test scores.

  14. How to Write Better Essays: 5 Practical Tips

    1. Read other people's essays Just as the books you read subconsciously help mould your own writing style, so reading other people's essays can help you develop and build on your own essay-writing style. Try to read a range of other essays, including those of your peers and of academics.

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    Using evidence. Evidence is the foundation of an effective essay and provides proof for your points. For an essay about a piece of literature, the best evidence will come from the text itself ...

  16. How to Write an Informative Essay in 7 Steps

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    1. know that the best ideas for your essay—the perfect opener, a great twist, a brilliant insight—often come when you least expect them. That's why it's a good practice to keep a reliable collection system with you at all times as you're preparing to write your essay. It could be your phone. It could be index cards.

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  26. New Year's Resolution Planner: 50 ways to change your life in 2024 : NPR

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