Writing an essay doesn’t have to be a daunting task. Even if you don’t have exceptionally good writing skills, you can write a decent essay by following these simple essay writing tips.
1. Organize your thoughts
Before you start writing your essay, take a few minutes to organize your thoughts. Of course, on a test like TOEFL or IELTS, you will have to deal with time limits. That, however, doesn’t mean that you have to start writing right away. Very few students are capable of organizing their ideas in their mind as they write. If you aren’t one among them it makes sense for you to take a couple of minutes to think about the topic. Organize your ideas in note form. This is the outline for your essay. Once you have got the outline ready, you can start developing each idea into a paragraph.
2. Use familiar vocabulary
While writing an essay, be yourself and use the kind of vocabulary you would normally use. Some students feel that they must demonstrate their range of vocabulary by using long, obscure words. You might try this if you have got plenty of time to write your essay. But if you are trying to write a good essay in 30 or 40 minutes you must not waste your time thinking about long and unfamiliar words. Instead, use the words that you already have at your disposal.
3. Use familiar sentence structure
Don’t try to demonstrate your grammatical range by using unusually complex sentence patterns. Even experienced writers find it difficult to write an extremely long sentence in a grammatically correct manner. Students with little experience will find it even more difficult. And hence use familiar sentence structures with fewer dependent clauses. This way, you can reduce the number of grammatical mistakes you will make. What’s more when you use familiar sentence structures your writing will look and sound natural.
Extremely long sentences are also confusing for the reader because they contain so many ideas. So if your aim is to retain your reader’s interest, opt for simple sentence patterns with two or at most three dependent clauses.
4. Vary your vocabulary and sentence structure
Add variety and sophistication to your writing by using different sentence patterns. Do not repeat the same words and sentence structures throughout the essay. Although repetition isn’t grammatically incorrect, it is boring and indicates a limited knowledge of the language. Use different forms of the same word (e.g. noun, adjective, verb, adverb, infinitive etc.) and change the sentence patterns accordingly. Variety also comes from using different phrases and clauses.
5. Avoid redundancy
Redundancy means unnecessary repetition. A sentence contains a redundancy when it has two or more words, phrases or clauses having the same meaning. For example, the words also, too, as well, furthermore and moreover are all used to indicate addition or continuation. When a sentence contains more than one of these words, it leads to redundancy.
Proofread the essay after you have finished writing it. Proofreading is essential to spot spelling mistakes and unnecessary repetition of words.