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College courses require a different set of writing skills as opposed to other academic levels. The English classes that you took in middle school and high school laid the foundation for the basics, but sometimes these skills are lost before one joins college. For students who have not studied English for a while, the transition to academic writing can become difficult.

High-level writing skills are required because they are important in all major assignments. A deficit in these skills can be met with remedial English courses during the first semester in college. It is important to update your skills because assignments in higher learning institutions have a lot to do with writing. Every student faces a big load of assignments especially bearing in mind the number of units that he has to go through every semester. Each professor has his requirements and deadlines, all of which fall on the shoulders of the students.

However, if you are a college student, you will face different types of writing, and it is important you apply the best skills and strategy to ensure you maintain the top score throughout the semester. The essays that you write in college come in different types. Each essay has its purpose and targets a different type of audience. Some situation demands you to apply only one style more than the other, and there are different ways of approaching these assignments.

Some of the essay writing assignments you are likely to encounter in college include

Argument papers

These essays require you to take a stance on a topic. They must contain a thesis statement that provides the premise of the entire essay. It should introduce a focused assertion to the audience. The rest of the paper should present a logical argument and relevant and logical evidence that back up the claim that is presented in your thesis statement. When writing this type of essay, you should describe the central argument. This is your position and the premise of your essay.
You should also provide evidence that supports your argument found in your thesis statement. Finally, you should provide a conclusion that uses the evidence you have provided in your essay as the foundation. This should make your paper effective.

Research papers

These papers can take different forms depending on the purpose and the requirements of the assignments. Research papers are used to describe methods used in a research project, resent the results of the project and to describe the research that has already been conducted in your area of interest. Some assignments require the student to combine all these approaches. Research papers have formal sections that include the introduction, literature review, analysis discussion of the results and a conclusion. If you want to write an excellent paper, you must develop a clear and focused research question, thesis, topic, or hypothesis.

You have to identify relevant sources for your paper. This includes previous research reports that relate to your topic. Other sources include scholarly articles and journals. Then analyze the results that you find in your sources and describe how they answer your research question. Show how they prove or refute your hypothesis. Demonstrate how they support your thesis or add knowledge to your area of interest.

Expository essays

Just like the way you write your argumentative essays, these types of papers require you to research on the topic and provide enough supporting evidence. It must include a thesis statement and a logical presentation of sources. These sources must align with the idea that you are exploring in the essay. Expository essays mostly take the five-paragraph format that includes an introduction, two to three body paragraphs, and a conclusion. This type of writing evaluates your knowledge on a topic and can be part of an exam.

When writing your expository essay, you have to determine the approach that is required by the assignment. This can be comparing and contrasting, cause and effect, procedure or process. Formulate a concise thesis statement that presents your topic to the audience. However, it should not include an opinion. You then proceed to research on your topic and provide objective evidence and relevant information. Your conclusion should connect your supporting information with the thesis statement.

Academic proposals

These are written as part of the requirement for a grant application or professional conference presentations. They pitch an idea with the aim of winning financial support from a specific group. It is commonly found in graduate level studies, but undergraduate students who have collaborative projects with their professors or other students sometimes write them.
When writing your academic proposal, you should be aware of the instructions provided by the organization you are addressing. Follow every formatting guideline and process.

Exam essays

These exams are used to gauge the knowledge of the student on a particular topic, understanding of a complex concept, or the understanding of course reading resources. These essays can have components of argument and persuasion, research, and exposition as required by the supervisor. When you are preparing to write your exam essays, you have to finish all your course-reading assignments, engage in discussions and organize your notes and study time. This usually happens throughout the course, not just when the exams are around the corner.

When writing your exam essay, you have to read the exam questions carefully. Look for important keywords to direct your approach when constructing your answer. Formulate a rough outline that gives you the sequence of your essay as well as important ideas and sources you ought to include. Come up with a response that gives a clear argument as well as organized evidence. Monitor your progress especially if the exam is running on limited time.

Reading your assignment

When it comes to essay writing, you are required to show how you have delved into the topic and the independent thoughts you have applied. When you invest time to read the assignment, you get to know the material, and by that time, you have applied independent thinking. When dealing with assignment consider the following factors:

Do not digress

When you are in the draft stage, discussion, and analysis can lead you to other interesting problems. This may lead to a situation where you are chasing forking paths that lead you nowhere. To prevent this, take some moments while you are drafting and reread your assignment. This will help your purpose to become clearer.

Consider your assignment concerning other assignments

Ascertain one new aspect about the task you on which you are embarking. Instructors often structure assignments that are somewhat complex. If you know how your assignment falls in this progression will assist you to concentrate on a specific fresh challenge at your disposal.
It is also imperative that you understand keywords in your assignments to simplify the writing task.

Common writing mistakes you should avoid

To write an essay that is clear, you must use good grammar. It creates easy flow ow words and ideas for the audience. If you use the passive voice, incorrect punctuation, and confusing words, the audience will not be able to follow your argument. The following tips are easy to remember and are applicable when writing your essay assignments.

Active vs. passive voice

Most forms of writing require active voice because it emphasizes on the subject of a sentence and the action taking place. It uses fewer words as opposed t passive voice, and it is clearer to the reader.


Punctuation comes in different forms as listed below.

  • Comma
    It divides the sentences into different components, thereby improving the readability, creating pauses, and connecting thoughts. They can be used with conjunctions.
  • Colon
    They separate items in a list when one or more items include a comma. They also join two sentences or independent clauses
  • Hyphen
    They are not as strict as other punctuations since they connect two words to create a compound adjective when they precede a noun in a sentence. They are also applied in some prefixes.
  • Apostrophe
    They are used to denote possessive nouns. They are different from creating a plural with only the‘s’.
  • Periods
    They are used to end sentences and some abbreviations. You should check your essay writing style guide for more specific instructions on abbreviations because rules are different.


These words sound the same, but their meanings are not the same. They constitute some of the grammar mistakes that students commit during the writing process. They include the following:

  • Two, too, to
    They all sound the same but have different meanings. ‘Two’ denotes a number, ‘too’ is used to say ‘also’ or as an alternative word to ‘very.’ On the other hand, ‘to’ is just a preposition or part of an infinitive.
  • Their, there, they’re
  • Its, it’s
  • Whether, weather

You will encounter other different forms of writing in college, and they will require good writing skills. Use this information as a build up towards becoming a better essay writer.