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Essay writing, and just writing in general, looms large as an enormous burden on many a high school teen.

Maybe you don’t know where to start? Maybe you don’t know how to structure your writing? Maybe you don’t even know really what it is that you should be writing?!

These sorts of issues often become insurmountable challenges, where the result is a poorly written essay, and too often, a bad or average grade.

And this really sucks, because writing a good essay doesn’t have to be the headache that it is for so many students.

Many of the mistakes that students make in their essay writing are the LITTLE THINGS.

Bad grammar. Sentences that don’t follow. No structure. You get the idea.

And doing these things can really damage what would otherwise be a decent essay. If a good point is buried so far beneath a pile of silly mistakes, the examiner is never going to be able to see the good point you were trying to make!

If you’ve been getting bad grades for essays you’ve written at school and / or in exams, or bad grades for your writing in general at school, watch in awe as your grades start to head in the right direction once you STOP doing the following things…

1. Cramming more than one point into a sentence


Seriously, just one. Full stops are your friend, SO USE THEM OFTEN!!!

Students let themselves down big time when they try to cram more than one point into a sentence.

Doing this doesn’t make you sound smart. In fact, it does the opposite. It makes it sound like you’re rambling, and that you don’t understand what you’re writing about.

So please, when you’re writing, start getting disciplined about keeping sentences nice and short and SIMPLE!

You do not need the vocabulary of a Harvard professor to sound smart and get good grades in your essay writing.

Just think about what you want to say in that paragraph, and, in your own words, say it, in simple language, in three to five punchy sentences.

2. Not using paragraphs

Speaking of paragraphs…

You might think we’re stating the obvious here. Of course essays need paragraphs, I can hear you scoff.

Well, the number of essays we’ve seen that are just one big solid jumble of text — well, let’s just say that it’s too many…

One of our good friends is an English teacher and sometimes does marking for our national high school exams here in New Zealand, and she has actually squealed with excitement while marking when she’s finally come across an essay that had paragraphs.

Paragraphs make your essays easy to read.

No one, including the person marking your essays, wants to read a huge solid chunk of text.

And you DEFINITELY don’t want to make the person marking your exams want to cry when they come to your essay, because they know they have to trudge through five pages of solid text.

Not using paragraphs makes your writing MUCH harder to read, because there’s no structure. And when there’s no structure, it’s MUCH harder to follow what you’re saying. And if it’s hard to follow what you’re saying, then you may as well not have bothered to discuss the insightful point you were trying to make, because it gets lost in the jungle of other words.

So, make your examiner squeal with delight at the sight of paragraphs in all of your essays!

3. Bad spelling and grammar

I know you (or your teen) aren’t in elementary school anymore. But the importance of proper spelling and grammar is JUST AS IMPORTANT now that you’re at high school.

We’re taught how to spell and how to write using appropriate grammar when we’re only little for a reason.

There’s no such thing as good writing that is riddled with spelling and grammatical errors.

Spelling errors suck marks out of an essay like a leech, because — simply put — they make you look dumb. And this is obviously the opposite to what you’re trying to achieve — that is, sounding smart.

Grammatical errors are equally fatal, because they detract from the otherwise good point you’re trying to make. They make your writing harder to follow and harder to understand.

This does not mean that you need to understand every grammatical rule, but it DOES mean that you should AT THE VERY LEAST make sure you do the following:

Simple fixes to bad essay writing

You can see that these three all too common mistakes should not be difficult to fix in your essay writing.

You might have developed a few bad habits that take some time to break, but to get good grades in your essay writing, if you start by making sure you’re NOT doing these three things, you should notice a big difference in the grades you’re getting.

A good essay is clean and simple, and free of silly mistakes, which is something we can ALL achieve!


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