Mistakes to Avoid When Writing Essays

Essay writing is an activity that most people are already familiar with. It is a process that has been taught in school and has been a constant form of homework for many. It is one of the highest-level English writing skills one can attain. And yet even after all of the lectures English teachers make on a yearly basis about essay writing, and even after all the practice an individual has experienced over the course of their school life, there are still a lot of common mistakes that individuals make when crafting essays.

This article tackles about the common mistakes an individual should avoid when making essays in order to improve their essays. And if you want to learn how, then continue reading the article to find out more.

1. Starting without a clear goal

Most mistakes an individual makes when making essays occur during the writing and rewriting process. However, some mistakes can occur during the pre-writing process. In fact, mistakes made during this stage can seriously damage the structure of the essay one is making as it can create a fundamental flaw in the whole theme of the essay.

One such example of a mistake made during the pre-writing process is starting to create an essay without a clear goal. This can be detrimental for the overall essay as starting without a clear goal makes the essay directionless. This also makes the tone and purpose of the essay unclear not only to the writer but especially to the readers as well.

Having a clear goal should be at the top of a writer’s head constantly in order to start the essay writing process without any errors. This allows the essay to follow a general structure and purpose as well as make the ideas flow much more smother and fluid than if there was no clear end goal of what the essay should accomplish.

2. Using a stiff tone

Compared to speeches, essays are relatively harder to portray emotions. This is because different readers can perceive and interpret the words of an essay differently if they read it using different tones. This is why most essays tend to use neutral words or statements unless the circumstances require the writer to voice their opinions.

Due to this, most writers often tend to use phrases or sentences that are stiff in order to avoid any misunderstandings. This can be a great way to prioritize the contents of the essay and to avoid any backlash, but it is quite a huge mistake when one intends to persuade their readers.

Some individuals may also have picked up this habit unknowingly back when they used to read essays of professionals and scholars. These essays tend to include a lot of technical terms and scientific knowledge which makes the readers feel as if the words are too stiff. This could be why some writers use tones too stiff for their purpose as they have been constantly exposed to such essays over the years.

While using a tone that is too stiff is the extreme end of the spectrum, the other end should also be given attention. Using a tone that is too informal can also put off most readers due to the number of jargon or unfamiliar phrases which they may find difficult to understand or offensive. So, try to choose your wordings wisely.

3. Adding too much detail

Details are great for making an essay feel like a lot of effort was put into it. The numerical data that the writer has obtained in order to make their claims more accurate, or the detailed narration of every emotion the writer felt while watching a specific movie can bring a lot of depth and meaning into the essay. However, it can also bring a lot of unnecessary parts that may end up boring the readers and making them lose interest in the essay.

Adding details isn’t bad in any sense. In fact, it can even improve an already great essay into an outstanding one. However, adding too much detail into every sentence when it could have gone by without any is when the problem arises.

Think of it as eating a cream-filled donut. You only enjoy the overall taste of the donut and the cream in combination with each other since there is a balance between the two ingredients. The donut provides a familiar taste that you have known since you were young, while the cream provides an extra bit of detail and flavor that makes the meal so much more interesting.

Now try to imagine a cream-filled donut that is filled to the brim with cream. It will look and taste overwhelming, the balance between the two ingredients will be gone, and it will eventually make the meal less exciting as what you are consuming is just a pile of cream.

This is similar to how adding too much detail can possibly make an essay less interesting. Having too much detail can overwhelm even the most interested of readers and can make the essay too long to finish. If you want more evidence as to how too much detail can make an essay less interesting, try to remember how you felt while reading the previous two paragraphs.

4. Providing no evidence

Essays, in a sense, are structured so that they will look like a pyramid where there will be a main point that is followed by a few subpoints. All of these subpoints also need to have a few supporting statements under them to make them complete and convincing. However, a common mistake that individuals make when writing essays is providing little to no evidence to back up a major claim. This can make that claim feel empty and floating as it is just there to fill in a gap in the word count.

5. Not sticking to a side

Every once in a while, a teacher or professor may ask you to make an essay stating whether you agree to one side or the other. During this time, it is important to pick a side unless you can provide evidence as to why you want to stay neutral. It can always be daunting to pick a side and defend it if you do not wish to offend anyone, however, being inconsistent with the side you took or completely neglecting the main task given is considered a huge mistake.

There will always be a time when someone will be offended by the contents of your essays. But at least you got to voice out your own opinion and defended it well enough to not hear every reader complain about the contents of your essay.

6. Writing too fast

Essay writing is a tedious back and forth process that includes a lot of editing and revisions. However, when some individuals are faced with too much pressure or have other things to attend to, they tend to formulate their essays faster than usual.

This is a mistake that should be avoided as this creates a lot of problems in the long run. Sure, you can technically save time by formulating an essay faster than you normally do. However, the time spent on editing and searching for errors and places to improve also gets cut short which makes the essay less effective. Unless you are a master at your craft, then consider taking your time when making your essays and checking for errors.

7. Being inconsistent

Just like how stories are tied together to a single plot, essays are also bound by the main idea that the author wants to explore and discuss. However, when individuals run dry of ideas, they tend to just fill in the essay with random passages that hold no relation to the main point and are just there in order to reach the word count.

This mistake may lead to a lot of confusion for the readers and makes the parts of the essay seem less fluid as there is a random boulder placed near the end of the stream. It may also prove difficult to follow up the said passage as the author will have a dilemma of crafting another sentence to support that passage, or completely disregarding the said passage and move on to the next subpoint. Both of which may pose a threat to the overall structure and flow of the essay.

8. Plagiarizing content

Plagiarism is never a good thing. Nobody wants the hard work they put into crafting their own intellectual property to go to waste as some random high school student puts their words in their own essay and claiming it as theirs. Plagiarism in of itself is a crime as well. And well, we don’t have to tell you that committing a crime is a mistake, right?

Plagiarizing isn’t a matter of legal issues as well; it can also affect other aspects. If an individual gets used to the act of plagiarizing, they may completely rely on the works of others and never try to be creative ever again. Not to mention the number of points your teacher will deduct from your essay once they learn that it was plagiarized.

9. Forgetting the basics

The final mistake one should avoid when making mistake is forgetting the basics of essay making. While the basics may have been ingrained into individuals as early as when they enter secondary school, they can often be forgotten after a long time of not utilizing them.

Simple grammatical mistakes, inconsistent use of a verb’s time, or messing up the purpose of each part of the essay can all lead to the essay becoming less appealing and convincing.

The basics are the fundamentals of essay writing, they are the general rules that an individual needs to follow in order to meet the standards of the essay, so it is important to not forget them to make fewer mistakes when writing an essay. And if you need help remembering these basics or any academic matter, then you can always ask for external help or hire your own private tutor here at FamilyTutor.



Carelle is a teacher who has been through the ups and downs of the teacher and learner life. She wishes for every learner to gain educational satisfaction that will help embody the people they want to be in the future.

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