Do you need to improve your academic essays
at college or university?
Do you need a higher IELTS, CAE,
or TOEFL writing score? In either case,
you need to follow certain guidelines to maximise
your chances of success.
Hello and welcome, everyone. This is Minoo at Anglo-Link. In today’s tutorial, we're going to
look at some general essay writing tips
and some specific tips for three English
language tests: IELTS, TOEFL,
and CAE. By the end of this tutorial,
you will have a good idea of the steps
you need to take to improve your essay writing skills. O.K.
Today I have 8 tips to share
The 1st tip is: Follow the instructions.
Make sure you read the question carefully so you can
give a relevant answer,
and also make sure you follow the instructions.
A common mistake is to ignore what your teacher or
examiner wants to see. If the rubric says:
Support your opinion with examples,
and you fail to provide examples, you will not
get a high score even if you write
the best essay in the world.
Also, respect the number of words
they have instructed you to write. Too short
is definitely not good, but too long
is equally problematic as quantity may
end up sacrificing quality.
My 2nd tip is:
Manage your time.
Another common mistake is to spend
too little or too much time planning
and too little or no time revising.
Planning involves two things.
Firstly, making brief notes of any ideas
that come to you when you read the question.
Some people call this brainstorming.
And secondly, organising your ideas
into several points
and finding supporting arguments and examples
for each point. This is often called
Revising involves rereading what you have written
for two purposes:
Firstly, to make sure you have organised
your ideas well
and make any changes that will make your answer
easier to read.
And secondly, to correct any spelling,
punctuation, or grammar mistakes that
you may notice.
O.K. Let's look at my 3rd tip:
Always use the standard essay format.
A common mistake is to write your answer
without an introduction or a conclusion.
Always follow this format:
Make the first paragraph the introduction.
Your introduction must have at least two sentences.
The first sentence must introduce the topic
using your own words.
Try to make your topic sentence an interesting
paraphrase of the question.
This sentence is often called a 'hook',
whose purpose is to generate interest in the reader.
The second sentence should present your answer
to the question as briefly as possible.
Don't present any arguments or
examples in the introduction.
Keep your introduction short. The following
two or three paragraphs constitute
the body of your answer.
In each body paragraph, you state
one single point in support of your
brief answer in the introduction.
This is where you present your supporting arguments and
examples for that point.
A 300-word essay would typically include
two body paragraphs.
And, the final paragraph is the conclusion.
This brings us to tip number 4,
which is: Vary your vocabulary
by using synonyms.
The examiner is looking for a good knowledge of
vocabulary. You show this by using synonyms
in different parts of your essay, and
by using appropriate adjectives and adverbs
to strengthen your message. Therefore,
make sure that you use your own words
when you present the topic in the introduction paragraph
and also make sure that you use different
words in your conclusion when you
summarise your points and restate your answer.
Tip number 5 is: Use transition and
Make sure you master the use of transition words
such as 'first and foremost',
'additionally', and linking words such as
'nevertheless', 'despite', etc.
Using the correct linking and transition phrases is
extremely important in presenting your points
in a clear and easy-to-follow manner. Right,
Tip number 6 is: Improve your
Correct punctuation is like clear pronunciation.
It will make it comfortable for the reader to follow
what you have written.
The most important punctuation marks to use correctly in your essays
are the comma,
the semi-colon, and the full stop.
Another thing that can help your reader is
avoiding very long sentences.
The recommended average length of sentences in a text
is about 20 words.
That's the average length. So, some of your sentences
may be 10 to 15 words, and others
25 to 35 words.
O.K. Moving on to tip number 7, which is:
Improve your grammar.
It goes without saying that too many grammar mistakes
will lower your score.
Watch out especially for mistakes with tenses,
agreement, or subject-pronoun agreement.
because these can confuse the reader.
Mistakes with articles, prepositions, and
the gerund are very easy to make
when you write fast, but these are less important
as they do not usually affect the clarity
of your message, so that's why
it's important to leave 3 to 5 minutes
to revise your essay and correct any spelling,
punctuation, or grammar mistakes that you
And finally: Tip number 8: Practice
If you are new to essay writing for exams,
I'd recommend you follow these steps:
Revise and improve the important areas
I listed earlier, so: linking and transition
words, punctuation, tenses,
conditionals, subject-verb, and
subject-pronoun agreement. Step 2:
Familiarise yourself with the standard essay format
that I described earlier: introduction,
Search the official website of the test you want
to take for a list of typical essay topics
and writing samples. Step 4:
When you have found these samples, read as many
of them as you can.
As you read them, do the following:
First, identify the paragraphs:
introduction, body 1, body 2, conclusion.
Then, underline all the linking and
Then, circle all the punctuation marks.
And finally, make a note of good vocabulary
and phrases for that particular topic.
Step 5: After you have studied 10 to
15 writing samples,
take each of the topics and spend a few minutes
planning your own answer.
Gradually, bring the time this takes you
to 3 to 5 minutes. Step 6:
When you feel you have become good at planning
and outlining, start writing the essays.
Gradually, bring the time it takes you to write a
complete essay to 25 to 30
Make sure that each time you write an essay,
you revise it and improve it as much as you can.
Initially, take your time to identify
your recurrent mistakes and work on these
Gradually, bring your revision time down to
3 to 5 minutes.
And finally, Step 8:
After having written and revised 10 to 15
essays, when you are satisfied that
you cannot improve on your own anymore,
write an essay on a completely new topic,
and submit it to a teacher.
Then, use your teacher's feedback to improve
areas that may still need work.
Well, that's it for this tutorial. I hope
you have found these tips on essay writing helpful.
If you feel you need to improve important areas of
English for essay writing such as
linking and transition words, punctuation,
tenses, etc., you are very welcome
to join my online self-study course,
where I cover all these topics.
To sign up for my course, please visit
As a course member, you will have the option
of submitting your essay to me for my feedback.
Best of luck, everyone, with your essays and tests.
And, see you again very soon!