These tips and tricks will get you through writer’s block, help you get started writing, and walk you through concrete skills you can quickly learn and apply.

Browse General Writing Skills & Strategy Articles:

Adjusting Expectations: Excessive Elaboration

Longer is not always better! Limit your sentences to a few clauses, and alternate long sentences and short sentences. Academic writing in English tends to have long, sophisticated noun phrases, but it is not a requirement to include complex sentence structure and long strings of joined clauses.

Analyzing Audience to Maximize Your Impact (and Grades)

Understanding how most teachers view student attitudes and approaches to work can help you succeed.

Assignment Expectations: Excessive Adherence to Inappropriate Structures

It may be confusing, even annoying, but some of the structures you may have learned in test prep classes and English language classes, such as the five-paragraph essay, may not be appropriate for use in other classes. Be careful to follow assignment instructions.

Assignment Expectations: Reflection Writing

Reflection writing assignments are common in many classes, especially as a response to reading assignments. It is distinctive from other types of academic writing because it encourages the writer to write in the first person, but usually it has the same expectations as other academic writing assignments in other ways.

Audience, Purpose, and Tone: Hedging – good and bad

Hedging is a way of using language to make an argument more effective by softening or strengthening it. An idea expressed without appropriate hedging may seem too general, too confident, or too extreme. Specific vocabulary and writing strategies can be learned and used to hedge appropriately.

Audience, Purpose, and Tone: Objectivity

Attempt to cultivate objectivity. Objectivity is an overall goal in academic writing, even if the goal is to convince the reader of something. It demonstrates that the emphasis is on the object – your writing, your research – not on you yourself.

Blasting Through Writers’ Block

Think you’re the only one who stares at the blank screen with feat/anxiety/anger/boredom? Nope. Every writer who ever lived has felt the same way. This resource will walk you through the most common and suggest some ways to deal. There’s always cleaning the bathroom or doing your taxes – if you REALLY want to avoid writing.

Brainstorm a Topic and Finish a First Draft

When you sit down to write, do you immediately think of 23 other things you’d rather be doing? Does your hand itch to grab your phone and start texting, or does Facebook suddenly seem more alluring than ever? Does your mind just seem filled with clouds instead of thoughts and words you can use?

Examples of Narrative Essays

There’s nothing like a model! Quick access to solid examples of narrative essays.

Examples of Persuasive and Argumentative Essays

There’s nothing like a model! Quick access to solid examples of persuasive essays.

Getting Started: Writing the Best Essay Possible

One way to generate useful material in an early draft is to ask yourself a lot of questions about different aspects of your project, from audience to topic to perspectives on the topic.

How do I get from the ‘C’ range to a ‘B’ (or Better)?

If you’ve been getting C’s on your papers and you want to raise those grades to B’s or even higher, it’s good to remember first what those grades of B and C mean. Students sometimes assume (mistakenly) that B should be the default grade, or that if they routinely received B’s in high school they’re entitled to receive them in college too. But “B” is supposed to mean good, while “C” means average. There are some classes where B is the most common grade earned on papers, so sometimes B can also mean “average.” In both cases, consider what “average” and “good” mean according to the standards of the school you’re attending.

How to Move from the ‘B’ Range to an ‘A’

If you want to really go after that big A, it’s good to remember what those grades of A and B mean. Students sometimes assume (mistakenly) that A should be a default grade, or that if they routinely received A’s in high school they’re entitled to receive them in college too. But “A” is supposed to mean excellent, while “B” means good. In both cases, consider what “good” and “excellent” mean according to the standards of the school you’re attending.

How to Write a College Admissions Essay

Learn how to give an admissions officer a “good” read and share important elements of your personality and achievements.

How to Write an ‘A’ Paper

Step-by-step guidance to earning as high a grade as possible.

Knowledge workers write more in a day than college students do across an entire term

A typical writing class, at the college level, requires a couple of papers ("essays") in an academic term. Maybe 1,500 words each, or a longer 5,000 word "term paper." Maybe 750 (three pages) each in less demanding curricula.  Is this wasted effort on the part of...

Q&A: Can a single example be used as both logos and ethos?

Great question: Can a single example be used as both logos and ethos? Can citing an authority provide both fact-based information while appealing to that person's credibility? We think YES - and doing so comes with a little extra benefit. Of course success depends on...

Syntax: Active Causative Verbs

Causative verbs are used to show that someone/something causes a second someone/something to do an action.
The most common causatives are make, have, let, get, and help. There are many others that are used less frequently. Choosing the correct causative for a situation may mean choosing the difference between two ways of looking at the same situation.

The Uses and Methods of Outlining

Gain a quick understanding of how outlining can help your writing. Think through organization and logic to create coherence and impact.

Tips and Tricks to Argumentative & Persuasive Writing

Specific skills to help you create an argumentative thesis and tie it into each paragraph you write, emphasizing your points.

Tips and Tricks to Narrative Essays

How to avoid the cliches and traps of a traditional narrative essay assignment.

Tips for Organizing Your Ideas (Reverse Outlining)

Use this clever strategy to take a bunch of ideas and shape them into a coherent essay.

What is a Narrative Essay?

The basics for writing a compelling narrative essay.

What Is a Persuasive Essay?

The basics for writing a compelling argumentative (persuasive) essay.

What Is an Expository Essay?

The basics for writing a compelling expository essay.

What Makes an ‘A’ Paper?

“Some students earn A’s effortlessly, while others labor away for a B+, or C+. What makes an A paper?
Obviously the definition of an ‘A’ varies from teacher to teacher. Most students know that some teachers give out only a few As, while others are quite generous. And most teachers don’t talk about what makes an A.
This may be because they feel the ingredients of an excellent paper can’t be captured in a simple list, or because they can’t really articulate what an A paper actually is – they just know it when they see it.”