Whether you love or hate school, it’s important to try for high grades, which means there are essay mistakes you should avoid. In some classes, finals and midterms mean everything. In others, your essays will be the biggest factor in determining your final grade. Writing well is an important skill to have, so learning to fix these common essay mistakes will help you in the long run.
1. Thesis Trouble
One of the biggest essay mistakes students make is not sticking to their thesis statement. For those of you that don’t know, a thesis statement is ‘a statement or theory that is put forward as a premise to be maintained or proved.’ Once you decide what you’re going to prove in your essay, you have to make sure that every single body paragraph talks about it. You can’t go off topic, or your essay will fall apart.
2. Format Failure
Make sure you have everything right, from the heading on the first page to the works cited page. Some teachers look for different things, so make sure to consult your syllabus or any papers that they’ve given you that pertain to the essay and its requirements. The technical stuff is the easiest to do, so you don’t want to get points off for it. If you’re having trouble with MLA or APA format, check out owl.english.purdue.edu for help.
3. Mistaken Spell Check
Relying on spell check is another small mistake that can cause big issues. Your computer isn’t always correct. Haven’t you seen all of those funny autocorrect photos from iPhone users? Your computer is capable of making the same mistakes that phones do. Make sure that you always read over what you’ve written, because you don’t want your paragraphs to be littered with spelling and grammatical errors.
4. Petty Plagiarizing
You’ve heard this time and time again, but you should never ever plagiarize. If you do, you can get in severe trouble. That means you can’t reword articles you find online and you certainly can’t take chunks of text and insert them into your essay--unless you quote them and cite them. Some classes even require you to find sources, so it’s important to learn how to do this correctly.
5. Twisted Tenses
Make sure the tense you write in is consistent. If you’re writing a History paper, use the past tense. If you're writing an English paper, you need to use the present tense. If you're unsure of which tense to use, there's no harm in asking your teacher after class or shooting them a quick email.
6. Constant Contractions
You should not use any contractions when writing. Fortunately, this is an easy mistake to fix. Use “cannot” instead of “can’t.” Use “should not” instead of “shouldn’t.” Avoiding contractions might sound odd to your ear, but it is the way you are expected to write in an academic essay.
7. Poor Amount of Pages
Some teachers won’t mind if you write fewer pages than required, as long as you wrote an amazing essay. However, most teachers expect you to fulfill the requirements that they set. If the page count is supposed to be 5-7, don’t write 4 pages with one sentence on the next page. You don’t have to write an entire 7 pages, but at least write the minimum amount. If you don’t, you can’t expect to get an A.
Forget about the grades you’ve received in the past. Now is your time to shine! Do you have any other tips for getting a great essay grade?