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AWA Essay Guide
Chapter 1:
AWA Introduction
Chapter 2:
Analysis of Issue
Chapter 3:
Analysis of Argument
Chapter 4:
Improving Your Writing
Chapter 5:
Real Essay Questions

10 most common errors



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Ten Most Common Errors

We've graded thousands of essays and some errors tend to recur.

10. The "kitchen sink" argument
This argument throws in everything and discusses every topic an issue in one paragraphs. Paragraphs are discrete units meant for discussing a limited range of ideas. Narrow the scope of your paragraphs and arguments into manageable units. On a larger level, limit the scope of your essays. On issue questions, this is not an opportunity to expound on your entire worldview.


9. The "Microsoft Example"
Try to use interesting examples other than the usual Microsoft example. Too many writers use microsoft and it gets tedious to graders and is trite. Another is the "U.S. has low unemployment" example for macroeconomic policy. Be more creative. Essay graders have boring jobs and appreciate new twists.


8. Use casual language "really" "like" "u" "r"
Don't write as if you are sending an email or use casual phrases.


7. Did not leave time to proofread at the end.
Always leave a few minutes to re-read your essay for typos and errors at the end.


6. Attacking the Analysis of Issue as an Analysis of Argument.
As you'll read in the Guide, they require entirely different approaches.


5. The Rambler
Write in a concise manner that summarzies your points and provides good examples. A paragraph with 12 sentences is too long.


4. Introduce new arguments or arguments in the conclusion
The introduction and conclusion are for summarzing your argument, not for bringing in examples. The body paragraphs should be full of compelling examples. Students commonly introduce new arguments in the conclusion when the conclusion should be used for restating your arguments. State your argument in a new body essay.

Three way tie for #1 Most Common Error

1. The Weak Conclusion
The conclusion should wrap up your argument. Writing the AWA essay is like running a mile race. You can't sprint a mile, you have to pace yourself or you'll pass out at the end. AWA writers "pass out" at the end and paste on a conclusion that is one sentence long. The conclusion must summarize your points effectively and restate your argument well.

1. Leaves You in Suspense.
The intro describes the writer's opinion but doesn't lay out a structure for the argument. They state their opinion, but don't say why. Use the intro to distill your arguments into three concise sentences. One trick to solve this is to write the introduction at the end.


1. Oops! Forgot the Example
Your body paragraphs must be anchored in compelling examples. Provide clever examples for your points to illustrate them.