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Academic essays vary dramatically from papers that are written to entertain. With a set format and an exhaustive list of requirements, an academic essay can be a challenge for many students. On the flip side, the entertaining paper has very few rules, which is why they are frequently written by popular authors. School papers are usually only read by instructors and classmates, unless the paper is later used to prove a point for an academic website or journal. In order to write a flawless paper, students need to know about the seven secret ingredients.
Too many students think they can begin a writing project with either a dull statement or a sentence that includes too many capital letters. It is important to remember that capital letters do not make a sentence look fancy; now, they imply that the writer is shouting. A dull sentence does nothing to make the reader want to keep reading, which is important in an academic essay. Instead of boredom and shouting, students need to develop an idea in their introduction and use the hook to get the idea started.
Academic essays have set formats and teachers want to see that their students know what to do. So, always put the thesis in the same place - the last sentence of the introduction. The thesis should also include the major topic of the paper with the point that will be proven. The thesis statement should always be ONE sentence and it should never include the words “I think,” “I believe,” or “thesis.”
Each paragraph needs a topic sentence; without one, your reader will not know what you are trying to prove. The topic sentence should be at the beginning of the paragraph and it should include a reference back to the thesis.
One the topic sentence is written, the rest of the paragraph should prove the point of the topic sentence. Each paragraph needs to include ideas along with the factual support that makes those ideas logical and reasonable. The facts should be taken from sources that are deemed appropriate for the topic.
Today’s students often use language that is too informal for a school paper. Language that students use for texting or social media is not appropriate for pieces that are written to prove a point in an academic language. Informal language reduces the effectiveness of the paper and can make the author look uneducated.
The organization of an academic essay is just as important as what is being said in the piece. Students should know the different ways they can organize a writing assignment and when it is appropriate to use those formats. They include chronological, spatial, and the persuasive styles: supportive, discovery, and the two different pro-con styles - alternating and block. Students can easily learn about these styles and when to use them on writing tutorial websites.
The final secret is the most challenging to master. Style and tone go hand-in-hand. They are difficult to teach, because they vary from student to student. Style is the way that students choose to organize their essays, place their words, and argue their points. Voice is created by word choice, sentence style, and punctuation placement, too. While many of these are technical points in a paper, the placement and usage is artistic. Style and voice develop with practice, which many students avoid at all costs. Academic essays with evident style and voice can be a joy to read.