How To Improve Your Essay Writing Skills In University: Professional Advice


When you start your studies at university, the first thing you inevitably notice is the significant step up required in academic skills. To be successful in higher studies, two of the most important requirements are writing and reasoning, which are interlinked skills. If you cannot put coherent and well-reasoned thoughts down on paper, it will be difficult to convince the reader (or the examiner) that you know or have learned anything. Here are some tips to improve your essay writing skills at university:

  1. Avoid Clichés like the Plague
  2. See what happened there? A perfectly reasonable suggestion sounds tired and boring because a cliché, in the form of an old saying, was used. Instead, simply saying “Avoid using clichés” sounds so much better because it is direct and useful. Similarly, avoid the use of similes and metaphors which are not required in formal writing of this kind.

  3. Do Not Be Subjective
  4. Academic writing at university is serious business and you will be successful if the arguments you present are backed up by evidence. Avoid describing things in a subjective fashion, for example (“a beautiful blue sky….”).

  5. Use the Third Person
  6. Where possible, use the third person. Avoid the use of “I” unless you are describing a personal experience. For example, your descriptions should start with “It can be said….” instead of “In my opinion” or “I think”.

  7. Repetition Kills Essays
  8. Avoid endlessly repeating the same words all over your piece. Use the thesaurus in your word processor to good effect. That means that while you should use replacement words; make sure you know the exact meaning of the words you are using. Also avoid repeating your arguments. Once is enough as long as it is well argued and backed up by believable evidence.

  9. Structure the Essay
  10. The way you structure your essay is completely up to you but you simply cannot go wrong with the traditional structure of Introduction, Main Body and Conclusion. This structure ensures the writing has good flow and presents arguments with coherence.

  11. Edit and Proofread
  12. Once you are done writing, it is important to go through all of it again to check for spelling, punctuation and grammar mistakes. Make sure the arguments are logical and the sentences and paragraphs flow and complement each other. If possible, have someone else do the proofreading for you. A fresh set of eyes often catches new errors. Good luck!

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