An academic essay is one of the most popular methods for tutors to assess the students’ progress in the discipline, as well as challenge their critical thinking and writing skills at the same time. The main aim of an essay is to demonstrate your knowledge of a certain topic, your ability to organize facts, and your skills in presenting your opinion. You are probably well aware of the components of a good essay, but there are some mistakes you may be making unknowingly. We asked the writing experts from the RapidEssay service about these common mistakes, so here are the issues which, according to them, you should pay closer attention to.
#1 A descriptive thesis statement
The thesis statement is the cornerstone of your essay. It can either help you envision, plan, and build a clear argument or, conversely, undermine it from the very first paragraph. It is a serious mistake to simply acknowledge what the topic for your writing is rather than giving a clear opinion. If you have an argumentative thesis statement, it is easier for you to come up with the subsequent paragraphs and ideas, while a descriptive one provides neither you nor the reader with the idea of what your argument is going to be. To avoid this mistake, make sure there is no such statement as “In this essay, I will talk about the topic in the title…” and instead give your position on the matter and explain why you believe so.
#2 First-person writing
Writing in the first person is another common mistake that makes your thesis statement weak. To be compelling, your argument must be objective and scientifically reasoned. If you write in the first person, namely, using such pronouns as “I” or “my,” it undermines the essay’s objectivity and makes it seem to be about yourself rather than about the issue you are discussing. In fact, third-person narration is one of the rules of academic writing, as you are learning to use facts and approach issues critically, which is why the evidence must speak for you. To write a good essay, avoid using the first person, and use the third one instead. It will make your arguments look more objective and unbiased.
The third most common type of mistake concerns the words you use. It is about the stylistic and vocabulary choices students make in their writing. These mistakes include contractions, colloquialisms, and phrasal verbs. In casual speech, there is nothing wrong with such choices. However, academic writing has its own register that you should follow. As for contractions, using them in essays or papers is just considered a bit simplistic. The reason you should avoid colloquialisms and phrasal verbs is a bit different and also has to do with the objectivity of your writing. Usually, conversational words have several meanings or connotations and are not always used in the literal sense. For example, the word run alone has 645 definitions. So, to make your writing objective and unambiguous, try to use more specific words with clear denotative meanings.
#4 Essay structure and flow
Yet another mistake that occurs in many essays and affects many grades is the way that the essay is built and how it flows. Sometimes, students fail to present enough supporting arguments, make an unclear introduction, or forget to conclude their essay. All these aspects impact the validity of your argument and, as a result, your grade. To avoid this, make sure you can distinguish each structural element of the essay when you read it. Beyond that, make sure your reasoning flows. To make it this way, use linking words to connect the structural elements of the essay so that it is coherent and logical.
Even if your essay has a strong thesis statement, the right register of writing, a clear structure, and a correct citation style, there may still be a problem with it. This problem is the choice of sources to support your argument. If you take information from questionable sources and use it as the evidence for your essay, the validity of your argument may also be in question. To avoid this mistake, follow the simple rules of media literacy: do not put much trust in blogs with anonymous authors (and with possibly biased agendas), make sure the article was issued by a reputable publisher and peer-reviewed by academics, and confirm that it is not outdated. If you cannot identify this information about the source, keep searching until you find a better one.
We hope, after reading this list, you will write more mindfully and, if you have ever made any of these mistakes, that you will never repeat them. After you start paying attention to what can go wrong in the essay, you will avoid them with no effort, and it will reflect positively on your academic achievements.