11 Common Essay Writing Mistakes you should address
Essay writing is a very important requirement for any academic discipline. That is the only way in which teachers can gauge the level at which the students have imbibed their subjects. It is also a sort of self evaluation for the students and helps them embark on the journey of research writing. There are many things that need to be kept in mind while writing an essay and even though a majority of them are simple; it is those areas where students tend to make errors. This results in them getting fewer marks and becoming demoralized. When students remember these simple points it will enable them to write excellent messages and get good grades.
- Errors in tense: When you are writing an essay and need to write about events, it is very important to use the appropriate tense. Choose one particular tense that is relevant to the narrative and stick to it. Do not keep alternating between past and future or past and present. It could be difficult for the reader to understand your writing if you do so.
- Concentrating on summaries instead of analysis: When you are asked to write an article review, students tend to concentrate more on the plot and summarize the article or any academic paper. Even though the summary is important it should not take up more space than the actual analysis.
- Not paraphrasing a quote: The whole point of writing an academic essay is for the faculty to gauge the understanding that the student has had of the text or subject. When a student includes a direct quote in an essay it shows that the student does not know how to paraphrase the content and shows his or her incompetence. This will not reflect well on the grades. It is always advisable to paraphrase the content and write it in the student’s own words.
- Incomplete sentences: Every sentence has to be clear in its content and must have a subject and a verb. Even though this may seem like a simple thing it is the most common error that students make. Drafting incomplete sentences often makes the entire essay incomprehensible.
- Indenting and single spacing: Every referencing system has its own style of indenting and spacing. This is often forgotten by students who believe that the word processing software is correct in its default setting. This could cost them grades if the paper layout does not conform to the standards set by the faculty.
- Use of contractions: It is not advisable for students to use contractions like ‘won’t’, ‘don’t,’ shan’t’ etc. An academic paper needs to have proper word usage like ‘will not’, should not and could not. Contractions can be used if the quote being used is a direct quote which might be the case when reviewing a literature text.
- Use of second person: It is important for students to not use the second person in the text. Instead of ‘you’ the student can use ‘one’. For example, instead of ‘You should never jump on the trampoline’ the student can phrase the sentence with ‘One must never jump on the trampoline’.
- Use of dangling participle: Students often tend to use participles that do not go well with the rest of the sentence. For instance when saying,’Working in the kitchen, the sudden noise startled me’, the words working and noise do not go well together. Instead the student can write ‘Working in the kitchen, I was startled by the sudden noise’.
- Spelling errors: It is always advisable to have a spelling checker. Spelling mistakes were bearable, if not pardonable, when essays were handwritten. But with word processing software it is inexcusable to write submit an essay with poor spelling. It does not take much time to check the spelling errors in a word document. At the same time the student must also make the attempt to learn the correct spelling and type correctly without a spell checker.
- Improper titles: A title of an essay should reflect the content of the essay. At the same time it should also be true to the type of work that is being done. For instance, is you are writing a review of ‘Crime and Punishment’ you should name it ‘Crime and Punishment: A Review’ or ‘On Crime and Punishment’.
- Improper referencing: This is the most serious mistake that the students make. They need to know the differences between an in-text citation, a bibliographic entry, and footnotes and so on. All referencing should be done as per the style prescribed by the faculty member. Improper referencing can be misconstrued to be plagiarism and have a very bad impact on the future of the student.