Easy Academic Essay Writing Strategies to Improve Grades (2018 Edition)

essay writing
  • Last Edited: June 27, 2018

Essay writing places demands on a student unlike any other type of work. This is one of the reasons teachers love to assign essays so frequently. Essay writing allows teachers to judge students on a variety of skill sets. There’s a lot to juggle. So much in fact, that many students prefer to have the help of a professional essay writing service.

Essay writing is some of the most demanding work that students will have to complete during their academic careers.

Essay writing is some of the most challenging because it forces you to be judged on a variety of tasks: clarity, vocabulary, organization, ability to select compelling evidence, ability to argue a point, and ability to hold the reader’s attention.

There’s a tremendous amount to juggle.

However, if you can master essay writing, it is a skill you will take with you for life and use constantly.

You may even find that developing this mastery makes a positive impact on other areas of your life, such as your speaking skills, your ability to win an argument or be persuasive.

Many students find that once they hone in on some strategies to immediately better their essay writing, it seeps into other areas of their life.

What is an Academic Essay

An academic essay is a specific type of writing that is as precise and unique as other types of writing such as the newspaper op-ed or the romance novel.

An academic essay can be defined by its rigid structure: it generally has five paragraphs containing an introduction, a body and a conclusion.

The purpose of an academic essay is to demonstrate your ability to engage in reasoned discourse, and to advance ideas: your own as well as the ideas of other scholars or experts in the field.

Teachers rely so heavily on this type of writing, because it allows them to assess how well (or poorly) their students are developing their critical thinking skills.

Essay writing can’t help but engage a host of critical thinking skills as it often forces the student to evaluate and apply theory, brainstorm independently, assess their arguments and defend them.

There a many types of academic essays that you will be asked to write during your academic career.

However, we find that in high school and college, the three most commonly assigned types of writing are descriptive essays, expository essays, and argumentative essays. Descriptive essays are when your teacher will ask you to spend time discussing the life of an important figure, or a crucial historical event or place.

Teachers assign expository essays when they want to determine how well you can describe a concept or theory, in order to determine how much mastery or clarity you have over the subject matter.

Finally, one might argue that the most common of these three is the argumentative essay. This type asks you to engage in essay writing by structuring an argument through sound reasoning and the solid use of evidence.

Review the Assignment

Reviewing the assignment before you engage in essay writing can be instrumental in helping you to get the highest grade possible.

Some teachers pack their essay tasks with requirements: there are copious required texts they want you to incorporate, as well as one main essay question or topic, but also three or four sub-topics or questions they want you to address.

These essay writing assignments can give you a headache before you even begin.

In the case of these assignments, just go slowly and make a simplified list of what the teacher wants you to include the essay, so you can refer back to it with ease as you write. For example, if your teacher gives everyone a two page document regarding the essay requirements and expectations, definitely read it and reread it several times, and jot down a simplified version of everything he/she wants.

essay assignment

Example of an Essay Assignment

Choose a Topic & Position

Depending on the type of essay assigned, you’ll have to select a topic or position that most empowers you to write the best essay possible.

If the type of essay assigned just asks you to pick a topic, then pick something that you truly are interested in.

This will exponentially make the entire task of writing an essay more painless—perhaps even enjoyable.

You’re going to have to be diving deep and finding more research and information about a subject. If you have a genuine interest in that subject already, this will be a process that is fascinating and inspires you to seek out more information.

Likewise, for a persuasive or argumentative essay, select a viewpoint that you actually hold, even if it’s not the most popular one.

Don’t be afraid to express your genuine opinions, however uncommon they are, and back them up with evidence.

That is a skill unto itself.

For example, if you’re against abortion, pro-gun owners’ privileges, don’t support animal rights, or believe in alien abductions, selection a position for your essay that is accurate to your internal truths is just best.

It will just ensure that your essay is simpler to compose.

Essay Structure

The structure of your essay is just as crucial as choosing a theme or perspective that you genuinely support.

An organized structure will heighten your essay’s overall readability, and make sure that you check all the boxes in regards to what your professor expects in terms of structure. This is important: teachers love to deduct points for structure, because they figure that in doing so, this is the only way students will learn the importance of structure in essay writing.

Don’t give your teacher an easy excuse to dock points from your overall score.

Master the art of structure in essay writing and you’ll have a skill for life.

Essay Title

Choose your title last, after you have written the entire essay.

Some students like to use a working title when they start, knowing that it’s not the final title that they are going to use.

Some students use the title “working title” as their working title.

The reason that it’s best to choose your title last is because sometimes the exact content of your essay will change as you are writing it.

It’s kind of like how a sculptor will set out to make a vase and then end up with a bowl. Sometimes what we set out to do, becomes something slightly different in the end result, and that’s fine.

For example, you might set out to write an essay on the importance of gun owners’ rights and find yourself pulling a lot of historical data from the revolutionary war.

You might want to include this in the title (or not).

Even so, wait until the essay is done before you select the title.

essay title

Example of Essay Title

Essay Outline

Your essay outline is the road map for your essay that helps you keep your thoughts organized and your points structured in a useful manner.

Some students don’t use an outline when they write, but those are the 1% of students to whom writing comes so naturally that they are probably not even reading this article.

For everyone else, taking the five to ten minutes to sketch out an informal outline can help you gain greater clarity with your thoughts, and put you in a better position to write cohesively.

You don’t even have to follow strict outline format.

You can just write a series of numbers down your page, such as 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 for a five paragraph essay and jot down your main points that you’re going to make for each paragraph.

Alternatively, you can use a formal outline structure, if you feel that would help you map out all of your thoughts.

For example, an outline on the non-fiction book, Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome (PTSS) by Dr. Joy DeGruy might look like this:

I. Introductory Paragraph: Background on slavery in America, connections for why the reader should care, connection to race relations of today.

Last sentence (thesis): 246 years of American chattel slavery left devastating consequences on white and black Americans within an intergenerational context present today.

II. Second paragraph: American chattel slavery enabled black Americans engage in maladaptive coping behaviors that were originally survival strategies for slavery. Additional details and explanations.

III. Third Paragraph: Children whose parents suffered from PTSS were indoctrinated to such maladaptive behaviors, long after slavery ended.

Additional details and explanations.

IV. Fourth paragraph: Clinical intervention and social change is necessary in order to overcome the legacy of PTSS. Additional details and explanations.

V. Final paragraph: Restate thesis. The centuries of American chattel slavery were never given a period of healing or proper acknowledgement in order to motivate the crucial social change needed to undo the tragic legacy it left in its wake.

Recap main points, connect to general context.

Likewise, such an outline could also be acceptable just as this:

1. Background of slavery. Thesis: centuries of slavery created a post-traumatic slave syndrome (PTSS) in generations of black Americans, the legacy of which can be felt today.

2. American chattel slavery different from all other types of slavery.

More details.

3. Manifestation of PTSS in African Americans as intergenerational coping mechanism.

4. Evidence of PTSS today.

Give examples.

5. Conclusion

The overall point is that the outline is supposed to be a tool to help you.

Thus, make it as detailed or as general as you like.

Unless you have to hand in your outline, you can use any format that you like.

essay outline

Example of an Essay Outline

Essay Introduction

The introduction is one of the most important paragraphs in your essay, if not the most. The introduction has to fulfill so many roles and goals that it can be overwhelming for the average student.

The introduction has to accomplish three main objectives: grab the reader’s attention and keep it, introduce the general subject matter while connecting it to the more narrow focus of your thesis and then state your thesis in the final sentence.

Many students struggle with the introduction because they try to find a way to generalize some statements that are loosely connected to the thesis and are often unsure if what they are writing makes any sense.

So before you write your introduction, make sure you know what your thesis is.

For example, if you have to write an essay on The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway, your thesis might be something along the lines of the novel The Sun Also Rises is an example of not just modernism but is a stylistic manifestation of a world dissatisfied with industrialization.

In that case, one should be able to brainstorm some of the background subjects that would be relevant to discuss in the sentences of the introduction that lead up to the statement of thesis.

These would be things like: modernism (what it is, how it manifested in art, architecture and literature, why it occurred in the first place) and what industrialization meant for society (pros and cons).

Offering the reader some engaging background on these subjects should set you up nicely to introduce your thesis.

Consider the following example:

Some of the greatest forms of art, architecture and thought were ones that made their mark in history, by rejecting the styles and influences that came before them. Modernism is such a movement and a reaction to the new standards and pace of living within industrial society in the early 20th century. Just as the Internet and Google have changed so much about how we live today, industrialization waged a similar impact on every sector of society in the early 1900s and everyone attempted to adjust, particularly the artists of the era. Hemingway was one of these artists, and in many ways, scholars consider The Sun Also Rises to be his most modernist novel. However, we can look deeper into the novel to see that in terms of style and content, it is a novel that passively expresses its discontent with the industrialized world.

Finally, it’s important to make perfectly clear that the introduction ends with the thesis statement.

essay introduction

Example of Essay Introduction

Essay Hook

The essay hook sentence refers to the first sentence of the introductory paragraph that piques the attention of the reader or “hooks” them in.

Hence, this sentence is referred to as the “hook” (get it?).

You don’t need to try to brainstorm for hours and hours to think of something clever for a hook.

Sometimes the best hook is a quote (As Dickens famously said, “It was the best of times. It was the worst of times.”) a fact or statistic (“One in three black men will go to prison in their lifetime,” according to the Sentencing Project, a D.C. based advocacy group), an anecdote (My grandmother always said that people tell you how they feel in the smallest gestures), or something that subverts an expectation (People often say that drunk driving causes the most deaths in the nation, but the answer is actually heart disease), or that just paints a strong picture using the literary devices of metaphor or simile (“The flooding of Hurricane Katrina rained down upon the nation like the wrath of God’s discontent”). Deciding which type of hook to use really is up to you, though the type of essay that you’re writing really should guide the decision you make.

For example, a persuasive or argumentative essay would probably be better off with a fact, statistic or subverted expectation, in order to pack a strong punch.

On the other hand, a literary, descriptive or narrative essay would be better off with an appropriate quote or colorful sentence.

essay hook sentence

Example of Essay Hook Sentence

Thesis Statement

The thesis statement is essentially the straw that stirs the greater “drink” of your essay. It is the sun that the planet-paragraphs revolve around. On a fundamental level, it is the overarching point, claim, perspective that you are prepared to support with the rest of the essay. You are ready to support your viewpoint using the grit of your own ingenuity and persuasive skills, if appropriate, and/or cite evidence from research or experts if warranted.

There are three essential types of thesis:

A simple thesis:

A simple thesis means you are making a basic claim, one that is not necessarily hard to prove.

For example, “Edvard Munch’s The Scream is a portrait of existential angst.”

Most people wouldn’t disagree with this take, though some would, so it becomes even more important to support one’s claim with compelling evidence.

A multifaceted thesis:

A multi-faceted thesis would combine two or more elements in order to make a more complex point.

For example, in this case it would be “Edvard Munch’s The Scream is a portrait of existential angst that comments upon the alienation of industrialization thrust on an unprepared world.”

This thesis is more complex because rather than interpreting the painting as an expression of Munch’s personal life as so many scholars do (he suffered many personal tragedies), it becomes more of an expression of the discomfort of mankind during the modernity of industrialization.

In this example, the reader will have to make an argument connecting the expressionism of the painting with the historical changes of industrialization onto society.

An ambitious thesis:

And a truly ambitious thesis would be one along the lines of “Edvard Munch’s The Scream is a portrait of existential angst that comments upon alienation derived industrialization, much like Darren Aronofsky’s mother! is a modern day biblical narrative that discusses the plague of mankind on mother earth.

This thesis is startlingly more ambitious as one has to now connect a modern work of one type of artistic genre, with a more antiquated work in another type of artistic genre. Additionally one has to argue that they are both connected by a degree of existential angst, though presumably expressed in different ways.

thesis statement

Example of a Thesis Statement

Essay Body

The essay body is where you fulfill your promise to the reader: you show how you are right and your thesis is strong and sound.

You do this by offering evidence, though before you present this evidence you need to start each body paragraph with what professors refer to as a “topic sentence.”

The topic sentence is a strong sentence that directly expresses the main idea that this paragraph will support.

The other parts of the body paragraph will have developing sentences that offer an extension or amplification of the topic sentence.

The remaining parts of the body paragraph will offer subsequent examples or points made that all support that first topic sentence.

For example, for the complex thesis presented above, consider:

Edvard Munch’s The Scream is a portrait of existential angst that comments upon the alienation of industrialization thrust on an unprepared world. One of the topic sentences could be: While the industrial revolution thrust the US and Europe into the modern era, there was a tremendous amount of daily unhappiness for many workers as working conditions plummeted, leaving many psychological scars. It is well documented that work in the old industrial centers such as factories was deeply draining: it was highly repetitive, stressful and very exhausting, as well as dangerous, with child labor being the norm (Obschonka, 2018). A ground-breaking study conducted in 1982 has long demonstrated that an absence of independence and complexity at work, can influence the negative behavior of workers in a lasting manner, by minimizing their intellectual elasticity (Kohn & Schooler, 1982). Adam Smith, noted scholar of the era, had even argued decades before the industrial revolution that the division of labor in society, creating exceedingly repetitive tasks for laborers, meant that devastating psychosocial effects were also going hand in hand with these endeavors.

The next body paragraph should connect with this idea, though offering up a new topic sentence and body of evidence to examine.

The two body paragraphs should be connected and transition smoothly from one to another with a word or phrase like: comparably, in a comparable fashion, similarly, in a similar fashion, relatedly, or in a related the manner.

Hence the next topic sentence of the following body could be: In a comparable fashion, the frequency of child labor as a fundamental part of industrialization led to much dissatisfaction among laborers.

essay body

Example of Essay Body

Essay Conclusion

The essay conclusion really should be the easiest paragraph to write, as you have done nearly all of the heavy lifting required in the earlier paragraphs.

Try to avoid using words like “In conclusion” or “in summary” or other such expressions as teachers encounter them so frequently that it can be very tiresome.

To end your essay, you really can just write, “Thus, and restate your thesis using new language.”

Other ways to end your essay: “All these ideas strongly suggest that restate your thesis” or “This essay began with the question/thesis/perspective that restate your thesis.”

The most challenging part of writing your conclusion is to remind the reader of your main points without sounding too repetitive or redundant.

You don’t need to hammer home every point you made, just the fundamental ones.

Use a thesaurus if you find yourself getting stuck on saying the same words over and over again.

essay conclusion

Example of Essay Conclusion

Reference Page

The reference page of your paper should be perfect.

There’s really no excuse in this day and age as there are a host of websites, apps and other tools available that allow you to build your reference page as you work, so that you can keep track of them flawlessly.

This also ensures that when your paper is done you can just insert or copy and paste your reference page.

Building the reference page as you go along is crucial as it saves you so much work at the end of the paper, when your brain is already tired.

Using a tool or form of software to create the reference page according to the required citation style ensures it will be done without error.

reference page

Example of Reference Page

In Closing

So many students want help with when writing their essay.

We think that’s fantastic. Asking for help is a skill unto itself.

It is often something that generally ensures a student will have a more successful life as it means they are able to ask for help when it counts.

Furthermore, when students ask for help from a company like ours, they generally turn in a paper that is better than anything their friends hand in.

The reason for this is that they’ve reached out to a professional paper writing service and received a custom paper that they can use as a template.

Thus, they had a standard by which to hold their paper, ensuring that it was excellent.

Essay writing forces you to balance so many different talents at once: your ability to organize your thoughts to your ability to convince someone else of your beliefs using evidence.

It really does determine how well you understand a particular subject.

Sometimes writing an essay is fun, but other times it can be one of the onerous tasks you have to complete.

When you find yourself in the latter situation, it really does help to have a company like this on your side, ensuring you are able to excel to the best of your ability.

Sometimes the difference between receiving an A grade versus a B grade on your transcript can come down to whether or not you sought professional help.

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