Tips for Building Students’ Essay Writing Abilities

By Huntington Learning Center

Do your students know the basics for writing effective essays? Here are a few simple tips to offer, which can be applied to all essay types:

Know the goal. Can you ever overstate the importance of reading the directions? Remind your students that they must adjust their approach depending on the type of essay they’re writing and its purpose. For example, there’s a big difference between a persuasive essay presenting an argument and an expository essay meant to compare and contrast ideas.

Outline first. It’s always best to plan out the essay structure before writing, jotting down some thoughts for the introductory paragraph, body paragraphs, and conclusion.

Fine-tune the introduction. Whether writing an opinion piece on a certain law or a story about a personal experience, students must hook the reader right away. The first few sentences need to grab the reader’s attention, and the first paragraph should conclude with a thesis that frames the rest of the essay.

Teach the importance of editing. A first draft of an essay should never be the final draft. Students must learn to review and edit their own work. Teach students to check that they’ve achieved the following before finalizing their essays:

  • No spelling or grammar mistakes or other errors
  • Clear and vivid examples
  • Word and sentence variety
  • Logical flow from paragraph to paragraph
  • Concise sentences
  • Avoidance of passive voice
  • Overall clarity (answers the question posed)

Becoming a good writer takes practice. Help your students build these skills now so that they are ready for the onslaught of college essays that will be required of them in a few years. They’ll thank you for it!


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