Writing an essay is often a daunting task, and one that many people struggle with. It is also a very important task because whether the essay is for a scholarship, university admittance or a final thesis, proper essay writing skills are necessary for any student to reach their highest potential.


However, with a little effort students can learn to break down their assignments into more manageable chunks. So, let’s review the following tips, tools and books to get you started, and help you discover how to enhance your overall writing process.


Outline ideas


In order to write a successful essay, you need a solid foundation. It is vital to have a structure in place before you begin the writing process. Putting it all on paper (or on your screen) is an effective way to productively arrange all the necessary information. One way that you can accomplish this is by using an outline. Your outline should include your introduction, at least three main points and your conclusion.


One of the biggest benefits of creating an outline is that it allows you to arrange your data, quotes, facts and topic sentences before you write the body of your paper. This helps with the pacing of your essay and guarantees that your paper won’t be top heavy, bottom heavy, or missing large chunks of important information.


Take risks


Risks sometimes come with big rewards. Do not just write generic and boring essay responses. Be original by writing an essay that is specific to you. Talk about something you are passionate about or that intrigues you. After all, writing about something personal helps you in several ways.


First, this allows your essay to stand out from the crowd. Even if it isn’t technically the best essay, your instructor might appreciate the extra time and creativity you put into it. Furthermore, it also makes the entire writing process easier and more rewarding. You won’t have to spend as much time trying to find the right words; they will come to you naturally because the subject matter is close to your heart.


Be honest


As a college student, you probably have a full class schedule, a full social calendar and barely enough time to sleep. However, running late or being overwhelmed with assignments is no excuse to cheat. If you plagiarize, there’s a chance of getting a very low grade, being expelled from school or ruining your career.


Plagiarism is the highest academic offense because it undermines your entire education. If you plagiarize, professors will think you don’t respect the work they are asking you to do. Depending on the level of plagiarism (and the medium in which you do it) you might even face legal action.


Maintain focus


It’s easy to start listing information or blending ideas together in your essay as each thought leads you to another point you would like to make. However, this will just make your essay sloppy and hard to follow. Remind yourself of your central or main idea and edit your work accordingly.


A good way to stay on track is to make the main points of each paragraph bold. Do this during your outline. Then, when you write each paragraph, you’ll remember what to focus on, and it will be obvious to you if you stray too far from the highlighted text. For resources and articles that can help you pinpoint your central point, you can visit Ask Petersen.


Write the body first


You don’t have to start out by writing the introduction. In fact, it is often beneficial to write the body first, after creating a strong outline. Once you are confident with the material, you can go back and write the introduction and conclusion so that they flow properly with the existing content.


If you write the introduction first, you might end up forgetting to cite important points or adding points that aren’t relevant to the body of the paper. Think of the introduction and the conclusion as the wrapping paper around your present (the body of the paper). The wrapping paper should enhance the present, but it’s just there to set the tone. It shouldn’t be the star of the show.


Edit and proofread


Editing and proofreading are essential parts of the writing process. Unfortunately, editing your own work is frequently challenging because your brain knows what you were trying to say, so it might skip over missing letters, words or entire sentences. It’s a proven fact that people are terrible at self-editing for this very reason. Try asking a friend, professor, or advisor to help edit and proofread your work. They can not only find grammar mistakes, but also provide helpful suggestions to improve your essay.




Here are a number of helpful books on essay writing:


  • Writing Essays For Dummies (By Dr. Carrie Winstanley)
  • This easy-to-use book walks readers through all of the ins and outs of academic writing. Readers will learn how to identify their essay type, create a structure, manage their time and reference correctly.
  • The College Guide To Essay Writing (By Jill Rossiter)
  • This guidebook is geared towards college level essay writing and is easy to comprehend. Readers will learn about a step-by-step process for writing college-level essays, as well as various methods for planning, organizing ideas, making outlines and creating thesis statements.
  • How To Write An Essay (By Alan Barker)
  • This book focuses on what it means to think critically and how to properly analyze concepts in essays. The guide also helps readers pinpoint where to begin and what kind of language to use, as well as if the essay should be subjective or objective.
  • How To Write Better Essays (By Brian Greetham)
  • This bestseller now includes new chapters on critical and reflective thinking and on how to properly analyze concepts. It also features a website providing annotated essay samples.


You can use all of the tips, tools and books listed above to start writing more engaging, effective and all-around better essays today! Remember to stay motivated and to seek out the help you need. Good luck!


Julie Petersen is a language tutor and a content marketing specialist. She is the owner of AskPetersen, an educational blog, and a contributor to various websites including Teach.com, Business.com, Collective Evolution, etc.


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