Better Writing: Better Grades

No matter what degree you choose to pursue, your writing skills will be put to the test. All professionals, from accountants to zoologists, will at one point need to express an idea, thought or communicate important information. Degree programs ensure that you are prepared for this by requiring strong writing skills throughout the program. You will greatly improve your academic success and future professional success by strengthening your writing skills. Whether you are in high school or have just begun your degree, it’s never too early to hone your writing craft.

Great writers have one thing in common: they read great writing. The easiest way to improve your writing skills is by picking up more challenging reading materials. Try reading one article each day from a top-rated magazines. Pay attention to how the writer structures her articles. How does she grab your attention? How does she convince you to see a certain point of view? What rhetorical devices are used? Seek out these tricks of the trade and try to incorporate them into your own work.

Once you have authored your essay put it away for a couple of hours before taking a stab at the second draft. The editing process is a skill in itself that will benefit from practice and training. Check for things like repetition: are you using the same word too many times? If so, grab your thesaurus and see if you can give your paper a bit more color by varying up the word choices. Delete any clichés or redundancies. These extra words will not add any value to your ideas and will bore the reader.

After you perform a thorough editing process there is one more step that should never be skipped: the proofreading. The best way to catch errors is by printing out a hard copy of your paper and reading through it slowly. If you don’t have access to a printer, converting the document to a PDF can make it easier to spot errors. Never leave this important quality control function to a spell checker program. It may catch a lot of typos but it can’t tell you when you’ve used the wrong word or a clumsy sentence. Asking a friend to look over your work is a good idea. A fresh set of eyes is often better than even the most careful proofreading. Just be sure to return the favor if it’s a fellow student!

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