10 things to avoid in your essay

Got an essay due? Aiming for high marks? Don’t miss this article in which our student advisor walks you through the 10 things you MUST NOT DO if you’re looking for a good grade.  All of them will lose you marks so don’t let these things slip into your next essay.

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1. Being too general/vague structure

Often students make the mistake of trying to review a subject widely, causing the essay to be too broad. This mistake can be made from lack of planning. Some students even write their essay without any planning whatsoever! This can cause the structure of the essay to be too vague and can avoid answering the question you’ve been assigned. A good essay is precise and sticks to the thesis statement. This can achieved with effective essay planning!

2. Trying too hard to sound academic

Many students will try to include complicated sentences and long words to make their paper sound more academic. The reader should never have to go through a sentence more than twice to find out its meaning. Yes – always use the appropriate terminology as this will get you marks, but before you use a term always be sure you know its meaning and how to use it correctly! Asking someone to read your finished essay will allow them to point out any confusions, inappropriate words or sentences that they feel could be made shorter.

3. Using doubtful sources

Nowadays, many students will rely on the Internet over books to find the information they need. And why not? You can search for whatever you need in a matter of seconds, and there is a immense span of information available. But be careful! Not all this information will be reliable. Be sure to research your topic exhaustively and watch out for any dodgy facts. Determine the facts from opinions.

Copy and paste babies

4. Copying and paste – a big NO!

There is nothing worse than work that has been plagiarised. And since universities, colleges, schools and businesses have taken a big interest in this area, is it very easy to get caught out! Accidental plagiarism is another important thing to try and avoid. Some students may have plagiarism in there paper which could be down to mistakes such as citation confusion, confusion over paraphrasing and not knowing the difference between common knowledge and original work. Make sure that all your sources are fully cited and don’t forget to run your work through plagiarismchecker.net plagiarism checker when you’re done, to make sure you’ve not accidentally borrowed too much from a source without referencing it properly.

5. Forgetting to quote/reference

This is a common mistake which closely links in with plagiarism. If you forget quote/reference your work, then it will seem like you are passing it off as your own words/idea! Be sure to read up on how to properly reference your work and again, use plagiarismchecker.net plagiarism checker to double check you’ve done this well.

6. Forgetting to proofread

Some students (particularly ones who are in a rush to get their work done) forget that proofreading work is essential! Proofreading your work allows you to get a feel of whether your essay reads well. Allowing others to take a look at your work gives them a chance to spot any areas which cause confusion. And most importantly, proofreading lets you check for any clumsy mistakes in your spelling, punctuation and grammar. You want the reader to gain a good overall impression of your essay, but this won’t happen if you’ve left silly mistakes in.


7. Using “slang wording’

Often in creative writing, using non Standard English is perfectly acceptable depending on what you’re writing. However, free style writing is often unacceptable in academic papers and can damage the overall impression of your essay. Be careful of using abbreviated words too, in many essays this will be unacceptable.

8. Not following task specifications

Read the instructions for the task that you’ve been assigned very carefully. Take into consideration things such as word count, which you’ll have to think about in your planning. Make sure you include everything, and if in doubt – speak to your tutor!

9. Failing to research properly

It will become very clear to the reader if you’ve not researched your topic enough. The essay will be vague and will need more depth. Try to make sure you allow yourself a good amount of time to research your essay properly, and include the findings in your essay, as well as your own thoughts and ideas.

10. No thesis statement

In most academic essays, you will be required to produce a thesis statement. The thesis is a clear outline of what your essay is about. It lets the reader know the main topic, point of the essay and the ideas you’d like to discuss. Make sure you stick you your thesis statement.

Steer clear of these 10 faux pas and you’ll stand a better chance of scoring high marks on your next assignment!

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