Not sure why your friends keep scoring so well on their essays, but you just can’t seem to crack the code? Here’s the thing: There is no code.
You might be doing these things, though:
1. You’re Trying to Copy Someone Else
Let’s say you’ve very recently come across a winning essay that got someone into Harvard and other prestigious places. Let’s say you were so taken by that essay that you’ve decided you want to emulate that. While it’s a good idea to read other people’s work and try and find inspiration therein, it is never a good idea to read someone else’s work with the intention of copying it outright. And we don’t mean to say “plagiarize.” We mean to say copy—that is, even if you’re trying to copy their ideas, you’re doing something wrong. You’re being dishonest. And it is this dishonesty that will eventually bring you down.
2. You Aren’t Focusing on Formatting
The structure and formatting of an essay matter more than many students care for, and that is often what earns them those sad grades they don’t like. No matter how well you write, you must go over the essay once you’re done, and you must format the essay as best you can. Make sure the paragraphs are properly spaced and that you’re doing everything from line breaks to punctuation correctly.
Also, ensure that your essay isn’t just rambling all over a page. Make sure it is structured just right and that it has a riveting beginning, a proper middle, and a satisfying end. The structuring of your essay will help reinforce these demarcations and will bring a sort of discipline to the text. Not only does it make it easier to read, but it also helps your examiner make more sense of your essay.
3. You’re Abusing that Thesaurus
Look at these two sentences:
The baby barfed and threw up on its mother.
The mewling mass of infant flesh regurgitated partially-digested food onto her who gave him birth.
Sure, the second sentence could work if you were writing a novel or were participating in an MFA workshop, but it doesn’t work for a term paper. Term papers, especially those that require you to be strictly academic, would not appreciate unnecessarily wordy and complex sentences. So, go easy on that thesaurus. We know you are tempted to use that “Synonym” option MS Word offers, but take our word for it, and don’t use words you don’t know the meaning of.
Many students, in a bid to make their essays sound more verbose, end up making them sound completely asinine. Do not make that mistake.