5 Easy Ways to Improve Your Writing Skills

Whether you’re a student, young professional, in grad school, or already working, good writing skills are very important to your long-term success. Like any other skill, writing is one you can practice and improve. Here is our suggested pathway to success!

1. Understand your purpose

Good writing starts with a goal in mind. What is the purpose of what you are writing? Who will be reading it? What do you hope to achieve from this paper, essay, or email?

Whatever your answers may be, it is important to define the purpose of your writing in order to stay focused. This will help you stay on the right path by clarifying your direction!

2. Outline your ideas

Once you’ve defined your purpose, write down your ideas before you start writing. A strong outline helps you avoid distractions, such as going off-topic, and helps you compose a structured and understandable piece of writing that will make sense to your readers. 

An outline consists of an introduction to your topic., what you plan to include in the body and finally, a conclusion.

3. Read more & get inspired

Simply put, the more you read, the better you’ll become at forming sentences and choosing the right words to convey your message to the reades. Diversify your reading material and take note of work you like. See if you can apply the same technique to improve your writing. Please note that this is not the same as plagiarism, because you are not copying anyone’s work. Instead, we are suggesting you learn from their expertise and channel come of their techniques to develop your own work.

4. Embrace simplicity

There is a lot of value and beauty in simple writing. Think about it, there is no point in writing something that people may struggle to understand. It is often best to avoid using overly complicated and unfamiliar words. 

Additionally, avoid over-explaining and providing too much detail in your writing. It could be that readers get carried away by the trivial details and lose interest in the main purpose of your writing. A good way to recognize whether a piece of information should be included or not is to consider if it’s essential to the purpose. If it’s not, then remove it and tell your story as clearly as possible.

5. Add a personal touch to your writing

Let your personality do the talking and your voice will come through on your writing! Infuse your work with your personal brand and individuality. The last thing we want is for your writing to sound typical or generic. Adding a personal touch, like an anecdote, makes your work more interesting and can make a huge difference in bringing your stories to life!

Note: We do not advise doing this in professional or formal pieces of writing. 

Most importantly, practice! Practicing writing with a tutor can help you identify your weaknesses and give you the tools you need to improve! The more you write, the more you learn, and the better you’ll get at writing. 

Don’t Get Caught Making These Grammar Mistakes

No matter what you’re writing about or who you’re writing to, you should always be using correct grammar. Use the tips below to elevate your writing & catch those small mistakes!

1. Verb tense shift

A common grammar mistake is the random shift of verb tenses in the same sentence. Be sure to use the same verb tense throughout your writing to avoid confusing the audience. Think about whether you need to be writing in past or present tense.

Incorrect: She waves at me and then I waved back and smiled.

Correct: She waved at me and then I waved back and smiled.

2. Comma Splice

A comma splice is basically using a comma when you don’t need one. If you are joining two independent sentences using a comma, stop and think again. Chances are, you should be using a conjunction or a period.

Incorrect: She ate a lot of candy, her stomach was aching.

Correct: She ate a lot of candy. Her stomach was aching.

Correct: She ate a lot of candy, so her stomach was aching.

3. Run-on sentences

A run-on sentence is when you join two complete sentences together without any coordinating conjunction or punctuation. If you ever notice you’ve been writing a sentence for 2 or 3 lines, consider if it’s a run-on sentence and can be broken into two shorter sentences.

Incorrect: Her colleague brought chocolate chip cookies to the office however she is on a diet.

Correct: Her colleague brought chocolate chip cookies to the office. However, she is on a diet.  

4. Excessive use of passive voice

Even though the use of passive voice is often taught in English classes and it is not grammatically incorrect, it can over complicate your writing and make it difficult for your readers to understand. Use active voice – it is simpler, and actually beneficial for personal pieces of writing, such as your letter of interest to a college!

Incorrect: Those postcards were collected by my father during his trip last summer.

Correct: My father collected those postcards during his trip last summer. 

These are just a few tips you should keep in mind to improve your writing. We may be unable to go into much detail in these blog posts, but remember, one of our writing tutors can help you work through these challenges and enhance your writing quality!

How to Write a Statement of Purpose for Graduate School

When writing your statement of purpose for graduate school, focus on your specific plans and how the graduate program and its faculty will help you meet these goals.

Graduate study is not for slackers. It takes focus and determination to pursue an advanced degree. That’s why admissions committees examine your statement of purpose (also called a letter of intent or research statement) very closely—they want to see whether you have the right stuff to succeed in grad school. Follow these tips to write an effective graduate school statement of purpose.

1. Know what grad schools are really asking.

Different grad school programs have different prompts. Nonetheless, they’re all asking for the same four pieces of information:

  • What you want to study at graduate school?
  • Why you want to study it?
  • What experience you have in your field?
  • What you plan to do with your degree once you have it?

Admissions committees look for candidates with clear, well-defined research interests that arise from experience. With that in mind, your statement of purpose should reveal that you care deeply about your chosen discipline and that you have the background to support your ideas and sentiments. It should also demonstrate that you’re a diligent student who will remain committed for the long haul. Always answer the question asked of you. Being substantive and direct is much better than being creative or flashy.

2. Be selective about the details you include.

Grad schools don’t care that you make a great chicken casserole or play intramural bocce ball. They do care about those activities that speak to your suitability for graduate work. As a graduate student, you’ll be called upon to do difficult coursework and research. You may have to teach undergraduate classes within your field and conceivably even design a course. And you’ll have to get along with a diverse group of colleagues who will sometimes work very closely with you. Any experience in school, work, or your extracurricular life that speaks to those abilities is worth talking about.

3. Make your statement of purpose unique.

While it’s important to be focused, there’s no need to be boring. To distinguish your essay, add unique (yet relevant) information. One of the best ways to do this is to discuss—briefly—an idea in your field that turns you on intellectually. It’s an effective essay-opener, and it lets you write about something besides yourself for a bit.

Remember, the idea you choose to talk about can tell an admissions committee a lot about you. And it demonstrates your interest in your field, rather than just describing it.

4. Ask for feedback.

Be sure to show your statement of purpose to someone you respect, preferably the professors who are writing your recommendations, and get some feedback on the content before you send it in. Have someone else proofread your essay for spelling and grammar. A fresh set of eyes often picks up something you missed.

Finally, don’t just reuse the same statement of purpose for each school to which you apply. You can recycle the same information, but make sure you change the presentation to fit each individual program.

Repost from: Princeton Review (https://www.princetonreview.com/grad-school-advice/statement-of-purpose) 23 Feb 2020