If you don’t want your professor to be annoyed by another essay full of mistakes, you need to check your paper twice before submission. But to fix all your mistakes, you have to find them first. And to help you out there, here is a list of ten most common mistakes that students love making in their essays and that professors hate seeing in those essays:
- Writing in different tenses.
This one is mostly for narrative essays, like “How I spent my summer” or “My brightest childhood memories”. Many students tend to start writing in the past tense and then switch to the present. The tense you want to use in your narrative completely depends upon you as both the past and the present tenses are acceptable. But you should choose only one of them and stick to it throughout your whole essay because inconsistencies are very annoying to a professor’s eye.
- Writing in the first or second person.
Now this one is mostly for all types of essay except narrative. When writing essays in history, literature, politics, and all the other disciplines that require researching the topic, giving lots of details, and enumerating facts, you should avoid using “I”, “we”, “my”, “you”, “your”, etc. by all means. These pronouns add personality to your writing, which is not acceptable for academic writing. You are not presenting your personal point of view; you are presenting what you have found out about the topic and what the conclusions are. Use the pronoun “one” and don’t make the reader feel as if you are sharing your own experiences or as if you are addressing them directly.
- Summarizing instead of analyzing.
When students are required to give some analysis or interpretation of such things as a book, a play, an event, or any other piece of art, they often confuse a summary and an analysis. Remember that your professor is well familiar with what you are writing about. You shouldn’t reword the plot (if it’s a book) or describe the work (if it’s a painting). Well, you can devote a few sentences to that if it’s necessary for introducing your thought, but there has to be the analytical part after that.
- Lacking evidence.
Almost all essays require evidence of the argumentation. Plainly putting on paper what you have in your head without backing it up with some facts is an excellent strategy to receive an F. It’s pretty similar to writing in the first and second person, but it’s worse. You will not only sound personal but also insubstantial and shallow. If you don’t want your words to be empty, provide some real proof like scientific facts, statistical data, findings from other authors’ works, etc.
- Allowing spelling mistakes to come in.
With technology developing day by day, spelling mistakes become inexcusable. Even Microsoft Office Word can fix some of your mistakes, let alone a bunch of online spell checkers, which are able to identify even such misspellings as “there” instead of “their” and “it’s” instead of “its”. You might say, “Hey, my professor asked me to submit a handwritten copy, I don’t write on a computer”. So what? Do write on a computer, check the spelling, check if your essay is free of plagiarism, and then put it on paper. Is that too much to pay for a flawless writing?
- Making mistakes in grammar.
Grammatical problems always result in a bad general impression about a paper even if the content is perfect. You may think you can impress your professors with a thorough research, deep analysis, and brilliant conclusion so that they wouldn’t mind your poor grammar. But you are wrong. First of all, incorrect punctuation will mislead the reader ruining your hard work on the content. Then, wrong word usage also makes your writing hard to understand. Altogether, grammatical mistakes can spoil any essay, which is why you should use online grammar checkers or get an editor to check your paper.
- Citing incorrectly or plagiarizing.
In any educational institution, plagiarism is a very serious issue you can easily be expelled for, but you’re probably aware of that. Still, lots of students have troubles with citing and plagiarism very frequently, and the reason is quite simple. There are a few citation styles, which require different formatting. For most students, it appears to be a real challenge to stick to one of them even when examples are provided and when a professor explains the requirements several times. Students decide to paraphrase someone’s words without citing and hope this won’t come out. But it always does – you’d better not even try.
- Adding fluff.
Wordiness and fluff are the biggest enemies for all writers, not only students, and it’s really hard to fight them. But your professor will see when you are simply trying to use more words in order to fulfill the requirements as for the page length. The good news is that it’s easy to avoid this – just do more research!
- Neglecting formatting requirements.
There always are certain rules you need to follow to have your essay formatted properly – citation style, page length, spacing, fonts, and sizes, etc. Meeting formatting requirements is easy indeed, which is why your professor may think you are ignorant or careless if you skip any of them. Therefore, don’t be lazy, do follow all the requirements your professor gives.
- Failing to come to a conclusion.
Another common mistake among students is repeating the essay’s introduction where they were supposed to make a conclusion. They just write the same thesis statement in different words, which shows at once that no actual work has been done as for researching the topic and finding out something important to end the essay with. Don’t be afraid to risk. Your conclusion has to leave the reader thinking they didn’t waste their time reading your paper.