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How to Write Clearly

How to Write Clearly

ADVICE TO HELP YOU WRITE CLEARLY AND CONCISELY

BLOG BY NICK WRIGHT of EDITORSOFTWARE.COM

 

Give yourself the advantage at college - download StyleWriter4

Thursday, June 23, 2011 - page 2 of 7

How to write an A-grade college essay

Answer the essay question

Make sure that you answer the question when writing an essay. If you are asked to assess, describe or discuss make sure you do assess, describe or discuss the essay question. When you look at the question set, concentrate on the key verb. For example:

Question Meaning
Analyze Break down into main ideas and discuss, examine or interpret the proposition.
Compare Examine and identify similarities and differences, but concentrate on similarities.
Contrast Examine differences and explain their relevance.
Compare & Contrast Examine both similarities and differences.
Criticize Analyze and evaluate the subject critically, looking for weak points in the proposition. You may need to come to a judgment or conclusion based on your analysis and evaluation.
Define Describe, explain and set the limits of the proposition.
Describe Give a precise picture of the characteristics and qualities of the subject.
Discuss Debate the pros and cons of the issue in the question, paying particular attention to areas of controversy or conflict.
Evaluate Assess the proposition by looking at the information and expert opinion. Come to your own conclusions based on the evidence that supports the proposition.
Use Use examples, analogies, and comparisons to explain the proposition.
Interpret Explain the meaning of the proposition, commenting on its effect and describing its relationship to data. Give examples. Evaluate its validity.
Outline Describe main ideas, characteristics, information or events.
Prove Support with facts to agree with the proposition.
State Produce the exact information asked.
Summarize Give a brief account, concentrating of the conclusions reached from the proposition.
Trace Describe and analyze the order of events or progress.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Warning: Don’t fall into the trap of writing all you know about the subject — 70 percent will be irrelevant and will not earn you any marks. You’ll also find the irrelevant material detracts from the essential information contained in the essay.

Show your Analytical Skills

Unlike the compositions you wrote at school, you are no longer just presenting information. Most college essays are argumentative essays and you must show your analytical skills. In order to write a persuasive essay you still need to collect and present your information. But you must also work out implications, assess its relevance, judge the results, evaluate the evidence, criticize and debate the essay topic. You’ll find you need to critically research propositions to decide if the evidence justifies the conclusions or if you need to question the assumptions underlying a new theory. In other words, you must show that you can think clearly and reason logically.

In most subjects, your tutors are not looking for the correct answer. If you are discussing an issue or describing an historical event, there’s no one way of answering or one line of reasoning to follow. You may even disagree with the conventionally accepted view on a subject — although in doing so, you should assess and deal with opposing views.

Your tutors may agree or disagree with the views you present, but they should not mark you down for taking a standpoint. Disagreement will not result in a poor grade, writing a bad essay will. Whatever line you argue, you will gain a good grade if you back it up with firm evidence, logical reasoning and sound arguments.

 

 

 

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