How to Be a Better Essay Writer: Several Steps to Follow

No matter what situation you are in – you may have a learning disability or may simply want to improve your essay writing skills – taking the time to learn the basics of good essay writing should help you turn your grades around in no time. Here are some steps to follow to improve your essay writing:

  • Be Sure You Understand Your Writing Assignment
  • The first step in improving your writing is making sure you understand what your writing assignment is to begin with. Many students struggle with writing because they respond to a different or non-existent essay prompt and ramble on with unrelated information. Look at your prompt and highlight keywords (i.e., “Discuss” “Compare and contrast” “Analyze”) and not if your assignment has multiple questions. If you are still unsure, ask your instructor for clarification.

  • Structuring a 5 Paragraph Essay
  • This type of essay is a standard form that works tremendously well in high school and lower-level college writing courses. The standard format has an introduction, 3 body paragraphs, and a conclusion. Your introduction introduces your topic and states your central argument. Each body paragraph introduces a single topic sentence and includes evidence in support of your central argument. Finally, your conclusion paragraph restates your arguments and provides a summary of your supporting argument, as well as how it all ties together.

  • Practice Some Pre-Writing Tasks
  • Before you even go home you should try some of these pre-writing tasks to give yourself an edge. Be sure you understand your assignment by asking your teacher for any handouts on the essay assignment or perhaps a rubric that explains how the essay will be scored. Also see if you can get sample essays so you understand what it is that your instructor expects in a well-written essay.

  • Brainstorming and Researching Your Topic
  • Do some research on your topic and brainstorm some ideas. Different people will have different methods of brainstorming – some will fill notecards while others will use a large idea white board – but most writers will generally agree that this is a very necessary step to come up with original ideas. Also do a little extra reading. The more content you have read the more you will be able to say what you want about a topic.

  • Organize and Outline Your Essay
  • If you are writing a 5 paragraph essay, break up your argument into three major points in support of your central argument. Find 2 – 3 pieces of evidence related to each of these major points and organize everything in an outline. Arrange your outline so that your paper flows naturally and moves from one point to the next in a clear and logical way.

  • Writing Multiple Drafts
  • This is a must! After you’ve written a rough draft, it’s always a good idea to revise your paper by finding ways to improve your argument. After a revision you should proofread and edit your paper for grammar, spelling, and punctuation mistakes. At the very least expect to write three drafts before submitting your paper.


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