Get expert tips on language, grammar, style and vocabulary
6 tips for writing an essay in English
Learning English can be an overwhelming experience – especially when it comes to writing essays. However, if it’s a skill you can work on and master, being able to write in English with both clarity and resonance can open many professional – and personal – doors!
But it’s a journey, and whilst no one expects you to become a Pulitzer Prize writer, there are some easy tactics you can use to help make the writing process smoother and help you pass those exams that could land you your dream job.
Tips for improving your essay writing skills
Here are six of our favourite methods for making essay writing a breeze (mostly):
1. Plan, plan, plan!
Whether you’re a native speaker or not, this is good advice for anyone writing an essay. Planning your essay will ensure that your argument is clearly defined to the examiner, and that you’re answering the question at hand.
When organizing your content, think first about how you want it to be structured: most essays consist of an introduction, the main body text, and a conclusion. Your introduction should introduce the topic as well as your argument and how you plan to showcase it throughout the essay. The body text should develop your idea and be supported by evidence and sources. Finally, your conclusion should summarize your essay, and explain the significance of your findings.
Starting your essay with plenty of time will mean that you can plan effectively and not have to rush – and potentially compromise – your final essay.
2. Keep note of new vocabulary
While learning English, keeping a notebook of different words you come across (for example, when studying or reading) is helpful for memorizing and referring quickly to certain English words. It also means that when it comes to writing an essay, you already have most of the necessary vocabulary in one place. Using the right vocabulary is important as it will make your argument and ideas stand out more and allow you to relate topics back to the question in a concise and succinct manner.
3. Write clearly
When writing an essay in English, it can be tempting to use as many complex words as possible or try and explain your ideas through metaphors and other types of figurative language – try to avoid this. Overcomplicating your writing style can leave readers confused and unsure of the point you’re making, and this will inevitably affect your overall grade.
Write as simply and clearly as possible and be straight to the point with your ideas – simple writing doesn’t necessarily mean simple arguments.
4. Try out synonyms
In most cases, it’s perfectly acceptable to repeat the same word if it makes sense – it’s always better to be clear rather than risk using a word you’re not entirely sure fits into the sentence. However, if you are looking to take your writing a step further and impress your examiners, then using different synonyms is an easy and effective way to achieve this. All you have to do is pick up a thesaurus (or use one online) and search for the word you wish to upgrade, and it will give you alternatives to choose from.
For example: if you search for the word ‘sad’, you will be given a list of words that also mean this, but which have more depth – such as ‘sorrowful’, 'unhappy’ and ‘dejected’.
5. Use spellchecks and grammar tools
If you’re writing on a computer (which most of you will be) make the most of the spelling and grammar tools available – there’s nothing worse than having a great and well-planned argument, only for the essay to be let down by grammar and spelling errors!
Make sure that your sentences are formatted correctly, and that you maintain an active voice (as opposed to a passive one) throughout the essay.
When you’ve finished, make sure you re-read your essay several times – just to make sure that it reads well, and you haven’t missed out any words! Ideally, read it out-loud and if possible, ask a friend or mentor to read it for you – this is particularly helpful to ensure that your essay is clear enough that anyone can read and understand it.
Need more help improving your English language skills? Our courses cover a range of topics including grammar and vocabulary, as well Exam Preparation. Find out how we can help you here!