Regardless of the major you choose to pursue during your higher education, writing essays that demonstrate your competence with and understanding of the course material is going to be one of, if not the most important aspect of how your instructors evaluate you. Most people start learning the basics of essay writing while they are still in secondary school, but almost no one has it down before entering post-secondary, and still few have it mastered even after their first few years of college or university. Some never learn.
If you want to excel in higher education, you need to be able to write a good essay. Below are 3 ways to improve your essay writing skills, impress your professors and get higher marks.
Build Your Vocabulary by Playing Vocabulary Games
Your ability to write a good essay, or convey your thoughts and ideas in general, is always going to be constrained by the breadth and depth of your vocabulary. If you don’t have the vocabulary, not only are you not going to be able to fully understand the dense texts and challenging literature you are asked to engage with in university-level education, but when it comes time to synthesize that material into a coherent essay, or present your interpretation or understanding of it, you will struggle.
There are many ways that you can constantly be adding to your vocabulary, but one of the most effective and enjoyable is to gamify the process. Scrabble is undoubtedly the most popular language game out there and frequent playing will help expose you to new words and expand your vocabulary over time. If you find you are struggling to come up with winning combinations at first, a word unscrambler can help make things easier.
If you are already doing a humanities or social sciences major, reading more shouldn’t be an issue, as you are generally expected to be constantly reading in these faculties. Even the hard sciences demand a lot of weekly reading.
The key here, however, is that you have to actually do the weekly reading. Many people view their weekly course readings as chores, especially if it is for a required course they do not find particularly stimulating, or for an elective that turned out to be much drier than expected. The more you undertake sustained, careful reading, however, the better a writer you become. There is, in fact, a direct correlation between the two.
Map Your Essay Out
Many people make the mistake of diving headfirst into an essay without having a clear road map in front of them. While it isn’t impossible for an essay to take shape as you go, and you may even find that the original structure or content you had planned changes as you get deeper into the writing process, the best way to improve your chances of turning out something good is to spend time on your outline first.
Most essays follow certain formulas and learning how to plan your content around those formulas is the foundation of good and, importantly, efficient essay writing.
Some people are simply better at writing than others. Whether because it is something they have always been passionate about, and therefore practiced more, or because they intuitively understand the technical side of planning and writing, it comes easier. But essay writing is a skill that gets better and easier the more you understand language and the more you understand the formula. Keep the above tips in mind, put them into practice, and you will notice a marked improvement in your ability to write essays throughout your post-secondary career.