Day: January 9, 2018

Top Ten Tips for Writing a College Essay

Start early

Be yourself

  • Write about the “true blue” you! Don’t be phony; admission officers see “right
    through” phony!
  • Writing a “boring” essay will bore the college admissions officer

Don’t plagiarize

  • Do not use others’ work!
  • College admissions officers have seen it all; you will not fool anyone!

Take a risk

  • Admission officers are looking for students who are a “good fit!”
  • Do not be afraid to take some risk (… but not too risky…)!

Keep your focus

  • Do not go off topic – do not ramble, over-brag or make self-righteous comments.
  • Prior to writing the essay, outline or web your thoughts to help stay on task.

Write and rewrite

Get a second opinion

  • As a strong writer to read and comment on your essay
  • Do not send your essay unless you have input from others!


  • Run a “spell check
  • Carefully read the essay looking for minor typos
  • Use a checklist to specifically go over each paragraph of the essay.

Applying online is equal to sending an essay the “old fashioned way.”

  • Take the online essay submission seriously, it requires formal writing skills.
  • Do not write similar to when texting or emailing a friend.

Writing Tips for Creating an ‘A’ Caliber Essay

  • Don’t Use:

In my opinion       I think           I feel        I hope             

(We already know. It’s your essay!)

  • Don’t start sentences with and, but, or so.

So I had to leave after the bathroom incident.

      It weakens your essay.  Remember this is formal writing, not a conversation or dialogue in a story.

  • Always start strong! Your thesis and introduction is like making a first impression on your long lost crush.  Don’t jack it up!

Do not flatly announce your topic.

In this essay, I will      …                    The purpose of this essay…

      Sounds weak!  Get into the topic and find a better way to say it. It takes

a bit of practice.  Also, don’t start with a question.

Who, in fact, did exactly let the dogs out?

Again, weak!  This is probably acceptable for students in grades and lower.  Find a better, more direct way of introducing your topic.


  • Your essay should be clearly divided into paragraphs (Indent!! Don’t put an extra space between paragraphs.  Stick to ONE main point per paragraphs.  When you change topics or directions, start a new paragraph.  It lets the reader know VISUALLY that your point has shifted.
  • Finish Strong!  Having a weak conclusion is like blowing a 20 point lead in the fourth quarter.  Your conclusion should do the following:
  • Restate thesis using some of the same language or ‘echoes’ of the same language.
  • Brief summary of main points of the paper
  • End with a conclusive and clear point (never a question)

PROOFREAD!  PROOFREAD!  PROOFREAD!  One, twice, thrice, whatever!  Always print it out to proofread, and try reading it out loud.This is the most overlooked part of the writing process by students by far.


To write your essay perfectly you need to know some common transitional devices, we will cover them in the next post.

Writing Tips for Creating an ‘A’ Caliber Essay Part 2

So, as promised in the previous post, here is a list of some common transitional devices (also called connective words) that can be used to cue your reader in a given way.


again, also, and, and then, besides, equally important, finally, first, further, furthermore, in addition, in the first place, lastly, moreover, next, second, still, too, what is more

cause or effect

accordingly, as a result, because, consequently, due to, since, so, therefore, thus


also, by the same token, just as, likewise, similarly, in the same way


although, although this may be true, and yet, at the same time, but at the same time, compared to, conversely, despite that, even so, even though, for all that, however, in contrast, in spite of, instead, meanwhile, nevertheless, notwithstanding, on the contrary, on the other hand, otherwise, regardless, still, though, whereas, yet


after all, as an illustration, even, for example, for instance, in particular, in this case, in this situation, indeed, in fact, in other words, in short, it is true, of course, namely, specifically, that is, to illustrate, to demonstrate, thus, truly

a time sequence

after a while, afterward, again, also, and then, as long as, at last, at length, at that time, before, besides, earlier, eventually, finally, formerly, further, furthermore, in addition, in the first place, in the past, last, lately, meanwhile, moreover, next, now, presently, second, shortly, simultaneously, since, so far, soon, still, subsequently, then, thereafter, too, until, until now, when


all in all, altogether, as has been said, as has been shown, finally, in brief, in conclusion, in other words, in short, in simpler terms, in summary, lastly, on the whole, taking everything into account, that is, therefore, to summarize, to sum up

50 Ways to Make Your Writing Sound Smart. Part 3

Revise Your Diction:
Experiment with improving your style more of these interesting words to your
own writing.
Special Words.
27. Neat People Words (black-smocked smiths, smattered with smoke).
28. Neat Things (the ethereal medium of joy).
29. Neat States of Being (apparently with no surprise).
30. Neat Places (unrippled lakes).
31. Neat Verbs (warbled).
32. Neat Adjectives (whimsical bubbles of air).
Figurative Language
33. Puns (“Time wounds all heels.”)
34. Neat quotes (“Happiness is a shallow emotion for people who lack brains.”).
35. Oxymoron – a juxtaposition of opposites (mysterious clarity, dazzling uncertainty, jumbo shrimp).
36. Develop a neat title (“Still Waiting for a Dull Moment”).
37. Metaphors (The asphalt was a hot, blackish river.).
38. Alliteration (wounded, wasted, wronged)
39. Rhymes (“As a rule, man’s a fool”).
40. Personification (“Across the sky the daylight crept.”).
41. Litotes (After we knew they were dead, we sat down in a circle and cried a little.”).
42. Hyperbole (I absolutely died when he saw me)
Selection of Detail
43. Sounds (the unnatural barking of a dog).
44. Sights (an avalanche of lumber).
45. Smells (the odor of metal lingers in your nose all day).
46. Tastes
47. Touches
Last minutes thoughts
48. Erase “every word of idiom that has outworn its usefulness.” Orwell
49. Begin with something provocative.
50. “Break any of these rules rather than say anything outright barbarous.” Orwell

That is all, folks. I hope you liked this series, make sure you cover Part 1 and Part 2.

50 Ways to Make Your Writing Sound Smart. Part 2

Welcome to the second part of the Revise Your Paper! series. Before reading this part, make sure you have read the first one!

Sentence Structure Variety
17. Cumulative Sentence –an independent clause following by a number of descriptive phrases.
18. Periodic Sentence –a number of descriptive phrases ending with the main clause.
19. Strung-along Sentence –one in which the emendations are added in the middle,
separating the subject from the verb of the main clause.
20. Short and Simple Sentence –two or three short sentences strung together with
21. Concise Sentence –Every word counts. This should guide all writing, but this sentence
is especially powerful because of its shortness and its omissions.
22. Inverted Sentence –the normal Subject-Verb order is reversed. (I ought, before this, to have replied.”)
Grammar Usage
23. Always used active verbs. Avoid the passive voice.
24. Recast as many “to be” verbs as possible (is, are, was, were).
25. Smash Those Clichés. Take all those worn out phrases from you first and second drafts
and give them life by making them your own.
26. Discovery Sentences. End each paragraph with a “so what” statement that makes an original and personal interpretation of the evidence.

50 Ways to Make Your Writing Sound Smart A.k.a – Revise Your Paper!

Revise your Syntax:
Experiment with improving your style and readability by adding more of these interesting sentence structures to your own writing:
Sentence Beginning Variety
1. Begin with an Adverb (a word that describes the action of the sentence; sometimes a “ly” word)
2. Begin with an Adjective (a word that describes the important person, place. or thing of the sentence)
3. Begin with an Infinitive (to + the verb)
4. Begin with a subordinate clause (a clause that begin with such conjunctions as: after, although, as, as much as, because, before, how, if, in order that, inasmuch as, provided, since, then, that, though, unless, until, when, where, while, etc.
5. Begin with a gerund (a verb form ending in “ing” that acts as the subject of the sentence)
6. Begin with a participle phrase (adjective phrases beginning with a word ending in “ed” or “ing”)
7. Begin with a noun phrase (a noun with additional descriptive phrases attached to it)
8. Use parenthesis to whisper a witty aside to the reader.
9. Use a colon to prepare the reader for the details of an announcement.
10. Use a dash as a sentence interrupter to announce a series, or to elaborate on a
previously stated idea.
11. Use a semicolon to separate different but similar sentences.
12. List more than one item in the same sentence, but since they are similar items, make
them parallel.
13. Add prepositional phrases to interrupt or end the sentence with lively description.
14. Use an appositive, a sentence interrupter that renames the subject, to add more details about an important noun in the sentence.
15. Use a participle phrase, the phrase beginning with a word ending in “ed” or “ing”, to add more details about an important noun in the sentence.
16. Use an absolute phrase, a noun following immediately by a participle phrase to add more details about an important noun in the sentence.