We've graded tens of thousands
of essays, and certain errors occur again and again and again. This is a list
of the top ten errors that we see on essays.
10. The "Kitchen Sink" Argument
throws in everything and discusses every topic of an issue in one paragraph. Paragraphs are discrete units
meant for discussing a limited range of ideas. Narrow the scope of
your paragraphs and arguments into manageable, topic-specific
units. On a larger level, limit the scope of your essays. On issue
questions, especially, it is not an opportunity to expound on your
9. The "Microsoft
Try to use interesting examples other than the usual Microsoft example.
Too many writers cite Microsoft as a way to
prove a point. It makes for a trite essay, and is tedious for graders
to read. Another overused example is the "U.S. has low
unemployment" example for macroeconomic policy. Be more creative.
Essay graders have boring jobs and appreciate new twists. Still
another example that is less-than-popular with graders is the hypothetical
example. Using hypothetical examples make a writer seem unintelligent
or uneducated, because he or she should be able to come up with a
real world example instead of making one up.
8. Using Casual
Language: "really" "like" "u" "r"
Don't write as if you are sending an email or use casual phrases. Along this line of being too casual is the example that is way to personal and casual. Any sordid details of your life not be introduced into your AWA essay.
7. Not Leaving Time to Proofread at the End
a few minutes to re-read your essay for typos and errors at the end.
Cleaning up any careless spelling or grammar
errors puts the finishing touches on your essay, and can make a real
difference in your writing.
Write in a concise manner that summarizes your points and provides
good examples. A paragraph with 12 sentences is too long.
new arguments in the conclusion
and conclusion are for summarizing 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 their arguments. State any new arguments
in an extra body paragraph before the conclusion.
3. The Weak
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
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. Your essay will not receive
a high score if you do not tie everything together effectively at
2. Leaving the Reader
The intro should state your position and lay
out a structure for your argument. You must not only say what your
opinion is but also why you have it. Many writers do not layout their
arguments in their intros, leaving the reader in unnecessary suspense.
Use the intro to distill your arguments into three concise sentences.
One trick to solve this is to write the introduction after you have
written everything else. That way you'll know exactly what points
are made in your essay and be able to outline them briefly and clearly
in your intro.
A vague intro either: hopelessly pretentious (I don't deign to tell you everything upfront because my ideas are of great import), clueless (I am making up this essay as I go along so of course I can't tell you much in the intro) or both.
1. Oops! Forgot
Anchor your body paragraphs to your main thesis by using compelling examples. Provide
clever examples for your points to illustrate them. Do
not use hypothetical examples. Be concrete. Everything you say must
be backed up by real world evidence.
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