Writing a college-level essay can be very intimidating. As a college student, you are going to have to get used to it as you’ll have to write many throughout your college career. College essays don’t have to be hard. Especially if you know the most common essay errors to avoid.
1. Not Proofreading Your Essay
I’m sure it’s no surprise that proofreading is on this list. However, you might be surprised that it is number one. I purposely made this the number one most common error.
Nothing pulls a reader from what they are reading faster than stumbling over spelling and grammar errors. If you write an essay and avoid the 4 common mistakes listed below but don’t proofread, your essay will go from good to bad very quickly.
Spelling and grammar mistakes are more obvious than other errors, they stick out like a sore thumb. Therefore, they can be what separates a good paper from an excellent paper. Their ability to stand out and somehow rise out of your paper is often a reason why an essay is marked down. Also, you don’t want to kill your credibility and professionalism because of simple spelling and grammar errors.
Use Spell Check To Ensure Good College Grammar
Use spell check but don’t solely rely on it, spell check has its limitations. It won’t catch homophonic errors or words that are spelled correctly but misused. There are several good websites that you can plug your paper into for free and check for grammar and punctuation mistakes. I frequently used, Grammarly.
It’s also good to have another set of eyes on your paper, such as having a family member or classmate proofread your work. If there are any lingering errors hopefully they will catch them.
2. Not Having A Strong Thesis Statement
A weak thesis statement indicates two things. First, it makes it difficult for your reader to understand your point of view. Secondly, it makes you look like you don’t understand the topic or don’t know what you are writing about. These are two essay errors you don’t want to make.
A thesis statement is a short concise statement that lets the reader know exactly what you are trying to explain or prove in the paper. Essentially a thesis statement is what your paper is about. Therefore, you want to write a strong, clear, and concise thesis statement. You want your reader to know exactly what the essay is about. I want you to take a stand and write the strongest thesis statement possible.
3. Not Supporting Your Statements
Not supporting your statements goes hand in hand with a strong thesis statement. Your thesis should spark discussion and debate and you should provide supporting data to support your point of view. If you don’t support your statements your essay has no foundation to stand on. An essay that has errors in its supporting statement won’t have merit.
Use data that will answer how and why. Give examples and explanations that are relevant to the thesis. This means you need to find good studies, quotes, scholarly journals, magazine articles, periodicals, websites, newspapers, and other sources that are topic specific and solid so that the reader can understand and relate to them.
The goal is to always support your statements so the reader knows you know what you are writing about. They can clearly see, relate to and understand your point of view.
4. Not Protecting Yourself From Plagiarism
Plagiarism errors in an essay come in two forms, a student outright copies someone else words and ideas or they accidentally plagiarize when they don’t properly attribute work belonging to someone else. In either case, both of these are considered stealing and come with hefty consequences. Being charged with plagiarism is serious and can get a student on academic probation or even kicked out of school.
All college papers are required to identify the sources that were used, typically you will have either a bibliography or works cited. A bibliography is a list of the sources you used to get the information in your paper, including cited sources and any other resources that you read during your research. While works cited is a list of the sources that you cited within the text of your paper, whether it be a direct quote or mentioning the information in your own words.
5. Not Formatting Your Essay Correctly
In college, formatting is huge. Formatting your essay incorrectly, especially if your professor has stated exactly what type of formatting he/she wants, will result in an automatic markdown. In certain classes, I had classmates who had an essay marked down by a full letter grade due to formatting errors.
There are several common citation styles. The two that are most commonly used in college are MLA (Modern Language Association) and APA (American Psychological Association). The main differences between the two are MLA uses the author’s last name and the page number as a reference. APA uses the author’s last name and the year of publication.
Be sure to know what format your professor wants, MLA or APA, and bibliography or works cited. Personally, I was required to write papers in both formats and most of my papers only required works cited. If you aren’t certain how important formatting and properly citing your essay is, ask your professor, this will protect you from errors that could result in being marked down by an entire letter grade. Some professors take their bibliographies or works cited very seriously. Do not treat this section of your paper as an afterthought.
If you want to learn How To Write An Impressive College Paper this article will guide you step by step.