Tips for Creating a Memorable MBA Application Essay

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Marketing for Startups(2)Three simple steps you can take to ensure your MBA application essay is noticed and give your whole application a boost.

Amy Mitson is Senior Associate Director, Recruitment and Communications, Admissions at the Tuck School of Business, Dartmouth.

What if I did this blog post in haiku format? That might be fun. It might get me noticed and it could get me some style points with readers out there, but how much could I truly express?

On the flip side, what if I ignored all word limits and keep writing and writing? That might also get me noticed, too, but not in a good way.

When was the last time you tackled the task of essay writing for an audience? Perhaps you have not written an essay since your college applications or maybe you write every day, but only for yourself. Regardless of your writing fitness, we are likely asking a unique question for submission to a unique audience (the admissions committee). This may require reflection and inspiration. There are places I go for inspiration that help me set the stage for creative and focused thought. Find these places for yourself. Sometimes I let my mind wander while swimming laps during my morning workout, sometimes mid-afternoon I walk down the road to a food truck for a giant cookie (yes, food for thought), and sometimes I brainstorm with a colleague. These actions help shake up my thoughts so they eventually align on the page.

Over the years, many schools have changed the number of required essays as well as the content of essay questions, but most continue to ask for essays. Why? Because we value the expression of your candidacy in this format. Essays are a piece of the MBA application because we are truly interested in your answers. A memorable essay draws authentic connections between you and the school. This will not be a laundry list of buzz words or faculty names from our website. A memorable essay is clear and reflects who you are as a person, what you hope to get out of the program, and how you will be able to contribute.

There are many things to think about when crafting an essay for your MBA application, but I am going to keep it simple and focus on three:

1. Answering the question. This is tough because it requires focus. There are likely numerous details you would like to share with the committee about your candidacy. Through the many facets of the application, plus the interview, you will have the opportunity to do so. For now, though, the specific essay question you are looking at is your priority.

Essays are a chance for you to really tell your story. Be sure you understand the questions and that you answer the question that is asked. That may sound obvious, but many applicants try to make an essay they wrote for another school fit the question, or they may use the question as an opportunity to say what they want to say instead of what the committee has asked. Please leave your worries behind and answer the question being presented.

2. Use only your voice. Tell us your story in a natural and honest way. Tell us what you really think, not what you think the admissions committee wants to hear. Your response should be descriptive, straightforward and sincere. Take time to think, then write – these are not easy questions to answer.

3. Proofread. Typos create a poor impression, and inserting the wrong school name in your essay creates a very poor impression. Unfortunately, it happens. Find a friend who can give your essay a second look. You have probably read it a dozen times and might need a set of fresh eyes. Spell check and grammar check are a great start, but double check these checks… and then you will really be getting somewhere!

Source: https://www.mba.com/mbas-and-business-masters/articles/writing-your-essays/tips-for-creating-a-memorable-mba-application-essay

Three Tips for an Outstanding Essay

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Your application essay is a unique opportunity to help you stand out from the crowd. 

Because many programs require at least one essay as part of the application, seize the opportunity to make a memorable first impression. Just follow our advice on how to write an outstanding essay:

1. Explain Why You Are a Good Fit: In your essay, help admissions understand why you are a particularly good fit for their program. Talk about:

  • How your interests align with the focus or curriculum of the school
  • How your skills and experience will benefit your cohort and the program as a whole
  • Why you are interested in a particular course of study
  • How the program is relevant to your post-graduate business degree career plans

2. Showcase Your Accomplishments: Because your experience is a critical component of your graduate business classwork and experience, be sure to showcase your accomplishments, both at work and via community organizations. Talk about:

  • Your leadership role and the initiatives you took
  • The results you delivered or achieved
  • How your particular skill set made a difference
  • Any inconsistencies in your background and lessons learned

3. Discuss Why You Want a Graduate Business Degree: Admissions committees look for graduate business candidates who are focused and self-aware, so discuss why you want a graduate business degree and what you want to get out of a particular program. Talk about:

  • What particular skills you hope to gain and which ones you’d like to strengthen – and why
  • How you’d like to further develop your leadership skills
  • How your background and work and life experiences will enrich your classmates’ experience
  • What role the degree will play in positioning you for long-term career success

When it comes to writing your application essay, see it as an opportunity to market yourself to potential schools. Always be honest and forthright – in your essay, resume, and everywhere else on your application – in sharing your skills, accomplishments, and experiences to communicate the best possible version of yourself to admissions staff.

Source: https://www.mba.com/mbas-and-business-masters/articles/writing-your-essays/three-tips-outstanding-essay

AN EDITOR’S GUIDE TO PERFECTING YOUR RESUME

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You know that you should edit your resume before you send it off in the world, making sure it’s error-free.

But to make sure that resume is in the best possible shape? You should really take the editing process a few steps further.

Here’s the thing: Editing is more than just giving something a once-over to eliminate egregious typos and grammar mistakes. It’s really about looking at something with a critical eye, then making changes to ensure it’s the best it can possibly be.

And that’s what you want for your resume, right? From someone who edits all day, every day for a living, here’s a five-step editing plan that will take your resume from good to full-blown awesome (and—of course—eliminate the typos, too).

 

Step 1: Consider the Big Picture

When I look at an article for the first time, I have to resist the urge to fix typos or make style changes (and believe me, as an editor, it’s hard). But it’s important—the first thing I need to determine is whether the piece is working as a whole. Is this right for our publication? Is the message of the article the one we want to send? Are there any major gaps or sections that are superfluous?

On that first read of your resume, try to do the same thing. Ignore typos or formatting issues, and think about the overall message your resume is sending:

  • Does this sell you as the perfect candidate for the types of roles you’re seeking?
  • Are there any gaps between the experience on the page and the experience required for the job?
  • If so, are there ways in which you could bridge those gaps?
  • What makes your experience stand out among other, similar candidates?
  • Does the top third of your resume serve as a hook to get the hiring manager to read more?
  • Is there anything on your resume that doesn’t need to be there?

Pro Tip: Look at the LinkedIn profiles of people at your level in your field, and see how they tell their stories. Which ones are most compelling or stand out the most? See what you can learn from them and how you can apply those lessons to your own resume.

 

Step 2: Scrutinize the Bullets and Details

As editors, we ask constantly ask ourselves if each word is the best one, if a sentence structure is right, if there’s anything that could be said more clearly, effectively, or quickly. And oh, do we add examples! Why say something if you can show it? It makes for better writing and a more interesting read.

Walk through your resume again. Your job at this point is to look at every section, every sentence, and every word, and determine if there’s a better way to get your point across. For each bullet point, ask:

  • Is this the strongest possible language you could use?
  • Can anything be said more clearly? Or in fewer words?
  • Is there any language that someone outside of your company or industry wouldn’t understand?
  • Could anything benefit from examples?
  • Can anything be quantified? Can you show a benefit?
  • Are any words used over and over? Can they be replaced with more creative language?

Pro Tip: Have a friend who’s not in your field read your bullet points, and ask what he or she thinks your strongest achievements are. Do you agree? If not, adjust so the most important ones really stand out.

 

Step 3: Fact Check

Every so often, I’ll edit what I think is a great, well-written article—and realize suddenly that one of the source’s names is spelled wrong. I’ll take a closer look and see that—wait—a book title is incorrect, research numbers are not quite right, and that other “facts” in the article need a second look.

It’s a good idea to do this for your resume, too. It can happen even with the right intentions—I, for example, recently realized that my resume said “3 million” on a figure that most certainly should have been 1 million. Whoops.

Read every word on your resume again, this time asking yourself:

  • Are the companies you worked for named the same thing? Still located in the same city?
  • Are your position titles accurate?
  • Are your employment dates correct?
  • Are all of the numbers and percentages you use to describe increases, quotas, budgets, savings, and achievements (reasonably) accurate?

Pro Tip: In the editorial world, we have to make sure every number we print is 100% accurate, but you have a bit more leeway with your resume. As long as you’re reasonably sure that you increased customer satisfaction, fundraising numbers, or sales 25%, don’t worry about having the “official” numbers to prove it.

 

Step 4: Proofread

As I well know, you can work intently on a document for three hours and somehow not notice that you’ve used “their” instead of “there” or mistaken “bran” for “brand.” So, proofreading one last time is a step you can’t skip.

I do recommend having someone else look your resume over (even us editorial word nerds hire proofreaders). But before you do, proof word by word, asking yourself:

  • Are there any typos? Wrong word usage?
  • Does each bullet point end with a period (or not)? Either is fine, just be consistent.
  • Are you using the serial comma (or not) throughout?

Pro Tip: When proofreading, it’s helpful to temporarily change the font, or to read your resume from the bottom up—your eyes get used to reading a page one way, and can often catch new errors when you mix the format up.

 

Step 5: Make Sure it Looks Nice

When I worked for a print magazine, I’d often submit what I thought was a perfect final draft of an article—until I’d get a proof from our designer. More often than not, my masterpiece would need some adjustments to look right on the page: shortening the copy so that it didn’t require a miniature-sized font, or lengthening a paragraph so that one word didn’t hang over on a line by itself, for example. Because part of great writing is making it look great, too.

While you don’t have to send your resume off to a graphic designer, do keep in mind that presentation is important, and that a few adjustments to your text can make a big difference in how it looks. Give it a final once-over with a designer’s eye, considering:

  • Does the page look visually appealing?
  • Is the page overly cluttered?
  • Is the font size too small? Is it difficult to read?
  • Is the font size and format for each section consistent?
  • Does the layout make sense?
  • Is your contact information easily findable?

Pro Tip: Make your document easier to skim by adding divider lines between sections.
As a final note, I recommend editing your resume again and again—adding in your new accomplishments, shifting the way you talk about an experience based on something you’ve seen someone else do, and making sure there’s nothing you’ve missed. After all, as any writer or editor will tell you: The best masterpieces are never done.

Source: https://www.themuse.com/advice/an-editors-guide-to-perfecting-your-resume

8 TIPS FOR CRAFTING YOUR BEST COLLEGE ESSAY

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The college essay matters

Your essay reveals something important about you that your grades and test scores can’t—your personality. It can give admission officers a sense of who you are, as well as showcasing your writing skills. Try these tips to craft your essay.

1. Get started by brainstorming

Starting the essay can be the hardest part. Brainstorming about your personality traits and defining your strengths is a good place to begin.

2. Let your first draft flow

After you’ve gathered your notes, create an outline to organize your essay and decide where you want examples to appear. Now you’re ready to write your first draft. Don’t worry about making it perfect. Just get your ideas flowing and your thoughts down on paper. You’ll fix mistakes and improve the writing in later drafts.

3. Develop three essay parts

  • Introduction: One paragraph that introduces your essay.
  • Body: Several paragraphs explaining the main idea with examples.
  • Conclusion: One paragraph that summarizes and ends the essay.

4. Be specific

Give your essay focus by figuring out how the question relates to your personal qualities and then taking a specific angle. Make sure everything you write supports that viewpoint.

5. Find a creative angle

Katherine, a college freshman, had to describe why she would make a good Reed College student for that school’s essay. “I am a huge fan of Beat Generation writers, and many of the West Coast Beat writers attended Reed,” she says. “So I related my love for writing and the Beats to why I would be a great fit for the school.”

6. Be honest

The essay question might ask you about your best quality, an experience that shaped you or the reason you want to attend a certain college. Don’t be tempted to write what you think the admission officers want to hear; answer the question honestly.

7. Get feedback

Show your draft to family, friends or teachers. Ask if it makes sense and sounds like you. Consider their feedback and make changes, but keep your voice. High school senior Dana warns, “Make sure the essay is in your own voice. If at some point you read over your essay and you hear your mother’s voice, something is wrong.”

8. Proofread and make corrections

Read your essay over carefully to check for typos and spelling and grammar errors. It’s best to ask someone who hasn’t seen it yet to take a look as well. They’re likely to see mistakes you won’t catch.

 

Source: https://bigfuture.collegeboard.org/get-in/essays/8-tips-for-crafting-your-best-college-essay

TOP TIPS FOR WRITING BETTER ESSAYS

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An essay is a short piece of non-fiction about a particular topic. It’s a common assignment in school and university, so you’ve probably already written a few. Essays can take many different forms. Narrative essays tell a story, while persuasive essays make an argument. Exploratory essays pursue an idea. No matter what kind of essay you’re writing, the principles below will help you connect with your readers.

1. Know your purpose

If you’re writing in response to an assignment, make sure you understand what you are being asked to write about. If you’re writing for another reason, it’s just as important to understand your goals. Whether you want to share information or an experience or get readers to change their minds, your purpose will determine the choices you make in your essay.

2. Understand your audience

The more you know about who will be reading your essay, the better. Readers who are experts on your topic will already have some background knowledge. Readers who are your age will be familiar with the same films and songs you’re likely to mention. The less you know about your audience, the more you’ll need to define your terms and provide context for your examples.

3. Brainstorm about your topic

Jot down everything you can think of related to the subject you’re going to write about. Some people make lists, while others draw diagrams or maps. The point is to quickly note lots of ideas in order to get started. If you don’t have any ideas, open a newspaper, turn on the television, or just look around. Chances are you’ll see something that suggests a topic.

4. Decide on a thesis

Your thesis is the claim you’re going to make about your topic. Consult the notes you made when you brainstormed to figure out what you want to say. Turn that idea into a complete sentence that makes a claim and includes your explanation or reason for that claim. Be prepared to change your thesis a bit as you work out your reasons and ideas.

5. Develop your essay

Now that you have a thesis, you need evidence to support your claim. Start by listing your reasons for believing what you do. Research what you need to; statistics and quotations will help you make your point. Personal stories also make good, unique examples that no one else could provide.

6. Create an essay structure

Organize your essay according to your purpose. If you’re writing a narrative, you’ll probably arrange your material in chronological order. Consider using flashbacks to create tension. For an argument, you might list your reasons in order of importance. Every essay has a beginning, middle, and end, but not every essay requires a formal introduction or conclusion.

7. Connect your ideas

Readers need a road map through your essay. Employ transitions to help them move from one idea to the next. Transitions are often individual words such as ‘then’, ‘but’, or ‘therefore’. Also, consider headings and repetition, devices that can also create good transitions.

8 Choose memorable language

Use concrete, specific words. Write about a ‘bird’ and your reader won’t know whether it’s large, small, friendly, mean, or if it can even fly. Write about a ‘red tailed hawk’ and your reader will have a clear picture. Concrete words help the reader better understand what you want to communicate.

9. Invent a strong title

People are busy and nobody has to read your essay. Write a title that makes them want to read it. You can get readers’ attention with an intriguing question or clever phrase, but make sure your title clearly conveys your essay topic. A simple subtitle will help you do this. Your title should also be searchable, since so many publications now appear online.

10. Edit and proofread your essay

Carefully check your work for errors. First, read your essay aloud. If anything sounds awkward, revise until you like the way it sounds. Second, make sure your grammar, punctuation, and spelling are all correct. When you think your essay is perfect, have a friend check it again.

 

Source: https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/writing-help/top-tips-for-writing-better-essays

13 TIPS FOR WRITING ESSAYS

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(1) Terminate the utilization of recherché morphemic emissions. Use simple words.

(2) Do not engage in the practice of producing long sentences that go on and on for a long time without punctuation or anything like that for then you may not be able to continue to keep the attention of the reader for very long and he will forget what it was that one was reading when they started resulting only in confusion or perhaps they won’t be able to remember what you started to say before. Use short sentences. Long sentences, with numerous points, are difficult to follow.

(3) Some students use the same tense throughout. They will be right to do that. Good students varied the tenses. Good writers use the same tense. Variety adds spice to an essay, but not here.

(4) Usually sentence fragments with a subject but no verb or with a verb but no subject. They are hard to follow. Sentences need subjects and verbs. Good authors avoid sentence fragments.

(5) Simple words, ideas that are related, and if you write clearly, aids communication. Use parallel structure. Simple words, related ideas, and clear writing aid communication.

(6) If you use them in a sentence, make sure it is clear what it refers to. Pronouns replace nouns; if you use a pronoun, make sure it is clearly linked to a noun.

(7) The employment of nouns is not a good way to add spark to a sentence. Use verbs; they sparkle.

(8) The passive voice is not to be used to add zip to a sentence. Use the active voice. It zips.

(9) Always leave out and avoid all needless and unnecessary words and things that clutter up the sentence you are writing in an essay. Cut the clutter.

(10) Many student’s use the apostrophe for the plural form. Good writers don’t. They use the apostrophe for the possessive case.

(11) Never betray your sources. Always state your source. You are not a journalist writing an explosive exposé. You must give credit for each idea you borrow from someone else. If you do that, then you can much more effectively present your own good ideas clearly as your own.

(12) Its a major writing problem. An essay is often harmed by its improper use of the possessive form of the pronoun “it.”! It’s incorrect to use an apostrophe with “its” to indicate possession. “It’s” means “it is.”

(13) Dew correction’s four you’re report essay before handling. It inn too one’s professor. Revise often. The first draft is called a rough draft for good reason. And…use a spell checker!

 

Source: https://www.uleth.ca/artsci/religious-studies/13-tips-writing-essays

Writing an Essay? Here Are 10 Effective Tips

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Honestly, throughout most of high school and college, I was a mediocre essay writer.

Every once in a while, I would write a really good essay, but mostly I skated by with B’s and A-minuses.

I know personally how boring writing an essay can be, and also, how hard it can be to write a good one.

However, toward the end of my time as a student, I made a breakthrough. I figured out how to not only write a great essay, I learned how to have fun while doing it.

That’s right. Fun.

Why Writing an Essay Is So Hard?

Here are a few reasons:

  • You’d rather be scrolling through Facebook.
  • You’re trying to write something your teacher or professor will like.
  • You’re trying to get an A instead of writing something that’s actually good.
  • You want to do the least amount of work possible.

The biggest reason writing an essay is so hard is because we mostly focus on those external rewards like getting a passing grade or our teacher’s approval. The problem is that when you focus on external approval it not only makes writing much less fun, it also makes it significantly harder.

Why?

Because when you focus on external approval, you shut down your subconscious, and the subconscious is the source of your creativity. What this means practically is that when you’re trying to write that perfect, A-plus-worthy sentence, you’re turning off most of your best resources.

Just stop. Stop trying to write a good essay (or even a “good-enough” essay). Instead, write an interesting essay, write an essay you think is fascinating. And when you’re finished, go back and edit it until it’s “good” according to your teacher’s standards.

Yes, you need to follow the guidelines in your assignment. If your teacher tells you to write a five-paragraph essay, then write a five-paragraph essay! However, within those guidelines, find room to express something that is uniquely you.

I can’t guarantee you’ll get a higher grade (although, you almost certainly will), but I can absolutely promise you’ll have a lot more fun writing.

10 Tips to Writing a Great Essay

Ready to get writing? Here are my ten best tips for having fun while writing an essay that earns you the top grade!

1. Your essay is just a story.

Every story is about conflict and change, and the truth is that essays are about conflict and change, too! The difference is that in an essay, the conflict is between different ideas, the change is in the way we should perceive those ideas.

That means that the best essays are about surprise, “You probably think it’s one way, but in reality, you should think of it this other way.” See tip #3 for more on this.

2. Before you start writing, ask yourself, “How can I have the most fun writing this?”

It’s normal to feel unmotivated when writing an essay. I’m a writer, and honestly, I feel unmotivated to write all the time. But I have a super-ninja, judo-mind trick I like to use to help motivate myself.

Here’s the secret trick: One of the interesting things about your subconscious is that it will answer any question you ask yourself. So whenever you feel unmotivated to write your essay, ask yourself the following question:

How much fun can I have writing this?”

Your subconscious will immediately start thinking of strategies to make the writing process more fun. Here’s another sneaky question to ask yourself when you really don’t want to write:

How can I finish this as quickly as possible?

Give it a try!

3. As you research, ask yourself, “What surprises me about this subject?”

The temptation, when you’re writing an essay, is to write what you think your teacher or professor wants to read. Don’t do this. Instead, ask yourself, “What do I find interesting about this subject? What surprises me?”

If you can’t think of anything that surprises you, anything you find interesting, then you’re not searching well enough, because history, science, and literature are all brimming over with surprises. When you look at how great ideas actually happen, the story is always, “We used to think the world was this way. We found out we were completely wrong, and that the world is actually quite different from what we thought.”

As you research your essay topic, search for this story of surprise, and don’t start writing until you can find it.

(By the way, what sources should you use for research? Check out tip #10 below.)

4. Overwhelmed? Just write five original sentences.

The standard three-point essay is really made up of just five original sentences, surrounded by supporting paragraphs that back up those five sentences. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, just write five sentences. Here’s what they might look like:

  • Thesis: While most students consider writing an essay a boring task, with the right mindset, it can actually be an enjoyable experience.
  • Body #1: Most students think writing an essay is tedious because they focus on external rewards.
  • Body #2: Students should instead focus on internal fulfillment when writing an essay.
  • Body #3: Not only will focusing on internal fulfillment allow students to have more fun, they will write better essays.
  • Conclusion: Writing an essay doesn’t have to be simply a way to earn a good grade. Instead, it can be a means of finding fulfillment.

After you write your five sentences, it’s easy to fill in the paragraphs they will find themselves in.

Now, you give it a shot!

5. Be “source heavy.”

In college, I discovered a trick that helped me go from a B-average student to an A-student, but before I explain how it works, let me warn you. This technique is powerful, but it might not work for all teachers or professors. Use with caution.

As I was writing a paper for a literature class, I realized that the articles and books I was reading said what I was trying to say much better than I ever could. So what did I do? I just quoted them liberally throughout my paper. When I wasn’t quoting, I re-phrased what they said in my own words, giving proper credit, of course. I found that not only did this formula create a well-written essay, it took about half the time to write.

When I used this technique, my professors sometimes mentioned that my papers were very “source” heavy. However, at the same time, they always gave me A’s. Like the five sentence trick, this technique makes the writing process simpler. Instead of putting the main focus on writing well, it instead forces you to research well, which some students find easier.

6. Write the body first, the introduction second, and the conclusion last.

Introductions are often the hardest part to write because you’re trying to summarize your entire essay before you’ve even written it yet. Instead, try writing your introduction last, giving yourself the body of the paper to figure out the main point of your essay.

7. Most essays answer the question, “What?” Good essays answer the “Why?” The best essays answer the “How?”

If you get stuck trying to make your argument, or you’re struggling to reach the required word count, try focusing on the question, “How?” For example:

  • How did J.D. Salinger convey the theme of inauthenticity in The Catcher In the Rye?
  • How did Napoleon restore stability in France after the French Revolution?
  • How does the research prove girls really do rule and boys really do drool?

If you focus on how, you’ll always have enough to write about.

8. Don’t be afraid to jump around.

Essay writing can be a dance. You don’t have to stay in one place and write from beginning to end. Give yourself the freedom to write as if you’re circling around your topic rather than making a single, straightforward argument. Then, when you edit, you can make sure everything lines up correctly.

9. Here are some words and phrases you don’t want to use.

  • You (You’ll notice I use a lot of you’s, which is great for a blog post. However, in an essay, it’s better to omit the second-person.)
  • Clichés
  • Some
  • That
  • Things
  • To Be verbs

A note about “I”: Some teachers say you shouldn’t use “I” statements in your writing, but the truth is that professional, academic papers often use phrases like “I believe” and “in my opinion,” especially in their introductions.

10. It’s okay to use Wikipedia, if…

Wikipedia isn’t just one of the top 5 websites in the world, it can be a great tool for research. However, most teachers and professors don’t consider Wikipedia a valid source for use in essays. However, here are two ways you can use Wikipedia in your essay writing:

  • Background research. If you don’t know enough about your topic, Wikipedia can be a great resource to quickly learn everything you need to know to get started.
  • Find sources. Check the reference section of Wikipedia’s articles on your topic. While you may not be able to cite Wikipedia itself, you can often find those original sources and site them.

In Conclusion…

The thing I regret most about high school and college is that I treated it like something I had to do rather than something I wanted to do.

The truth is, education is an opportunity many people in the world don’t have access to. It’s a gift, not just something that makes your life more difficult. I don’t want you to make the mistake of just “getting by” through school, waiting desperately for summer breaks and, eventually, graduation.

How would your life be better if you actively enjoyed writing an essay? What would school look like if you wanted to suck it dry of all the gifts it has to give you?

All I’m saying is, don’t miss out!

Source: https://thewritepractice.com/writing-an-essay/

TIPS FOR WRITING ESSAY EXAMS

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Before the Exam: Prepare and Practice

Writing a good essay requires synthesis of material that cannot be done in the 20-30 minutes you have during the exam. In the days before the exam, you should:

  • Anticipate test questions. Look at the question from the last exam. Did the question ask you to apply a theory to historical or contemporary events? Did you have to compare/contrast theories? Did you have to prove an argument? Imagine yourself in the role of the instructor–what did the instructor emphasize? What are the big ideas in the course?
  • Practice writing. You may decide to write a summary of each theory you have been discussing, or a short description of the historical or contemporary events you’ve been studying. Focus on clarity, conciseness, and understanding the differences between the theories.
  • Memorize key events, facts, and names. You will have to support your argument with evidence, and this may involve memorizing some key events, or the names of theorists, etc.
  • Organize your ideas. Knowledge of the subject matter is only part of the preparation process. You need to spend some time thinking about how to organize your ideas. Let’s say the question asks you to compare and contrast what regime theory and hegemonic stability theory would predict about post-cold war nuclear proliferation. The key components of an answer to this question must include:
  • A definition of the theories
  • A brief description of the issue
  • A comparison of the two theories’ predictions
  • A clear and logical contrasting of the theories (noting how and why they are different)

In the exam

Many students start writing furiously after scanning the essay question. Do not do this! Instead, try the following:

  • Perform a “memory dump.” Write down all the information you have had to memorize for the exam in note form.
  • Read the questions and instructions carefully. Read over all the questions on the exam. If you simply answer each question as you encounter it, you may give certain information or evidence to one question that is more suitable for another. Be sure to identify all parts of the question.
  • Formulate a thesis that answers the question. You can use the wording from the question. There is not time for an elaborate introduction, but be sure to introduce the topic, your argument, and how you will support your thesis (do this in your first paragraph).
  • Organize your supporting points. Before you proceed with the body of the essay, write an outline that summarizes your main supporting points. Check to make sure you are answering all parts of the question. Coherent organization is one of the most important characteristics of a good essay.
  • Make a persuasive argument. Most essays in political science ask you to make some kind of argument. While there are no right answers, there are more and less persuasive answers. What makes an argument persuasive?
  • A clear point that is being argued (a thesis)
  • Sufficient evidence to support that thesis
  • Logical progression of ideas throughout the essay
  • Review your essay. Take a few minutes to re-read your essay. Correct grammatical mistakes, check to see that you have answered all parts of the question.

Things to Avoid

Essay exams can be stressful. You may draw a blank, run out of time, or find that you neglected an important part of the course in studying for the test. Of course, good preparation and time management can help you avoid these negative experiences. Some things to keep in mind as you write your essay include the following:

  • Avoid excuses. Don’t write at the end that you ran out of time, or did not have time to study because you were sick. Make an appointment with your TA to discuss these things after the exam.
  • Don’t “pad” your answer. Instructors are usually quite adept at detecting student bluffing. They give no credit for elaboration of the obvious. If you are stuck, you can elaborate on what you do know, as long as it relates to the question.
  • Avoid the “kitchen sink” approach. Many students simply write down everything they know about a particular topic, without relating the information to the question. Everything you include in your answer should help to answer the question and support your thesis. You need to show how/why the information is relevant — don’t leave it up to your instructor to figure this out!

Source: https://depts.washington.edu/pswrite/essayex.html

10 PROVEN TIPS TO WRITE BETTER ESSAYS IN ENGLISH

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Every challenge is an opportunity to learn.

If writing an essay sounds a little bit scary, just think of it as a chance to improve your writing skills.

Nobody expects your first essay to be perfect. Nor your second, nor your third…

Not even your fiftieth (50th)!

Just make sure you learn something new every time you write an essay, and you will grow your abilities.

Plus, you don’t have to do it alone.

We’re going to help you out with ten tips for writing better essays while you’re learning English.

1. Create a Word Bank

This is an interesting approach to writing your essay. First, choose a topic and write a thesis. A thesis is the main argument of your essay. For instance, if your topic is reading, your thesis might be “Reading makes you smarter.”

Once you have a thesis, think about your main topic and find words that relate to it in different ways. Then, branch out (broaden, diversify) your list to words that aren’t as closely related to your main topic.

For the example above, your primary list might include words like “books,” “reading” and “intelligent.” Your other “branched out” list might include “Harry Potter,” “reading by a fire” or “test scores.”

This process will help expand your vocabulary over time. Using these words when you write will also make your essay more vibrant (energetic, colorful).

2. Act Like a Reporter

When you are first assigned the topic, go ahead and really explore the possible options for your thesis. Ask questions. Get curious. The more questions you ask before you start writing, the more information you will have to use in the essay.

A strong essay is one that covers a lot of content in a succinct (short, to-the-point) way. This process of acting like a reporter will give you valuable quotes, resources and vocabulary to begin the writing process.

For instance, if you’re writing about a new diet plan, you might ask questions like, “Who is the best candidate for this diet plan?,” “How can someone get started?” and “What is the hardest part of this plan?”

3. Create Topic Sentences

A topic sentence is the first sentence in a paragraph, and it summarizes the rest of the paragraph. You can create them first to help you stay on track when writing your essay.

For the thesis “Reading makes you smarter,” one paragraph’s topic sentence might be, “Newspapers make you more aware of current events.” Another paragraph’s topic sentence could be, “Reading plays and classic literature will make you more cultured.”

If you’re writing about the three main issues facing writers today, you could write three full sentences that each address one main issue. Set these aside. Then, when you start writing the essay, refer to your topic sentences to create a solid structure that begins at point A and ends at point C.

4. Argue Both Sides

If you have to write a longer or more complex essay, it might help to outline both sides of the argument before you start writing. When you write the essay, you will need to choose one side to focus on. But as you prepare, having a side-by-side list of points can be helpful in developing your thesis.

Also, by arguing for the opposite side of your opinion, you will learn which points you need to better address in your essay. You will learn more about the topic, and you will gain more vocabulary words to enrich the essay.

As an example, you might be writing an essay arguing that people should drink less coffee. To argue both sides, you’ll need to consider the opposite side: the benefits of coffee. How will people quit if they are addicted? What about the antioxidants in coffee? Aren’t those good for you? Really explore the entire concept (both sides of the argument) before you write.

5. Read Backwards

Proper grammar is difficult for even the most fluent English speakers. Because you are learning English, you actually have an advantage. Many native speakers learned improper grammar from the start. It’s difficult to undo the damage caused by a lifetime of writing improperly.

As you learn the English language, make a serious effort to practice your grammar and sentence structure. One way to spot improper grammar in your own writing is to read each sentence backwards (start with the last word and end with the first). This way, you won’t be fooled by how the words sound when you read them in your head.

Is everything in the correct tense (past, present, future, etc.)? If you’re writing about plurals, are the possessive nouns plural? Are the apostrophes in the right places? Does every sentence end with a punctuation mark (period, question mark, exclamation point)? Reading the text backwards make you focus on the rules of grammar instead of the flow of the sentence.

6. Use an Online Thesaurus and a Dictionary

You might have learned a large number of fancy words when studying for an entrance exam. But before you start using them in academic essays, be very sure you know what they mean in the context of your essay. This is where the dictionary can come in handy.

A thesaurus is another valuable tool when writing an essay. A thesaurus tells you synonyms, or words that have the same or a similar meaning to the word you look up. It’s important because it can add some volume to your essay and increase the impact of your words.

For example, if you’re writing about cooking, the words “stir” and “add” might come up a lot. This repetition is boring for a reader.

So instead of constantly saying, “Add the tomato” and “add the eggs,” a thesaurus will teach you to say things like “whisk in the eggs” or “gently fold in the tomatoes.” See? It sounds a lot better and adds interest to your essay.

Visual Thesaurus is a resource that works just like a regular thesaurus, but it also shows you the connections between the words. For example, if you type in the word “stir,” you’ll immediately see a whole circle of other words connected to “stir” with lines. From there, you can click on any of the words in the circle (like “move,” in this case) and then see all the words related to that word. This helps you find and learn new words quickly, and it’s also fun!

7. Combine and Separate Sentences

Once the essay is written, go back through the writing to find any sentences that seem too long or wordy. Break these into two or more sentences.

For example, the following sentence is too long, which makes it unclear:

If you want to write in another language, you need to practice writing in creative ways, like writing on a blog, writing fun poems or texting a friend who speaks the language you’re learning every day.

Instead, you could write it as two clearer sentences (with less repetition of the word “writing”):

If you want to write in another language, you need to practice in creative ways every day. For example, you could start a blog, create fun poems or text a friend.

Do the opposite with sentences you find too short.

Also, look for sentences that are very closely related to one another. If two sentences seem like the thoughts are connected, you can combine them with a semicolon ( ; ).

For example, the following sentences are very closely related:

Learning to write in another language can be really difficult, especially when you’re first getting started. That’s why it helps to practice every day.

That’s why you could write it this way:

Learning to write in another language can be really difficult, especially when you’re first getting started; daily practice is helpful.

8. Have a Native English Speaker Edit Your Essay

Meet up with a friend who is fluent in English (or, at least, more fluent than you). This friend can edit your essay and point out any repetitive errors.

If they find mistakes that you make often, you will be able to watch more closely for that error as you write future essays. This friend will also be able to point out grammatical or spelling errors that you might have missed.

If you don’t have any friends who are fluent in English, you can use lang-8.com. Lang-8 is a free site where native English speakers will correct your writing. In exchange, you correct the writing of someone learning your native language.

9. Review the Whole Essay with Your Friend, Then Rewrite It

Once you and your friend have both reviewed your essay and marked any mistakes, rewrite the whole thing. This step is important. Just noting that you made some mistakes will not help you learn how to avoid them in the future.

By rewriting the essay with the corrections in mind, you will teach yourself how to write those sections properly. You will create a memory of using proper grammar or spelling a word correctly. So, you will be more likely to write it correctly next time.

10. Use Online Apps

Lastly, there are some fantastic online resources that can help improve your writing. For instance, Hemingway Editor can review your document to find any confusing or wordy sentences. You can rewrite these to make them easier to understand.

You could also head over to Essay Punch to find resources, tools and support that can help improve your writing skills. Grammar Book is a great resource for practicing proper grammar and spelling.

The advice in this post is mainly for improving your essay writing over time. However, if you want a more professional opinion for an important essay, you can also use Essay Edge. Essay Edge is an online essay editing resource that helps with academic and admissions essays. If you’re applying to a school or are writing an important paper, you may want to consider their services to make sure your essay is the best it can be.

Learning a new language is certainly an ambitious (challenging) task. There are so many small details to learn, and the process takes a lot of time and commitment. But with practice and study, you will improve.

It takes even more effort to become a strong writer in a new language, but these tips will help you get started.

Hopefully, you were able to find one or two tips that you believe will help you improve your essay writing abilities. Over time, try to use all of these strategies (or at least more than one) in your writing routine. Good luck!

Source: https://www.fluentu.com/blog/english/english-essay-tips/

8 TIPS FOR GREAT ESSAY WRITING

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The Internet is awash with not-so-helpful essay writing advice, making it tricky for students to find the advice they need when writing essays. So our academic experts have written the following tips for you to utilise before and whilst crafting your essay, to ensure your writing hits the mark.

Understand the question

This may, at the face of it, sound like somewhat banal advice – but fact of the matter is that failing to properly understand the question set is one of, if not the most common reason behind a disappointing grade when it comes to essay writing. Are you being asked to critically evaluate something? Compare and contrast? Analyse a particular circumstance? Evaluate the usefulness of a particular concept?

These are some of the common phrases found in essay questions, and each indicates a different set of expectations. If you are asked to critically evaluate a particular theoretical approach, for instance, you have to gain an understanding not only of said theory, but also other common approaches. They must all be weighed against each other, highlighting the relative strengths and weaknesses of each theory and, importantly, you must come to a well-justified and confident conclusion. Is the theory good? What are its flaws? How can it be improved?

If you are asked to evaluate the usefulness of something, however, you don’t necessarily need to go into as much critical depth. Yes, you should still acknowledge alternative approaches, and yes, you should still note some strengths and weaknesses – but the bulk of the work must emphasise the concepts practical usefulness. Perhaps the best approach is to find one, or a few, case studies where the theory has been used – what was the outcome of this? Does the application of the theory reveal any particular shortcomings, or strengths?

“Compare and contrast” essays, meanwhile, are essentially a hybrid of the above – you need to take a critical approach and evaluate the literature, but your focus has to remain solidly on the theories that you have been asked to compare and contrast. It is important to show that you understand both (or all) core theories in great depth, both on a theoretical and applied level.

In essence, the wording of the essay question will tell you how the essay should be written. It will indicate where the focus of your essay should lie as you research and write.

Plan and schedule

Understanding the question is the first step, but it is equally important that you make efficient use of the available time. Students often underestimate the amount of work required to write a good essay, which results in two things: (1) late nights at the library, and (2) a disappointing grade. If you want to achieve a good mark, you should start planning your essay the moment you receive the essay question. The following table may be a useful aid:

Step Deadline
Understand the question (Insert date)
Map the essay chapters (Insert date)
Collect articles (Insert date)
Read and take notes (Insert date)
Start writing (Insert date)
Finish first draft (Insert date)
Proofread (Insert date)
Hand in (Insert date)

By setting deadlines for yourself and committing to stick to them, you are ensuring that you won’t be left with too much work right before your hand-in date. It is also important that you leave time, ideally a couple of days, between finishing your first draft and proofreading.

Be critical

Perfect theories and academic approaches are rare – the clear majority of theories, arguments, and studies have flaws. Being descriptive is fine if you are looking to scrape a pass, but for a higher grade you need to show that you are able to leverage critical reasoning in your dealing with academic materials. What are the limitations of the theories you are drawing on? How have these been dealt with in the literature? How do they impact the quality of arguments presented, and to what extent do they limit our understanding of what you are studying? What alternate explanations might offer additional depth?

Critical thinking is what will make your essay stand out. It shows the marker that you are not simply repeating the arguments that have been fed to you throughout your studies, but actually engaging with theories in an academic manner. A good way to practice this is to pay careful attention when reading literature reviews in published articles – you will see that authors don’t simply summarise previous studies, but offer a critique leading to a gap for their own research.

Structure, flow and focus

How you present your argument is nearly as important as the argument itself, which is why it is imperative that your essay follows a logical structure. A classic piece of advice is to “tell them what you are going to tell them, then tell them, and tell them what you told them” – this, in essence, summarises the core introduction, main body, and conclusion structure of your essay.

Having a clear and logical structure will help ensure that your essay stays focused, and doesn’t stray from the question being answered. Each section, paragraph, and sentence should add value to the argument you are presenting. As you are writing, it’s good to take a step back and ask yourself “what value does this sentence/section add? How does it link to my overarching argument?” If you find that you can’t answer that question, there is a high risk that you have strayed from your core argument, and you may want to reconsider the path you are taking.

You should also make sure that all the different parts of your essay fit together as a cohesive and logical whole, and that the transition from one argument to the next is fluid. Students often treat essays as lists of arguments, presenting one after the other with little consideration for how they fit together, which inevitably leads to a lower grade. Make sure to tell your reader why you are transitioning from one argument to the next, why they are in this particular order, and how each argument helps shed light on a particular aspect of what you are discussing.

Read widely

Writing may be the core task, but reading is equally important. Before you start writing your essay, you should conduct a broad search for relevant literature. Learning how to sift through a large amount of data is an important academic skill. You should start by searching through databases – Google Scholar is a great tool for this – using key words related to your research topic. Once you find an article that sounds promising, read through the abstract to ensure that it’s relevant.

If you are still not a hundred percent sure, it is usually a good idea to skip to the conclusion – this usually contains a detailed summary of the study, which will help determine whether you should read the article as a whole. You don’t want to waste time reading through and endless number of articles simply to find that they aren’t actually relevant. Once you have identified a few solid articles, you should (a) go through their bibliographies and take note of who they are citing, as these articles will likely be of value for your own research; and (b) check on Google Scholar to see who has cited them. To do this, simply input the name of the article in the search bar and hit enter. In the results, click “cited by” – this will return a list of all of the articles that have cited the publication you searched for.

It’s important that you don’t rely too heavily on one or a couple of texts, as this indicates to the marker that you haven’t engaged with the wider literature. You should be particularly careful in using course books (i.e. “introduction to management” and the like), as these are essentially summaries of other people’s work.

Quoting, paraphrasing and plagiarism

Academic writing requires a careful balance between novel argument, and drawing on arguments presented by others. Writing a completely ‘novel’ essay, without drawing on a single source, indicates that you haven’t made yourself familiar with what has already been published; citing someone for every point made suggests that you haven’t produced a novel argument. As such, it is important that you provide evidence (a credible citation) when you are making a statement of fact, or drawing on arguments, frameworks, and theories presented by other academics. These, in turn, should support the overarching novel argument that you yourself are making.

When drawing on other authors it is important to understand the distinction between quoting and paraphrasing. The general rule of thumb is that you should paraphrase wherever possible, and quote only when necessary or if it clarifies the point you are making. That said, paraphrasing can be difficult without losing the inherit value of the argument presented. In case you are unsure about the difference between quoting and paraphrasing, we’ve included an example below.

Quote: “Cultural capital can be acquired, to a varying extent, depending on the period, the society, and the social class, in the absence of any deliberate inculcation, and therefore quite unconsciously“ (Bourdieu, 1986: 18)

Paraphrase: Unlike economic capital, the amassing of which requires some conscious effort, cultural capital can be built simply by existing and consuming (Bourdieu, 1986).

Both the quoted and the paraphrased versions carry essentially the same meaning – with the exception that paraphrasing shows slightly wider knowledge of Bourdieu (through mentioning another form of capital), and presents an argument that – while true to the writings of Bourdieu – better fits the overall argument.

Properly citing the sources upon which you draw also ensures that you will not be accused of plagiarism, which is a serious offence in academia. In fact, repeated and grievous plagiarism can lead to the suspension of your studies at the majority of academic institutions!

Find a ‘study buddy’

Having a similarly ambitious ‘study buddy’ is often undervalued by students, but the synergy achieved by working together can help both of you achieve considerably higher grades. It is important to note that you shouldn’t write your essays together, nor necessarily agree on the approach to be taken beforehand, as this leads to the risk of submitting two papers that are too similar – again linking back to the issue of plagiarism.

Instead, you should exchange essays with each other once you are both done with the first draft. It is immensely difficult to proofread your own work – one goes blind to minor grammatical issues in a text after reading it repeatedly for days on end – and it is similarly easy to overlook gaps in flow and logic of argument. Having a friend read through the work will address both of these issues, assuming that they, too, are high achieving.

Write academically

Another common issue – particularly amongst first and second-year undergraduates – is that they tend to use rather non-academic language:

“In this essay I will look at how people who buy art use cultural capital. My theory is that having more cultural capital will change their taste in art, as they are able to understand the pieces differently to other people.”

Examples such as the above are unfortunately rather common, and should give you a good idea of what to avoid. The sentiment behind the text is good, but it reads more like a second-rate blog post than an academic essay. An academic might instead write:

“This essay explores the role of cultural capital in the consumption of art, and the impact of cultural capital on consumers’ perception of artistic expressions.”

You will note that this second example is far more concise yet none of the meaning is lost. It also uses present (rather than future) tense, and avoids informal terms. Clear, concise, and precise language is a hallmark of academic writing.

 

Source: https://www.oxbridgeessays.com/blog/essay-writing-tips/