Everybody writes, but not everybody writes well. You could have the greatest arguments, or the most interesting thoughts, but if you don’t communicate them well enough in writing then you have not completed your task properly. Hopefully this short guide will get you on your way to effective college essay writing.
The Basic Components
Introduction: This is almost like a short sales pitch, or a trailer for a movie. You want to get people interested enough to read further. Tell them what you will be talking about in the essay, and what information you hope they will gain from it.
Body paragraphs: You must break up the middle part of your essay in to multiple body paragraphs in order to avoid the dreaded “wall of text”. Nobody wants to read an unbroken stream of words with no guide as to what each section is talking about. Each body paragraph will cover one of your main points / ideas. Within each body paragraph you should have multiple smaller paragraphs that each cover points or ideas that relate to the main one it falls under.
Conclusion: This is your final chance to make your point and summarize the body paragraphs. If there are any unanswered questions, try to wrap them up here. You may also ask rhetorical questions of the reader as well, when appropriate.
Gather Your Thoughts First
The beginning of writing an essay is often the hardest part. Once you get started, you can usually get in to a rhythm and finish it fairly easily. So, before you start, gather your thoughts and start writing them down somewhere. You can write down a few sentences about ideas you have, your main paragraph points, or even just some relevant words or powerful phrases that come to mind. During this brainstorming part, also think about what your angle will be on the essay. What will make yours different from another person’s essay on a similar subject?
Don’t Ramble – Be Concise
You may be tempted to think that a longer essay is always better, but this is just not true. For the purposes of a college essay, consider the person who will be reviewing your work. They are going to notice if you are rambling on and on without getting to the point. Edit your work – take out unnecessary thoughts – trim down lengthy sentences and paragraphs – substitute long words with smaller ones when appropriate.
You don’t get extra points for using a word that nobody has ever heard of, so keep it as simple as you possibly can while considering the subject matter. You don’t sound smarter by making it overly complex either.
For example, consider these two sentences and notice which one sends a clearer message:
- The individual acquired an appreciation for automotive racing over the summer.
- He began to enjoy car racing over the summer.
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