Every paper you write in college should have it. Sometimes professors call this a “thesis statement,” sometimes a “claim,” and sometimes they don’t really specify what it is. But it’s essential — and sometime elusive. But it shouldn’t be!Read More
We've all been there. The teacher is at the front of the classroom with a pile a blue books. She begins handing them out. You scrawl the name and date on the front, and wait for her to start the timer. As you open the first page, an overwhelming white page stares back at you. And you panic.
Luckily, there are ways to prepare for essay exams that make this moment easier. Believe it or not, is a matter of remembering steps -- simply master the approach and practice it, and you will do better. Promise.
So what are the steps?Read More
When I was a high school AP Biology student, my teacher used to walk by my desk during multiple choice exams and whisper, “You didn’t really mean to circle B there, did you? Keep it simple.” He knew I was an overthinker. Instead of circling the simplest and most obvious answer—which I often knew to be the right one—I would overthink the question, until I’d talked myself in to a trick wrong answer.Read More
It’s not unusual to get an essay back from a teacher with the feedback, “write in your own voice,” scrawled across the top. But it’s easier said than done. Here you are, writing your own thoughts and your own opinions, all according to the directions of the assignment; how can it not be in your own voice? What your teacher is actually telling you is that your writing sounds too formulaic, too stilted, or too bland. Sure, you’ve learned how to write using proper grammar and you’ve learned how to formulate and format your thoughts into an essay, but now you need to take it to the next level. Don’t stick to the formula; write in your own voice. Here are a few tips for getting started.Read More
Very few rules of good writing are without exceptions, and this one is no exception, but I think it might be close:
You can always — or nearly always — make your writing stronger, clearer, and sharper if you follow the word “this” with a noun.*Read More
I’m going to tell you something embarrassing: I… sometimes… get my news from Facebook! I know, I know, I’m supposed to be better than this. I’m a tutor! I should be waking up three hours early to read every single paper from around the world while looking through a reference dictionary. I’m not perfect.Read More
Tags: expository writing
After you receive your grade and read your professor’s comments you might have a lot of those “if only” thoughts. “If only I had looked up that concept.” “If only I had taken extra time to proofread that.” “If only I had read the assignment more carefully.” “If only I had started earlier and done more research.” “If only I had realized I was contradicting myself.” “If only I had re-read the class reading before starting to write.” Then suddenly the film of your life starts to run backwards. You are back 4 days before the assignment is due and have all the knowledge you have now! Fantasy, right? Not necessarily. Quite often professors will:Read More
What is a Homophone?
There are many more words in the English language than one might expect, given how similar their pronunciation and spelling can be. They're usually nouns and adjectives, except for those that function as conjunctions or contractions. Once you accept that English contains many pairs or groups of deceptively similar words with different meanings, then you will have a better understanding in sight of how to speak and cite and write the right ones.Read More
In this blog post, our resident grammar girl reviews the impossibly confusing rules for singular subjects that refer to plural groups; subject-verb agreements involving"each", "all", and "none"; and last (but not least!) "neither", "neither", and "nor" and how they relate to your verb choice. Read More
One advisory that students hear a lot, especially in earlier years of English class, is "avoid a comma splice." A comma splice is an excessive use of commas without the proper elements of a complete sentence to justify the commas. When to use a comma versus a semi-colon depends on the type of sentence you have. Below are the sentence types that call for commas.Read More