5 Tips on Writing an Amazing Essay

I have always loved writing and expressing my thoughts with words. Throughout my undergraduate degree, I was working, building this blog, and juggling 17-24 college credits to graduate early. Because of my busy schedule, writing essays quickly became a must. Here are my five best tips on writing an amazing essay.

5 Tips on Writing an Amazing Essay

1. Create an outline

I’m a big picture thinker and often just like going for it. Creating an outline can help organize your thoughts. I often preferred starting essays in the middle and crafting an introduction and ending later. No matter how you write your essay, start with a thesis statement. Each line of your essay should support this thesis statement. If you are working with a specific prompt, incorporate language from the prompt into your essay.

Your outline should look like this:

  • Introduction
    • Thesis
  • Point 1
    • Supporting example
    • Supporting example
    • Supporting example
  • Point 2
    • Supporting example
    • Supporting example
    • Supporting example
  • Point 3
    • Supporting example
    • Supporting example
    • Supporting example
  • Conclusion
    • Wrap up your points
    • Summarize your thoughts

2. Break it down

Essays are formulas. If you have a ten page essay, dedicate the first page to the introduction, the last page to the conclusion, and approximately 6-8 supporting points around your thesis. Sometimes it may help to write these out of order. Rearrange them in an order that fits.

If you have a large, daunting essay: this is one of the best ways to turn it into a series of mini-papers that seem less intimidating. This formula worked for me throughout high school, undergraduate, and graduate school.

3. Use impressive vocabulary

Using strong vocabulary will always make your essay stick out. Since some professors just scan essays when grading, intertwining stand-out words will instantly elevate your paper.

Throughout high school, I loved Marie’s Words and picked up a lot of vocabulary words from there. They are student-created and are great for those with a visual memory. They are a quick and fun way to learn vocabulary words.

Here are a few words I frequently used in essays:

  • Albeit (in place of “although”)
  • Juxtaposing (to place side by side to compare)
  • Foster (to encourage the development of something)
  • Ubiquitous (everywhere)
  • Placid (calm, not easily upset)
  • Poignant (moving/sharply affecting sad feelings)
  • Ravenous (extremely hungry)
  • Cacophony (a noisy, loud blend of several sounds)

If vocabulary isn’t your strong suit, input the word into google and add “synonym.” Google will often give great alternatives. (make sure to double-check the definition before using an unfamiliar word).

In every case, avoid using the word “very.” There is always a better alternative to strengthen your case.

4. Make connections with other great pieces of literature and history

Throughout high school, I studied World War II extensively. This allowed me to frequently bring parallels to little-known World War II events. Adding parallels to classic literature, a specific topic in history, or philosophy will demonstrate your understanding. I frequently just used the same events in WWII, so you don’t even need to be a classical literature expert or history buff to take advantage of this.

5. Unless told otherwise, keep it in third person

First-person language: I, we

Second-person language: you

Third-person language: he, she, they

I’ll often see essays, sometimes even sentences, switch between first, second, and third person. Keep everything in the third person unless you’re writing a personal essay.

6. Use Grammarly

Grammarly is free and easily picks up typos or awkward wording. Typos and misspellings are 100% unavoidable with today’s technology. They’re the fastest way to kill a great essay. I have the premium version of Grammarly, but their basic version is a fantastic Chrome extension. In graduate school (in the Department of Education no less), I frequently peer-reviewed a girl who had several typos in every essay. These could have easily been avoided with a basic spell checker.

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