5 Tips to Writing Essays in High School

Writing essays, no matter how good you are at writing, is a struggle. The process is always strenuous. And as you move away from middle and into high school, our teachers also move away from short one-word answers and toward full paragraph and essay responses, which makes our lives as students a lot harder. However, there are good reasons for this. Being able to write an essay on a given topic displays a thorough understanding of that particular topic. It also gives practice in communicating your ideas to others, which will become really important in the real world. Yet, we all suck at it, so here are some tips to write better essays.

Write a road map for your essay.

This will help you keep a clear goal for your essay. It doesn’t have to be a full-on summary. Just a few quick points in a brace map or in bullet points. The one I made below was for an application to a certain selective summer camp.

ESSAY

Beyond what has already been shared in your application, what do you believe makes you stand out as a strong candidate for admission to this summer program?

Prepared by Anushka

OUTLINE

  1. Start with an example of one unique quality, characteristic or value you want to showcase that helps you stand out (Look for “a time” or moment or incident that involved it)
    • Maintaining balance
    • School (managing many extracurriculars)
  2. Describe how you think about that specific quality, characteristic or value
    •  Balance = ability to manage the many different aspects of your life
  3. Include what you learned through that time
    • Time management, dedication, etc
  4. Detail why that mattered–to yourself, to others and to the world
    • Felt good to feel like I’m in control of my life
    • End up being able to spend more time with everyone around me
  5. Share how you believe that quality, characteristic or value will serve you 
    • Have the ability to socialize
    • Know how to allocate my time in a meaningful way

Structure your body paragraphs

Creating a structure to your body paragraphs allows for better flow. This helps readers better understand what you are trying to say. It also ensures that your paragraph will meet the requirements that it needs to. The acronym that I use is SCES.

SCES

Statement: an arguable point that supports your overall thesis (usually 1-2 sentences)

Context: Explain the claim. Why is your claim true? Start introducing your evidence.(2-3 sentences)

Example: This would be a quote in English essays. This can just be an example of your claim in action. Note that if you are analyzing a book, then put the page number after the quotation. It is best not to include an entire paragraph of quotes. This should usually be a short phrase and two sentences maximum. Also, instead of saying, “one quote is (quote)”, try embedding your quotes. For example, “Billy wonders about the meaning of life, whether (quote).

Significance: This will be the big bulk of your paragraph. You must analyze the example you just gave. How does this example support the claim you stated? How does that claim add to your thesis?

Always revise and edit

No essay is perfect, no matter how good of a writer you are. If you are writing an essay as part of homework, then take as much time as you can to revise and edit. The more you stare at your paper, the easier it will be to find flaws and fix them. If you are in a timed essay section of a test, then one piece of advice that I will give you is to USE ALL OF YOUR TIME. If you are finishing a timed essay with spare time, there is most likely something wrong in your essay. I know it can feel long and useless, but you will find something to fix or make better

Avoid using first-person unless writing a personal essay

If you are writing a college essay or an essay about yourself, then using first-person is encouraged and crucial to writing a successful essay. However, something like an analysis essay should ALWAYS be written in 3rd person. You want to come off as knowledgable and informative. Using “I think…” and ” I believe…” mak you sound like you don’t know what you are talking about and are just speculating.

Make your essay sound interesting

As informative as an essay may be, you still need to be captivating as a writer. The best places to showcase these skills as a writer are in your intro and your conclusion. Your intro is the paragraph that should grab readers’ attention. Start out with a good hook like a rhetorical question or a relatable statement. Your conclusion will be the last impression that you leave on your readers. Leave them with a thoughtful statement or some relatable advice.

Hope these tips help you! Have a good day!


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