Telltale signs your essay sucks

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By Anny Chih, 24 hours Vancouver




Academic essay assignments typically include a topic and word-count restrictions. Students often misinterpret these details to mean that they should discuss a topic in writing over a specific number of pages, when what they’re really being asked for is a strong thesis supported with a concise paper.

Three telltale signs that a student has not understood the assignment are wordiness, wandering and a running list of add-on sentences. Students seeking high marks should eliminate all three from their writing.

Effective writing excludes redundant words that don’t add more meaning or support for an argument, and it becomes very obvious when unnecessary words are being added simply for the sake of being added.

Effective writing communicates a message with minimal words. Adding additional words is pointless. The previous two sentences use a combined total of 13 words, and provide the same information as the previous paragraph. Effective writing is not wordy.

Writing an essay with multiple arguments can take readers in many directions. An essay that takes readers in different directions can be ineffective. Ineffective essays may include sentences that seem to go nowhere but in a way that seems conversational. This is an example of wandering. Each sentence communicates something, but the reader is left wondering where it’s all going.

A well-written essay has one thesis that leads many supporting arguments. It does not wander.

And writing is also more effective without add-on sentences. Since adding these sentences are a waste of the reader’s time, it’s not surprising if you find this annoying. Add-on sentences are annoying. They typically start with words like “And”, “Therefore” and “Since”, and can usually be combined with their previous sentence to make a stronger statement.

A well-written essay doesn’t wander nor include a running list of annoying add-on sentences. A well-written essay is concise and defends a single thesis from beginning to end.



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