1. Read your essay out loud to catch any mistakes
2. Eliminate vague words like “very,” “a lot’, “so,” “big,” “huge” and “many, “so much,” “great,” “good/bad,” “happy/sad,” from your vocabulary.
Ex. “It was a very well planned city with a grid layout, looking somewhat similar to modern day Manhattan.”
Improved: The city was well-planned, using a grid layout to improve efficiency. This organization is still used today in Manhattan.
3. Learn the difference between “its” and “it’s.”
The museum has its artifacts housed in a special warehouse downtown.
It’s an artifact that represents “life” to the Ancient Egyptians. (It is an artifact that represents “life” to Ancient Egyptians).
4. Do NOT start a sentence with “because,” or “and.”
Ex. “Because of this belief, it was very hard for the Babylonians to fight off disease.”
Improved: “Due to this belief, it was difficult for the Babylonians to cure certain diseases.”
5. “Brevity is the soul of wit.” (Aka- write concisely!)
Ex. “For example, in Mesopotamia they did not know too much about disease, in fact they blamed it on the gods, and because they did not know what was causing disease they did not know how to cure it.”
Improved: For example, in Mesopotamia, they had limited medical knowledge. Therefore, they blamed illnesses on the gods, because they had no further explanation.
6. “Less is more”:
Remember that essays are NOT reports. For essays, you need to provide the facts (details) and analyze those concepts. But, providing a “laundry list” of endless details will only weaken your essay. So when it comes to details pick a few for each topic and analyze those thoroughly. Don’t cram everything about the topic into one paragraph.
7. Thesauraus.com is your best friend
No more words like “wonderful,” “amazing,” “more,” “things,” “stuff,” “more and more,” “ginormous” “humungous” “so much” etc. Use the thesaurus to find words that will strengthen your writing. But, do not use a word if you do not know the meaning.
8. Double check to make sure pronouns are eliminated from your essay
: For example, do not use words like “I,” “you,” “us”, “we,” “our.” (There are certain exceptions.).
9. Don’t be repetitive:
Make sure (especially in a compare/contrast essay) you are not saying phrases like “There were many similarities and differences between….,” or “These were some similarities and differences concerning….,” over and over to the point where your essay becomes bland. Mix up your word choice!
Or for an argument essay don’t say (over and over): There were many positive and negative outcomes….
10. Don’t forget your nouns/subjects!
This sentence doesn’t make sense: “Many believe that the Great Wall of China was a true testament to human endurance.”
This sentence DOES make sense: “Many people believe that the Great Wall of China was a true testament to human endurance.”
11. Make the connection for the reader—be the bridge
Ex. Roman citizens flocked to the Colosseum to see the bloody gladiatorial games. This shows that the “bread and circus” policies of the politicians hurt Rome’s economy.
Make sure you explain the connection….
Don’t rely on “this shows,” or “obviously one can see…” to explain anything to the reader! By using this phrase you’re actually not showing me anything.
Revised: Roman citizens flocked to the Colosseum to see the bloody gladiatorial games. As citizens became more enthralled about the games before them, they increasingly ignored problems that plagued their cities. Distracting the people from urban, political, and economic pitfalls was the goal of Roman politicians of the time. As a result, the state of Rome, and the economy started to decline.
12. NEVER SAY “In conclusion” “At the end of this essay,” “All in al” to begin your conclusion. It’s stating the obvious.
13. Since history takes place in the past, you should write about it in the PAST TENSE.
14. When writing an argumentative essay, your word choice needs to “sound confident”
Ex. Don’t use wording like “This may be a reason,” or “This could have happened.”
15. “Lots” is not a word. Neither is “etc.”
16. Know the difference between a country and a civilization.
17. Never throw random ex’s/stories/arguments into your conclusion if they were never addressed in the essay
18. Belief systems ARE NOT PEOPLE.
They can not “believe” anything, or “like” anything, etc. In other words
, an action verb shouldn’t go after the name of a belief system
-ex. Hinduism and Buddhism believe that people should be good. OR: Hinduism didn’t like how Buddhism ignored the caste system. (Hinduism and Buddhism aren’t capable of believing anything. Hinduism can’t like anything. Buddhism can’t ignore anything). Instead…
- Improved: Hindus and Buddhists believe that….
- Improved: Buddhists ignored….
19. Do not start intros with corny phrases or analogies: (
Since the Dawn of Man, Throughout history…
History is like a growing flower…)
20. Just because you say “For example,” doesn’t mean that the “example” you give is an actual example
- ex. “Governments that used Legalist and Confucist ideas were successful. For example, the Qin Dynasty, which followed Legalism, was successful.”
- Improved: “ Governments that used Legalist and Confucist ideas were successful. The Qin Dynasty
, which followed Legalism, was successful because the philosophy supported strict laws in order to bring about unity. For example, any dissenters were boiled to death or had body parts chopped off.”
21. Don’t use phrases that imply doubt:
This could have led to trade; This might have led to trade
; This probably led to trade…