Becoming a Better Essay Writer – 4 Useful Tips to Develop Your Skill

January 23, 2019
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Remember elementary school? You were asked to write short little essays on what you did over the summer or what you wanted to be when you grew up and why. Your teacher proudly displayed these on bulletin boards for Parents’ Night, so they could see your progress.

You’ve come a long way since then. And you learned many more things about writing good essays. And you were even asked to write them in classes other than English composition.

Now you are in college, and there are higher expectations from professors. They no longer really want to teach you – they just want you to deliver excellent formal academic writing, no matter what course they teach.

Here are some basic tips that will help you craft the essays your professors want to see from you.

Your Thesis

This is the main point of any piece of writing you produce – an essay, a research paper, a book review, a case study, etc. You state the topic of your piece and your approach to that topic, perhaps an opinion.

Your thesis statement must be included at the beginning of your piece – usually at the end of your introductory paragraph.

Never write an essay or paper without formulating a strong thesis statement. And make it clear to your reader at the beginning. Every part of what you write after that, every point you make must relate to that thesis statement.

Your Opening – Don’t Be Trite, Childlike, or Boring

“This essay is about the causes of the French Revolution.” This would be the beginning of an essay written by a student in elementary school. As would, “In this essay, I will be talking about the causes of the French Revolution.”

Here is an example of what an opening for such a topic should be:

“It was the best of times; it was the worst of times.” These are the opening words of Charles Dickens’s novel, A Tale of Two Cities. He was speaking of life in those two cities – London and Paris. The huge disparity between the rich and poor was beginning to reach a boiling point, especially in France where an oblivious Louis IV and Marie Antoinette sat in contentment on a throne they believed would be theirs until they died. But the explosion was about to occur. Oppression is the cause of discontent, and when that oppression can no longer be tolerated, revolution happens. And this is just what happened in France in 1789.

I have opened with a great hook – something to capture the reader’s attention. And my thesis is stated at the end - Once oppression become intolerable, revolution will occur. Everything after this will speak to the oppression of the peasant class in France that led to revolution.

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Here are tips for your catchy opening:

  • Use a startling statistic or statement. “40% of the world’s population does not use or have access to a bank.”

  • Use a quote as above

  • Tell a short anecdote. On May 22, 2010, Laszio Hanyecz bought two pizzas for a Florida man in exchange for 10,000 bitcoins, worth about $21. Today those bitcoins are worth $11 million.

Vary Sentence Lengths

In the elementary school, you used short simple sentences – one after another. These become boring pretty quickly. As a college student, short sentences are still good, but should be reserved for emphasis – to make a point.

Interesting writing has a variety of sentence lengths and types. Once you have written your rough draft, go back and change out those sentences to give enough variety.


You know what these are. Your secondary school English teacher taught you all about them. These are words or sentences that are meant to tell the reader where you are going next.

Transition words like “however, although, still, consequently” tell the reader that the statement you just made has some more to it.

“40% of the world’s population is unbanked. However, this does not mean that they don’t have access to Internet purchases.”

Transitions between paragraphs are just as important and should be either housed in the last sentence of a paragraph or the first of the next one.

“40% of the world’s population is physically unbanked. However, this does not mean they don’t make purchases via the Internet. Armed with cell phones and Internet access, they are coming to use digital currencies, such as Bitcoin, or strictly online accounts, such as those offered by PayPal and Ally. In fact, these new methods of financial transactions are the largest disruptors of the traditional financial industry – an industry that is scrambling to modernize itself to compete with these new aggressive more efficient banking services.”

Now you know where this essay is going.

There you have it – four tips that can immediately improve your essay writing. Start using them right now, and you will see higher scores on those pieces of writing you must produce.