If you have found your way to this page on the internet by searching for Essay Help – welcome!
My name is Alan Stransman, and my mission is to help students write better essays and achieve higher grades.
As an Essay Tutor, I want to see each and every one of my tutoring students receive an A – and many do.
In this blog post, I am going to discussing the Characteristics of Effective Writing.
This post is a follow-up to another post on this website, entitled, Essay Writing Help.
If you have not read that article yet, I invite you to click on the link above.
In that article, I used the SAT Essay Scoring Guide – that is, the actual guidelines that are used by readers to assign scores to the essay component of the SAT Test – as a guide for high school and college students to follow to ensure that their essays demonstrate the features that are typically found in good essays.
Again, if you want to know what kinds of characteristics or features your essay needs to have to receive an A – click here and read the blog post called Essay Writing Help.
Characteristics of Effective Writing: Another Useful Guide to Getting Essay Help
In this article, I am going to, once again, make use of information provided in the PDF entitled, “Getting Ready for the SAT”, which is a publication put out by the College Board to help students prepare for the SAT.
Now – if you do not know what the SAT is, it is an “aptitude test” that students from all around the world write as part of the process of applying to college or university.
More than 6000 educational institutions around the world require the SAT as part of their Admissions process, and one of the components of the SAT is an essay that students have to write.
The essay is one of the most important components of the SAT and students are required to write it without any knowledge of the topic beforehand – and they have 25 minutes to complete it, so it is a very challenging test of writing ability.
But what is of value to you as a student – and to me as an Essay Tutor – is the Characteristics of Effective Writing that the College Board has identified, AND the kinds of writing mistakes that are most commonly found in essays written by high school students and, I would add, by college and university students, as well.
So, let’s have a look at the four characteristics of effective writing that the College Board has cited – and which you should make sure are exhibited in your essays:
Characteristics of Effective Writing
1. Being consistent
i. Sequence of Tenses
Sentence illustrating a problem with tenses : After he broke his arm, he is home for two weeks.
What it should be: After he broke his arm, he was home for two weeks.
ii. Shift of Pronoun
Sentence illustrating problem: If you are tense, one should try to relax.
What it should be: If you are tense, you should try to relax.
Sentence illustrating problem with parallelism: She skis, plays tennis and flying hang gliders.
What it should be: She skis, plays tennis and flies hang gliders.
iv. Noun agreement
Sentence illustrating problem: Carmen and Sarah are both a pilot.
What it should be: Carmen and Sarah are both pilots.
v. Pronoun Reference
Sentence illustrating problem: Several people wanted the job, so he or she filled out the required applications.
What it should be: Several people wanted the job, so they filled out the required applications.
vi. Subject–verb Agreement
Sentence illustrating problem: There is eight people on the shore.
What it should be: There are eight people on the shore.
2. Expressing Ideas Logically
i. Coordination and Subordination
Sentence illustrating problem: Tawanda has a rash, and she is probably allergic to something.
What it should be: Tawanda has a rash; she is probably allergic to something.
ii. Logical comparison
Sentence illustrating problem: Nathan grew more vegetables than his neighbor’s garden.
What it should be: Nathan grew more vegetables than his neighbor grew.
iii. Modification and word order
Sentence illustrating problem: Barking loudly, the tree had the dog’s leash wrapped around it.
What it should be: Barking loudly, the dog wrapped its leash around the tree.
3. Being Clear and Precise
i. Ambiguous and vague pronouns
Sentence illustrating problem: In the newspaper they say that few people voted.
What it should be:The newspaper reported that few people voted.
Sentence illustrating problem: He circumvented the globe on his trip.
What it should be: He circumnavigated the globe on his trip.
Sentence illustrating problem: There are many problems in the contemporary world in which we live.
What it should be: There are many problems in the contemporary world.
iv. Improper modification
Sentence illustrating problem: If your car is parked here while not eating in the restaurant, it will be towed away.
What it should be: If you park here and do not eat in the restaurant, your car will be towed away.
4. Following Conventions
i. Pronoun case
Sentence illustrating problem: He sat between you and I at the stadium.
What it should be: He sat between you and me at the stadium.
Sentence illustrating problem: Natalie had a different opinion for her.
What it should be: Natalie had a different opinion of her.
iii. Comparison of modifiers
Sentence illustrating problem: Of the sixteen executives, Naomi makes more money.
What it should be: Of the sixteen executives, Naomi makes the most money.
iv. Sentence fragment
Sentence illustrating problem: Fred having to go home early.
What it should be: Fred has to go home early.
v. Comma splice
Sentence illustrating problem: Mary took time out of her busy schedule to visit her aunt, John decided to continue working through the summer.
What it should be: Mary took time out of her busy schedule to visit her aunt, but John decided to continue working through the summer.
How To Use the Information Above to Write Better Essays
What you see above are four key characteristics of effective writing that readers of the SAT essay component have identified. Once again, those four key characteristics are:
- Being consistent
- Expressing ideas logically
- Being clear and precise
- Following conventions
Within each of the four categories, there are a number of common mistakes – they are illustrated so that you can identify them in your own essays, and the proper version is also provided so that you can see what that looks like.
If you want to write better essays and achieve higher grades, study the information provided above.
Make sure that you understand each and every characteristic of effective writing – and how to correct mistakes.
How an Essay Tutor Can Help You
Writing good essays involves more than simply avoiding the basic composition errors that are cited above.
Good essay writing requires effective and insightful critical thinking, as well.
But – making the kinds of mistakes that you see demonstrated above can sink your essay – regardless of how effective and insightful the critical thinking may be – so you want to be sure to eliminate as many of the mistakes that you see above as possible.
If you would like me to help you with your essay at any stage of the process, feel free to contact me via: