Academic Essays: Writing Well Is Not Enough

As you studied in high school and applied to college, you may have learned that solid writing skills were the only key to composing strong essays. At the lower academic levels, a student who has a strong command of language can often get by, and even earn very high grades, simply by writing clean, coherent sentences.

Unfortunately, at the collegiate and graduate school levels, strong writing is not sufficient. If you want to compose winning, sterling academic essays, you must actually learn to express your viewpoints in a professional academic style. An academic essay assignment comes with a number of expectations, and the soon you learn to meet and exceed them, the sooner you will succeed. Here are just a few of the main expectations required of an academic essay. If your own writing hits these marks, you will be considered a truly talented writer and academic professional.

  1. An academic essay must espouse a specific viewpoint or position. You cannot just write disparate facts or share personal details. Instead, a central thesis should exist at the heart of your paper, and all your other points should revolve around it.
  2. The language in an academic essay must be entirely clear and spare, with no slang, vulgarity, or needless lyricism. You may enjoy writing in an overly artistic, pretty fashion, but this is not acceptable when writing academically. Save the ornamentation for creative writing classes.
  3. Your academic essays should feature multiple sources and citations, and they should introduce meaningful academic information into your paper. You should spent nearly as much time researching for your paper as you do composing it.
  4. State a clear, easily understood and falsifiable (disprovable) hypothesis near the beginning of your academic essay. The point of your paper should be articulated objectively, so that any reader can state easily what you are trying to demonstrate or prove. If you have a research question rather than a hypothesis, pose it early in the paper.
  5. A strong academic essay is immaculately organized. You cannot write freely, and meander through various points throughout your paper. Instead you should have clearly delineated introduction, body, and conclusions sections, as well as material and results sections if you are writing a research paper.
  6. A strong academic essay should also exhibit proper formatting and layout. Make sure your paper looks as professionally written as possible when you submit it.

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