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Best way to practice writing essays...

JLee92 2 / 4  
Oct 4, 2009   #1
Hello, I'm a Junior in high school taking AP English Language and composition.

I know there's no exact formula for writing essays, as my teacher stated.

However, would I be able to get better at essays by continuously practicing over and over again? If i do practice, do you have any suggestions on where to find topics to write about?

Thanks in advance,

EF_Simone 2 / 1,986  
Oct 4, 2009   #2
Look in your AP English textbook. There are probably questions to stimulate thinking after each reading. You could use those as essay topics. You can also find such topics in any college composition reader.

Of course, to improve your writing, you'll need feedback on the essays you write. You can use this forum, but you might also want to enlist a classmate. You could both write essays on selected topics and then swap and critique your work.
rich1981 - / 3  
Oct 7, 2009   #3
Hi Joshua

I live in the UK and hold an honours degree in History. Essay writing was at the core of my degree programme and we received some simple but great advice.

Imagine you have to answer this question:

Should the law be able to punish us for not wearing safety belts when riding in a car?

You may know nothing about this... it doesn't matter. Follow these rules.

1) You should always write your introduction last!!!! Your introduction should be a brief summary of what the question means, and how you are going to explore the issue. This is much easier to do if you have done your research and writing first!

2) What is the question really asking?

3) What is the purpose of each paragraph you have written?

To find out what is really being asked I re-write the question a few times in my own words, this helps me to understand what I need to find out. We could re-write this question as:

Why should people be forced to wear safety belts?


Do the government have the right to tell us to wear safety belts?


Can the Law force us to wear safety belts?

A good essay looks at both sides of an argument. You could list all the good reasons for wearing safety belts and include a paragraph covering this. (e.g. Saves lives, reduces healthcare costs, no point in dying pointlessly etc!)

You could look at all the reasons why we shouldn't have to wear safety belts. (What if you were pregnant? Have had surgery on your abdoment? What if you just don't want to, it's your life?)

You can then look at the issue of punishment. If you agree that people should wear safety belts then what punishment is appropriate? This would be another paragraph.

To take this to a higher level you would need to try and think 'Three Dimensionally.' Simply outlining the facts of the argument and then concluding which one you think is more convincing (as listed above) would be enough for a C grade.

However, to get the A grade you would need to explore the higher argument that the question hints at? SHOULD, the law be able to punish us? This would invite a moral debate on the role of government in our lives. Can such a law be enforced. Is this law a good use of police time?

Before answering any question try and figure out what the 'higher' question is by reading between the lines. Take as much time as you like and practice this over and over again.

Finally, make sure that every paragraph in an essay tries to prove or disprove a point. If the paragraph doesn't do this then you don't need it!

Try thinking about these questions below; look beyond the title to figure out what is really being asked. Feel free to contact me if you want to have a go at thinking about these and would like some feedback.

Do kids today watch too much T.V?

Do Nuclear Weapons make the world safer?

Is racism still a problem in the USA?

Should drugs be legalised?
EF_Stephen - / 264  
Oct 8, 2009   #4
Rich1981, that is excellent advice.

Mostly, JLee92, you just want to keep everything as simple as possible. Try using a form for essays, like Intro, 3-5 paragraph body, Conclusion. Even more complicated ideas can fit this format with a little tweaking.

Also, just write. Read it out loud, to see how it sounds. Notice things around you that you could write about. There are so many ways to get into essays. Try and see what works for you.
alina967 11 / 29  
Oct 22, 2009   #5
I also try this , It helps a lot but sometimes I unorgemizaed my essay....what to do ?I wrote conclusion on top and topic sentences in bottom.

In TOEFL exam we are not allowed to cut and paste what to do i am so confuse

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