Writing a good essay is one of the necessary steps in learning a language that helps cultivate and test the learner’s communication skills; the English language is no exception. Writing essays is a compulsory part of English language examinations. Still, so many students find this necessary task daunting, if not extremely difficult.
Some students spend a lot of time and energy trying to present a good essay in the examination hall or for an assignment, but when the results are out, they do not get the worth of the time and resources spent on the work.
Either way, these students wish to improve their essay writing skills. Also, it doesn’t hurt when an already good essay writer wants to upgrade his skills using better methods.
In this post, we got you covered with tips on how to write excellent essays and tips for avoiding mechanical accuracy errors and getting fewer rings. I assure you that you won’t finish reading this post without learning something worth the time.
We present you with our tips for writing an excellent English essay without further ado.
- Creative ways of sharing pleasantries in informal letters
- Innovative ways of introducing stories
- Be free in informal letters
What is an outline?
An outline, defined, is a brief, concise plan of how and what you will write in your essay. It entails picking the question you think you can answer well and listing your points. The points you have outlined will then be developed into full-length paragraphs. I did not start writing outlines until I was in SSS3, and I never regretted doing so because I had better scores overall.
Here are some benefits of creating an outline :
- It allows one to present his points in a logical way
- It prevents one from getting stuck trying to think of points
- It helps one to organize his thoughts
- It helps one complete essays faster.
Here’s an example of an outline of the question:
‘Recently, a lockdown was imposed due to the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic. Write to
your friend telling them how the pandemic has affected you and how you spent the lockdown
An outline for the question above should look like this:
- Aim of my letter
- I just ate, slept, watched TV, and didn’t go out throughout the lockdown period.
- I was depressed
- I took life with less seriousness
- Socializing became difficult
- I stopped reading
- I lost spiritual vigor
You will then go on to pick which of the points you wish to develop into paragraphs taking note not to exceed the number of points you are asked to provide. Still, the problem of giving points is solved. You can now focus on paragraph structure, grammar structure, and vocabulary, and there won’t be much looking around and thinking very hard during writing.
Therefore, it is essential to consider the number of points you can provide for a question before answering it.
Here is another sample outline of an expository essay on HIV/AIDS.
- Topic: HIV/AIDS
- Causes: Through sexual intercourse, blood transfusion, and unsterilized sharp objects.
- Effects Physical: Fatigue, emaciation, stigmatization, death
- Solutions: Sterilising sharp objects before use, public enlightenment, abstinence, avoiding having unprotected sexual intercourse
After outlining, you might get some more points as you write on; it’s up to you to decide whether
or not to include them.
CREATIVE WAYS OF INTRODUCING INFORMAL LETTERS
Many students have no other forms of informal letters except ‘how are you? How are you doing? I hope you are faring well. While there is nothing wrong with this form of greeting, it is too basic and won’t make your essay look special. Therefore, to spice up your letters and give your examiner a good impression of your work, you have to be creative in your greeting.
Assume you want to greet a close friend directly in front of you—That’s how you should greet in informal letters. Also, try to be natural.
See the sample below :
I received the pictures you sent in your last letter; they were very nice, thanks for doing that for me. I hope you and your family are faring well (end of sample). To be creative, think about things you can add to your greeting. Is it a quarrel between you and your friend that just got settled? Is it your belongings that you forgot at his place the last
time you went visiting? Is It the new gadget you bought a week ago? Bottom line – be innovative. It often helps to have a real person in mind
CREATIVE WAYS OF INTRODUCING STORIES
At this stage, you should have stopped using the phrase ‘once upon a time’ if you are the type that prefers writing narrative essays or stories in examinations. There are better and more advanced ways to introduce stories and narrative essays.
See the sample answer below for the question :
“Write a story to illustrate the topic ‘those who labor so much to attain fame do not get it'”
Fame is not for everyone – title
Mrs. Helen Olawale was a businesswoman who had a thriving supermarket in the heart of
Lagos. As you can see, we started our story by introducing the main character.
A second example:
“Those who labor so much to attain fame do not get it.” If Mrs. Helen had heard this saying,
maybe, she would not be in the unfortunate situation she found herself in.”
The second example is particularly interesting because it makes your examiner ask the
question, ‘really ?’ and ultimately spark a special interest in your work.
Bottom line, when next you want to write a story, try your best to start it in a way that intrigues
your reader and makes them want to know more. And, stop using ‘once upon a time.
BEING FREE IN INFORMAL LETTERS
An informal letter does not have many rules compared to other forms, especially ‘write to your friend‘ letters. Imagine sitting with your friend and chatting with him. Try to be natural as that is the aim of an essay in writing – to help communicate with others and express yourself adequately.
Many students, however, are so engrossed with the fact that they are writing an examination and their informal letter refuses to indicate the required freedom and closeness to the recipient that should be displayed in an informal letter.
An informal letter should be lively with occasional taunting and teasing to spice your essay.
Talk about that new makeup you learned on YouTube, that girl you recently tried to get closer to, and how the new mathematics teacher does not know how to dress. Write like you are talking to a friend right in front of you.
Take a look at this excerpt from the body of a model answer to the question:
‘your friend in another state has asked you to teach him how to prepare your local dish; write a letter telling him the dish’s procedure.’
“I am very glad you asked me to do this. You know I am a person who likes food a lot, and I cook well. So I will be teaching you how to prepare Amala. I like Amala, and I believe you will like it also. Let’s go to the kitchen without further ado, put your apron on, and wash your hands. It’s time to cook.”
Now, don’t go writing slang and nicknames everywhere in your letter; use them once or twice
and put them in single quotation marks if they are in a different language.
See below :
“Regarding the last picture you posted on your Facebook timeline, I know what you are trying to do nigga, and I hope it doesn’t backfire.”
Bottom line: be lively in your conversations in informal letters, be it to your dad, your mom, cousin, sister, or anybody you are writing to.
MECHANICAL ACCURACY TIPS (How To Avoid Rings)
As you are well aware, each ring in an essay attracts a penalty of half mark. Now, Mechanical Accuracy is just ten marks; imagine a student having eighteen rounds; that means he has lost all the spots for mechanical accuracy. From experience, I know that too many rings (not even up to ten) and you’ll lose all the marks in mechanical precision.
Anyway, check out our tips for getting high marks in mechanical accuracy :
- Find out and master the spelling of controversial spelling words such as necessary, professor, success, separate, counseling, etc.
- The singular pronoun ‘I’ should always be in upper case.
- Write figures in words: Aside from the statistics you have written in your address, you are no longer allowed to write figures in the body of your essay. Instead of writing:
It has been ‘6’ months since we talked to each other last…
It has been ‘six’ months since we talked…
- Start every word of your address with capital letters: This advice should not be taken literally, and wisdom should be applied. Most of the words in a specific address are proper nouns and should start with a capital letter except the conjunctions and prepositions such as of, with, across, beside, and, e.t.c. See the example below:
Top Brains Comprehensive College,
3 and 5 College Avenue,
12th December 2021.
Ministry of Education,
- Never use a slanting address in an examination: You already know there are two types of addresses – slanting and block (the most used). The reasons why you are advised not to use a slanting address in an examination are:
- It is best used in informal letters. It can make work look unimportant if it is used letter informally
- It has rules – there is a specific number of characters before you write
the next character.
- It makes the address look clumsy if it is not well written.
- Write legibly: Write out every word and letter correctly; if you are confused about some English alphabets’ upper and lower cases, take your time to find out. Write big, do not use small handwriting in an essay; also, don’t write a letter to another.
- Know the difference between British and American spellings: While some do not care, some examination bodies are stringent regarding this aspect. If you are sitting for an examination requiring you to write in one form of spelling only, you better research and find some misspelled common words (in one document instead of the other).
- Master the correct way to construct straightforward English sentences: Most students are average and low-quality English language speakers. Most of them translate sentences directly from their mother tongue into English, which is ninety percent wrong. Learn how to write correctly simple English sentences.
See the examples below to differentiate between the standard ways of saying some sentences and their correct English expressions :
– X They are calling him Correct- he is being called (for)/he is/has been called
– X, I will give you a blow in your eyes.
Correct – I will hit/punch you in the face
– X Don’t lie for me
Correct – Don’t lie to me
– X I have already told him
Correct – I have/already told him.
– X I will go and give him tomorrow.
Correct – I will give him tomorrow
– X Tells her that she should not do it.
Correct – Tell her not to do it.
– X I will soon be with you.
Correct – I will be with you shortly.
It would be best to get yourself accustomed to these correct forms by reading foreign English
novels, newspapers, and internet articles frequently.
- Link your paragraphs (coherence): Linking is very important if asked to give many points for a question. It is essential to use linkers at the beginning of each paragraph. Examples of paragraph linkers are; furthermore, however, moreover, also, in addition to that, and so on. It helps give your essay ‘flow’ and makes it more attractive to the reader.
NOTE: don’t go on using firstly, secondly, thirdly… you can use firstly/ first of all/to start with, but
don’t use secondly and thirdly; opt for other linkers
- Work on synonyms: Synonyms are also crucial in developing an excellent essay. Instead of using
simple words, look for and use their synonyms (incredibly the complex or advanced
synonyms, but make sure they fit into the context and sentence).
See some examples below:
- The examination is to begin on Thursday
The examination is to commence on Thursday
- We were supposed to get here yesterday
We were supposed to arrive yesterday.
- Use figurative expressions: My English teacher once told my class, “Use figures of speech/figurative expressions in your essay; it helps to spice up your essay; I like it when students use figures of speech, and it makes me award them more marks in Expression.”
Try to include at least five figurative expressions in your essay, from simple similes to complex oxymorons, e.g., one in two paragraphs. It can earn you more marks in Expression.
See this example:
“When I got home, the house was as silent as a graveyard (simile). As I trod softly on the
carpet in the living room, something ran over my feet, and I started screaming my lungs out.
(hyperbole) because I was very frightened. I started wondering, ‘Is this how I am going to die?
That’s all for now, and I believe after taking your time to read this post carefully, the next thing on your mind should be how to implement the various tips, which can be perfected by practice. Now, every essay examination should be answered head-on with confidence from you.