Did you ever receive a “D” for an essay paper despite thorough research? How many times have you attempted to modify your writing only to end up with low grades? It is frustrating for students when efforts to write good articles go in vain because of some common mistakes.
This article will tell you why your professor was upset with your write-up. And walk you through some common errors in writing that you must avoid.
No student can avoid writing an essay. They are an intrinsic part of student life right from schooling to graduation. Therefore, it is recommended that students develop writing skills at the school level.
As it helps them ace their academic essay writing assignments at the college level. Nevertheless, if you have not paid attention during your schooling, you can do it now.
In general, an essay is a piece of writing, typically written to inform or persuade the reader. It is usually considered synonymous with an article, story, or paper. There are many types of essays. But, it is broadly categorized into four main types –
Of all these types, argumentative essays are the most common academic essays found at the college level.
In general, an academic essay comprises three parts:
The above structure is followed in writing any form of the essay unless otherwise stated.
The introduction part usually introduces the topic and provides a general idea about what the article is about to the reader. The body, on the other hand, comprises several paragraphs. The writer’s take on the topic is presented here, along with the evidence. Lastly, the conclusion summarizes the whole essay and its findings.
Now, you have a clear understanding of what an essay is and its format. So, let us go through some common mistakes to avoid in writing.
20 common mistakes to avoid in essay writing
We have collated a list of 20 common errors in writing essays. Check and rectify if you are making the same blunder.
- Wrong or generic titles: A title must reflect the essay content. It is the first piece of information that conveys what your content is all about. If you use a misleading or wrong title with no association with your content, it will make a wrong impression.
Tip: Avoid long titles, instead, keep it short and concise so that it is understandable. Do not forget to proofread your title in addition to avoiding generic titles.
- Do Not Forget introduction: Having a clear introduction is a characteristic of a good essay. Just like the title, the introduction clearly states what your essay is going to argue. Skipping an introduction and starting your write-up straightaway is a classic example of bad writing.
- Essay without thesis statement: A Thesis statement is a crucial part of both the introduction and the essay. It reveals the main idea behind your article and binds the opening with the rest of your essay.
Tip: Write a clear thesis statement at the end of the introduction. And make sure the thesis statement blends with the body of the article.
- No flow between paragraphs: A write-up consists of several meaningful sections. And each paragraph represents a set of thoughts or ideas connected. Ensure that the transition between the two paragraphs is smooth and does not sound like they belong to two different topics.
Tip: Make sure you use transitions between paragraphs to have a smooth flow and coherence.
- Too much information: Do not provide too much information when it is not necessary. A meaningful and detailed write-up does not mean overloading the reader with details instead of giving out sufficient information.
Tip: Stick to the scope of your essay and include all essential information. However, exclude unnecessary facts that do not add value.
- Hard-to-read write-up: Most of the students mistake a complicatedly written article for a good essay. It is wrong to assume that rich vocabulary or using jargon makes your article well-liked.
Always try to write your article in simple, understandable sentences. Using complex sentences obstructs the meaning of your write-up when it is just required to present the information.
Tip: Make use of simple phrases, and precise constructions, and avoid extra phrases.
- Wrong formatting: Writing a good article is not everything but, how you present matters more than that. No matter how good your content is, never neglect the formatting details.
Tip: Make sure to select the proper style and format for your essay. Pay attention to margins, spacing, font style and size, page style, and page numbers.
- Repetition: There is no need to present your essay idea in each paragraph. The reader is aware of the topic once you write a clear introduction. Never repeat the introduction paragraph. Also, ensure not to repeat certain words or phrases.
Tip: Make use of synonyms when you feel you are using a particular word numerous times.
- Grammar mistakes: Good writing follows grammatical rules such as using active voice, instead of using passive voice. Some of the common grammar mistakes to avoid are:
Incorrect punctuation and spelling: Avoid typos and be aware of homophones. Make sure you are using commas, semicolons, colons, apostrophes, and other punctuation marks appropriately.
Sentence fragments: A sentence without a subject or a verb is a sentence fragment. These kinds of lines make no sense and lack clarity.
Wordiness: When a sentence uses too many words to convey a meaning, it is called wordy. It often leads to confusion and lengthy sentences.
Subject-verb agreement: Take note of the subject in your sentences. A singular subject will always take a singular verb, and plural subjects take plural verbs. A mismatch in this will result in poorly written sentences.
Other common grammatical errors involve independent clauses and a comma splice. Thus when you learn the English language, make sure to avoid common English writing mistakes.
- Lack of evidence: It is not enough to have a point of view of an argument. What makes your article credible are the facts and proof that you use to support your essay. Conduct thorough research and substantiate your arguments with solid facts.
- Making assumptions: Never jump into assumptions as soon as you see the topic. Having too many presumptions on the subject may hinder your research. However, if you make assumptions after research, back it up with academic references.
- No credible references: The article you write must be based on sound research and facts. What referrals and testimonials you use shape your perspective, so make sure you use credible sources to do your research.
Tip: Refer to academic articles as they carry more weight and form the core of your academic essay. Do not ignore the citation used in scholarly articles.
- Plagiarism: Never copy-paste. No professor would approve of plagiarised content. Also, it is easy to detect plagiarism using an advanced tool in today’s age. Always research and write, making your analysis.
Tip: Use citations and quotes when using someone’s quotations. By doing so, you present references to the sources that you have used in your writing process.
- Too many quotes: The goal of assigning an essay topic is to see whether you have understood the topic given. And verify if you can explain the arguments in your own words. Extensive quoting may look like you have not worked enough on the subject or you have not understood the topic. Avoid using quotes unnecessarily.
Tip: Avoid using quotations to describe your thoughts. Instead, explain your ideas in your words. However, make use of direct quotations only when you want to establish or justify your point. You may use quotes as evidence to support your claim.
- Describing rather than Analyzing: Stating or describing something is different from analyzing it. Academic essays are all about description and analysis. Therefore it is easy to get carried away in describing the subject without analyzing it. You have to engage in your article.
Tip: Examine the subject at hand so that you can offer an educated opinion about it.
- Avoid too many arguments: It is a misconception that presenting too many ideas will strengthen the thesis statement. Focusing on one or two arguments is sufficient as having more than two may decrease the clarity of your writing.
Tip: Remember that it is impossible to provide justice to too many arguments. If you have too many ideas, pick the stronger ones to support your argument.
- Using non-academic language: Always use academic language to write academic essays. Make sure your writing adheres to the approved style and structure. Avoid colloquial words and phrases. Try to maintain a formal tone.
- Overlooking word limit: Most of the students overlook the word limit. While some students try to wind up the essay without proper explanation, others over-explain everything. Always adhere to word limits.
Tip: Revise your article once done with writing and review if you can make edits. Keep your essay concise and use short and simple sentences. Do not write a lengthy essay when your word limit is limited.
- Neglecting edits and revision: Revision and edits are an essential part of writing. Revision gives you a chance to correct mistakes that you might have made.
Tip: Take a break once you are done with writing the article. And come back to revise your write-up with a clear head. You can now edit the essay to make sure your write-up is crisp.
- Poor or no Conclusion: A reasonable conclusion must have a forward outlook. Most students repeat the introduction in conclusion or write an unsatisfactory ending that does not serve any purpose.
Tip: Write something that gives an insight into the future. For example, a business essay may give a glimpse into the future of a company or business.
These are some of the common errors committed by students year after year, as noted by professors and writers. Make sure you remember all these points when you write your subsequent essay and not make these errors.
It may be impossible to write without mistakes. However, you can minimize errors with effort and practice. Error-free writing is not just about fetching marks but also developing your writing skills. It is essential to know the writing rules – what to write and how to write, and what not to write.
The next time you write, pay notice to the mistakes you commit. And note them to avoid the same mistakes in the future.
The mistakes to avoid in essay writing are pretty much straightforward if you notice them. As Mark Twain, the famous American writer, says – “Writing is easy. All you have to do is cross out the wrong words”.