El Camino College Torrance | 2017-2018 Student Handbook - page 58

The Art of Writing an Essay
Ten Tips for Writing an Excellent Essay
1. Answer all parts of the question.
Leaving out key components of your writing topic will definitely hurt your grade!
2. Be comfortable with the topic.
If writing about a book, pick one that you have read in school, are comfortable with, and that is relevant to the
Make sure to mention the
(title, author, and genre) in the introductory paragraph.
3. Remember: Neatness counts!
Be neat! If you must handwrite your essay, write slowly. Use a pencil/eraser; we all make mistakes! Make sure the
message is legible and clear!
4. Use the appropriate length.
Most fully developed essays are at least five paragraphs in length, with 4–5 sentences in each paragraph.
5. Make sure your thesis statement is clear and appears in the right places!
Your thesis should appear at the end of your intro paragraph and should be restated at the beginning of your
conclusion paragraph.
A good thesis statement often rephrases the writing prompt you have been assigned.
6. Each paragraph is anchored with a clear topic sentence.
The first sentence of each paragraph should constitute a clear topic sentence that supports your thesis and tells the
reader what the paragraph will be about.
7. Only select examples that are relevant to the thesis statement and are
When choosing examples to write about, make sure you are only using ones that support your thesis statement!
Also, be as specific as possible.
8. Make sure you include proper analysis for each example you use.
Proper analysis will tell the reader how and why this example proves your thesis.
When writing about a book, assume the reader already knows the plot. Only use plot summary to explain how your
example supports your thesis statement.
9. Write in a formal, elevated manner. You are not texting your best friend!
Avoid contractions wherever possible. For example, write “
she will
” instead of “
Write out numbers
under 100
in word form (“
” instead of “
”), but write dates in numeral form (
June 5, 2011
Avoid text-speak words such as “
,” “
,” or “
Always write in present tense when writing about literature; write in past tense when writing about true events.
10. Keep in mind the key points of formal language and vocabulary.
Avoid 1st and 2nd person (
I, my, me, us, we or you, your
). Instead use 3rd person (
he, she, they, them, him, her,
or one
Exception: sometimes an essay prompt will ask for your opinion, such as: “What do YOU think about...?” You may use
1st person for those types of questions only. Otherwise, stick to the third unless the question is asked in that way.
Use transition words (such as
however, furthermore, finally
, and
) to improve the flow of your writing.
• Avoid overuse of “
to be
” verbs such as
. Sometimes you can’t avoid them, but using stronger verbs will
make your writing much more compelling.
• The following words are usually unnecessary in strong writing:
many, very, good, bad, really, pretty, things,
Remember, organization, form, and clarity are much more important than flowery wording and colorful descriptions.
Logic trumps style when writing essays.
The Art of Writing an Essay
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