How to Strengthen Your Writing Skills for College

Improve your writing skills with these tips.

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There is no doubt that writing skills are critical for students. A well-written essay is a perfect chance to shine and demonstrate the ability to craft effective arguments on complex topics. In some cases, writing skills are the asset that gives you a chance to get accepted into college.

If you’re facing some difficulties with writing academic works, this article is a great read for you. Here, we will teach you how to produce quality academic pieces in an efficient way even you’re facing a tight deadline.

Make An Outline

The first tip on our list does not concern writing but rather what you want to write. One serious mistake many academic writers commit is writing without an outline. Basically, they just start writing a text but don’t have a clue on how to continue.

As a result, the structure of their essay suffers. Not only they fail to follow the basic structure of an academic piece but the information does not flow logically. This is an unforgivable mistake and a sure-fire way to get an F!

We’re going to avoid all that with simple steps:

  • Learn the basic structure of academic works
  • Make an outline

First, a basic structure of academic works has three main parts: an introduction that includes a thesis, the body that includes several paragraphs with evidence supporting the thesis, and a conclusion that connects the evidence to the initial claim.

Let’s illustrate the basic structure and potential outline with the following simple example. The topic is “Why Cars are Better than Bikes.”

Introduction:

  • Cars are better than bikes because they offer protection from weather conditions, better investment, and convenience.

Body:

  • Bikes don’t protect from rain and snow
  • Cars are a better investment
  • Cars are convenient

Conclusion:

  • Cars are better than bikes because of convenience, better payoff, and protection from rain and snow.

This example can also serve as an outline. First, the introduction gives the reader basic information about the topic. Second, the body has three points (paragraphs) that support the thesis (cars are better than bikes because they offer protection from weather conditions, better investment, and convenience).

Third, the conclusion ties everything together and restates the thesis once again. The restatement needs to be written in a different way from the thesis in the introduction!

Learn Grammar, Style, and Punctuation

All these three areas are profoundly important for creating really good academic work. First, you need to learn grammar. It includes areas like solid sentence structures, proper use of pronouns and articles, and verb and subject agreement. Second, the academic style of writing is also something you will need to master. Third, punctuation forms are critical for a well-written essay.

Let’s review these areas.

For example, to write in a proper academic style, you will need to avoid passive voice. It occurs when an object becomes a subject of a sentence. For example:

The ball was perfectly delivered by Thompson to another player.

This is a passive voice sentence. Seems kind of punchy and jumbled, agree? We need to rewrite it to active voice:

Thompson perfectly delivered the ball to another player.

Now, the sentence does not sound weak and unclear.

Let’s review how to create sentences properly. An academic sentence includes a verb, which makes it genuine. It is also easy to understand. For example:

The game plan used by our team for this game differs from the previous one which was different again from that used by us in the championship game last year.

This sentence is way too complicated to read and make sense. By using punctuation to separate clauses, we can produce the following:

The game plan used by our team for this game is different from the previous game; it was also unlike the one we used in the championship.

Find more grammar tips using Harvard College Writing Center.

Use Proper Vocabulary

A good vocabulary allows you to express thoughts in a concise and clear manner. For example, if you use obscure language to support a statement, your argument will be weak. Moreover, the clarity of the argument will also suffer. So, one of the best essay tips academic writing experts give is to learn proper vocabulary.

The following list contains useful words and phrases that bring clarity and improve the quality of your writing:

Words:

  • However
  • Assume
  • Analysis
  • Evaluation
  • Consistent
  • Context
  • Derive
  • Establish
  • Distribute
  • Suggest
  • Nevertheless
  • Persuasive
  • Factor
  • Indicate
  • Occur
  • Process
  • Require

Phrases:

  • In conclusion
  • All things considered
  • Above all
  • Then again
  • In contrast
  • Another important thing to note
  • With that being said
  • According to
  • As well as
  • Firstly, secondly, thirdly…

Analyze the Evidence

Let’s suppose you have to write a college essay about bullying. The task is to argue that this negative phenomenon is on the rise in the country and effective methods need to be used to battle it. Obviously, we all know that bullying is bad and you should not include your opinion (unless the requirements allow it).

Including scholar evidence or any type of evidence is often a mandatory requirement for high school and college essays. The evidence is a great way to support your point because it was written by a person with a certain degree of knowledge on the subject. That’s why students use journal articles, research papers, and other peer-reviewed reliable resources to make sure their arguments are valid.

Search the Internet for studies that were conducted in schools where bullying was successfully tackled. Simple articles written by people who have limited knowledge of the subject are unreliable thus inappropriate for this assignment.

Checklist for reliable and appropriate resources:

  • Does the author(s) have a proper educational background?
  • Is the website containing the source reliable?
  • Does this source directly support my thesis?

Write a Proper Conclusion

We decided to give this one special attention because we think that many people overlook the importance of conclusions. This element is equally important as all others because it proves the thesis and ties all findings together.

A proper conclusion:

  • Has a restated thesis as the first sentence (do not copy and paste it from the introduction!)
  • Outlines all findings described in the body paragraphs
  • Directly connects the evidence to the thesis
  • Optional: makes predictions for the future.

Remember: the conclusion is your last chance to convince the readers to your viewpoint! To achieve that, consider the following tips:

  • Write the last sentence with one-syllable words to create an effect of understated drama
  • Connect the first and the last paragraphs by using a phrase you used at the beginning of the text
  • Set your discussion into a larger context. For example, if you’re writing about a prominent person who lives today, you can compare them with a person who lived in the past century and changed history.
  • Don’t simply summarize the text. Of course, a succinct summary is helpful if a paper is long. Avoid the restatement of the main ideas in the essay.

Get Feedback on Your Writing

Many writing experts recommend getting feedback from others as a part of the strategy to improve writing skills. For example, if you’re writing for college, ask your professor to review the text and address the shortcomings. A professor or another person who has a good knowledge of academic or creative writing will be incredibly useful.

For example, a professor can provide valuable comments on the content and propose specific ways for improvement. Take the comments seriously and address the issues identified. If you can, try to get feedback on every work you produce. It’ll help you to develop consistently.

Another important thing to remember is that you have to move forward despite fails. It’s very likely that you will have to revise one paper multiple times but it’s okay. Unfortunately, revisions are an unavoidable part of this process.

To avoid frustration, be realistic about what you can achieve. It’ll help you to make progress instead of focusing on worrying.

The Learning Doesn’t Stop Here

Learning academic writing is an ongoing process that requires a lot of time and effort. If you continue to develop your writing skills, you will become an A+ writer in no time.

We hope you’ve found this article useful to help you take your academic writing to a new level. Happy writing!

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