The Essay
The 15 Most Common Mistakes
  1. Diving right into writing without first thinking or planning. This is definitely the most common mistake.
  2. Thinking that the longer your essay is, the higher your score will be, regardless of organization or use of language.
  3. Not thoroughly understanding the scoring rubric and how readers will use it to score your essay. It all starts with the scoring rubric. The rubric determined the Essential Concepts we presented to you and formed the Essential Strategies and step method you’ve just learned.
  4. Not practicing the step method—reading this book is not enough!
  5. Not mastering the essential concepts, both of building a strong argument and of language.
  6. Worrying about constructing the perfect argument expressed in perfect language. You’re writing a first draft!
  7. Not taking a particular position on the issue.
  8. Not thoroughly supporting your position with an argument made up of well-chosen reasons and examples.
  9. Not varying your sentence structure accurately and appropriately.
  10. Using fancy-schmancy words inappropriately without knowing their precise meaning.
  11. Deviating from your outline in the middle of writing your essay. Take the time to get your thoughts straight before writing.
  12. “Overwriting”—using highfalutin sentences incorrectly. You won’t impress anyone. Vary your sentences, but vary them appropriately and correctly.
  13. Being “cute.” Don’t aim to be boring, but don’t take any chances with structure or language on the essay. Structured does not equal boring.
  14. Writing on another topic. That will get you a score of zero.
  15. Writing illegibly. That will also get you a score of zero.
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