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How NOT to write an essay: the 27 anti-rules

September 26, 2016 in Personal life
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Essay writing is a core component of college-level education. Unfortunately, many students in colleges do not know how to write good essays. Moreover, they usually get to learn some of the tips on writing an essay properly after they have earned low grades for their written essays.

This article identifies 27 mistakes that students may indulge in when writing essays. These mistakes occur when one fails to follow the essay writing rules. Knowing these mistakes can equip students with the required skills for writing an impeccable essay. These mistakes are categorized into four groups, according to the stages of essay writing, which are: mistakes in essay writing preparations; mistakes in essay research process; mistakes in the essay writing process; and mistakes in editing an essay.

Mistakes in Essay Writing Preparation

These are mistakes that occur when students fail to follow the essay writing rules that guide the preparation stage of an essay writing. These mistakes make the assignment preparations inadequate, such as:

  1. Misunderstanding the essay question

The mistake occurs when one fails to discern what the essay question requires to do. Failure to understand the essay question renders all consecutive steps in the essay writing process irrelevant.

  1. Using inappropriate style

This mistake occurs when one fails to identify the type of an essay. An example is preparing to write an argumentative essay instead of the required reflective essay. These two types of essays assume different writing styles.

  1. Lack of an essay plan/outline

This mistake occurs when one fails to prepare an essay plan or outline that allows structuring the essay in compliance with the paper requirements. Lack of an essay plan may lead to a poor essay structure and a failure to answer the essay question.

Remember, good preparation is one of the core principles of how to write good essays. Therefore, students should avoid committing these mistakes during the preparation stage of writing.

Mistakes in Research for the Essay

These are mistakes that occur when students fail to follow the essay writing rules that guide a research process for an essay. These mistakes are:

  1. Use of poor sources

Such mistakes occur when one uses sources that lack credibility. Credible sources of information are books and journals among others.

  1. Failure to take notes during research

The failure to take notes often results in loss of evidence and loss of bibliographic information, which are needed to support an idea, as well as during referencing when conducting a research. Remember, a thorough research is another core principle in writing strong essays. Committing these mistakes in the research stage of essay writing undermine the credibility of the essay.

Mistakes in Writing the Essay

These are mistakes that occur when students ignore the essay writing rules that guide the structure and grammar in an essay. These mistakes are:

  1. Neglecting formatting details

This mistake occurs when one fails to follow the recommended format and style. One should learn and follow the recommended format for the essay.

  1. Mixing tenses

This mistake occurs when one uses of both the past and present tense in an essay. An essay should only be written in either past or present tense consistently.

  1. Using past tense in discussing literature

This mistake goes against the rule that requires that literary reviews be done in present tense (historical present/narrative present).

  1. Addressing the reader

This mistake occurs one uses the second person pronoun “you” in an essay instead of “one”. It makes an essay appear subjective and fictional. One should avoid using “you” in the academic papers.

  1. Poor placement of the Thesis Statement

This mistake occurs when thesis statement is placed at the beginning of the introductory paragraph. The thesis statement of an essay should come at the end of the introductory paragraph.

  1. Poor expression of the Thesis Statement

This mistake occurs when thesis statement fails to present the main idea, objective, or goal of the essay. A poorly expressed thesis statement indicates a lack of understanding of the given task of assignment.

  1. Improperly structuring an essay

This mistake occurs when the discussion is not split into paragraphs and when paragraphs lack topic sentences. Such essays become difficult to read or skim.

  1. Use of complicated sentences

This mistake occurs when one uses long sentences that are unreadable and incomprehensible. Long sentences are usually prone to stylistic mistakes and grammar errors. One should use simple sentences in one’s essay.

  1. Use of incomplete sentences

This mistake occurs when one uses sentences are that lack either subjects or verbs. One should avoid using long sentences because they are prone to being incomplete.

  1. Failure to use transitional words and phrases

This mistake results in essays with unrelated ideas and lack of the logic flow. Consequently, such essays fail to support the main idea and imply the lack of coherence of the entire discussion.

  1. Use of contractions

This mistake occurs when shortened word combinations, such as don’t, wasn’t, isn’t, can’t and alike, are used in an essay.  Such contractions should be avoided unless they are part of the quotes.

  1. Using ordinary vocabulary

This mistake shows the lack of growth and the mastery of a course content by a student. Students should use advanced vocabulary that matches their specialty. For example, a medical student should use cardiac arrest instead of a in her essay.

  1. Use of negative language

This mistake occurs when negated phrases or words are used in an essay. An example is the use of the word “inexpensive” instead of “cheap”, which hinders understanding of an essay.

  1. Poor quotation

This mistake occurs when one uses a quote that has more than one sentence and fails to single space it and indent it so as to separate it from the rest of the text.

  1. Using a lot of quotes

This mistake leads to the lack originality of an essay. The essay simply becomes a mere repetition of the quoted work or works.

  1. Lack or inadequate use of examples

This mistake makes an essay appear subjective instead of being objective. An idea becomes convincing when it is supported with appropriate evidence and examples.

  1. Putting a lot of information in your essay

This mistake indicates one’s inability to focus on one’s topic; analyze information; and structure information.

  1. Poor Conclusion

This mistake occurs when one introduces new information, which should have been tackled in the body of the essay, in the last paragraph of an essay.

  1. Poor title

This mistake occurs when one uses an essay title that does not relate to the essay’s contents. A good title should reflect what an essay is all about.

  1. Plagiarism

This mistake occurs when one fails to acknowledge the sources of information that one has used in an essay. Plagiarism puts one at risk of expulsion from one’s institution of higher learning. One should always acknowledge the sources used in the paper.

Mistakes in Editing an Essay

These mistakes occur when students fail to follow the essay writing rules that guide the editing of draft essays. These mistakes are:

  1. Typos, Spelling Mistakes, and Wrong Sentence Construction

These mistakes occur when one fails to revise the paper after writing a draft. Written essay drafts have typos, spelling mistakes, or incorrect sentence constructions. When editing is neglected, the paper is full of mistakes.

  1. Over-reliance on spell checkers

This mistake occurs when one fails to proofread the paper and solely relies on spell checkers for proofreading. Spell checkers may miss some spelling mistakes which may result in submission of papers full of errors. One should always proofread an essay.

Remember, editing is also one of the core principles of how to write good essays. Essays should be properly edited to enhance their quality.

In conclusion, the mistakes identified above provide tips on writing an essay that is free of faults. Students should read and follow the recommendations of this guideline to improve their writing skills, which will earn them good grades.

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