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A (Very) Simple Way to Improve Your Writing
- Mark Rennella
It’s called the “one-idea rule” — and any level of writer can use it.
The “one idea” rule is a simple concept that can help you sharpen your writing, persuade others by presenting your argument in a clear, concise, and engaging way. What exactly does the rule say?
- Every component of a successful piece of writing should express only one idea.
- In persuasive writing, your “one idea” is often the argument or belief you are presenting to the reader. Once you identify what that argument is, the “one-idea rule” can help you develop, revise, and connect the various components of your writing.
- For instance, let’s say you’re writing an essay. There are three components you will be working with throughout your piece: the title, the paragraphs, and the sentences.
- Each of these parts should be dedicated to just one idea. The ideas are not identical, of course, but they’re all related. If done correctly, the smaller ideas (in sentences) all build (in paragraphs) to support the main point (suggested in the title).
Where your work meets your life. See more from Ascend here .
Most advice about writing looks like a long laundry list of “do’s and don’ts.” These lists can be helpful from time to time, but they’re hard to remember … and, therefore, hard to depend on when you’re having trouble putting your thoughts to paper. During my time in academia, teaching composition at the undergraduate and graduate levels, I saw many people struggle with this.
Often, students would begin with strong ideas, but have trouble focusing their thoughts when it came time to translating those ideas into words — resulting in essays with loose, distracted, and ultimately, confusing arguments. It’s not that their ideas weren’t valuable. There were just too many of them to digest at once.
Luckily, there is a (memorable) strategy that can help any level of writer greatly improve their work. I call it the one-idea rule: Every component of a successful piece of writing should express only one idea.
You may be familiar with some of the variations of this rule, like the Pyramid Principle or Purdue’s rules of thumb for paragraphs. After all, every great essay, article, or written work is grounded by a foundational idea — one that equally inspires the author and their audience.
In persuasive writing, which we will focus on here, your one idea is often the argument or belief you are presenting to the reader. Once you identify what that argument is, the “one-idea rule” can help you develop, revise, and connect the various components of your writing in a clear and convincing way.
For instance, let’s say you’re writing an essay. There are three components you’ll be working with throughout your piece: the title, the paragraphs, and the sentences. Each of these parts should be dedicated to just one idea. The ideas are not identical, of course, but they’re all related. If done correctly, the smaller ideas (in sentences) all build (in paragraphs) to support the main point (suggested in the title).
Why should you follow this rule?
There are many advantages to using the one-idea rule, but I’ll point out three that are particularly important:
You will sharpen your focus. Many written pieces fail to be persuasive because they include too many ideas rather than too few. Having a clear end goal will keep you disciplined.
You will make more discoveries (and have more fun). Focus gives you freedom. When you have one specific idea you’re trying to portray, you can then experiment more broadly throughout your piece or even take a little detour without losing sight of your main point. You can dig more deeply into certain details, as long as they are related to the title, or your main idea.
You will become more confident. Knowing that you’re following a rule that describes all good writing gives you a chance to assess the quality of your own work, as well as the work of others — including your peers, your colleagues, and even well-known authors. Great writing is a skill, and once you understand how to structure papers in a compelling way, you’ll gain the confidence to decide what makes a piece truly interesting and persuasive.
How to Get Started
This rule may sound simple, but it takes practice to master.
So, what should you do the next time you begin an assignment, and you face the terrifying abyss of a blank page and a blinking cursor? How can you identify what your big “idea” is?
These three steps can help sharpen your focus.
1) Find an angle.
Maybe you’re writing on a topic that was assigned to you by an editor or a professor. Maybe you’re brainstorming a piece to pitch to a media outlet. Or maybe there is a subject you want to tackle but your focus feels too broad. Whatever the case, you have to come up with an angle — a clear and refreshing perspective on the topic at hand that presents a specific, unique, and well-supported argument or “idea.”
If you don’t know what argument you want to make, then you’re in trouble. To figure it out, ask yourself questions about the topic that tease out details related to it:
- What do I know about this topic?
- What do I not know about this topic but want to learn?
- What inspires me about this topic?
- Would others also find these issues interesting?
As you answer these questions, useful insights, questions, and unknowns will arise. For instance, perhaps you are interested in writing about “Mental Health on College Campuses.” Answering the questions listed above, may lead you down a path of discovery:
- “I’ve seen on the news that many college students are depressed or dropping out.”
- “I don’t know many details about mental health issues on college campuses specific to this pandemic.”
- “It would be great to discover new solutions to the problem or find the best existing solutions, and explain them clearly to readers.”
- Students themselves, and institutions trying to support them, may be interested.
From here, you might start out with the goal of writing about “solutions to mental health problems faced by college students.” That’s a good start, but it’s still too vague, and may be challenging for you (someone just beginning to study the issue) to tackle effectively.
The good news is that you can narrow down your idea. Coming up with a headline is a great way to do this. For example, you might title your paper, “3 Ways Colleges Can Address Mental Health Issues Among Students.” Notice how your focus immediately narrows. This will help you stay on track and investigate a clearer solution to the problem you have identified.
2) Find evidence .
Now that you have chosen a single idea or issue to discuss, assemble facts, evidence, or data that may be useful or surprising to others, and that also support the point you want to make. Sticking with our original example, research a few ideas about “mental health in college” to draw a reader’s attention:
- Stats about college enrollment and dropout rates in the last two years
- Percentage of students feeling isolated
- Greatest mental health challenges students are facing
- What universities are currently doing to help
- What universities are not doing to help
- Preventive measures for mental health problems
- Stigmas around discussing mental health
- Impacts of virtual class vs. in-person class
As you research, a few of these ideas may jump out to you as directly supportive of your argument. Be sure to record them. Likewise, take note of any evidence you come across that counters your argument. If you are able to call out and address counterpoints before the reader discovers them, you will strengthen your main idea.
While you’re brainstorming details to include in your essay, be careful to exclude examples that aren’t obviously related to that main idea (e.g., cafeteria food on campus), unless that information provides some pertinent information or context (e.g., bad food depresses students).
3) Outline .
Organize the pertinent evidence or examples you have discovered to create an outline for your piece. If all of your examples are obviously related to the main topic, then it will be relatively easy to order them into a story with a beginning, middle, and end. The main elements of the outline are marked in bold:
- Main Idea / Title : 3 Ways Colleges Can Address Mental Health Issues Among Students
- Statistics about enrollment and drop-out rates in the last two years
- Students feeling isolated despite being grouped in dorms
- Stigma around talking openly about mental health
- How should instructors help and reach out to students?
- Preventive measures for mental health problems at school
- Creating psychologically safe spaces on campus
- Using Zoom to help people wherever they are
- Finding novel ways to gather
- Conclusion : Colleges can do more to create safe spaces for students to vocalize their mental health needs. The more students who seek help, the more lives will be improved. Those students will walk away with skills that can help them now, and in the future.
You can gut check your idea by sharing your outline with an audience, like your trusted peers, family members, or friends. Pay attention to their reactions. Ask them questions about what they liked or didn’t; what they didn’t understand; what they want to know more about. These are exactly the kinds of question about an essay’s main idea that you should ask yourself each time you work on a paper. Then, adjust your outline (including the title when appropriate) based on what you learned from your discussions.
This should be enough to get you off to a strong start. If you continue to practice, you can turn this exercise into a productive habit. It can be particularly useful when you face an assignment that seems either uninteresting or too difficult. Find just one foundational idea that interests you about any subject , and you will be able to summon the motivation, energy, and direction required to finish the task, and do it well.
- MR Mark Rennella is Associate Editor at HBP and has published two books, Entrepreneurs, Managers, and Leaders and The Boston Cosmopolitans .
- Academic Skills
- Essay writing
Six top tips for writing a great essay
An essay is used to assess the strength of your critical thinking and your ability to put that thinking into an academic written form. This resource covers some key considerations when writing an essay at university.
While reading a student’s essay, markers will ask themselves questions such as:
- Does this essay directly address the set task?
- Does it present a strong, supported position?
- Does it use relevant sources appropriately?
- Is the expression clear, and the style appropriate?
- Is the essay organised coherently? Is there a clear introduction, body and conclusion?
You can use these questions to reflect on your own writing. Here are six top tips to help you address these criteria.
1. Analyse the question
Student essays are responses to specific questions. As an essay must address the question directly, your first step should be to analyse the question. Make sure you know exactly what is being asked of you.
Generally, essay questions contain three component parts:
- Content terms: Key concepts that are specific to the task
- Limiting terms: The scope that the topic focuses on
- Directive terms: What you need to do in relation to the content, e.g. discuss, analyse, define, compare, evaluate.
Look at the following essay question:
Discuss the importance of light in Gothic architecture.
- Content terms: Gothic architecture
- Limiting terms: the importance of light. If you discussed some other feature of Gothic architecture, for example spires or arches, you would be deviating from what is required. This essay question is limited to a discussion of light. Likewise, it asks you to write about the importance of light – not, for example, to discuss how light enters Gothic churches.
- Directive term: discuss. This term asks you to take a broad approach to the variety of ways in which light may be important for Gothic architecture. You should introduce and consider different ideas and opinions that you have met in academic literature on this topic, citing them appropriately .
For a more complex question, you can highlight the key words and break it down into a series of sub-questions to make sure you answer all parts of the task. Consider the following question (from Arts):
To what extent can the American Revolution be understood as a revolution ‘from below’? Why did working people become involved and with what aims in mind?
The key words here are American Revolution and revolution ‘from below’. This is a view that you would need to respond to in this essay. This response must focus on the aims and motivations of working people in the revolution, as stated in the second question.
2. Define your argument
As you plan and prepare to write the essay, you must consider what your argument is going to be. This means taking an informed position or point of view on the topic presented in the question, then defining and presenting a specific argument.
Consider these two argument statements:
The architectural use of light in Gothic cathedrals physically embodied the significance of light in medieval theology.
In the Gothic cathedral of Cologne, light served to accentuate the authority and ritual centrality of the priest.
Statements like these define an essay’s argument. They give coherence by providing an overarching theme and position towards which the entire essay is directed.
3. Use evidence, reasoning and scholarship
To convince your audience of your argument, you must use evidence and reasoning, which involves referring to and evaluating relevant scholarship.
- Evidence provides concrete information to support your claim. It typically consists of specific examples, facts, quotations, statistics and illustrations.
- Reasoning connects the evidence to your argument. Rather than citing evidence like a shopping list, you need to evaluate the evidence and show how it supports your argument.
- Scholarship is used to show how your argument relates to what has been written on the topic (citing specific works). Scholarship can be used as part of your evidence and reasoning to support your argument.
4. Organise a coherent essay
An essay has three basic components - introduction, body and conclusion.
The purpose of an introduction is to introduce your essay. It typically presents information in the following order:
- A general statement about the topic that provides context for your argument
- A thesis statement showing your argument. You can use explicit lead-ins, such as ‘This essay argues that...’
- A ‘road map’ of the essay, telling the reader how it is going to present and develop your argument.
"To what extent can the American Revolution be understood as a revolution ‘from below’? Why did working people become involved and with what aims in mind?"
Historians generally concentrate on the twenty-year period between 1763 and 1783 as the period which constitutes the American Revolution [This sentence sets the general context of the period] . However, when considering the involvement of working people, or people from below, in the revolution it is important to make a distinction between the pre-revolutionary period 1763-1774 and the revolutionary period 1774-1788, marked by the establishment of the continental Congress(1) [This sentence defines the key term from below and gives more context to the argument that follows] . This paper will argue that the nature and aims of the actions of working people are difficult to assess as it changed according to each phase [This is the thesis statement] . The pre-revolutionary period was characterised by opposition to Britain’s authority. During this period the aims and actions of the working people were more conservative as they responded to grievances related to taxes and scarce land, issues which directly affected them. However, examination of activities such as the organisation of crowd action and town meetings, pamphlet writing, formal communications to Britain of American grievances and physical action in the streets, demonstrates that their aims and actions became more revolutionary after 1775 [These sentences give the ‘road map’ or overview of the content of the essay] .
The body of the essay develops and elaborates your argument. It does this by presenting a reasoned case supported by evidence from relevant scholarship. Its shape corresponds to the overview that you provided in your introduction.
The body of your essay should be written in paragraphs. Each body paragraph should develop one main idea that supports your argument. To learn how to structure a paragraph, look at the page developing clarity and focus in academic writing .
Your conclusion should not offer any new material. Your evidence and argumentation should have been made clear to the reader in the body of the essay.
Use the conclusion to briefly restate the main argumentative position and provide a short summary of the themes discussed. In addition, also consider telling your reader:
- What the significance of your findings, or the implications of your conclusion, might be
- Whether there are other factors which need to be looked at, but which were outside the scope of the essay
- How your topic links to the wider context (‘bigger picture’) in your discipline.
Do not simply repeat yourself in this section. A conclusion which merely summarises is repetitive and reduces the impact of your paper.
Although, to a large extent, the working class were mainly those in the forefront of crowd action and they also led the revolts against wealthy plantation farmers, the American Revolution was not a class struggle [This is a statement of the concluding position of the essay]. Working people participated because the issues directly affected them – the threat posed by powerful landowners and the tyranny Britain represented. Whereas the aims and actions of the working classes were more concerned with resistance to British rule during the pre-revolutionary period, they became more revolutionary in nature after 1775 when the tension with Britain escalated [These sentences restate the key argument]. With this shift, a change in ideas occurred. In terms of considering the Revolution as a whole range of activities such as organising riots, communicating to Britain, attendance at town hall meetings and pamphlet writing, a difficulty emerges in that all classes were involved. Therefore, it is impossible to assess the extent to which a single group such as working people contributed to the American Revolution [These sentences give final thoughts on the topic].
5. Write clearly
An essay that makes good, evidence-supported points will only receive a high grade if it is written clearly. Clarity is produced through careful revision and editing, which can turn a good essay into an excellent one.
When you edit your essay, try to view it with fresh eyes – almost as if someone else had written it.
Ask yourself the following questions:
- Have you clearly stated your argument in your introduction?
- Does the actual structure correspond to the ‘road map’ set out in your introduction?
- Have you clearly indicated how your main points support your argument?
- Have you clearly signposted the transitions between each of your main points for your reader?
- Does each paragraph introduce one main idea?
- Does every sentence in the paragraph support that main idea?
- Does each paragraph display relevant evidence and reasoning?
- Does each paragraph logically follow on from the one before it?
- Is each sentence grammatically complete?
- Is the spelling correct?
- Is the link between sentences clear to your readers?
- Have you avoided redundancy and repetition?
See more about editing on our editing your writing page.
6. Cite sources and evidence
Finally, check your citations to make sure that they are accurate and complete. Some faculties require you to use a specific citation style (e.g. APA) while others may allow you to choose a preferred one. Whatever style you use, you must follow its guidelines correctly and consistently. You can use Recite, the University of Melbourne style guide, to check your citations.
- Germov, J. (2011). Get great marks for your essays, reports and presentations (3rd ed.). NSW: Allen and Unwin.
- Using English for Academic Purposes: A guide for students in Higher Education [online]. Retrieved January 2020 from http://www.uefap.com
- Williams, J.M. & Colomb, G. G. (2010) Style: Lessons in clarity and grace. 10th ed. New York: Longman.
* Example introduction and conclusion adapted from a student paper.
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Baby Steps: 10 Proven Tips to Write Better Essays in English
If writing an essay sounds a little bit scary, just think of it as a chance to improve your writing skills .
Nobody expects your first essay to be perfect. Just make sure you learn something new every time you write an essay, and you will grow your abilities.
We’re going to help you out with ten tips for writing better essays while you’re learning English .
1. Create a Word Bank
2. act like a reporter, 3. create topic sentences, 4. argue both sides, 5. read backwards, 6. use an online thesaurus and a dictionary, 7. combine and separate sentences, 8. have a native english speaker edit your essay, 9. review the whole essay with your friend, then rewrite it, 10. use online apps.
Download: This blog post is available as a convenient and portable PDF that you can take anywhere. Click here to get a copy. (Download)
This is an interesting approach to writing your essay. First, choose a topic and write a thesis . A thesis is the main argument of your essay. For instance, if your topic is reading, your thesis might be “Reading makes you smarter.”
Once you have a thesis, think about your main topic and find words that relate to it in different ways. Then, branch out (broaden, diversify) your list to words that aren’t as closely related to your main topic.
For the example above, your primary list might include words like “books,” “reading” and “intelligent.” Your other “branched out” list might include “Harry Potter,” “reading by a fire” or “test scores.”
This process will help expand your vocabulary over time. Using these words when you write will also make your essay more vibrant (energetic, colorful).
When you are first assigned the topic, go ahead and really explore the possible options for your thesis. Ask questions. Get curious. The more questions you ask before you start writing, the more information you will have to use in the essay.
A strong essay is one that covers a lot of content in a succinct (short, to-the-point) way. This process of acting like a reporter will give you valuable quotes, resources and vocabulary to begin the writing process.
For instance, if you’re writing about a new diet plan , you might ask questions like, “Who is the best candidate for this diet plan?,” “How can someone get started?” and “What is the hardest part of this plan?”
A topic sentence is the first sentence in a paragraph, and it summarizes the rest of the paragraph. You can create them first to help you stay on track when writing your essay.
For the thesis “Reading makes you smarter,” one paragraph’s topic sentence might be, “Newspapers make you more aware of current events.” Another paragraph’s topic sentence could be, “Reading plays and classic literature will make you more cultured.”
If you’re writing about the three main issues facing writers today, you could write three full sentences that each address one main issue. Set these aside. Then, when you start writing the essay, refer to your topic sentences to create a solid structure that begins at point A and ends at point C.
If you have to write a longer or more complex essay, it might help to outline both sides of the argument before you start writing. When you write the essay, you will need to choose one side to focus on. But as you prepare, having a side-by-side list of points can be helpful in developing your thesis.
Also, by arguing for the opposite side of your opinion, you will learn which points you need to better address in your essay. You will learn more about the topic, and you will gain more vocabulary words to enrich the essay.
As an example, you might be writing an essay arguing that people should drink less coffee. To argue both sides, you’ll need to consider the opposite side: the benefits of coffee. How will people quit if they are addicted? What about the antioxidants in coffee? Aren’t those good for you? Really explore the entire concept (both sides of the argument) before you write.
Proper grammar is difficult for even the most fluent English speakers. Because you are learning English, you actually have an advantage. Many native speakers learned improper grammar from the start. It’s difficult to undo the damage caused by a lifetime of writing improperly.
As you learn the English language, make a serious effort to practice your grammar and sentence structure. One way to spot improper grammar in your own English writing is to read each sentence backwards (start with the last word and end with the first). This way, you won’t be fooled by how the words sound when you read them in your head.
Is everything in the correct tense (past, present, future, etc.)? If you’re writing about plurals, are the possessive nouns plural? Are the apostrophes in the right places? Does every sentence end with a punctuation mark (period, question mark, exclamation point)? Reading the text backwards makes you focus on the rules of grammar instead of the flow of the sentence.
You might have learned a large number of fancy words when studying for an entrance exam. But before you start using them in academic essays, be very sure you know what they mean in the context of your essay. This is where the dictionary can come in handy .
A thesaurus is another valuable tool when writing an essay. A thesaurus tells you synonyms, or words that have the same or a similar meaning to the word you look up. It’s important because it can add some volume to your essay and increase the impact of your words.
For example, if you’re writing about cooking, the words “stir” and “add” might come up a lot. This repetition is boring for a reader.
So instead of constantly saying, “Add the tomato” and “add the eggs,” a thesaurus will teach you to say things like “whisk in the eggs” or “gently fold in the tomatoes.” See? It sounds a lot better and adds interest to your essay.
Visual Thesaurus is a resource that works just like a regular thesaurus, but it also shows you the connections between the words. For example, if you type in the word “stir,” you’ll immediately see a whole circle of other words connected to “stir” with lines. From there, you can click on any of the words in the circle (like “move,” in this case) and then see all the words related to that word. This helps you find and learn new words quickly, and it’s also fun!
Once the essay is written, go back through the writing to find any sentences that seem too long or wordy. Break these into two or more sentences.
For example, the following sentence is too long, which makes it unclear:
If you want to write in another language, you need to practice writing in creative ways, like writing on a blog, writing fun poems or texting a friend who speaks the language you’re learning every day.
Instead, you could write it as two clearer sentences (with less repetition of the word “writing”):
If you want to write in another language, you need to practice in creative ways every day. For example, you could start a blog, create fun poems or text a friend.
Do the opposite with sentences you find too short.
Also, look for sentences that are very closely related to one another. If two sentences seem like the thoughts are connected, you can combine them with a semicolon ( ; ).
For example, the following sentences are very closely related:
Learning to write in another language can be really difficult, especially when you’re first getting started. That’s why it helps to practice every day.
That’s why you could write it this way:
Learning to write in another language can be really difficult, especially when you’re first getting started; daily practice is helpful.
Meet up with a friend who is fluent in English (or, at least, more fluent than you). This friend can edit your essay and point out any repetitive errors.
If they find mistakes that you make often, you will be able to watch more closely for that error as you write future essays. This friend will also be able to point out grammatical or spelling errors that you might have missed.
If you don’t have any friends who are fluent in English, you can use a website like Conversation Exchange . This is a free site where native English speakers will correct your writing. In exchange, you correct the writing of someone learning your native language.
Once you and your friend have both reviewed your essay and marked any mistakes, rewrite the whole thing. This step is important. Just noting that you made some mistakes will not help you learn how to avoid them in the future.
By rewriting the essay with the corrections in mind, you will teach yourself how to write those sections properly. You will create a memory of using proper grammar or spelling a word correctly. So, you will be more likely to write it correctly next time.
Lastly, there are some fantastic online resources that can help improve your writing. For instance, Hemingway Editor can review your document to find any confusing or wordy sentences. You can rewrite these to make them easier to understand.
You could also head over to Essay Punch to find resources, tools and support that can help improve your writing skills. Grammar Book is a great resource for practicing proper grammar and spelling.
If you need some practice with words and grammar, but you learn better from audio and video, it can be challenging to improve your writing ability. One way to improve your English skills with a multimedia approach is using a language learning program like FluentU.
FluentU enhances authentic English web videos with interactive subtitles to help your brain make the connection between written words and their contextual meanings. This is combined with flashcards and personalized quizzes, which all help you learn to form English sentences that will sound natural to native speakers.
Since many online resources are readily accessible, feel free to experiment with your options. Try to find the ones that cater best to your learning habits and needs.
The advice in this post is mainly for improving your essay writing over time. However, if you want a more professional opinion for an important essay, you can also use Scribendi . Scribendi is an online essay editing resource that helps with academic and admissions essays. If you’re applying to a school or are writing an important paper, you may want to consider their services to make sure your essay is the best it can be.
Learning a new language is certainly an ambitious (challenging) task. There are so many small details to learn, and the process takes a lot of time and commitment. But with practice and study, you will improve.
It takes even more effort to become a strong writer in a new language, but these tips will help you get started.
Hopefully, you were able to find one or two tips that you believe will help you improve your essay writing abilities. Over time, try to use all of these strategies (or at least more than one) in your writing routine. Good luck!
Do you wish you had a better way to learn new English phrases?
Try FluentU! .
Our language learning program is designed to teach you English phrases the natural way—using authentic videos like TV clips, movie trailers and music videos.
Every FluentU video comes with interactive subtitles. Just click or tap on any unfamiliar word or phrase in the captions to get an instant definition, example sentences and native pronunciation audio.
You can search the FluentU video library for any words or phrases to instantly find authentic English videos that use them. Videos can be sorted by subject, format and difficulty level, so you can discover phrases that fit your learning needs and interests.
FluentU comes with built-in learning tools like vocabulary lists and personalized quizzes. There are also multimedia flashcards with video clips, audio and images to help you remember words.
You can access FluentU on your browser or by downloading the iOS or Android app.
By combining engaging clips with tools to help you understand them, you'll remember the context phrases are used in and the terms will stick better in your mind.
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How to Write Better Essays | 6 Practical Tips
Writing can feel unnatural to some of us. By our very human nature we are social beings and so often find it difficult to communicate and express ourselves through writing.
When it comes to talking and having a conversation with someone, you wouldn’t need to think about a structure, referencing, or even research. So it’s no surprise that many students struggle with essay writing.
For those of us who find it difficult to write a great essay, it’s commonplace to turn to our internet browsers for assistance. After all, there are so many websites who can claim to help you write a better essay - some may even write an essay for you! But as appealing as these sites may claim to be, you should avoid them at all costs.
Instead, you need to turn inwards and work out what it is that’s blocking you from writing a masterpiece. Some claim that it can be boring, while others feel overwhelmed with the different topics, as well as the pressures of meeting deadlines.
Once you’ve worked out what your blockers are, you’ll find it much easier to target these specific problem areas and become a more proficient essay writer.
To give you a helping hand, we have compiled our top 6 tried and tested tips to help you write better essays. Align them with your own personal qualms and you’ll have all the tools you need to get better at writing essays.
Tip #1 - Planning/Preparation
Before writing your essay, it's important to plan ahead - the process of selecting what you want to include in your essay, as well as what the overall structure will look like. That is, what journey you’re going to take the reader on.
Having a well-planned and organised essay will help put your thoughts into order, making sure your points are clear, logical and thoroughly explained. Planning an essay in this way will not only allow you to see whether you have hit the marking criteria, but ensure you’ve included everything you wanted to cover in the discussion.
Depending on what type of essay you are writing, formulating your plan can vary from one subject to another however, assignments are usually formulated in one of the following ways:
- As a question.
- A statement is given to you and you will be asked to create an argument for your point of view.
- You will be given a task to ‘outline’, ‘discuss’, or ‘critically assess’ a particular argument point of view.
Something that may sound obvious, but one of the problems that many students face is not fully answering the essay question or including enough relevant information. It is possible that you may muddle up your subjects or modules - so remember to always write your essay based on the question that is set, and everything you need to include in your essay will be taught in your class.
Teachers and tutors have a set syllabus that they follow to ensure that anything you need to mention in your essay will be taught or touched upon during your lectures/seminars, so you are never left in the dark.
The process of essay planning:
Everyone writes and plans differently. However, it is important to find a plan and writing process that suits you.
Here is an example of just one way to plan an essay that you may find helpful:
- Break down the different parts of your assignment question: Find out what the question is asking you to do then identify what you need to write about. Find out whether it is asking you to ‘discuss’, ‘argue’, ‘describe’ etc - knowing this will help you develop your main ideas to answer the question.
- Brainstorm everything you know about the topic: Identify your thoughts on the subject and what your instinctive response would be to the essay question. This will help you narrow down key topics to research further. Something that some students tend to forget - remember to go through your notes you have taken during classes, seminars and lectures! These notes can help remind you what you have covered during classes - and if you have lecture slides, use them to your advantage!
- Research: If you were provided with a reading list, use this to your advantage. Skim through the recommended reading and once you have identified your key points that will help you answer your question, put these together in a mind map or on a large piece of paper (whatever works for you).
- Once you have your research, you can then organise which points relate back to your question, thinking carefully about how you will prove/argue your point. Begin arcing a loose structure with the arguments of your essay, but ensure you remember to include evidence that you have gathered against your statement.
- Decide on your main points: You can make a summary of each of your separate points that you have researched previously. You can put these points on cards or sticky notes and then physically move them around until you have found the best flow for your argument. Remember to think about how each point links to one another. How will your paragraph build on your argument?
This is a rough guide to help structure your essay in 5 easy steps. Of course, you can make your own adjustments to it - your essay plan should make your life easier and make complete sense to you.
Once you have a clearly defined and strong essay plan, you’ll soon discover that the task of actually writing it becomes more efficient.
Tip #2 - How to write an essay introduction
Now we’ve learnt how to structure an essay, let’s start at the very beginning of your writing process: the introduction. As well as what are the key points that are needed to ensure you write the best possible start to capture your reader.
What does an introduction usually need to include? Putting it simply, an introduction generally comes in three parts.
- The second part of the introduction is the thesis statement - this is your response to the question; it is the most important part of the introduction. Giving the reader the information of what your essay will be about, the thesis statement tells the reader the specific topic of the essay which can include advantages and disadvantages, briefly explaining both sides of your essay question.
- Finally, the third part of the introduction is meant to tell the reader what to expect from the body of the essay - this is where you will outline your arguments. Keeping your essay consistent is important, so you don’t lose track of what you will be mentioned in the main body. It will tell the reader what they can expect to see in the essay and what order.
Why not create a checklist to ensure you hit all three aspects of a good introduction? Here is an example of a checklist you could use:
- Does the essay begin with a general statement which introduces the topic?
- Does the introduction include the thesis statement (introducing advantages and disadvantages)?
- Does the introduction outline the main points?
- Do you have a clear, well-organised structure? Is it in chronological order?
Tip #3 - Creative writing to strengthen your essay
Did you know that you can use creative writing techniques to strengthen your essay? The concept is to make your essay unique, one of a kind, and break traditional academic forms of literature to make it a more engaging read.
Incorporating this writing technique will capture the interest of your reader and convey the message you are trying to put across with conviction, keeping your readers engaged throughout.
What are the techniques you can use for your essay?
Firstly, think about your reader. If you are writing an essay for school or university, it is most likely to be marked by your teacher or university lecturer. As they’ll likely be reading tens of other essays all on the very same topic, you will want to answer the question effectively whilst being straight to the point - ensuring they can easily find the information they need to help you score higher marks. You’ll have a set question which you will be focusing on which you should ensure you refer back to original questions throughout the essay - you don’t want to lose your reader's focus attention!
Secondly, another creative writing technique you can employ within your essay writing is the three act structure. This method is not only used in a creative writing piece, but also in films and TV. These “acts” are not distinct from one another, but rather they flow seamlessly throughout to give a natural movement of motion and plot.
Using the three act structure for a school or university essay, you would start with writing the set up - this is where you will establish what you are talking about, essentially setting the scene. You could create an introduction by opposing the essay question, highlighting your main concerns with the statement whilst backing it with evidence.
Secondly is the confrontation - This will typically be the longest part of the three sections. You will want to introduce all your surrounding problems about the topic of your essay. Develop your arguments and ensure you relate back to your original question, how is it answering it? And again, continue to use evidence throughout answering the question.
Resolution - This is where you will be summarising your mentioned arguments with your point of view. When mentioning your opinion, just remember to make sure to include evidence in how you came to this conclusion. You can now tie off any loose ends by offering an alternative explanation for a counter argument.
Keeping this method in mind can keep you focused and centred to your point, and could help bring you straight to the point, reducing the amount you waffle in your essay. You can also rest easy knowing that your essay has good pace and a natural flow - covering all the elements and points you need to achieve good grades.
For more information on how to incorporate creative writing into your essay check out our article “ 10 Top Tips: Creative Writing Techniques to Improve your Essays. "
Tip #4 - Critical writing
What does a critical essay look like?
This is a type of academic writing where you as the writer will analyse and evaluate text. For you to become a pro at critical writing, you will need to support your arguments and ideas with evidence as to how you were able to come to a specific conclusion.
Putting it in simpler terms, the key to a critical essay is to claim a particular point and then provide evidence to prove that claim. Sounds easy? In fact, many students struggle with critical analysis, and this is where students tend to lose the most marks in an essay. But let us share a great process for you to succeed at critical writing.
- Examine a source: read through it carefully and critically
- Organise your thoughts: figure out the core claim and evidence, research secondary resources
- State a thesis: make sure it has both a claim and details sustaining it
- Write an outline
- Write a draft of your critical easy
- Edit and improve your essay
( Vos, 2019 )
Examining a source: This is a great opportunity to practice smart reading. It’s when you read a piece of literature, identify the specific details to the author's claim, and then describe how they present those claims surrounding the topic of the literature. Highlight part of the literature that will help support your arguments, identify both the strengths and weaknesses of what the author has mentioned.
Organising your thoughts: if you are still struggling to find core evidence to support your points, maybe consider finding some examples of other critical essays related to the topic you’re writing about. This will help you understand what sort of structure you should be aiming for and the type of writing style you will need. Use these as guidelines rather than copying their ideas - you should never copy someone else's work. These can really help you to start pulling ideas into a structure that will work for you.
State a thesis: based on the information you have gathered from your reading, you will want to start directing your evidence towards the thesis question. Ask yourself; what is the point I am trying to make here and how does it relate to the original question asked? But avoid putting in “in my opinion” or “I think”. You need to express your opinion in using the third person and then back your points with evidence.
Using evidence is the foundation of an effective essay: Not only will it provide proof for each of your points, but will help the reader see your point of view with conviction. Critical writing is about your thinking skills, testing you on your analysis and argument building process. These skills are highly valuable and can be transferred into your day-to-day working life - whatever you decide to do in the future. It is a very good skill to have.
Finally, don’t be afraid of critical writing ! It may sound daunting at first, but once you have completed a few essays with critical writing, you will have a structure that works best for you. You then can carry this structure on for the rest of your other assignments.
Tip #5 - Read widely
Hopefully, if you are writing an essay for a university module, you have chosen a subject that you are passionate about. This will help bring enjoyment to this activity, allowing you to explore the subject you enjoy the most, while deepening your understanding.
But if you aren’t too familiar with the topic or subject you’re writing about, where can you get started with reading? It can feel quite daunting writing your first essay, thinking where do I start? How do I find the correct literature to develop my point of view - let alone thinking about how to use evidence to support my arguments.
Modules you will be covering in school or university will usually provide an extensive reading list for you to get started on. This would usually contain your core reading, which your teacher or tutor will regularly refer back to during your lectures and seminars.
Further down the list, it will also likely contain some recommended reading which you should be covering outside of your core studies. Now, even though this is an extensive list with your core reading and recommended reading, you must go above and beyond this list - not only will it make your essay stand out with further reading, you can gain better insight in other academic research in your essay topic.
Search for book recommendations online, browsing the ‘People Also Bought’ sections of bookstores, scrolling through journals or by joining discussion forums. There’s so much content available to browse, you’ll face no shortage of secondary reading to soak up.
So once you have your reading list, how do you get started?
Set yourself reading goals! Before you start reading, why not consider asking yourself why you are reading and what you are trying to achieve? This will give you an idea of what type of literature you are looking for, adjusting your research to find different topics of interest to help build on your essay.
Here’s some tips to then read according to those motivations:
- If you are reading for general interest to acquire background information for lectures you will need to read the topic widely but without much depth.
- If you are reading for an essay, you might want to focus your reading around your essay question and find small areas of the subject in great depth. Make a note of your essay question so you don’t get side-tracked.
( University of Reading, 2021 )
Tip #6 - Find a ‘study buddy’
Are you someone who often finds it hard to study for long periods of time? Do you usually leave your essay deadlines until the last minute? You’re not alone.
Finding the motivation within yourself to focus your efforts on essay writing can be extremely difficult, especially if it’s a topic you’re not particularly interested in.
Something that people tend to forget that they can use to help them focus is finding a study buddy. This could be someone that you have your lectures or seminars with, or it can even be someone that may not be studying the same module as you. Just finding that study buddy to sit with you in the same room, to both get your head down and start working can actually become very motivational.
You might believe that you don’t need a study partner or a study buddy at all, and you aren’t alone in thinking that. Some students actually believe that it is more effective as well as convenient to study alone as it means you don’t need to adapt to anyone, and that is completely normal.
But if you struggle to work alone, how can a study buddy be beneficial for you?
Firstly, it can be extremely beneficial for you and your partner as you can continue to motivate each other. Even if you were to just sit in the same room and study together, it could motivate the both of you to work. You could even set allocated times on how long you would work on something, and then go for a break together.
Secondly, you can adapt your study sessions to however it could benefit yourself and your study buddy. If you are studying with someone that is on the same course as you, before meeting up you could discuss with them before meeting on what section of the essay you will be working on, and you could both bring material to work on it together.
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Improving writing skills takes effort. Instead of using essay writing websites, identify obstacles and address them. Plan, structure, and answer questions effectively. Use creativity and critical analysis. Read widely and utilise recommended resources for success.
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8 Tips to Write Better Essays in English
Learning a foreign language is an overwhelming experience, especially if it’s one of the most widely spoken languages in the world – English.
Many people are under the impression that learning to read and speak in English is enough without realizing that written English skills are an equally vital asset to have.
From improving academics to boosting career prospects – the ability to write in English not only lets you communicate and express yourself better in today’s globalized world but also makes you more confident.
An effective way to improve your writing skills is to write essays. Wondering where to begin? We bring you eight useful tips to write better essays in English.
1. Keep a Vocabulary Notebook
Using the right vocabulary is an essential element of writing essays. When you make efforts to expand your vocabulary, you will be able to pick accurate words to take your writing to the next level.
Instead of coming across new words and forgetting about them, it’s a good idea to make a note of them in your vocabulary notebook. Doing this helps you remember the meanings of new words and you can also refer to it while writing essays.
So, give yourself a target to learn at least ten new words every day, which you can jot down in your diary and take baby steps in building a strong vocabulary.
2. Refer to Credible Sources
Research forms the first step in writing any kind of essay. The stronger your research, the better is the quality of your essay.
At a time when we have access to a wide range of data, it’s important to evaluate research sources carefully and only refer to credible ones. For example, Wikipedia is not a reliable source and should not be attributed to while writing essays.
Take the effort to read through published journals, research studies, scholarly papers, academic databases, and encyclopedias published within the last 10-15 years. It’s also important to assess the credibility of the author while evaluating the source.
3. Draft a Basic Outline
Once you’ve done your research, don’t rush to write. Take a moment to draft a basic outline for your essay and organize your research and findings.
“Is that necessary,” you ask? Very much.
Working on an outline lets you approach the essay in an organized manner. It serves as the skeleton of your paper while ensuring you’re not missing out on any information and that your points flow logically.
Most essays are categorized into – introduction, body, and conclusion.
The introduction is where you introduce the topic and give context. The body paragraphs need to include your arguments and research methodology (if any). The conclusion needs to reiterate the thesis statement and tie all the points together.
4. Hook the Reader
With attention spans getting shorter with time, it’s become all the more important to start with a bang and hook the reader from the beginning to ensure they are invested in your writing.
Essay hooks refer to the first one or two sentences of your essay which have the power to make or break the reader’s interest. The key is to write a hook that grabs the reader’s attention and reels them in.
From an alarming statistic and relevant quote to using humor and asking a rhetoric question – there are various tactics you can employ to keep the reader engaged.
If you’re unable to think of an impactful essay hook, don’t waste too much time on it. Finish the rest of your essay and come back to write a compelling hook later.
5. Use the Pomodoro Technique
It’s not easy to write an essay in one go, especially if it’s not in your first language.
A smart way to approach essay writing is to use the Pomodoro technique. This technique asks you to set a timer for 25 minutes to finish your task in question and then take a 5-minute break. After four cycles of repeating this, you get to take an extended 20-minute break.
So, start with breaking down the assignment into smaller tasks such as research, outlining, writing the different paragraphs, citing references and proofreading. You can then set the timer, start working on the essay as per the technique and track your progress.
Using this technique keeps distractions at bay and helps you stay more focused.
6. Pay Attention to Grammar Rules
You may raise interesting points in your essay, but poor grammar disrupts the reading experience and should be avoided at all costs.
Be careful when adding punctuations, check your sentence formations, avoid passive voice as much as possible and know the difference between adjectives, adverbs, nouns and verbs.
So abide by grammar rules to deliver a well-written and cohesive essay.
7. Write with Clarity
You might be tempted to use complex metaphors and jargons to impress the reader, but the truth is, none of that guarantees “good” writing.
One of the most important ingredients of effective writing is clarity. You don’t want to leave the reader confused and puzzled after reading your essay. So, use simple words, stop beating around the bush and explain concepts with the help of examples because clear writing always wins.
8. Reread the Essay
Finally, make it a point to proofread your essay (multiple times) to ensure you have covered all the aspects, cited references accurately and not made any silly errors.
It’s a good idea to read your essay out loud so you’re able to identify errors and awkwardly formed sentences with ease. You should also get a friend or family member to read your essay, to spot mistakes or discrepancies that you may have overlooked.
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Thank a lot dear EnglishClub, it’s help me a lot
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As a teacher trainer this contribution is helpful
Thanks for the tips! I’ll have an essay tomorrow and this will surlely prepare me!
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thank you so much for your amazing informations
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Knowledge supporter is who u are, keep d good work nd ur reward is from God nd thanks.
thanks alot for your tips…your tips will help me alot while examss!!!
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Thanks you for helping
This did help a lot! Thank you very much 🥰
Good tips, I should give it a try, after all, we all improve by exercising hard so I’ll just do the same thing, but right now I gotta focus on what matters, and what I need now is to read as much as I can to know how to spell the words right. Is grammar so important in this task, I mean can’t I just pick the things up because of my experience in listening skill ?
Thanks for the information!
This is a nice explanation ,,,,,proud of you!
Is very interesting for me I really apreicete you help
Thanks so much for these useful tips!! Now, I need to start preparing my essay (“starting” has been always the stone on my way :$)
Please, what is the difference between an essay and an article?
Are they same?
Thanks in advance,
Thanks & best regards English Club
Helpful updated tips to share with our students!! thankssss
I want to know if it is only at the University or if we may take the course online.
Thank you verry much for important advices
thank for your key points, this is really helpful
Thank you and best wishes,
Very pragmatic and helpful essay. Thank so much English club
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The Beginner's Guide to Writing an Essay | Steps & Examples
An academic essay is a focused piece of writing that develops an idea or argument using evidence, analysis, and interpretation.
There are many types of essays you might write as a student. The content and length of an essay depends on your level, subject of study, and course requirements. However, most essays at university level are argumentative — they aim to persuade the reader of a particular position or perspective on a topic.
The essay writing process consists of three main stages:
- Preparation: Decide on your topic, do your research, and create an essay outline.
- Writing : Set out your argument in the introduction, develop it with evidence in the main body, and wrap it up with a conclusion.
- Revision: Check the content, organization, grammar, spelling, and formatting of your essay.
Table of contents
Essay writing process, preparation for writing an essay, writing the introduction, writing the main body, writing the conclusion, essay checklist, lecture slides, frequently asked questions about writing an essay.
The writing process of preparation, writing, and revisions applies to every essay or paper, but the time and effort spent on each stage depends on the type of essay .
For example, if you’ve been assigned a five-paragraph expository essay for a high school class, you’ll probably spend the most time on the writing stage; for a college-level argumentative essay , on the other hand, you’ll need to spend more time researching your topic and developing an original argument before you start writing.
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Before you start writing, you should make sure you have a clear idea of what you want to say and how you’re going to say it. There are a few key steps you can follow to make sure you’re prepared:
- Understand your assignment: What is the goal of this essay? What is the length and deadline of the assignment? Is there anything you need to clarify with your teacher or professor?
- Define a topic: If you’re allowed to choose your own topic , try to pick something that you already know a bit about and that will hold your interest.
- Do your research: Read primary and secondary sources and take notes to help you work out your position and angle on the topic. You’ll use these as evidence for your points.
- Come up with a thesis: The thesis is the central point or argument that you want to make. A clear thesis is essential for a focused essay—you should keep referring back to it as you write.
- Create an outline: Map out the rough structure of your essay in an outline . This makes it easier to start writing and keeps you on track as you go.
Once you’ve got a clear idea of what you want to discuss, in what order, and what evidence you’ll use, you’re ready to start writing.
The introduction sets the tone for your essay. It should grab the reader’s interest and inform them of what to expect. The introduction generally comprises 10–20% of the text.
1. Hook your reader
The first sentence of the introduction should pique your reader’s interest and curiosity. This sentence is sometimes called the hook. It might be an intriguing question, a surprising fact, or a bold statement emphasizing the relevance of the topic.
Let’s say we’re writing an essay about the development of Braille (the raised-dot reading and writing system used by visually impaired people). Our hook can make a strong statement about the topic:
The invention of Braille was a major turning point in the history of disability.
2. Provide background on your topic
Next, it’s important to give context that will help your reader understand your argument. This might involve providing background information, giving an overview of important academic work or debates on the topic, and explaining difficult terms. Don’t provide too much detail in the introduction—you can elaborate in the body of your essay.
3. Present the thesis statement
Next, you should formulate your thesis statement— the central argument you’re going to make. The thesis statement provides focus and signals your position on the topic. It is usually one or two sentences long. The thesis statement for our essay on Braille could look like this:
As the first writing system designed for blind people’s needs, Braille was a groundbreaking new accessibility tool. It not only provided practical benefits, but also helped change the cultural status of blindness.
4. Map the structure
In longer essays, you can end the introduction by briefly describing what will be covered in each part of the essay. This guides the reader through your structure and gives a preview of how your argument will develop.
The invention of Braille marked a major turning point in the history of disability. The writing system of raised dots used by blind and visually impaired people was developed by Louis Braille in nineteenth-century France. In a society that did not value disabled people in general, blindness was particularly stigmatized, and lack of access to reading and writing was a significant barrier to social participation. The idea of tactile reading was not entirely new, but existing methods based on sighted systems were difficult to learn and use. As the first writing system designed for blind people’s needs, Braille was a groundbreaking new accessibility tool. It not only provided practical benefits, but also helped change the cultural status of blindness. This essay begins by discussing the situation of blind people in nineteenth-century Europe. It then describes the invention of Braille and the gradual process of its acceptance within blind education. Subsequently, it explores the wide-ranging effects of this invention on blind people’s social and cultural lives.
Write your essay introduction
The body of your essay is where you make arguments supporting your thesis, provide evidence, and develop your ideas. Its purpose is to present, interpret, and analyze the information and sources you have gathered to support your argument.
Length of the body text
The length of the body depends on the type of essay. On average, the body comprises 60–80% of your essay. For a high school essay, this could be just three paragraphs, but for a graduate school essay of 6,000 words, the body could take up 8–10 pages.
To give your essay a clear structure , it is important to organize it into paragraphs . Each paragraph should be centered around one main point or idea.
That idea is introduced in a topic sentence . The topic sentence should generally lead on from the previous paragraph and introduce the point to be made in this paragraph. Transition words can be used to create clear connections between sentences.
After the topic sentence, present evidence such as data, examples, or quotes from relevant sources. Be sure to interpret and explain the evidence, and show how it helps develop your overall argument.
Lack of access to reading and writing put blind people at a serious disadvantage in nineteenth-century society. Text was one of the primary methods through which people engaged with culture, communicated with others, and accessed information; without a well-developed reading system that did not rely on sight, blind people were excluded from social participation (Weygand, 2009). While disabled people in general suffered from discrimination, blindness was widely viewed as the worst disability, and it was commonly believed that blind people were incapable of pursuing a profession or improving themselves through culture (Weygand, 2009). This demonstrates the importance of reading and writing to social status at the time: without access to text, it was considered impossible to fully participate in society. Blind people were excluded from the sighted world, but also entirely dependent on sighted people for information and education.
See the full essay example
The conclusion is the final paragraph of an essay. It should generally take up no more than 10–15% of the text . A strong essay conclusion :
- Returns to your thesis
- Ties together your main points
- Shows why your argument matters
A great conclusion should finish with a memorable or impactful sentence that leaves the reader with a strong final impression.
What not to include in a conclusion
To make your essay’s conclusion as strong as possible, there are a few things you should avoid. The most common mistakes are:
- Including new arguments or evidence
- Undermining your arguments (e.g. “This is just one approach of many”)
- Using concluding phrases like “To sum up…” or “In conclusion…”
Braille paved the way for dramatic cultural changes in the way blind people were treated and the opportunities available to them. Louis Braille’s innovation was to reimagine existing reading systems from a blind perspective, and the success of this invention required sighted teachers to adapt to their students’ reality instead of the other way around. In this sense, Braille helped drive broader social changes in the status of blindness. New accessibility tools provide practical advantages to those who need them, but they can also change the perspectives and attitudes of those who do not.
Write your essay conclusion
My essay follows the requirements of the assignment (topic and length ).
My introduction sparks the reader’s interest and provides any necessary background information on the topic.
My introduction contains a thesis statement that states the focus and position of the essay.
I use paragraphs to structure the essay.
I use topic sentences to introduce each paragraph.
Each paragraph has a single focus and a clear connection to the thesis statement.
I make clear transitions between paragraphs and ideas.
My conclusion doesn’t just repeat my points, but draws connections between arguments.
I don’t introduce new arguments or evidence in the conclusion.
I have given an in-text citation for every quote or piece of information I got from another source.
I have included a reference page at the end of my essay, listing full details of all my sources.
My citations and references are correctly formatted according to the required citation style .
My essay has an interesting and informative title.
I have followed all formatting guidelines (e.g. font, page numbers, line spacing).
Your essay meets all the most important requirements. Our editors can give it a final check to help you submit with confidence.
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An essay is a focused piece of writing that explains, argues, describes, or narrates.
In high school, you may have to write many different types of essays to develop your writing skills.
Academic essays at college level are usually argumentative : you develop a clear thesis about your topic and make a case for your position using evidence, analysis and interpretation.
The structure of an essay is divided into an introduction that presents your topic and thesis statement , a body containing your in-depth analysis and arguments, and a conclusion wrapping up your ideas.
The structure of the body is flexible, but you should always spend some time thinking about how you can organize your essay to best serve your ideas.
Your essay introduction should include three main things, in this order:
- An opening hook to catch the reader’s attention.
- Relevant background information that the reader needs to know.
- A thesis statement that presents your main point or argument.
The length of each part depends on the length and complexity of your essay .
A thesis statement is a sentence that sums up the central point of your paper or essay . Everything else you write should relate to this key idea.
The thesis statement is essential in any academic essay or research paper for two main reasons:
- It gives your writing direction and focus.
- It gives the reader a concise summary of your main point.
Without a clear thesis statement, an essay can end up rambling and unfocused, leaving your reader unsure of exactly what you want to say.
A topic sentence is a sentence that expresses the main point of a paragraph . Everything else in the paragraph should relate to the topic sentence.
At college level, you must properly cite your sources in all essays , research papers , and other academic texts (except exams and in-class exercises).
Add a citation whenever you quote , paraphrase , or summarize information or ideas from a source. You should also give full source details in a bibliography or reference list at the end of your text.
The exact format of your citations depends on which citation style you are instructed to use. The most common styles are APA , MLA , and Chicago .
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How to Make Your Essay Better: 7 Tips for Stronger Essays
Krystal N. Craiker
Essay writing doesn’t have to be intimidating. With a few tips, you can improve your writing skills for any type of academic essay.
How to Write Better Essays
7 tips on how to make your essay better, how to become a better essay writer.
The best way to sum up how to write better essays is, “Make sure you’re answering the question.”
This sounds obvious, but you would be surprised how many students struggle with this.
From not understanding the prompt to poor research skills to off-topic body paragraphs, it’s easy for an essay to derail.
We’ve got seven tips for writing better essays that will help you avoid common mistakes and craft the best essays possible.
Here are our top tips for improving your essay writing skills.
Understand the Prompt or Research Question
The first step in your writing process is to fully understand the essay topic. If your professor gave you a prompt for your academic essay, spend some time analyzing it.
First, take note of whether you’re writing an expository or persuasive essay. The tone, structure, and word choice will differ between essay types.
Pay close attention to the wording of the prompt.
If your teacher wants you to “analyze” the effects of new technology in World War I, but you turn in a descriptive overview of the technology, you are not answering the question.
If they have given you a topic but no prompt, you’ll need to create a guiding question for your research.
Be specific in what you are trying to research, or you’ll end up overwhelmed with a topic that is too big in scope.
“Symbolism in modern literature” is too broad for a term paper, but “How does F. Scott Fitzgerald use symbolism in The Great Gatsby ?” is an achievable topic.
Take Excellent Notes
Once you understand exactly what your essay is about, you can begin the research phase. Create a strong note-taking system.
Write down any idea or quote you might want to use. Cite every note properly to save time on your citations and to avoid accidental plagiarism.
Once you have gathered your research, organize your notes into categories. This will help you plan the structure of your essay.
You’ll likely find that some of your research doesn’t fit into your essay once you start writing. That’s okay—it’s better to have too much information to support your argument than too little.
Write a Strong Thesis Statement
Possibly the most important step in essay writing is to craft a strong thesis statement. A thesis statement is a brief—usually single-sentence—explanation of what your essay is about.
The thesis statement guides the entire essay: every point you make should support your thesis.
A strong thesis is specific and long enough to address the major points of your essay.
In a persuasive or argumentative essay, your thesis should clearly establish the argument you are making.
Make an Outline
Once you have all your research, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. How do you turn the information into a cohesive essay?
Rather than writing an essay with no roadmap, an outline will keep you on track. An outline helps you organize your thoughts, plan your arguments, and sort your research.
A good outline saves you time, too! You can compile the relevant evidence in your notes before writing, so you don’t have to find that specific quote in the middle of essay writing.
An outline will also stop you from reading your finished essay and realizing you went completely off track.
With an outline, you can avoid finding paragraphs that don’t support your thesis right before you submit the essay.
Craft a Great Introduction
An academic essay needs a strong introductory paragraph.
The introduction is the first impression of your essay. It prepares the reader for what’s coming and gets them excited to read your paper.
A good introduction has three things:
- A hook (e.g. insightful statement, quote, interesting fact)
- Brief background information about the topic
- A thesis statement
Using this formula will help you write a strong introduction for your essay.
Have Original Ideas and Interpretations
The best academic writing advice a professor ever gave me was, “You’ve shown me what other people have said about the topic. I want to know what you think about the topic.”
Even a fact-heavy or data-heavy essay needs original ideas and interpretations. For every piece of information you cite, whether you quote or paraphrase it , offer original commentary.
Focus on insights, new interpretations, or even questions that you have. These are all ways to provide original ideas in your essay.
Proofread for Readability
A good essay is a proofread essay.
Readability, or how easy something is to read, has many factors. Spelling and grammar are important, but so is sentence structure, word choice , and other stylistic features.
Academic essays should be readable without being too simple. In general, aim for a readability score that is close to your grade level in school.
There are several ways to check readability scores, including using ProWritingAid’s Readability Report.
The quickest way to increase readability is to fix grammar and spelling mistakes . You can also raise the readability score by using more complex and compound-complex sentences.
ProWritingAid can offer suggestions on how to improve your essay and take it to the next level.
Our free essay checker will check for spelling and grammar errors, plus several other types of writing mistakes.
The essay checker will offer you suggestions on sentence length and passive voice.
It will help you trim the excess words that bog down your writing by analyzing your sticky sentences and overused words.
The essay checker is here to help you turn in an error-free essay.
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Krystal N. Craiker is the Writing Pirate, an indie romance author and blog manager at ProWritingAid. She sails the seven internet seas, breaking tropes and bending genres. She has a background in anthropology and education, which brings fresh perspectives to her romance novels. When she’s not daydreaming about her next book or article, you can find her cooking gourmet gluten-free cuisine, laughing at memes, and playing board games. Krystal lives in Dallas, Texas with her husband, child, and basset hound.
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12 Ways to Quickly Improve Your Academic Essay Writing Skills
Written by Scribendi
Anyone can learn to produce an academic essay if they begin with a few basic essay-writing rules.
An academic essay must be based upon a solid but debatable thesis, supported by relevant and credible evidence, and closed with a succinct and thorough conclusion.
By adhering to the best way to write an essay, you can create valuable, persuasive papers even when you're under a time crunch!
What Makes a Good Essay?
As previously noted, the foundation of any good academic essay is its thesis statement.
Do not confuse your thesis with your opening sentence. There are many good ways to start an essay , but few essays immediately present their main ideas.
After you draft your thesis, you can begin to develop your essay around it. This development will include the main supporting points of your essay, which will scaffold its main body.
Essays also typically include a relevant and compelling introduction and conclusion.
Learn How to Write a Great Thesis Statement .
Understanding How to Write a Good Essay
When writing an academic essay, you must take a number of qualities and characteristics into careful consideration. Focus, development, unity, coherence, and correctness all play critical roles when it comes to distinguishing an exceptional essay from one that is less than perfect.
The following essay-writing tips can help writers organize, format, and support their essays in ways that fit their intended purpose and optimize their overall persuasiveness. Here are 12 essay tips for developing and writing your next academic paper.
1. Know What You Are Going to Write About Before You Start Writing
While untrained writers might just sit down and start typing, educated and experienced writers know that there are many steps to writing an essay.
In short, you should know what you want to say before you type a single word. The easiest way to narrow down a thesis and create a proper argument is to make a basic outline before you begin composing your essay.
Your outline should consist of rough notes that sketch out your introduction (including your thesis), the body of your essay (which should include separate paragraphs that present your main supporting points with plenty of evidence and examples), and your conclusion (which ties everything together and connects the argument back to your thesis).
2. Acquire a Solid Understanding of Basic Grammar, Punctuation, and Style
Before getting into more refined essay-writing techniques, you must have a solid grasp of grammar, punctuation, and style. Without these writing fundamentals, it will be difficult to communicate your ideas effectively and ensure that they are taken seriously.
Grammar basics include subject and verb agreement, correct article and pronoun use, and well-formed sentence structures. Make sure you know the proper uses for the most common forms of punctuation. Be mindful of your comma usage and know when a period is needed.
Finally, voice is tremendously important in academic essay writing. Employ language that is as concise as possible. Avoid transition words that don't add anything to the sentence and unnecessary wordiness that detracts from your argument.
Furthermore, use the active voice instead of the passive whenever possible (e.g., "this study found" instead of "it was found by this study"). This will make your essay's tone clear and direct.
3. Use the Right Vocabulary and Know What the Words You Are Using Actually Mean
How you use language is important, especially in academic essay writing. When writing an academic essay, remember that you are persuading others that you are an expert who argues intelligently about your topic.
Using big words just to sound smart often results in the opposite effect—it is easy to detect when someone is overcompensating in their writing.
If you aren't sure of the exact meaning of a word, you risk using it incorrectly. There's no shame in checking, and it might save you from an embarrassing word misuse later!
Using obscure language can also detract from the clarity of your argument—you should consider this before pulling out a thesaurus to change a perfectly appropriate word to something completely different.
Want to learn more? Read 10 Academic Phrases Your Writing Doesn't Need .
4. Understand the Argument and Critically Analyze the Evidence
While writing a good essay, your main argument should always be at the front of your mind. While it's tempting to go off on a tangent about an interesting side note, doing so makes your writing less concise.
Always question the evidence you include in your essay; ask yourself, "Does this directly support my thesis?" If the answer is "no," then that evidence should probably be excluded.
When you are evaluating evidence, be critical and thorough. You want to use the strongest research to back up your thesis. It is not enough to simply present evidence in support of an argument. A good writer must also explain why the evidence is relevant and supportive.
Everything you include should clearly connect to your topic and argument.
5. Know How to Write a Conclusion That Supports Your Research
One of the most overlooked steps to writing an essay is the conclusion. Your conclusion ties all your research together and proves your thesis. It should not be a restatement of your introduction or a copy-and-paste of your thesis.
A strong conclusion briefly outlines the key evidence discussed in the body of an essay and directly ties it to the thesis to show how the evidence proves or disproves the main argument of your research.
Countless great essays have been written only to be derailed by vague, weakly worded conclusions. Don't let your next essay become one of those.
6. Build a Solid Thesis to Support Your Arguments
A thesis is the main pillar of an essay. By selecting a specific thesis, you'll be able to develop arguments to support your central opinion. Consider writing about a unique experience or your own particular view of a topic .
Your thesis should be clear and logical, but it should also be debatable. Otherwise, it might be difficult to support it with compelling arguments.
7. Develop an Interesting Opening Paragraph to Hook In Readers from the Get-Go
No matter how you begin your essay, you must strive to capture the reader's interest immediately. If your opening paragraph doesn't catch the eye and engage the brain, any attempt at persuasion may end before the essay even starts.
The beginning of your essay is crucial for setting the stage for your thesis.
8. Always Remember to Edit and Proofread Your Essay
Any decent writer will tell you that writing is really rewriting. A good academic essay will inevitably go through multiple drafts as it slowly takes shape. When you arrive at a final draft, you must make sure that it is as close to perfect as possible.
This means subjecting your essay to close and comprehensive editing and proofreading processes. In other words, you must read your paper as many times as necessary to eliminate all grammar/punctuation mistakes and typos.
Here are some common mistakes you should learn to avoid in academic writing.
It is helpful to have a third party review your work. Consider consulting a peer or professional editing service. Keep in mind that professional editors are able to help you identify underdeveloped arguments and unnecessarily wordy language, and provide other feedback.
Get Critical Feedback on Your Writing
Hire an expert academic editor , or get a free sample, 9. when developing your essay's main body, build strong and relevant arguments.
Every sentence in the main body of your paper should explain and support your thesis. When deciding how much evidence to include in an academic essay, a good guideline is to include at least three main supporting arguments.
Those main supporting arguments, in turn, require support in the form of relevant facts, figures, examples, analogies, and observations.
You will need to engage in appropriate research to accomplish this. To organize your research efforts, you may want to develop a list of good research questions .
Learn how to write a research question that will help frame your research.
10. Choose the Format of Your Essay before Writing It
The final shape that your essay takes depends a great deal on what kind of format you use. Popular college essay format types include the Modern Language Association of America ( MLA ), American Psychological Association ( APA ), and Chicago Manual of Style ( Chicago style).
These formats govern everything from capitalization rules to source citation. Often, professors dictate a specific format for your essay. If they do not, you should choose the format that best suits your field.
11. Create Clear Transitions between Your Ideas
Although unnecessary transition words are the enemy of clarity and concision, they can be invaluable tools when it comes to separating and connecting the different sections of your essay.
Not only do they help you express your ideas but they also bring a cohesive structure to your sentences and a pleasant flow to your writing. Just be sure that you are using the right transition words for the right purpose and to the proper effect.
12. Always Include an Organized Reference Page at the End of Your Essay
As a key component of MLA, APA, and Chicago Style formatting, the reference or Works Cited page is an essential part of any academic essay.
Regardless of the format used, the reference page must be well organized and easy to read so that your audience can see exactly where your outside information came from.
To produce a properly formatted reference page, you may have to familiarize yourself with specialized phrases and abbreviations, such as " et al ."
How to Write a Good Hook for an Essay
The key to a good hook is to introduce an unexplored or absorbing line of inquiry in your introduction that addresses the main point of your thesis.
By carefully choosing your language and slowly revealing details, you can build reader anticipation for what follows.
Much like an actual worm-baited fishing hook, a successful hook will lure and capture readers, allowing the writer to "reel them in."
How to Get Better at Writing Essays
You can get better at writing essays the same way that you improve at anything else: practice, practice, practice! However, there are a few ways that you can improve your writing quickly so you can turn in a quality academic essay on time.
In addition to following the 12 essay tips and guidelines above, you can familiarize yourself with a few common practices and structures for essay development.
Great writing techniques for essays include brainstorming and tree diagrams, especially when coming up with a topic for your thesis statement. Becoming familiar with different structures for organizing your essay (order of importance, chronological, etc.) is also extremely helpful.
How to Write a Good Introduction for an Essay
To learn how to write a good essay, you must also learn how to write a good introduction.
Most effective essay introductions begin with relatively broad and general subject matter and then gradually narrow in focus and scope until they arrive at something extremely specific: the thesis. This is why writers tend to place their thesis statements at the very end of their introductory paragraph(s).
Because they are generally broad and often relate only tangentially to an essay's main point, there is virtually no limit on what the beginning of a good introduction can look like. However, writers still tend to rely on somewhat cliché opening sentences, such as quotations and rhetorical questions.
How to Write a Good Conclusion for an Essay
Briefly put, a good conclusion does two things. It wraps up any loose ends and drives home the main point of your essay.
To learn how to write a good conclusion, you will want to ensure that no unanswered questions remain in the reader's mind. A good conclusion will restate the thesis and reinforce the essay's main supporting points.
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"The Complete Beginner's Guide to Academic Writing"
How Academic Writing Differs from Other Forms of Writing
How to Master the 4 Types of Academic Writing
The Complete Beginner's Guide to Academic Writing
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How To Write An Essay: Beginner Tips And Tricks
Many students dread writing essays, but essay writing is an important skill to develop in high school, university, and even into your future career. By learning how to write an essay properly, the process can become more enjoyable and you’ll find you’re better able to organize and articulate your thoughts.
When writing an essay, it’s common to follow a specific pattern, no matter what the topic is. Once you’ve used the pattern a few times and you know how to structure an essay, it will become a lot more simple to apply your knowledge to every essay.
No matter which major you choose, you should know how to craft a good essay. Here, we’ll cover the basics of essay writing, along with some helpful tips to make the writing process go smoothly.
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Types of Essays
Think of an essay as a discussion. There are many types of discussions you can have with someone else. You can be describing a story that happened to you, you might explain to them how to do something, or you might even argue about a certain topic.
When it comes to different types of essays, it follows a similar pattern. Like a friendly discussion, each type of essay will come with its own set of expectations or goals.
For example, when arguing with a friend, your goal is to convince them that you’re right. The same goes for an argumentative essay.
Here are a few of the main essay types you can expect to come across during your time in school:
This type of essay is almost like telling a story, not in the traditional sense with dialogue and characters, but as if you’re writing out an event or series of events to relay information to the reader.
Here, your goal is to persuade the reader about your views on a specific topic.
This is the kind of essay where you go into a lot more specific details describing a topic such as a place or an event.
In this essay, you’re choosing a stance on a topic, usually controversial, and your goal is to present evidence that proves your point is correct.
Your purpose with this type of essay is to tell the reader how to complete a specific process, often including a step-by-step guide or something similar.
Compare and Contrast Essay
You might have done this in school with two different books or characters, but the ultimate goal is to draw similarities and differences between any two given subjects.
The Main Stages of Essay Writing
When it comes to writing an essay, many students think the only stage is getting all your ideas down on paper and submitting your work. However, that’s not quite the case.
There are three main stages of writing an essay, each one with its own purpose. Of course, writing the essay itself is the most substantial part, but the other two stages are equally as important.
So, what are these three stages of essay writing? They are:
Before you even write one word, it’s important to prepare the content and structure of your essay. If a topic wasn’t assigned to you, then the first thing you should do is settle on a topic. Next, you want to conduct your research on that topic and create a detailed outline based on your research. The preparation stage will make writing your essay that much easier since, with your outline and research, you should already have the skeleton of your essay.
Writing is the most time-consuming stage. In this stage, you will write out all your thoughts and ideas and craft your essay based on your outline. You’ll work on developing your ideas and fleshing them out throughout the introduction, body, and conclusion (more on these soon).
In the final stage, you’ll go over your essay and check for a few things. First, you’ll check if your essay is cohesive, if all the points make sense and are related to your topic, and that your facts are cited and backed up. You can also check for typos, grammar and punctuation mistakes, and formatting errors.
The Five-Paragraph Essay
We mentioned earlier that essay writing follows a specific structure, and for the most part in academic or college essays , the five-paragraph essay is the generally accepted structure you’ll be expected to use.
The five-paragraph essay is broken down into one introduction paragraph, three body paragraphs, and a closing paragraph. However, that doesn’t always mean that an essay is written strictly in five paragraphs, but rather that this structure can be used loosely and the three body paragraphs might become three sections instead.
Let’s take a closer look at each section and what it entails.
As the name implies, the purpose of your introduction paragraph is to introduce your idea. A good introduction begins with a “hook,” something that grabs your reader’s attention and makes them excited to read more.
Another key tenant of an introduction is a thesis statement, which usually comes towards the end of the introduction itself. Your thesis statement should be a phrase that explains your argument, position, or central idea that you plan on developing throughout the essay.
You can also include a short outline of what to expect in your introduction, including bringing up brief points that you plan on explaining more later on in the body paragraphs.
Here is where most of your essay happens. The body paragraphs are where you develop your ideas and bring up all the points related to your main topic.
In general, you’re meant to have three body paragraphs, or sections, and each one should bring up a different point. Think of it as bringing up evidence. Each paragraph is a different piece of evidence, and when the three pieces are taken together, it backs up your main point — your thesis statement — really well.
That being said, you still want each body paragraph to be tied together in some way so that the essay flows. The points should be distinct enough, but they should relate to each other, and definitely to your thesis statement. Each body paragraph works to advance your point, so when crafting your essay, it’s important to keep this in mind so that you avoid going off-track or writing things that are off-topic.
Many students aren’t sure how to write a conclusion for an essay and tend to see their conclusion as an afterthought, but this section is just as important as the rest of your work.
You shouldn’t be presenting any new ideas in your conclusion, but you should summarize your main points and show how they back up your thesis statement.
Essentially, the conclusion is similar in structure and content to the introduction, but instead of introducing your essay, it should be wrapping up the main thoughts and presenting them to the reader as a singular closed argument.
Photo by AMIT RANJAN on Unsplash
Steps to Writing an Essay
Now that you have a better idea of an essay’s structure and all the elements that go into it, you might be wondering what the different steps are to actually write your essay.
Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. Instead of going in blind, follow these steps on how to write your essay from start to finish.
Understand Your Assignment
When writing an essay for an assignment, the first critical step is to make sure you’ve read through your assignment carefully and understand it thoroughly. You want to check what type of essay is required, that you understand the topic, and that you pay attention to any formatting or structural requirements. You don’t want to lose marks just because you didn’t read the assignment carefully.
Research Your Topic
Once you understand your assignment, it’s time to do some research. In this step, you should start looking at different sources to get ideas for what points you want to bring up throughout your essay.
Search online or head to the library and get as many resources as possible. You don’t need to use them all, but it’s good to start with a lot and then narrow down your sources as you become more certain of your essay’s direction.
After research comes the brainstorming. There are a lot of different ways to start the brainstorming process . Here are a few you might find helpful:
- Think about what you found during your research that interested you the most
- Jot down all your ideas, even if they’re not yet fully formed
- Create word clouds or maps for similar terms or ideas that come up so you can group them together based on their similarities
- Try freewriting to get all your ideas out before arranging them
Create a Thesis
This is often the most tricky part of the whole process since you want to create a thesis that’s strong and that you’re about to develop throughout the entire essay. Therefore, you want to choose a thesis statement that’s broad enough that you’ll have enough to say about it, but not so broad that you can’t be precise.
Write Your Outline
Armed with your research, brainstorming sessions, and your thesis statement, the next step is to write an outline.
In the outline, you’ll want to put your thesis statement at the beginning and start creating the basic skeleton of how you want your essay to look.
A good way to tackle an essay is to use topic sentences . A topic sentence is like a mini-thesis statement that is usually the first sentence of a new paragraph. This sentence introduces the main idea that will be detailed throughout the paragraph.
If you create an outline with the topic sentences for your body paragraphs and then a few points of what you want to discuss, you’ll already have a strong starting point when it comes time to sit down and write. This brings us to our next step…
Write a First Draft
The first time you write your entire essay doesn’t need to be perfect, but you do need to get everything on the page so that you’re able to then write a second draft or review it afterward.
Everyone’s writing process is different. Some students like to write their essay in the standard order of intro, body, and conclusion, while others prefer to start with the “meat” of the essay and tackle the body, and then fill in the other sections afterward.
Make sure your essay follows your outline and that everything relates to your thesis statement and your points are backed up by the research you did.
Revise, Edit, and Proofread
The revision process is one of the three main stages of writing an essay, yet many people skip this step thinking their work is done after the first draft is complete.
However, proofreading, reviewing, and making edits on your essay can spell the difference between a B paper and an A.
After writing the first draft, try and set your essay aside for a few hours or even a day or two, and then come back to it with fresh eyes to review it. You might find mistakes or inconsistencies you missed or better ways to formulate your arguments.
Add the Finishing Touches
Finally, you’ll want to make sure everything that’s required is in your essay. Review your assignment again and see if all the requirements are there, such as formatting rules, citations, quotes, etc.
Go over the order of your paragraphs and make sure everything makes sense, flows well, and uses the same writing style .
Once everything is checked and all the last touches are added, give your essay a final read through just to ensure it’s as you want it before handing it in.
A good way to do this is to read your essay out loud since you’ll be able to hear if there are any mistakes or inaccuracies.
Essay Writing Tips
With the steps outlined above, you should be able to craft a great essay. Still, there are some other handy tips we’d recommend just to ensure that the essay writing process goes as smoothly as possible.
- Start your essay early. This is the first tip for a reason. It’s one of the most important things you can do to write a good essay. If you start it the night before, then you won’t have enough time to research, brainstorm, and outline — and you surely won’t have enough time to review.
- Don’t try and write it in one sitting. It’s ok if you need to take breaks or write it over a few days. It’s better to write it in multiple sittings so that you have a fresh mind each time and you’re able to focus.
- Always keep the essay question in mind. If you’re given an assigned question, then you should always keep it handy when writing your essay to make sure you’re always working to answer the question.
- Use transitions between paragraphs. In order to improve the readability of your essay, try and make clear transitions between paragraphs. This means trying to relate the end of one paragraph to the beginning of the next one so the shift doesn’t seem random.
- Integrate your research thoughtfully. Add in citations or quotes from your research materials to back up your thesis and main points. This will show that you did the research and that your thesis is backed up by it.
Writing an essay doesn’t need to be daunting if you know how to approach it. Using our essay writing steps and tips, you’ll have better knowledge on how to write an essay and you’ll be able to apply it to your next assignment. Once you do this a few times, it will become more natural to you and the essay writing process will become quicker and easier.
If you still need assistance with your essay, check with a student advisor to see if they offer help with writing. At University of the People(UoPeople), we always want our students to succeed, so our student advisors are ready to help with writing skills when necessary.
How To Write The Perfect Essay
Jan 29, 2019 Blog Articles , English Language Articles , Humanities Articles , Law Articles , Politics Articles , Writing Articles
If you decide to study English or a subject within Arts and Humanities at university, it’s going to involve a lot of essay writing. It’s a challenging skill to master because it requires both creativity and logical planning, but if you ensure you do the following whenever you write an essay, you should be on the way to success:
Table of Contents
T his may sound time-consuming, but if you make a really good plan you will actually save yourself time when it comes to writing the essay, as you’ll know where your answer is headed and won’t write yourself into a corner. Don’t worry if you’re stuck at first – jot down a few ideas anyway and chances are the rest will follow. I find it easiest to make a mind map, with each new ‘bubble’ representing one of my main paragraphs. I then write quotations which will be useful for my analysis around the bubble.
For example, if I was answering the question, ‘ To what extent is Curley’s wife portrayed as a victim in Of Mice and Men ? ’ I might begin a mind map which looks something like this:
Y ou can keep adding to this plan, crossing bits out and linking the different bubbles when you spot connections between them. Even though you won’t have time to make such a detailed plan under exam conditions, it can be helpful just to sketch a brief one, including a few key words, so that you don’t panic and go off topic when writing your essay. If you don’t like the mind map format, there are plenty of others to choose from: you could make a table, a flowchart, or simply a list of bullet points.
2. Have a clear structure
Think about this while you are planning. Your essay is like an argument or a speech – it needs to have a logical structure, with all your points coming together to answer the question. Start with the basics: it is best to choose a few major points which will become your main paragraphs. Three main paragraphs is a good number for an exam essay, since you will be under time pressure. Organise your points in a pattern of YES (agreement with the question) – AND (another ‘YES’ point) – BUT (disagreement or complication) if you agree with the question overall, or YES – BUT – AND if you disagree. This will ensure that you are always focused on your argument and don’t stray too far from the question.
For example, you could structure the Of Mice and Men sample question as follows:
‘To what extent is Curley’s wife portrayed as a victim in Of Mice and Men?’
- YES – descriptions of her appearance
- AND – other people’s attitudes towards her
- BUT – her position as the only woman on the ranch gives her power as she uses her femininity to advantage
If you wanted to write a longer essay, you could include additional paragraphs under the ‘YES/AND’ category, perhaps discussing the ways in which Curley’s wife reveals her vulnerability and insecurities and shares her dreams with the other characters; on the other hand, you could also lengthen your essay by including another ‘BUT’ paragraph about her cruel and manipulative streak.
Of course, this is not necessarily the only right way to answer this essay question: as long as you back up your points with evidence from the text, you can take any standpoint that makes sense.
3. Back up your points with well-analysed quotations
You wouldn’t write a scientific report without including evidence to support your findings, so why should it be any different with an essay even though you aren’t strictly required to substantiate every single point you make with a quotation, there’s no harm in trying. a close reading of your quotations can enrich your appreciation of the question and will be sure to impress examiners..
When selecting the best quotations to use in your essay, keep an eye out for specific literary techniques. For example, you could discuss Curley’s wife’s use of a rhetorical question when she says, ‘An’ what am I doin’? Standin’ here talking to a bunch of bindle stiffs’:
The rhetorical question “An’ what am I doin’?” signifies that Curley’s wife is very insecure; she seems to be questioning her own life choices. Moreover, the fact that she does not expect anyone to respond to her question highlights her loneliness.
Other literary techniques to look out for include:
- Tricolon – a group of three words or phrases placed close together for emphasis
- Tautology – using different words that mean the same thing, eg ‘frightening’ and ‘terrifying’
- Parallelism – ABAB structure; often signifies movement from one concept to another
- Chiasmus – ABBA structure; draws attention to that phrase
- Polysyndeton – many conjunctions in a sentence
- Asyndeton – lack of conjunctions; can speed up the pace of a sentence
- Polyptoton – using the same word in different forms for emphasis, eg ‘done’ and ‘doing’
- Alliteration – repetition of the same sound; different forms of alliteration include assonance (similar vowel sounds), plosive alliteration (‘b’, ‘d’ and ‘p’ sounds) and sibilance (‘s’ sounds)
- Anaphora – repetition of words; often used to emphasise a particular point
Don’t worry if you can’t locate all of these literary devices in the work you’re analysing – you can also discuss more obvious effects, like metaphor, simile and onomatopoeia. It’s not a problem if you can’t remember all the long names – it’s far more important to explain the effect of the literary techniques and their relevance to the question than to use the correct terminology.
4. Be creative and original right the way through
Anyone can write an essay using the tips above, but the thing that really makes it ‘perfect’ is your own unique take on the topic you’re discussing. If you’ve noticed something intriguing or unusual in your reading, point it out: if you find it interesting, chances are the examiner will too.
Creative writing and essay writing are more closely linked than you might imagine; keep the idea that you’re writing a speech or argument in mind, and you’re guaranteed to grab your reader’s attention.
It’s important to set out your line of argument in your introduction, introducing your main points and the general direction your essay will take, but don’t forget to keep something back for the conclusion, too. Yes, you need to summarise your main points, but if you’re just repeating the things you said in your introduction, the essay itself is rendered pointless.
Think of your conclusion as the climax of your speech, the bit everything else has been leading up to, rather than the boring plenary at the end of the interesting stuff.
To return to Of Mice and Men once more, here is an example of the ideal difference between an introduction and a conclusion:
In John Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men , Curley’s wife is portrayed as an ambiguous character. She could be viewed either as a cruel, seductive temptress or a lonely woman who is a victim of her society’s attitudes. Though she does seem to wield a form of sexual power, it is clear that Curley’s wife is largely a victim. This interpretation is supported by Steinbeck’s description of her appearance, other people’s attitudes, her dreams, and her evident loneliness and insecurity.
Overall, it is clear that Curley’s wife is a victim and is portrayed as such throughout the novel, in the descriptions of her appearance, her dreams, other people’s judgemental attitudes, and her loneliness and insecurities. However, a character who was a victim and nothing else would be one-dimensional and Curley’s wife is not. Although she suffers in many ways, she is shown to assert herself through the manipulation of her femininity – a small rebellion against the victimisation she experiences.
Both refer back consistently to the question and summarise the essay’s main points; however, the conclusion adds something new which has been established in the main body of the essay and yet complicates the simple summary which is found in the introduction.
- Start by writing a thorough plan
- Ensure your essay has a clear structure and overall argument
- Try to back up each point you make with a quotation
- Answer the question in your introduction and conclusion but remember to be creative too
Next Steps for Prospective English Students
- Explore the Guardian’s research into how to write better essays
- Want to write for a living? Read our blog post on How to Become a Writer
- See these top tips for English literature students
- Prepare for university and experience what it’s like studying on the Oxford University campus in our Oxford Summer School .
Want to learn more skills for academic success?
Summer Courses at the Oxford Scholastica Academy combine hands-on learning experiences with stimulating teaching and masterclasses, for an unforgettable summer amongst students from around the world.
Hannah is an undergraduate English student at Somerville College, Oxford, and has a particular interest in postcolonial literature and the Gothic. She thinks literature is a crucial way of developing empathy and learning about the wider world, and is excited to be Scholastica Inspires’ Literature Editor! When she isn’t writing essays about 17th-century court masques, she enjoys acting, travelling and creative writing.
Enrolments for 2024 are now open. Book your place before Oct 1st at 2023 prices!
- 40 Useful Words and Phrases for Top-Notch Essays
To be truly brilliant, an essay needs to utilise the right language. You could make a great point, but if it’s not intelligently articulated, you almost needn’t have bothered.
Developing the language skills to build an argument and to write persuasively is crucial if you’re to write outstanding essays every time. In this article, we’re going to equip you with the words and phrases you need to write a top-notch essay, along with examples of how to utilise them.
It’s by no means an exhaustive list, and there will often be other ways of using the words and phrases we describe that we won’t have room to include, but there should be more than enough below to help you make an instant improvement to your essay-writing skills.
This article is suitable for native English speakers and those who are learning English at Oxford Royale Academy and are just taking their first steps into essay writing.
Let’s start by looking at language for general explanations of complex points.
1. In order to
Usage: “In order to” can be used to introduce an explanation for the purpose of an argument. Example: “In order to understand X, we need first to understand Y.”
2. In other words
Usage: Use “in other words” when you want to express something in a different way (more simply), to make it easier to understand, or to emphasise or expand on a point. Example: “Frogs are amphibians. In other words, they live on the land and in the water.”
3. To put it another way
Usage: This phrase is another way of saying “in other words”, and can be used in particularly complex points, when you feel that an alternative way of wording a problem may help the reader achieve a better understanding of its significance. Example: “Plants rely on photosynthesis. To put it another way, they will die without the sun.”
4. That is to say
Usage: “That is” and “that is to say” can be used to add further detail to your explanation, or to be more precise. Example: “Whales are mammals. That is to say, they must breathe air.”
5. To that end
Usage: Use “to that end” or “to this end” in a similar way to “in order to” or “so”. Example: “Zoologists have long sought to understand how animals communicate with each other. To that end, a new study has been launched that looks at elephant sounds and their possible meanings.”
Adding additional information to support a point
Students often make the mistake of using synonyms of “and” each time they want to add further information in support of a point they’re making, or to build an argument . Here are some cleverer ways of doing this.
Usage: Employ “moreover” at the start of a sentence to add extra information in support of a point you’re making. Example: “Moreover, the results of a recent piece of research provide compelling evidence in support of…”
Usage:This is also generally used at the start of a sentence, to add extra information. Example: “Furthermore, there is evidence to suggest that…”
8. What’s more
Usage: This is used in the same way as “moreover” and “furthermore”. Example: “What’s more, this isn’t the only evidence that supports this hypothesis.”
Usage: Use “likewise” when you want to talk about something that agrees with what you’ve just mentioned. Example: “Scholar A believes X. Likewise, Scholar B argues compellingly in favour of this point of view.”
Usage: Use “similarly” in the same way as “likewise”. Example: “Audiences at the time reacted with shock to Beethoven’s new work, because it was very different to what they were used to. Similarly, we have a tendency to react with surprise to the unfamiliar.”
11. Another key thing to remember
Usage: Use the phrase “another key point to remember” or “another key fact to remember” to introduce additional facts without using the word “also”. Example: “As a Romantic, Blake was a proponent of a closer relationship between humans and nature. Another key point to remember is that Blake was writing during the Industrial Revolution, which had a major impact on the world around him.”
12. As well as
Usage: Use “as well as” instead of “also” or “and”. Example: “Scholar A argued that this was due to X, as well as Y.”
13. Not only… but also
Usage: This wording is used to add an extra piece of information, often something that’s in some way more surprising or unexpected than the first piece of information. Example: “Not only did Edmund Hillary have the honour of being the first to reach the summit of Everest, but he was also appointed Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire.”
14. Coupled with
Usage: Used when considering two or more arguments at a time. Example: “Coupled with the literary evidence, the statistics paint a compelling view of…”
15. Firstly, secondly, thirdly…
Usage: This can be used to structure an argument, presenting facts clearly one after the other. Example: “There are many points in support of this view. Firstly, X. Secondly, Y. And thirdly, Z.
16. Not to mention/to say nothing of
Usage: “Not to mention” and “to say nothing of” can be used to add extra information with a bit of emphasis. Example: “The war caused unprecedented suffering to millions of people, not to mention its impact on the country’s economy.”
Words and phrases for demonstrating contrast
When you’re developing an argument, you will often need to present contrasting or opposing opinions or evidence – “it could show this, but it could also show this”, or “X says this, but Y disagrees”. This section covers words you can use instead of the “but” in these examples, to make your writing sound more intelligent and interesting.
Usage: Use “however” to introduce a point that disagrees with what you’ve just said. Example: “Scholar A thinks this. However, Scholar B reached a different conclusion.”
18. On the other hand
Usage: Usage of this phrase includes introducing a contrasting interpretation of the same piece of evidence, a different piece of evidence that suggests something else, or an opposing opinion. Example: “The historical evidence appears to suggest a clear-cut situation. On the other hand, the archaeological evidence presents a somewhat less straightforward picture of what happened that day.”
19. Having said that
Usage: Used in a similar manner to “on the other hand” or “but”. Example: “The historians are unanimous in telling us X, an agreement that suggests that this version of events must be an accurate account. Having said that, the archaeology tells a different story.”
20. By contrast/in comparison
Usage: Use “by contrast” or “in comparison” when you’re comparing and contrasting pieces of evidence. Example: “Scholar A’s opinion, then, is based on insufficient evidence. By contrast, Scholar B’s opinion seems more plausible.”
21. Then again
Usage: Use this to cast doubt on an assertion. Example: “Writer A asserts that this was the reason for what happened. Then again, it’s possible that he was being paid to say this.”
22. That said
Usage: This is used in the same way as “then again”. Example: “The evidence ostensibly appears to point to this conclusion. That said, much of the evidence is unreliable at best.”
Usage: Use this when you want to introduce a contrasting idea. Example: “Much of scholarship has focused on this evidence. Yet not everyone agrees that this is the most important aspect of the situation.”
Adding a proviso or acknowledging reservations
Sometimes, you may need to acknowledge a shortfalling in a piece of evidence, or add a proviso. Here are some ways of doing so.
24. Despite this
Usage: Use “despite this” or “in spite of this” when you want to outline a point that stands regardless of a shortfalling in the evidence. Example: “The sample size was small, but the results were important despite this.”
25. With this in mind
Usage: Use this when you want your reader to consider a point in the knowledge of something else. Example: “We’ve seen that the methods used in the 19th century study did not always live up to the rigorous standards expected in scientific research today, which makes it difficult to draw definite conclusions. With this in mind, let’s look at a more recent study to see how the results compare.”
26. Provided that
Usage: This means “on condition that”. You can also say “providing that” or just “providing” to mean the same thing. Example: “We may use this as evidence to support our argument, provided that we bear in mind the limitations of the methods used to obtain it.”
27. In view of/in light of
Usage: These phrases are used when something has shed light on something else. Example: “In light of the evidence from the 2013 study, we have a better understanding of…”
Usage: This is similar to “despite this”. Example: “The study had its limitations, but it was nonetheless groundbreaking for its day.”
Usage: This is the same as “nonetheless”. Example: “The study was flawed, but it was important nevertheless.”
Usage: This is another way of saying “nonetheless”. Example: “Notwithstanding the limitations of the methodology used, it was an important study in the development of how we view the workings of the human mind.”
Good essays always back up points with examples, but it’s going to get boring if you use the expression “for example” every time. Here are a couple of other ways of saying the same thing.
31. For instance
Example: “Some birds migrate to avoid harsher winter climates. Swallows, for instance, leave the UK in early winter and fly south…”
32. To give an illustration
Example: “To give an illustration of what I mean, let’s look at the case of…”
When you want to demonstrate that a point is particularly important, there are several ways of highlighting it as such.
Usage: Used to introduce a point that is loaded with meaning that might not be immediately apparent. Example: “Significantly, Tacitus omits to tell us the kind of gossip prevalent in Suetonius’ accounts of the same period.”
Usage: This can be used to mean “significantly” (as above), and it can also be used interchangeably with “in particular” (the example below demonstrates the first of these ways of using it). Example: “Actual figures are notably absent from Scholar A’s analysis.”
Usage: Use “importantly” interchangeably with “significantly”. Example: “Importantly, Scholar A was being employed by X when he wrote this work, and was presumably therefore under pressure to portray the situation more favourably than he perhaps might otherwise have done.”
You’ve almost made it to the end of the essay, but your work isn’t over yet. You need to end by wrapping up everything you’ve talked about, showing that you’ve considered the arguments on both sides and reached the most likely conclusion. Here are some words and phrases to help you.
36. In conclusion
Usage: Typically used to introduce the concluding paragraph or sentence of an essay, summarising what you’ve discussed in a broad overview. Example: “In conclusion, the evidence points almost exclusively to Argument A.”
37. Above all
Usage: Used to signify what you believe to be the most significant point, and the main takeaway from the essay. Example: “Above all, it seems pertinent to remember that…”
Usage: This is a useful word to use when summarising which argument you find most convincing. Example: “Scholar A’s point – that Constanze Mozart was motivated by financial gain – seems to me to be the most persuasive argument for her actions following Mozart’s death.”
Usage: Use in the same way as “persuasive” above. Example: “The most compelling argument is presented by Scholar A.”
40. All things considered
Usage: This means “taking everything into account”. Example: “All things considered, it seems reasonable to assume that…”
How many of these words and phrases will you get into your next essay? And are any of your favourite essay terms missing from our list? Let us know in the comments below, or get in touch here to find out more about courses that can help you with your essays.
At Oxford Royale Academy, we offer a number of summer school courses for young people who are keen to improve their essay writing skills. Click here to apply for one of our courses today, including law , politics , business , medicine and engineering .
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10 Tips to Make Your Essays Even Better
College life is busy with different assignments, and writing an essay is one of the most common ones. It is essential to develop the skill of how to compose an essay. Every student has to understand at least the basics. Usually, you will have to write several essays per week, depending on the course you attend. In this article, you will find out some practical tips for writing and editing academic papers. Note that even the most professional and exciting essay was to be written without mistakes. If you want to be sure that the content is appropriately written, you can address assignment services and ask to edit my essay online. You will find this service very handy because you will save time and efforts. Being a writer and editor are entirely different things. If you focus on writing an essay on your own, hire a specialist to proofread it.
Here are some tips that may help you a lot during your college years:
Start with writing the outline.
When you just start working on your college assignment, the first thing you should do even before writing itself is to make an outline of your essay. It is a detailed plan that aims to make your writing process a lot faster and professional. Make sure that your readers follow it, and it sounds like a flow.
Your sentence structure should be varied
When you write an essay, think about a proper structure . It is recommended to use different types of sentences: long, short, simple, and complex ones. Your essay will look more profound, entertaining, and engaging with people who will read it.
Provide your reader with clear arguments
Students who want to write a meaningful essay are recommended to provide reader enough evidence. Make sure that you articulate the main idea of your article in the introduction section. However, you should not overuse arguments as well. Just think whether your potential reader can determine the main points of your essay.
Stick to the main theme
When you write your essay, you should not stray from your point. All professional writers and journalists stick to the main arguments. Each sentence should be meaningful and support the topic. Once the text is finished, you should reread it and delete all that strays from the core argument.
Writing is a form of speaking with your audience
When you write your text, try to imagine that you are speaking with your potential audience. People will find it much easier to read your essay. Your writing will sound authentic once you start writing the same way as you speak. Never use too complicated words. Make sure you know and understand what you write about. Simplicity is the key to a successful essay.
Use nouns to finish your sentences
Not even all writers and journalists know the trick to end sentences with nouns. However, it is true that your essay will sound much more pleasant if you use simple nouns to close the sentence.
Try not to use too many connecting words
When you proofread your college essay, it is better to delete such little connecting words as “that,” “really,” and “like.” This simple tip will make your essay look polished and professional. Besides, you will help people focus on the main point.
Eliminate transitory phrases from your text
Many amateurs start their essay with such sentences as “however,” “unfortunately,” “meanwhile,” and “additionally,” Do not hesitate to eliminate these words from your essay. You will see how better the text sounds. Just stick to the point without using meaningless phrases or words.
Keep your essay simple
Some students want to make a good impression on teachers. To do this, they compose too complicated sentences. You will sound super intellectual, but do you really want to make such an impression? Get rid of the frivolous fluff and relax.
Devote enough time for editing and proofreading
If you want to be sure your essay is mistake-free, it is better to print out a hard copy. For some reason, it is easier to see your errors on an actual piece of paper.
Writing essays might be quite tricky when you do not know the main principles and rules. We hope this article helped you to make the writing process more enjoyable. Writing essays and other college assignments is a useful skill you will use a lot in your life. It is worth being adequately mastered!
By Andy Sowards
Im a professional Freelancer specializing in Web Developer, Design, Programming web applications. Im an Avid member of the Design/Development community and a Serial Blogger. follow me on Twitter @AndySowards
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8 Ways You Can Improve Your Communication Skills
Your guide to establishing better communication habits for success in the workplace.
Mary Sharp Emerson
A leader’s ability to communicate clearly and effectively with employees, within teams, and across the organization is one of the foundations of a successful business.
And in today’s complex and quickly evolving business environment, with hundreds of different communication tools, fully or partially remote teams, and even multicultural teams spanning multiple time zones, effective communication has never been more important—or more challenging.
Thus, the ability to communicate might be a manager’s most critical skill.
The good news is that these skills can be learned and even mastered.
These eight tips can help you maximize your communication skills for the success of your organization and your career.
1. Be clear and concise
Communication is primarily about word choice. And when it comes to word choice, less is more.
The key to powerful and persuasive communication—whether written or spoken—is clarity and, when possible, brevity.
Before engaging in any form of communication, define your goals and your audience.
Outlining carefully and explicitly what you want to convey and why will help ensure that you include all necessary information. It will also help you eliminate irrelevant details.
Avoid unnecessary words and overly flowery language, which can distract from your message.
And while repetition may be necessary in some cases, be sure to use it carefully and sparingly. Repeating your message can ensure that your audience receives it, but too much repetition can cause them to tune you out entirely.
2. Prepare ahead of time
Know what you are going to say and how you are going to say before you begin any type of communication.
However, being prepared means more than just practicing a presentation.
Preparation also involves thinking about the entirety of the communication, from start to finish. Research the information you may need to support your message. Consider how you will respond to questions and criticisms. Try to anticipate the unexpected.
Before a performance review, for instance, prepare a list of concrete examples of your employee’s behavior to support your evaluation.
Before engaging in a salary or promotion negotiation, know exactly what you want. Be ready to discuss ranges and potential compromises; know what you are willing to accept and what you aren’t. And have on hand specific details to support your case, such as relevant salaries for your position and your location (but be sure that your research is based on publicly available information, not company gossip or anecdotal evidence).
Before entering into any conversation, brainstorm potential questions, requests for additional information or clarification, and disagreements so you are ready to address them calmly and clearly.
3. Be mindful of nonverbal communication
Our facial expressions, gestures, and body language can, and often do, say more than our words.
Nonverbal cues can have between 65 and 93 percent more impact than the spoken word. And we are more likely to believe the nonverbal signals over spoken words if the two are in disagreement.
Leaders must be especially adept at reading nonverbal cues.
Employees who may be unwilling to voice disagreements or concerns, for instance, may show their discomfort through crossed arms or an unwillingness to make eye contact. If you are aware of others’ body language, you may be able to adjust your communication tactics appropriately.
At the same time, leaders must also be able to control their own nonverbal communications.
Your nonverbal cues must, at all times, support your message. At best, conflicting verbal and nonverbal communication can cause confusion. At worst, it can undermine your message and your team’s confidence in you, your organization, and even in themselves.
4. Watch your tone
How you say something can be just as important as what you say. As with other nonverbal cues, your tone can add power and emphasis to your message, or it can undermine it entirely.
Tone can be an especially important factor in workplace disagreements and conflict. A well-chosen word with a positive connotation creates good will and trust. A poorly chosen word with unclear or negative connotations can quickly lead to misunderstanding.
When speaking, tone includes volume, projection, and intonation as well as word choice. In real time, it can be challenging to control tone to ensure that it matches your intent. But being mindful of your tone will enable you to alter it appropriately if a communication seems to be going in the wrong direction.
Tone can be easier to control when writing. Be sure to read your communication once, even twice, while thinking about tone as well as message. You may even want to read it out loud or ask a trusted colleague to read it over, if doing so does not breach confidentiality.
And when engaging in a heated dialogue over email or other written medium, don’t be too hasty in your replies.
If at all possible, write out your response but then wait for a day or two to send it. In many cases, re-reading your message after your emotions have cooled allows you to moderate your tone in a way that is less likely to escalate the conflict.
Browse our Communication programs.
5. Practice active listening
Communication nearly always involves two or more individuals.
Therefore, listening is just as important as speaking when it comes to communicating successfully. But listening can be more challenging than we realize.
In her blog post Mastering the Basics of Communication , communication expert Marjorie North notes that we only hear about half of what the other person says during any given conversation.
The goal of active listening is to ensure that you hear not just the words the person is saying, but the entire message. Some tips for active listening include:
- Giving the speaker your full and undivided attention
- Clearing your mind of distractions, judgements, and counter-arguments.
- Avoiding the temptation to interrupt with your own thoughts.
- Showing open, positive body language to keep your mind focused and to show the speaker that you are really listening
- Rephrase or paraphrase what you’ve heard when making your reply
- Ask open ended questions designed to elicit additional information
6. Build your emotional intelligence
Communication is built upon a foundation of emotional intelligence. Simply put, you cannot communicate effectively with others until you can assess and understand your own feelings.
“If you’re aware of your own emotions and the behaviors they trigger, you can begin to manage these emotions and behaviors,” says Margaret Andrews in her post, How to Improve Your Emotional Intelligence .
Leaders with a high level of emotional intelligence will naturally find it easier to engage in active listening, maintain appropriate tone, and use positive body language, for example.
Understanding and managing your own emotions is only part of emotional intelligence. The other part—equally important for effective communication—is empathy for others.
Empathizing with an employee can, for example, make a difficult conversation easier.
You may still have to deliver bad news, but (actively) listening to their perspective and showing that you understand their feelings can go a long way toward smoothing hurt feelings or avoiding misunderstandings.
7. Develop a workplace communication strategy
Today’s workplace is a constant flow of information across a wide variety of formats. Every single communication must be understood in the context of that larger flow of information.
Even the most effective communicator may find it difficult to get their message across without a workplace communication strategy.
A communication strategy is the framework within which your business conveys and receives information. It can—and should—outline how and what you communicate to customers and clients, stakeholders, and managers and employees.
Starting most broadly, your strategy should incorporate who gets what message and when. This ensures that everyone receives the correct information at the right time.
It can be as detailed as how you communicate, including defining the type of tools you use for which information. For example, you may define when it’s appropriate to use a group chat for the entire team or organization or when a meeting should have been summarized in an email instead.
Creating basic guidelines like this can streamline the flow of information. It will help ensure that everyone gets the details they need and that important knowledge isn’t overwhelmed by extraneous minutia.
8. Create a positive organizational culture
The corporate culture in which you are communicating also plays a vital role in effective communication.
In a positive work environment—one founded on transparency, trust, empathy, and open dialogue—communication in general will be easier and more effective.
Employees will be more receptive to hearing their manager’s message if they trust that manager. And managers will find it easier to create buy-in and even offer constructive criticism if they encourage their employees to speak up, offer suggestions, and even offer constructive criticisms of their own.
“The most dangerous organization is a silent one,” says Lorne Rubis in a blog post, Six Tips for Building a Better Workplace Culture . Communication, in both directions, can only be effective in a culture that is built on trust and a foundation of psychological safety.
Authoritative managers who refuse to share information, aren’t open to suggestions, and refuse to admit mistakes and accept criticism are likely to find their suggestions and criticisms met with defensiveness or even ignored altogether.
Without that foundation of trust and transparency, even the smallest communication can be misconstrued and lead to misunderstandings and unnecessary conflict.
Communicating with co-workers and employees is always going to present challenges. There will always be misunderstandings and miscommunications that must be resolved and unfortunately, corporate messages aren’t always what we want to hear, especially during difficult times.
But building and mastering effective communication skills will make your job easier as a leader, even during difficult conversations. Taking the time to build these skills will certainly be time well-spent.
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About the Author
Digital Content Producer
Emerson is a Digital Content Producer at Harvard DCE. She is a graduate of Brandeis University and Yale University and started her career as an international affairs analyst. She is an avid triathlete and has completed three Ironman triathlons, as well as the Boston Marathon.
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ChatGPT: Everything you need to know about the AI-powered chatbot
ChatGPT, OpenAI’s text-generating AI chatbot, has taken the world by storm. It’s able to write essays, code and more given short text prompts , hyper-charging productivity. But it also has a more… nefarious side .
In any case, AI tools are not going away — and indeed has expanded dramatically since its launch just a few months ago. Major brands are experimenting with it, using the AI to generate ad and marketing copy, for example.
And OpenAI is heavily investing in it. ChatGPT was recently super-charged by GPT-4 , the latest language-writing model from OpenAI’s labs. Paying ChatGPT users have access to GPT-4, which can write more naturally and fluently than the model that previously powered ChatGPT. In addition to GPT-4, OpenAI recently connected ChatGPT to the internet with plugins available in alpha to users and developers on the waitlist .
Here’s a timeline of ChatGPT product updates and releases, starting with the latest, to be updated regularly. We also answer the most common FAQs ( see below ).
Timeline of the most recent ChatGPT updates
August 28, 2023, openai launches chatgpt enterprise.
ChatGPT Enterprise can perform the same tasks as ChatGPT, such as writing emails, drafting essays and debugging computer code. However, the new offering also adds “enterprise-grade” privacy and data analysis capabilities on top of the vanilla ChatGPT, as well as enhanced performance and customization options.
Survey finds relatively few American actually use ChatGPT
Recent Pew polling suggests the language model isn’t quite as popular or threatening as some would have you think. Ongoing polling by Pew Research shows that although ChatGPT is gaining mindshare, only about 18% of Americans have ever actually used it .
August 22, 2023
Openai brings fine-tuning to gpt-3.5 turbo.
With fine-tuning, companies using GPT-3.5 Turbo through the company’s API can make the model better follow specific instructions. For example, having the model always respond in a given language. Or improving the model’s ability to consistently format responses, as well as hone the “feel” of the model’s output, like its tone, so that it better fits a brand or voice. Most notably, fine-tuning enables OpenAI customers to shorten text prompts to speed up API calls and cut costs.
OpenAI is partnering with Scale AI to allow companies to fine-tune GPT-3.5 . However, it is unclear whether OpenAI is developing an in-house tuning tool that is meant to complement platforms like Scale AI or serve a different purpose altogether.
- Training: $0.008 / 1K tokens
- Usage input: $0.012 / 1K tokens
- Usage output: $0.016 / 1K tokens
August 16, 2023
Openai acquires global illumination.
In OpenAI’s first public acquisition in its seven-year history, the company announced it has acquired Global Illumination, a New York-based startup leveraging AI to build creative tools, infrastructure and digital experiences.
“We’re very excited for the impact they’ll have here at OpenAI,” OpenAI wrote in a brief post published to its official blog. “The entire team has joined OpenAI to work on our core products including ChatGPT.”
August 10, 2023
The ‘custom instructions’ feature is extended to free chatgpt users.
OpenAI announced that it’s expanding custom instructions to all users, including those on the free tier of service. The feature allows users to add various preferences and requirements that they want the AI chatbot to consider when responding.
August 1, 2023
China requires ai apps to obtain an administrative license.
Multiple generative AI apps have been removed from Apple’s China App Store ahead of the country’s latest generative AI regulations that are set to take effect August 15.
“As you may know, the government has been tightening regulations associated with deep synthesis technologies (DST) and generative AI services, including ChatGPT. DST must fulfill permitting requirements to operate in China, including securing a license from the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT),” Apple said in a letter to OpenCat, a native ChatGPT client. “Based on our review, your app is associated with ChatGPT, which does not have requisite permits to operate in China.”
July 25, 2023
Chatgpt for android is now available in the us, india, bangladesh and brazil.
A few days after putting up a preorder page on Google Play, OpenAI has flipped the switch and released ChatGPT for Android . The app is now live in a handful of countries.
July 21, 2023
Chatgpt is coming to android.
ChatGPT is available to “pre-order” for Android users.
The ChatGPT app on Android looks to be more or less identical to the iOS one in functionality, meaning it gets most if not all of the web-based version’s features. You should be able to sync your conversations and preferences across devices, too — so if you’re iPhone at home and Android at work, no worries.
July 20, 2023
Openai launches customized instructions for chatgpt.
OpenAI launched custom instructions for ChatGPT users , so they don’t have to write the same instruction prompts to the chatbot every time they interact with it.
The company said this feature lets you “share anything you’d like ChatGPT to consider in its response.” For example, a teacher can say they are teaching fourth-grade math or a developer can specify the code language they prefer when asking for suggestions. A person can also specify their family size, so the text-generating AI can give responses about meals, grocery and vacation planning accordingly.
July 13, 2023
The ftc is reportedly investigating openai.
The FTC is reportedly in at least the exploratory phase of investigation over whether OpenAI’s flagship ChatGPT conversational AI made “false, misleading, disparaging or harmful” statements about people.
TechCrunch Reporter Devin Coldewey reports:
This kind of investigation doesn’t just appear out of thin air — the FTC doesn’t look around and say “That looks suspicious.” Generally a lawsuit or formal complaint is brought to their attention and the practices described by it imply that regulations are being ignored. For example, a person may sue a supplement company because the pills made them sick, and the FTC will launch an investigation on the back of that because there’s evidence the company lied about the side effects.
July 6, 2023
Openai announced the general availability of gpt-4.
Starting July 6, all existing OpenAI developers “with a history of successful payments” can access GPT-4 . OpenAI plans to open up access to new developers by the end of July.
In the future, OpenAI says that it’ll allow developers to fine-tune GPT-4 and GPT-3.5 Turbo , one of the original models powering ChatGPT, with their own data, as has long been possible with several of OpenAI’s other text-generating models. That capability should arrive later this year, according to OpenAI.
June 28, 2023
Chatgpt app can now search the web only on bing.
OpenAI announced that subscribers to ChatGPT Plus can now use a new feature on the app called Browsing , which allows ChatGPT to search Bing for answers to questions.
The Browsing feature can be enabled by heading to the New Features section of the app settings, selecting “GPT-4” in the model switcher and choosing “Browse with Bing” from the drop-down list. Browsing is available on both the iOS and Android ChatGPT apps.
June 15, 2023
Mercedes is adding chatgpt to its infotainment system.
U.S. owners of Mercedes models that use MBUX will be able to opt into a beta program starting June 16 activating the ChatGPT functionality . This will enable the highly versatile large language model to augment the car’s conversation skills. You can join up simply by telling your car “Hey Mercedes, I want to join the beta program.”
It’s not really clear what for, though.
June 8, 2023
Chatgpt app is now available on ipad, adds support for siri and shortcuts.
The new ChatGPT app version brings native iPad support to the app , as well as support for using the chatbot with Siri and Shortcuts. Drag and drop is also now available, allowing users to drag individual messages from ChatGPT into other apps.
On iPad, ChatGPT now runs in full-screen mode, optimized for the tablet’s interface.
May 30, 2023
Texas judge orders all ai-generated content must be declared and checked.
The Texas federal judge has added a requirement that any attorney appearing in his court must attest that “no portion of the filing was drafted by generative artificial intelligence,” or if it was, that it was checked “by a human being.”
May 26, 2023
Chatgpt app expanded to more than 30 countries.
The list of new countries includes Algeria, Argentina, Azerbaijan, Bolivia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Estonia, Ghana, India, Iraq, Israel, Japan, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Lithuania, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mexico, Morocco, Namibia, Nauru, Oman, Pakistan, Peru, Poland, Qatar, Slovenia, Tunisia and the United Arab Emirates.
May 25, 2023
Chatgpt app is now available in 11 more countries.
OpenAI announced in a tweet that the ChatGPT mobile app is now available on iOS in the U.S., Europe, South Korea and New Zealand, and soon more will be able to download the app from the app store. In just six days, the app topped 500,000 downloads .
The ChatGPT app for iOS is now available to users in 11 more countries — Albania, Croatia, France, Germany, Ireland, Jamaica, Korea, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Nigeria, and the UK. More to come soon! — OpenAI (@OpenAI) May 24, 2023
May 18, 2023
Openai launches a chatgpt app for ios.
ChatGPT is officially going mobile . The new ChatGPT app will be free to use, free from ads and will allow for voice input, the company says, but will initially be limited to U.S. users at launch.
When using the mobile version of ChatGPT, the app will sync your history across devices — meaning it will know what you’ve previously searched for via its web interface, and make that accessible to you. The app is also integrated with Whisper , OpenAI’s open source speech recognition system, to allow for voice input.
May 3, 2023
Hackers are using chatgpt lures to spread malware on facebook.
Meta said in a report on May 3 that malware posing as ChatGPT was on the rise across its platforms . The company said that since March 2023, its security teams have uncovered 10 malware families using ChatGPT (and similar themes) to deliver malicious software to users’ devices.
“In one case, we’ve seen threat actors create malicious browser extensions available in official web stores that claim to offer ChatGPT-based tools,” said Meta security engineers Duc H. Nguyen and Ryan Victory in a blog post . “They would then promote these malicious extensions on social media and through sponsored search results to trick people into downloading malware.”
April 28, 2023
Chatgpt parent company openai closes $300m share sale at $27b-29b valuation.
VC firms including Sequoia Capital, Andreessen Horowitz, Thrive and K2 Global are picking up new shares, according to documents seen by TechCrunch. A source tells us Founders Fund is also investing. Altogether the VCs have put in just over $300 million at a valuation of $27 billion to $29 billion . This is separate to a big investment from Microsoft announced earlier this year , a person familiar with the development told TechCrunch, which closed in January. The size of Microsoft’s investment is believed to be around $10 billion, a figure we confirmed with our source.
April 25, 2023
Openai previews new subscription tier, chatgpt business.
Called ChatGPT Business, OpenAI describes the forthcoming offering as “for professionals who need more control over their data as well as enterprises seeking to manage their end users.”
“ChatGPT Business will follow our API’s data usage policies, which means that end users’ data won’t be used to train our models by default,” OpenAI wrote in a blog post. “We plan to make ChatGPT Business available in the coming months.”
April 24, 2023
Openai wants to trademark “gpt”.
OpenAI applied for a trademark for “GPT,” which stands for “Generative Pre-trained Transformer,” last December. Last month, the company petitioned the USPTO to speed up the process, citing the “myriad infringements and counterfeit apps” beginning to spring into existence.
Unfortunately for OpenAI, its petition was dismissed last week. According to the agency, OpenAI’s attorneys neglected to pay an associated fee as well as provide “appropriate documentary evidence supporting the justification of special action.”
That means a decision could take up to five more months.
April 22, 2023
Auto-gpt is silicon valley’s latest quest to automate everything.
Auto-GPT is an open-source app created by game developer Toran Bruce Richards that uses OpenAI’s latest text-generating models, GPT-3.5 and GPT-4, to interact with software and services online, allowing it to “autonomously” perform tasks.
Depending on what objective the tool’s provided, Auto-GPT can behave in very… unexpected ways. One Reddit user claims that, given a budget of $100 to spend within a server instance, Auto-GPT made a wiki page on cats, exploited a flaw in the instance to gain admin-level access and took over the Python environment in which it was running — and then “killed” itself.
April 18, 2023
Ftc warns that ai technology like chatgpt could ‘turbocharge’ fraud.
FTC chair Lina Khan and fellow commissioners warned House representatives of the potential for modern AI technologies, like ChatGPT, to be used to “turbocharge” fraud in a congressional hearing .
“AI presents a whole set of opportunities, but also presents a whole set of risks,” Khan told the House representatives. “And I think we’ve already seen ways in which it could be used to turbocharge fraud and scams. We’ve been putting market participants on notice that instances in which AI tools are effectively being designed to deceive people can place them on the hook for FTC action,” she stated.
April 17, 2023
Superchat’s new ai chatbot lets you message historical and fictional characters via chatgpt.
The company behind the popular iPhone customization app Brass , sticker maker StickerHub and others is out today with a new AI chat app called SuperChat , which allows iOS users to chat with virtual characters powered by OpenAI’s ChatGPT . However, what makes the app different from the default experience or the dozens of generic AI chat apps now available are the characters offered which you can use to engage with SuperChat’s AI features.
April 12, 2023
Italy gives openai to-do list for lifting chatgpt suspension order.
Italy’s data protection watchdog has laid out what OpenAI needs to do for it to lift an order against ChatGPT issued at the end of last month — when it said it suspected the AI chatbot service was in breach of the EU’s GSPR and ordered the U.S.-based company to stop processing locals’ data.
The DPA has given OpenAI a deadline — of April 30 — to get the regulator’s compliance demands done. (The local radio, TV and internet awareness campaign has a slightly more generous timeline of May 15 to be actioned.)
Researchers discover a way to make ChatGPT consistently toxic
A study co-authored by scientists at the Allen Institute for AI shows that assigning ChatGPT a “persona” — for example, “a bad person,” “a horrible person” or “a nasty person” — through the ChatGPT API increases its toxicity sixfold. Even more concerning, the co-authors found having the conversational AI chatbot pose as certain historical figures, gendered people and members of political parties also increased its toxicity — with journalists, men and Republicans in particular causing the machine learning model to say more offensive things than it normally would.
The research was conducted using the latest version, but not the model currently in preview based on OpenAI’s GPT-4 .
April 4, 2023
Y combinator-backed startups are trying to build ‘chatgpt for x’.
YC Demo Day’s Winter 2023 batch features no fewer than four startups that claim to be building “ChatGPT for X.” They’re all chasing after a customer service software market that’ll be worth $58.1 billion by 2023, assuming the rather optimistic prediction from Acumen Research comes true.
Here are the YC-backed startups that caught our eye:
- Yuma , whose customer demographic is primarily Shopify merchants, provides ChatGPT-like AI systems that integrate with help desk software, suggesting drafts of replies to customer tickets.
- Baselit , which uses one of OpenAI’s text-understanding models to allow businesses to embed chatbot-style analytics for their customers.
- Lasso customers send descriptions or videos of the processes they’d like to automate and the company combines ChatGPT-like interface with robotic process automation (RPA) and a Chrome extension to build out those automations.
- BerriAI , whose platform is designed to help developers spin up ChatGPT apps for their organization data through various data connectors.
April 1, 2023
Italy orders chatgpt to be blocked.
OpenAI has started geoblocking access to its generative AI chatbot, ChatGPT, in Italy .
Italy’s data protection authority has just put out a timely reminder that some countries do have laws that already apply to cutting edge AI: it has ordered OpenAI to stop processing people’s data locally with immediate effect. The Italian DPA said it’s concerned that the ChatGPT maker is breaching the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), and is opening an investigation.
March 29, 2023
1,100+ signatories signed an open letter asking all ‘ai labs to immediately pause for 6 months’.
The letter’s signatories include Elon Musk, Steve Wozniak and Tristan Harris of the Center for Humane Technology, among others. The letter calls on “all AI labs to immediately pause for at least 6 months the training of AI systems more powerful than GPT-4.”
The letter reads:
Contemporary AI systems are now becoming human-competitive at general tasks, and we must ask ourselves: Should we let machines flood our information channels with propaganda and untruth? Should we automate away all the jobs, including the fulfilling ones? Should we develop nonhuman minds that might eventually outnumber, outsmart, obsolete and replace us? Should we risk loss of control of our civilization? Such decisions must not be delegated to unelected tech leaders. Powerful AI systems should be developed only once we are confident that their effects will be positive and their risks will be manageable.
March 23, 2023
Openai connects chatgpt to the internet.
OpenAI launched plugins for ChatGPT, extending the bot’s functionality by granting it access to third-party knowledge sources and databases, including the web. Available in alpha to ChatGPT users and developers on the waitlist , OpenAI says that it’ll initially prioritize a small number of developers and subscribers to its premium ChatGPT Plus plan before rolling out larger-scale and API access.
March 14, 2023
Openai launches gpt-4, available through chatgpt plus.
GPT-4 is a powerful image- and text-understanding AI model from OpenAI. Released March 14, GPT-4 is available for paying ChatGPT Plus users and through a public API. Developers can sign up on a waitlist to access the API.
March 9, 2023
Chatgpt is available in azure openai service.
ChatGPT is generally available through the Azure OpenAI Service , Microsoft’s fully managed, corporate-focused offering. Customers, who must already be “Microsoft managed customers and partners,” can apply here for special access .
March 1, 2023
Openai launches an api for chatgpt.
OpenAI makes another move toward monetization by launching a paid API for ChatGPT . Instacart, Snap (Snapchat’s parent company) and Quizlet are among its initial customers.
February 7, 2023
Microsoft launches the new bing, with chatgpt built in.
At a press event in Redmond, Washington, Microsoft announced its long-rumored integration of OpenAI’s GPT-4 model into Bing , providing a ChatGPT-like experience within the search engine. The announcement spurred a 10x increase in new downloads for Bing globally, indicating a sizable consumer demand for new AI experiences.
Other companies beyond Microsoft joined in on the AI craze by implementing ChatGPT, including OkCupid , Kaito , Snapchat and Discord — putting the pressure on Big Tech’s AI initiatives, like Google .
February 1, 2023
Openai launches chatgpt plus, starting at $20 per month.
After ChatGPT took the internet by storm, OpenAI launched a new pilot subscription plan for ChatGPT called ChatGPT Plus , aiming to monetize the technology starting at $20 per month.
December 8, 2022
Sharegpt lets you easily share your chatgpt conversations.
A week after ChatGPT was released into the wild , two developers — Steven Tey and Dom Eccleston — made a Chrome extension called ShareGPT to make it easier to capture and share the AI’s answers with the world.
November 30, 2022
Chatgpt first launched to the public as openai quietly released gpt-3.5.
GPT-3.5 broke cover with ChatGPT , a fine-tuned version of GPT-3.5 that’s essentially a general-purpose chatbot. ChatGPT can engage with a range of topics, including programming, TV scripts and scientific concepts.
Writers everywhere rolled their eyes at the new technology, much like artists did with OpenAI’s DALL-E model , but the latest chat-style iteration seemingly broadened its appeal and audience.
What is ChatGPT? How does it work?
ChatGPT is a general-purpose chatbot that uses artificial intelligence to generate text after a user enters a prompt, developed by tech startup OpenAI . The chatbot uses GPT-4, a large language model that uses deep learning to produce human-like text.
When did ChatGPT get released?
November 30, 2022 is when ChatGPT was released for public use.
What is the latest version of ChatGPT?
Both the free version of ChatGPT and the paid ChatGPT Plus are regularly updated with new GPT models. The most recent model is GPT-4 .
Can I use ChatGPT for free?
There is a free version of ChatGPT that only requires a sign-in in addition to the paid version, ChatGPT Plus .
Who uses ChatGPT?
Anyone can use ChatGPT! More and more tech companies and search engines are utilizing the chatbot to automate text or quickly answer user questions/concerns.
What companies use ChatGPT?
Multiple enterprises utilize ChatGPT, although others may limit the use of the AI-powered tool .
Most recently, Microsoft announced at it’s 2023 Build conference that it is integrating it ChatGPT-based Bing experience into Windows 11. A Brooklyn-based 3D display startup Looking Glass utilizes ChatGPT to produce holograms you can communicate with by using ChatGPT. And nonprofit organization Solana officially integrated the chatbot into its network with a ChatGPT plug-in geared toward end users to help onboard into the web3 space.
What does GPT mean in ChatGPT?
GPT stands for Generative Pre-Trained Transformer.
What’s the difference between ChatGPT and Bard?
Much like OpenAI’s ChatGPT, Bard is a chatbot that will answer questions in natural language. Google announced at its 2023 I/O event that it will soon be adding multimodal content to Bard, meaning that it can deliver answers in more than just text, responses can give you rich visuals as well. Rich visuals mean pictures for now, but later can include maps, charts and other items.
ChatGPT’s generative AI has had a longer lifespan and thus has been “learning” for a longer period of time than Bard.
What is the difference between ChatGPT and a chatbot?
A chatbot can be any software/system that holds dialogue with you/a person but doesn’t necessarily have to be AI-powered. For example, there are chatbots that are rules-based in the sense that they’ll give canned responses to questions.
ChatGPT is AI-powered and utilizes LLM technology to generate text after a prompt.
Can ChatGPT write essays?
Can chatgpt commit libel.
Due to the nature of how these models work , they don’t know or care whether something is true, only that it looks true. That’s a problem when you’re using it to do your homework, sure, but when it accuses you of a crime you didn’t commit, that may well at this point be libel.
We will see how handling troubling statements produced by ChatGPT will play out over the next few months as tech and legal experts attempt to tackle the fastest moving target in the industry.
Does ChatGPT have an app?
Yes, there is now a free ChatGPT app that is currently limited to U.S. iOS users at launch. OpenAi says an android version is “coming soon.”
What is the ChatGPT character limit?
It’s not documented anywhere that ChatGPT has a character limit. However, users have noted that there are some character limitations after around 500 words.
Does ChatGPT have an API?
Yes, it was released March 1, 2023.
What are some sample everyday uses for ChatGPT?
Everyday examples include programing, scripts, email replies, listicles, blog ideas, summarization, etc.
What are some advanced uses for ChatGPT?
Advanced use examples include debugging code, programming languages, scientific concepts, complex problem solving, etc.
How good is ChatGPT at writing code?
It depends on the nature of the program. While ChatGPT can write workable Python code, it can’t necessarily program an entire app’s worth of code. That’s because ChatGPT lacks context awareness — in other words, the generated code isn’t always appropriate for the specific context in which it’s being used.
Can you save a ChatGPT chat?
Yes. OpenAI allows users to save chats in the ChatGPT interface, stored in the sidebar of the screen. There are no built-in sharing features yet.
Are there alternatives to ChatGPT?
Yes. There are multiple AI-powered chatbot competitors such as Together , Google’s Bard and Anthropic’s Claude , and developers are creating open source alternatives . But the latter are harder — if not impossible — to run today.
The Google-owned research lab DeepMind claimed that its next LLM, will rival, or even best, OpenAI’s ChatGPT . DeepMind is using techniques from AlphaGo, DeepMind’s AI system that was the first to defeat a professional human player at the board game Go, to make a ChatGPT-rivaling chatbot called Gemini.
Apple is developing AI tools to challenge OpenAI, Google and others. The tech giant created a chatbot that some engineers are internally referring to as “Apple GPT,” but Apple has yet to determine a strategy for releasing the AI to consumers.
How does ChatGPT handle data privacy?
OpenAI has said that individuals in “certain jurisdictions” (such as the EU) can object to the processing of their personal information by its AI models by filling out this form . This includes the ability to make requests for deletion of AI-generated references about you. Although OpenAI notes it may not grant every request since it must balance privacy requests against freedom of expression “in accordance with applicable laws”.
The web form for making a deletion of data about you request is entitled “ OpenAI Personal Data Removal Request ”.
What controversies have surrounded ChatGPT?
Recently, Discord announced that it had integrated OpenAI’s technology into its bot named Clyde where two users tricked Clyde into providing them with instructions for making the illegal drug methamphetamine (meth) and the incendiary mixture napalm.
An Australian mayor has publicly announced he may sue OpenAI for defamation due to ChatGPT’s false claims that he had served time in prison for bribery. This would be the first defamation lawsuit against the text-generating service.
CNET found itself in the midst of controversy after Futurism reported the publication was publishing articles under a mysterious byline completely generated by AI. The private equity company that owns CNET, Red Ventures, was accused of using ChatGPT for SEO farming, even if the information was incorrect.
Several major school systems and colleges, including New York City Public Schools , have banned ChatGPT from their networks and devices. They claim that the AI impedes the learning process by promoting plagiarism and misinformation, a claim that not every educator agrees with .
There have also been cases of ChatGPT accusing individuals of false crimes .
Where can I find examples of ChatGPT prompts?
Several marketplaces host and provide ChatGPT prompts, either for free or for a nominal fee. One is PromptBase . Another is ChatX . More launch every day.
Can ChatGPT be detected?
Poorly. Several tools claim to detect ChatGPT-generated text, but in our tests , they’re inconsistent at best.
Are ChatGPT chats public?
No. But OpenAI recently disclosed a bug, since fixed, that exposed the titles of some users’ conversations to other people on the service.
Who owns the copyright on ChatGPT-created content or media?
The user who requested the input from ChatGPT is the copyright owner.
What lawsuits are there surrounding ChatGPT?
None specifically targeting ChatGPT. But OpenAI is involved in at least one lawsuit that has implications for AI systems trained on publicly available data, which would touch on ChatGPT.
Are there issues regarding plagiarism with ChatGPT?
Yes. Text-generating AI models like ChatGPT have a tendency to regurgitate content from their training data.
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How to Write an English Essay
Last Updated: May 29, 2023 References
This article was co-authored by Jake Adams . Jake Adams is an academic tutor and the owner of Simplifi EDU, a Santa Monica, California based online tutoring business offering learning resources and online tutors for academic subjects K-College, SAT & ACT prep, and college admissions applications. With over 14 years of professional tutoring experience, Jake is dedicated to providing his clients the very best online tutoring experience and access to a network of excellent undergraduate and graduate-level tutors from top colleges all over the nation. Jake holds a BS in International Business and Marketing from Pepperdine University. There are 14 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page. This article has been viewed 1,573,731 times.
When taking English courses in high school and college, you'll likely be assigned to write essays. While writing an essay for an English class may seem overwhelming, it does not have to be. If you give yourself plenty of time to plan out and develop your essay, however, then you will not have to stress about it.
- Your instructor will expect to see a well-crafted thesis early on in your essay. Place your thesis at the end of your first paragraph.
- If you don't understand how to write a thesis, ask your instructor for help. This is an important concept that will keep coming up in courses where you have to write papers.
- Telling a personal anecdote
- Citing a surprising fact or statistic
- Overturning a common misconception
- Challenging the reader to examine her own preconceptions
- You can create a numbered outline using a word processor or just put it on paper.
- Don’t worry about being too detailed when you create your outline. Just try to get the major ideas on paper.
- A really solid outline helps you figure out how you're going to put all the pieces of the puzzle together.
Drafting the Essay
- Make sure that you have your outline handy as well. You can build on your outline by expanding on each of the points in the order that they are listed in.
- Think of the topic sentence as a way to tell readers what you'll talk about in the rest of the paragraph. You don’t need to summarize the whole paragraph—just provide readers with a taste.
- For example, in a paragraph that describes Okonkwo’s rise and fall in Things Fall Apart, you might begin with something like: “Okonkwo starts out as a poor young man, but then rises to a position of wealth and status.”
- Returning to the invention stage . This includes exercises such as freewriting, listing, or clustering. You can also revisit your notes and books to see if there's anything you missed or forgot.
- Visiting your school’s writing lab . You can find a writing lab on most college campuses. They are free to students and can help you improve your writing at any stage in the writing process.
- Talking to your instructor . Take advantage of your professor's office hours or one-on-one appointments. Meet with them and discuss ways that you can improve your essay before you hand it in.
- An MLA style works cited page starts on a new page at the end of the essay. Provide entries for each of the sources that you used. These entries should include the information necessary to allow the reader to find the source with ease.  X Trustworthy Source Purdue Online Writing Lab Trusted resource for writing and citation guidelines Go to source
- MLA style in-text (also called parenthetical) citations provide readers with the author’s last name the page number for the information. It's necessary to include an in-text citation for any information that you quote, summarize, or paraphrase from a source. It comes right after the sourced information, and it includes the author’s last name and page number in parentheses.  X Trustworthy Source Purdue Online Writing Lab Trusted resource for writing and citation guidelines Go to source
- Qualify or complicate the information in your essay
- Suggest a need for further research
- Speculate on how the future will change the current situation
Revising the Essay
- If possible, give yourself at least 5 days to work on your essay. Dedicate separate days to researching, crafting your thesis, outlining your ideas, drafting your paper, and making revisions.
- Have I answered the question in a satisfactory way?
- Do I have a clear thesis? Is my thesis the focus of my essay?
- Do I include adequate support for my argument? Is there anything else I could add?
- Is there a logic to my essay? Does one idea follow the next? If not, how might I improve the logic of my essay?
- Try swapping essays with a friend from class. You can read and comment on each other’s essays to make sure that both of you have done the best work possible.
- Make sure that you swap papers at least one day before the paper is due so that you will have time to correct any errors that your friend finds.
- As you read, correct any errors that you find and make a note of anything that you think could be improved, such as adding more details or clarifying the language.
Planning Your Essay
- Always ask your professor if you don't understand the assignment. It's important to have a clear idea of what they want before you start working on the assignment.
- A well-detailed answer that satisfies the assignment requirements
- A clear and direct piece of writing that is easy to follow
- A polished paper with no minor errors, such as typos or misspellings
- For example, if you are tasked with writing about a character in a book, then you will need to provide lots of details about that character. This will probably require rereading some passages of your book as well as revisiting your notes from class.  X Research source
- To ensure that your paper is easy to follow, you'll need to make sure that there's a logical order to your essay. Do this by creating an outline and checking your work for logic.
- Start early and give yourself lots of time for revision. Try to complete your first draft about one week before the paper is due.
- Freewriting . Write as much as you can without stopping. If you can’t think of anything, write “I can’t think of anything to write,” until something comes to mind. After you finish, go over what've written and underline or highlight any useful information for your essay.
- Listing . Make a list of all of the details and information that are relevant to the essay prompt. After you have listed everything that you can think of, read over it and circle the most important information for your essay.
- Clustering . Write your topic in the middle of the page, then branch out with other connected ideas. Circle the ideas and connect them to the main one with lines. Keep going until you can't do any more.
- Good sources to use for English essays include books, articles from scholarly journals, articles from trustworthy news sources (NY Times, Wall Street Journal, etc.), and government or university sponsored web pages.
- Many instructors include “research quality” in their grading criteria, so including poor sources, such as blogs, may result in a poor grade.
- If you are not sure if a source is of good quality, ask your instructor or a librarian.
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- If you choose to have someone critique your essay, try to find someone who fits your essay's target audience. You won't be able to improve your literary analysis of "To Kill a Mockingbird" if you hand it to someone who's never read it. Thanks Helpful 16 Not Helpful 5
- Don’t procrastinate on starting and developing your essay. Good writing takes time and careful planning. Thanks Helpful 6 Not Helpful 1
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- ↑ https://owl.purdue.edu/owl/general_writing/the_writing_process/thesis_statement_tips.html
- ↑ http://writingcenter.unc.edu/handouts/introductions/
- ↑ https://owl.purdue.edu/owl/general_writing/the_writing_process/developing_an_outline/types_of_outlines.html
- ↑ https://owl.purdue.edu/owl/general_writing/academic_writing/paragraphs_and_paragraphing/index.html
- ↑ https://opentextbc.ca/writingforsuccess/chapter/chapter-11-developing-a-convincing-argument/
- ↑ https://guides.libraries.psu.edu/mlacitation/intext
- ↑ https://owl.purdue.edu/owl/research_and_citation/mla_style/mla_formatting_and_style_guide/mla_works_cited_page_basic_format.html
- ↑ https://owl.purdue.edu/owl/research_and_citation/mla_style/mla_formatting_and_style_guide/mla_in_text_citations_the_basics.html
- ↑ https://owl.purdue.edu/owl/general_writing/common_writing_assignments/argument_papers/index.html
- ↑ https://owl.purdue.edu/owl/general_writing/the_writing_process/proofreading/index.html
- ↑ https://owl.purdue.edu/owl/general_writing/academic_writing/essay_writing/argumentative_essays.html
- ↑ https://owl.purdue.edu/owl/general_writing/common_writing_assignments/understanding_writing_assignments.html
- ↑ http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/fac/arts/english/currentstudents/undergraduate/modules/fulllist/second/en228/how_to_write_an_essay/
- ↑ http://writing.ku.edu/prewriting-strategies
About This Article
To write an English essay, start by collecting your notes and sources to brainstorm a thesis, also known as your main argument. Once you have an argument, begin your essay by writing a paragraph that introduces your topic and thesis. After the introduction, write out body paragraphs, which should each start with a topic sentence and develop your thesis by providing specific examples. Finally, finish your essay with a conclusory paragraph, then, edit it for grammar, clarity, and any filler content. For more, like how to write an outline, read on! Did this summary help you? Yes No
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