1. Writing without a Plan
Drawing up a plan may look like a waste of time you can spend writing (especially if you have a tight time limit), but any experienced writer will disagree. When you write without a plan, there is always a chance of forgetting some vital detail and only remembering it when the essay is almost over and it is too late to seamlessly introduce it anywhere. Or you risk mixing up the order in which different points should appear in your essay, or failing to write the essay as a cohesive whole.
In fact, ten minutes spent planning may save you hours of rewriting and revising. So don’t forego it.
2. Forgetting about a Conclusion
There are three basic parts in any essay: introduction, main part and conclusion, and the latter is the first to suffer from students’ inattention. Many poor academic writers simply stop writing their essays when they are still incomplete – they simply enumerate the points in the main part and think that their job is done.
But there should always be an ending – even if it just restates the point made in the introduction, is absence is one of the most glaring mistakes an essay writer can make.
3. Absence of Transitional Phrases
An essay is not simply a list of points – that is, it may be a list of points, but all of them have logical connections with each other. The role of these connections belongs to transitional words and phrases, usually beginning new paragraphs.
‘Therefore’, ‘thus’, ‘as a result’ and other similar phrases may not look like much, but their presence makes your essay immediately look more coherent, consistent and logically correct. Don’t waste such an easy way to do it.
Repeating a point doesn’t make it stronger; it simply makes your essay look disorganized and unprofessional. Remember: you have a very limited amount of space to get your idea through to the reader, and if you waste it by repeating the same things multiple times it clearly shows the reader that you don’t know what you are doing – or simply have nothing to say and have to resort to repeating yourself.
Eliminate all repetitions. Never use phrases like “As I’ve already said”. Carefully check your essay for redundancy after completing it.
Essays usually have a word limit; and if you don’t have much to say it is tempting to resort to purple prose, overly complicated word structures and excessive detail to get to that limit without actually saying anything. Don’t. It is the oldest trick in the book, and your tutor has seen it a thousand times. And it simply looks annoying.
Mastery of essay writing comes with practice; but it is always better to practice already knowing the most typical mistakes. We hope this list will be of help.