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Common Essay Writing Mistakes a Student Should Avoid


How many times did you get “D” for your essay, thinking that it was a well-written paper? How many times did you not understand such a low mark for such a good job? How many times did you try to fix it? In this article, we will let you know the main reasons your professor can be so upset with your essay. This text is all about common essay writing mistakes that every student has made at least once during college time. If you are just starting your studying, you have a great chance to learn from the mistakes of others.

So, once you have already finished your paper, we would highly recommend you keep an eye out for these errors. Probably, these mistakes are something that holds you back from getting A+.


Essay Writing Mistake #1: Your Topic

Your essay topic should be narrowed down to a specific problem you are interested in. You have heard different variations of this statement, probably, hundreds of time. However, we are not going to restate it. One of the main problems with essay writing is that when it is allowed, students often choose a common theme, they make common connections, and use a common language. That is a surefire way to fall into the trap of plagiarism.

What do we mean by “common topic”? For example, you have chosen basketball as the key theme of your essay. A common connection is how it taught students hard work, discipline, and perseverance. And a common language is “teamwork really does make the dream work” or “that is how I realize the due meaning of leadership.”

Choose uncommon things instead. Let’s imagine you can’t come up with the original topic, and you are required to write about basketball. Then, those uncommon connections are going to be even more crucial. Write about how basketball taught you the value of healthy boundaries or democracy. If you subvert conventional wisdom, it will help your topic and paragraphs stand out.


Essay Mistake #2: No Thesis

A thesis statement is an anchor of the entire paper. It is a short, one-sentence statement that summarizes the main point or claim of your essay. The thesis will be later developed and supported in the text by means of examples and evidence. Where should it be? 99% of the time, you want to have your thesis statement at the end of the introduction.

A really helpful way to think about your thesis statement is that it is a compass. Imagine that you have just been plopped in front of a forest, and someone gives you an introductory ramble about this location. Your thesis is the compass. Right before you go into a forest for a hike, you need something that you are constantly checking back to in order to lead you and direct through the paper.

It is important to realize that a topic is not a thesis statement. Your topic can be “dogs”, but your thesis will be a specific and arguable point about dogs. You could write your thesis statement about “small dogs make better companions than large ones”. The thesis statement is not a fact, it is an opinion, an argument you are making and trying to defend.


Essay Mistake #3: Repetition

There are two types of repetition you should avoid in essay writing: the first one is ideas and arguments; and the second one is essential words and phrases. When you end up repeating your ideas a lot and saying the same thing over and over again (as we do now), it generally means that you have not fully thought about the implications of the topic. The solution to this problem is to generate more ideas during your planning phase. A well-constructed draft will ensure that you do not end up duplicating the same notion or fact.

For important words and phrases you keep repeating, you can use a dictionary or a thesaurus. Usually, you have a set of keywords you use more than ten times during essay writing. If we take this article as an example, it would be words like “essay,” “writing,” and “mistakes.” So, we suggest you check the synonyms. For “essay” – “paper,” “work,” “assignment,” “task”; for “mistakes” – “errors,” “typos,” etc. How to find out whether you are repeating yourself or not? There are two ways: the first one is to read an essay out loud; and the second one is to use SEO analysis. Just copy your text and paste in here: If some of the words exceed 2,5%, it should be rewritten.


Essay Writing Mistake #4: Lack of Structure and Transitional Phrases

A well-structured essay is the guarantee of a high grade. We won’t give you general yet useless tips about five-paragraph structure, we want to let you know how to avoid one of the most common essay mistakes – lack of organization and transitional phrases.

Step 1. Analyze the question or essay topic

Step 2. Research

Step 3. Brainstorm ideas

Step 4. Jot down the skeleton of your essay (choose three main ideas you are ready to proof)

Step 5. Generate the body paragraph details (examples for your evidence)

Step 6. Create the transitional phrases

We want to remind you that each of your paragraphs should be devoted to one specific topic (more than one topic per paragraph is also a common problem for students). The transitional phrase helps smoothly move your essay from one idea to the next. Usually, a transitional sentence is the last sentence of a body paragraph. Just read the essay out loud to notice whether you have such a problem or not.

Essay Mistake #5: Punctuation and Spelling Errors

It seems like we live in the 21st century and that can provide you with hundreds of online grammar checkers, but somehow, students make the same spelling and punctuation mistakes over an over again. Do not rely on Microsoft Word and these red lines that have to underscore your typos. It is better to turn this feature at all in the process of writing and read your paper twice before handing in. That method works better than Grammarly. Just pay attention to homophone and noun form mistakes.

And one more thing to remember – in any type of essay writing, it is always better to learn from the mistakes of others.

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