While you may have learned structures such as the five-paragraph essay, be careful to not adhere to these structures at the expense of following assignment instructions or conveying your ideas in the most effective way possible. Structure is there to support the ideas that you use it for, not for itself. Rather, use the strategies and techniques you have learned in your experience as a writer, and follow assignment instructions even if they are different from the ones you have encountered in language-focused classes.

Some issues that are less common in authentic writing than the writing you may have been taught in these classes include excessive hedging, an emphasis on structure over content, and the prominent use of first person. Excessive hedging often comes up as a point of emphasis in English language classes, and it is often presented in terms of politeness and hesitance. However, one should not be hesitant in attempting to persuade the reader. Hedging should be used to make an argument stronger, not weaker.

Many test preparation classes teach essay writing according to a formula such as the five-paragraph essay. While this type of writing may be effective on some standardized tests, it is not a one-size-fits-all recipe for writing assignments in you classes. Learning to write in this way does give you valuable experience in presenting a thesis, structuring paragraphs, and supporting main ideas with examples, it is not appropriate for all situations. You will encounter many different writing assignment types, and the types of texts expected will be determined by the assignment type.

Finally, English learners are often taught to use first person when writing persuasively. However, it is very common to exclude first person even when presenting an argument, because it will be supported by factual evidence, and phrases like “I think” or “I believe” will only detract from the strength of the argument and put unnecessary focus on the author.