Whether you are just starting to essay write, or working on writing a dissertation or a masters dissertation, students are often frustrated by the amount of mistakes markers pick up in their essay writing format because they didn’t know these aspects of their essay writing were not approved of. This post will target and explain some of the most common essay writing blunders to avoid so that you can improve your essay writing style, and your marks, for good!

Essay writing style: sentence structure

An important way to check on the style of your essay writing is to monitor your sentence structure. Many students will be surprised to be marked down for repetitive sentence structure, because they haven’t actually made any technical or grammatical mistakes. However keeping your sentences varied and syntactically diverse is essential to maintaining an academic and formal tone as you essay write.

This is easy to monitor – as you are essay writing, check back at the end of each paragraph. If you have started several sentences with the same words and they have the same rhythms and length, then you need to vary your style. Try inverting the syntax of a sentence, for example:

Instead of “the boy kicked the dog”, try “the dog was kicked by the boy”.

You can also use conjunctions (words which join two clauses together) to create a longer, more complex sentence. Leave other sentences shorter and more punchy to create a contrast in your essay writing style.

Writing an essay: starting sentences

Another common mistake students don’t seem to be aware of is the use of words such as and, but and because to start sentences. These words are conjunctions, or joining words, intended to join together two different parts of a sentence. They don’t belong at the beginning of the sentence because that would suggest that the full stop before them was unnecessary.

For example:

The American painters didn’t use shorter brush strokes at that time. Because this technique hadn’t yet arrived from Europe.

Top essay writing tip

The most common essay examples of this mistake are using the word ‘because‘ and ‘but‘ to start sentences where a pause does feel appropriate.

For example:

Because of the lack of political direction, Hitler was able to rise quickly to power’.

or

But the apparent lack of political direction was in fact far from the truth’.

A quick top tip for these situations is to replace ‘because‘ with ‘as a result of’ and ‘but‘ with ‘however‘.

Follow these top essay writing tips when you are writing your essay or dissertation and leave behind those frustrating lost marks for good!