Have you ever wondered how improving your academic writing could boost your grades at school or performance at work?
When I learned to write clearly, for the correct audience, and with purpose, I was able to get straight A's in my classes, get published writing gigs, and even crank out a 100+ page thesis.
Apply these 5 easy steps to take your academic writing to the next level!
1. Read every day.
Reading good writing for 20 minutes every day will help your own writing sound better. Your brain will become used to how academic writing sounds, and you'll be able to produce it more easily.
If you need help finding reading material, try:
Your local library or library website — look for journals and essay collections
Patch.com local news website — news articles use many of the same techniques and vocabulary words that writers employ
Project Gutenberg — look for nonfiction, essays, and classic books to boost your technique
2. Plan your writing before you start.
Successful writing starts with a plan, and I learned that all academic writing follows a similar pattern. That makes it easy for you to adapt your writing to the expected format.
Follow this magical format:
Tell the reader what you're going to say (your argument)
Give 3 good examples....(we'll talk about these in the next step)
Tell the reader what you just told them (re-state your argument)
Plan out what you want to say using the tips above, and then start writing!
Check out the links below for some examples of how to use this format:
Why is it important to re-state your argument at the end?
3. Fit your plan to the length of your piece.
Have a shorter or longer writing piece? No problem! Once I learned the magical format, I saw that it can take care of pieces of any length.
A paragraph of text-dependent analysis for a big test? Check. Research paper? Check. The trick lies in shrinking or growing the section where you put your examples.
If you have to write a very short response, turn your 3 examples into 1-2 sentences each.
If you have to write a 10-page paper, turn each example into several paragraphs. Use your research articles and books to help you come up with lots of quotes and evidence that you can explain.
Which of these pieces of evidence should I use in a research paper about the benefits of sleep? Select all that apply.
4. Use clear examples to support your ideas.
Remember when I said you needed 3 good examples to back up your opinion? Well, it's time to break these down.
Each example will become a paragraph to prove your point.
Use clear evidence and quotes from books and articles. It's like having a group of buddies to back you up...but in writing form!
Check out the links below for effective ways to back up your ideas:
5. Re-read and revise before you submit.
Now, you take a break. I personally like to catch some Zs.
Seriously, though, you should step away from your writing for at least a couple of hours. Then, go back and re-read what you wrote. Chances are, you'll catch mistakes and see places that need to be fixed.
If you have a friend who will read your writing and give suggestions, that's even better.
Should I quickly read over my writing and submit it right away?
Before you begin you next academic writing assignment, remember the four easy steps you learned today: