How To Improve Skills In Academic Writing: 6 Practical Tips

Many people get into academia out of a passion for knowledge or as an entryway into their career. However, there are certain skills that are required across all subjects and disciplines. Whether you’re a biochemist or a historian, you will need to be able to produce well-written essays and reports in order to showcase your knowledge about your course. For some, this is very difficult.

Many people are able to master their chosen classes, and have in-depth knowledge and understanding about all parts of the curriculum. However, expressing that knowledge in writing is not always easy. While some people may be naturally gifted at writing, writing for academic purposes is different entirely. For others, writing is just not a skill that comes naturally. Fortunately, there are many tips and tricks that can be applied to academic writing that can massively improve your grades.

A student holding a pen and writing on a notebook.

1.      Use Online Editing And Proofreading Resources

There’s still a misguided assumption that going for something all by yourself and accepting no help makes you better. In reality, you will produce better work and learn an awful lot more in school and at work by using all the resources and aide available to you. When it comes to academic writing, online tools can be your best friend. There are some options available for free that can strengthen your writing, such as Hemingway App which highlights spelling and grammar mistakes as well as over-used adverbs, overly long sentences, and structural errors. Depending on the level of your writing, you can check that you are not being too complicated or too simple by using the Readability Score.

2.      Never Forget To Plan And Structure

Writing anything for academic purposes will likely involve imparting a lot of information. It’s linked with your opinions and tied to other research while dismissing other opinions to show you are correct. This is a lot of information to include in one essay. To have any chance at a good grade you need to know exactly how you will divide up this information. Also, bear in mind that once you’ve divided this up, you will be writing less for each part. Thus, each part will be simpler. Also, do not forget that you are writing a draft. Go through and edit and change things once you’re done. But, getting words on paper in good order is the best way to start.

3.      Remember Your Reader’s Needs

This is particularly important in academic writing, as you are normally writing for a professor or a professional community. This means that you do not need to waste time and words defining things they already know about. Get to your points and your ideas rather than telling them what they already know.

4.      Get Feedback Before You Submit A Final Copy

Any of the online tools mentioned above in tip 1 can help with your language. However, check that your content and the structure of your essay is as it should be. Pass your paper around to tutors and even classmates. They’ll be able to tell you if your points are linked throughout the essay, if you’re consistent, if you’ve used enough references and sources, and if your arguments are clear. These issues should be fixed before submitting your essay.

5.      Write As You Would Speak

One way of checking the quality of your academic writing is by reading it aloud. Hearing it will make it very clear when your sentences are too long, your structure too complicated, or your punctuation too sparse. If you read your work aloud and sound natural, easily following your writing as you speak then your essay will be very readable – if it’s hard for you to read aloud, it will be very hard for others to read.

6.      Read And Write As Much As You Can

Nothing improves your academic writing quite like experience and practice. Writing for a little while every day will increase your confidence and you’ll soon find putting pen to paper to express your ideas comes naturally. Reading can inspire you, give you ideas, and provide a sense of the structure, language, and tone required for an academic paper.

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