How to Write Better Essays: 5 Practical Tips



For many such students, each essay brings with it the challenge of making it that little bit better than the last one. The problem is that when you write essays regularly, it’s easy to get stuck in a rut of repeating the same formula each time – particularly when you already receive good feedback from the teachers who read them. So how do you take your essays to the next level and go from great to brilliant? Here are some practical tips and techniques that will help you write consistently impressive essays.


1. Read other people’s essays

Just as the books you read subconsciously help mould your own writing style, so reading other people’s essays can help you develop and build on your own essay-writing style. Try to read a range of other essays, including those of your peers and of academics. Read essays on a wide variety of subjects, not necessarily just those that you’re studying; different disciplines might apply different kinds of arguments or styles, so the wider you read, the more possible techniques there are for you to pick up and use in essays of your own.

As you read other people’s essays, don’t just take them at face value. Be critical: what do you like about them? What don’t you like about them? How persuasive do you think they are? Is the argument a balanced one, with points adequately supported with evidence? Has the writer used any techniques you’ve not seen before?

Another good source of essays is the broadsheet newspapers. Read the opinion pieces and dissect how the writer has supported their points with evidence, and again, be critical; note where they’ve left things out to try to persuade you to a particular opinion. Essays should be balanced, so you can learn from the best of these writers and pick up some techniques to help you shape a balanced piece.



Using accurate language helps a lot.


2. Build your vocabulary and use it properly

A good vocabulary will allow you to express exactly what you mean, as clearly and concisely as possible. Economy with words is a characteristic of all good essays, because readers (and essay-markers) don’t like having their time wasted with long, rambling points that could have been expressed in half the number of words.

One way of ensuring that you can communicate clearly and to the point is through accurate and effective use of advanced vocabulary. A good essay writer should never rest on their laurels when it comes to vocabulary; it’s something you should be working on continually, as there are always new words to learn that could help convey a point more effectively. What’s more, deploying a good vocabulary displays intelligence and allows you to be more persuasive in your essay-writing. Here are some ways in which you can build your vocabulary:

– Subscribe to a ‘word a day’ email (such as this one from Merriam-Webster). Create a folder in your email account for new word emails, so that you can file each email away and have them all in one place ready to flick through and learn from in an idle moment.

– Read widely, and refer to a dictionary for words you don’t know as you go along; this way, you’ll learn the new word as well as seeing it in context so you know how to use it properly. Read different genres of fiction, and non-fiction covering a range of topics, and you’ll have the added bonus of widening your general knowledge as well as your vocabulary.

– Use a thesaurus – if you find yourself using the same words over and over again, add variety to your language by looking up those words in a thesaurus and finding other words that mean the same thing. A word of warning: words you find in a thesaurus can’t always be used interchangeably; even words with similar meanings can differ subtly in a way that makes them inappropriate in certain contexts, so find examples of a word used correctly before you use a new word for the first time.

– Learn prefixes, suffixes and roots – it sounds boring, but this shortcut will help you learn a great many more words. Many roots come from Latin and Greek words, such as “bene” in Latin, meaning “good”, which gives rise to words such as “benefactor”, “benevolent” and “benefit”. It’s often possible to deduce the meaning of a new word if you know its root and read it in context. Prefixes are added to the beginning of a word to change the meaning, such as “semi” or “ante”, while suffixes are added to the end, such as “-able” or “-ance”.

– Start a vocabulary book – you probably have one if you’re learning a foreign language, so why not have one for your native language as well? Buy yourself a nice notepad and use it to collect new words and their meanings. The act of writing down the definition will help you remember it, and you could include an example of how the word is used to increase your chances of memorising it for use in essays. It may help to have different sections for words on particular themes; you could have a general section, and then further parts of the notebook could be dedicated to words of use in history essays, science essays and so on.


3. Elevator pitching your essays

We’ve probably all had it hammered into us that we should write an essay plan before we start writing, but before you even do that, you need to know what the argument you’re going to make actually is. Only then can you start writing the structure for an essay that builds up to your overall conclusion. To condense what you’re trying to say into a short, snappy summary for you to work from, try making an ‘Elevator Pitch’ style summary of what you intend to write and why readers should be interested in it.

The Elevator Pitch is a technique used by salespeople when condensing the arguments for buying a product into the shortest possible summary of why a customer should consider a purchase. The salesperson is told to imagine themselves in a lift; in the time it takes for that lift to reach the desired floor, they should have given a compelling argument in favour of that product that would result in the customer buying it, or at least wanting to know more. Your Elevator Pitch for your essay should sell the idea of it to a reader, leaving them wanting to read the essay in question. This is quite a tough exercise, as it forces you to be ruthlessly concise in your thinking and choice of words; but you can use this summary to help you write your introduction, and it’ll help you achieve clarity in what you’re trying to say.


4. Tell the reader what other people say

We’ve mentioned this on a previous article on essay writing, but it seems pertinent to mention it here too. Essays are a chance for you to show off how widely read you are, so make sure you quote other people’s opinions, and original sources, on what you’re writing about. For example, if you were to write a history essay on early religious practices in Britain, you could quote original texts on that topic (such as Bede’s Ecclesiastical History of the English People) and also mention what a range of modern scholars have to say about the topic. Contrasting views should be sought; it’s unlikely that everyone agrees on the topic, so show you’ve looked at all the possible angles.

For each of the subjects you’re studying, start a page in a notebook for important people in that field, with a summary of when they lived and what their views are. That way, you’ll have something to refer to when you’re writing an essay and want to consult appropriate scholars or other writers whose opinions you might wish to include.

Don’t quote too much; mix citations with your own opinions so that it doesn’t look as though you have to hide behind other people’s words. It’s fine to disagree with a scholar you quote, provided you can give evidence and reasoning for doing so. This shows that you have thought about it and made your own mind up, rather than blindly accepting what that scholar has said; this demonstrates strong critical reasoning skills, one of the hallmarks of brilliant students.



Essays aren’t always exciting! Writing lucidly is a valuable skill.


5. Syntax, punctuation and tone of voice

You may not consciously realise it when you’re reading, but sophisticated sentence structures make the world of difference to how intelligent you sound. As we’ve already said, the most important consideration when you’re writing is making yourself easy for readers to understand; but you can still do this and utilise a range of interesting syntax at the same time. Employ a variety of sentence structures, long and short, but don’t let your sentences become too long and rambling, or they become difficult to read. Effective punctuation is vital in conveying your arguments persuasively; the last thing a teacher or lecturer wants to read is an essay riddled with poor grammar. What’s more, the reader shouldn’t have to read a sentence more than once to understand it.

You probably already have a tone of voice you use for writing essays, but is it interesting and engaging? Read through some of your old essays and ask yourself honestly whether you find them absorbing. If they’re not, it could well be because you’ve not established the right tone of voice. Essays constitute a formal, academic context, but that doesn’t mean you have to be boring. A confident tone of voice will help show the reader that you know what you’re talking about and reassure them that they’re in safe hands.

Writing in the active rather than the passive voice is a well-known trick of the trade that writers use to give their writing a sense of immediacy and make it more compelling; you too can deploy this technique in your essays by steering clear of the passive voice (for example, rather than writing “Much work is being done to…”, say “Scholars are putting a great deal of effort into…”). Over the course of an entire essay, you’d be surprised what a difference this makes to your tone.

Images: sleeping student, dictionary.


We hope you’ve found these tips and techniques useful and that they help you take your essay-writing to new heights. If you have any tips you’d like to share with us, do let us know by leaving a comment below!

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  104. Mary

    Tips are good but I’m struggling with my essay yet

  105. Rahat Ullah

    Just my spoken is so good but not on written form.
    What the main reason please can you tells me.

  106. Prince Sharma

    Very helpful… Thanks.

  107. irene

    I need help in writing my essay assignment. the topic is the new Auchi polytechnic…. which is an institution and what the topic is really talking about is how the new rector of the school is of good to the school now compared to the former one..thank you

  108. Aphrezo kire

    u just got it

  109. Khushi

    I’m horrible at essays and overall, anything related to writing. Does anyone have interesting book suggestion for year 8s-10s? Sorry, if I posted Tis twicw

    • ben

      > ask someone to help you duh

  110. Abdu

    Very beneficial, thank you soon much .

  111. Fareeha Kamran

    m an English teacher but i want more fluency and command on this specific language so that I could help my students to be more efficient n creative in their subject.


    YEAH! Thanks for the advice,hope it works for me when i put it into trial.Thank you.

  113. TheBadEssay

    I write terrible essays and I really dislike them. The problem is, I know that if I don’t write essays, then I won’t get better. What are some tips to help motivate myself to write essays and improve? I have a very important exam coming up and it has an essay that I HAVE to excel in… Thanks in advance!

    • Khushi


  114. Bobby

    Hi there,

    I recently had an essay midterm returned to me and in short, I did poorly beyond my imagination. The marker of my paper suggested I “aim for precision and nuance in the concepts [I] employ”. Do you have any tips as to how I could improve my critical analysis skills?


    • Aphrezo kire


    • Aphrezo kire

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  115. Samiksha Kaintura

    The post is full of helpful, compelling, and actionable tips. Kudos to the writer. :)

  116. Nazir Muhammad

    Thank you so much to give me such incredible essay tips ‘ I will followed all these tips.

  117. Gopal Saxena

    thanks sir
    i am looking for job in backend profile.
    but i always get reject due to my essay writing is poor . So could you please help me out what to do . how can I improove my writing skill..

  118. Ogene onyinye Mary

    I studied English and literary studies, but still having lots of problems with my essay. Don’t really know what to do because it really perturbs me. Am eager to learn

  119. Lucky

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  120. faris

    I have a problem with phrasal verbs

  121. faris

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  123. Vineet k

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  124. David T C

    quite insightful

  125. Usman lawal


  126. Usman lawal

    thank you so much for the well done job.

  127. Olutayo Dorcas

    Am so grateful for these wonderful tips. It has opened my eyes to some overlooked essential tools for writing a brilliant essay.

  128. kashish kogta

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  129. Mouhcine

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    Thank you so much for sharing this comprehensive post.

  130. Efrem bin Pascal

    exactly it’s helpful, I appreciated it.

  131. Camel

    Thanks for your tips! Really appreciate it.

  132. maya maya

    I want to write an essay on how to improve your writing

  133. Debendra

    Its useful and guide me practically to start and end the essay. There are number of ways to present the essay, however, the tips provided here is awesome.

  134. Shivam

    I am always confused about how to start writing an essay …. So ,please tell me how I am able to write an good essay …..

  135. christopher

    thank you for the tips

  136. Lee Sue-Anne

    Thanks for these advice, I hope I can pass my o-level exams this year.

  137. Sulaiman

    Good suggestion. thanks

  138. andualem

    thank you

  139. Shahid Vistro

    Very informative tips. What should we do with narration. Should we change the sentences of direct narration into indirect narration while writing essay?

  140. katalinae

    This really helped me thank you very much I think this what I needed all along now I know what to do and if I do all these things I’ll be excellent .

  141. Cherian Johny

    My college Prof. once told us that Jack London used to stick new words near his mirror so that he could learn them while shaving, combing, etc. I found it pretty useful and I hope it helps others too.

  142. Bempong Charles

    Encouraging, keep it up

  143. aysha

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  144. Adrish adhikari

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  145. Adrish adhikari

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  146. Roohullah khalil

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  147. E. Writings

    I want to become a good writer but is hard to me. Hope this article helps me!

  148. Tom

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  149. ary prastiya

    truly help me … thx

  150. Rajesh

    I am very poor in English vocabulary so please guide me for better English speak and write

  151. Atul kumar

    I was very bad in english essay writing competion but after reading this i think it is useful for me

  152. eben

    i find it difficult to write essay,how could i become master in english

  153. Dan

    These are great writing tips. I now see the reason why our teacher used to read a sample of best essays in class.
    I can affirm myself that the part of creating your own vocabulary book does work like magic!

  154. NjQ

    Omg thanks so much, really helped! :D

  155. iqra khan

    Thanks for this article… but if you have any other please let me know…!!! I always get low marks in my essays …

    • ORA Admin

      Dear Iqra Khan,

      Thank you for your comment. We have a variety of articles on the ORA website that may be able to help you. Follow the link to this article
      14 Ways to Improve Your Grades if You’re Underperforming and see point 7 regarding essay writing skills. There are a list of links in this section to many of our essay writing articles. You will be sure to find something to help you in there!

      Best of luck,

      The ORA Team

  156. Sunday

    Thanks for this set of tips. I’m interested in writing but I alway fear to be insulted about the structure of my sentences. However, I do underestimate myself.
    Please to whom may concern, what can I do to correct these acts?

  157. Anna

    Thanks for the helpful tips. I believe this article can help many students.
    By the way it is a very good idea to subscribe to a ‘word a day’ email . I recommend it to everyone.

  158. Patrick Berg

    Cheers lads. Really useful

    • linet

      Thank for such tips…Really helping me>

  159. Campbell Paul

    your tips are improving my essay writings. thanks, really did more tips.

  160. nurwahyuni

    thanks for the tips..

  161. godfreygodianus

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  162. Flora

    Wonderful but my English is bad. Please send me tips on vocabulary.

  163. jacob lawrence

    Wow, wonderful. I’m helped a lot and I’m looking forward for more.

  164. SwagataSwagata Khan

    I’ve received help from it. But still I have problem in vocabulary. The thing is I do memorize new words a lot. But when I come to write something they stay out of my mind, I can’t use them. So enriching vocabulary power is therefore of no use. How I can get rid of it? To use what I’ve learned.

  165. Tsetan Namgyal

    Thinks for sharing a wonderful information..

  166. folashade

    Thanks so much, will work on it

  167. Imey

    Thank you so much for the tips! Very helpful and I would definitely apply these tips in my writing soon! :)

  168. kaushik varsani

    Thank you for the tips.

    • Genevieve

      Nice work!! >

  169. Rbert

    Good work, a great deal of help. I am able to move forward.

  170. Prabhjot

    Well you cleared by all doubts and I will surely try to put these teachings in my writing ! :)
    Thank you


    I need the writing tips

  172. maria bhatti

    I really need such kind of instructions thank u….

  173. ibrahim sinsakala

    ur tips are so helping
    thanks much.

  174. Abdullllahi

    This is great work done and very important.

  175. nermeen

    thats really helpful

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  177. Qaistoorie

    It is accurate way to improve our Eassy.

    • Priya Kale

      Thanks for sharing this great post with us !!! By this every type of essay I can write easily.!

  178. Prisca.Lingtamat

    thanks for the tips…please email me more.thank you

  179. Rosanna

    I am so bad in my English essays, and speech. My teacher thinks I’m stupid and now i don’t know what to do.

    • ORA Admin

      Dear Rosanna,

      We’ve published many articles on how to improve your essay-writing. You might be interested in these:
      How to Write Brilliant Essays
      How to Improve Your Essay-Writing Quickly
      20 Tips for Writing an Essay in a Hurry

      There are more in our extensive archive. Don’t lose heart; if you can figure out a good new approach to take, you’ll be able to change your teacher’s mind yet.

      Good luck!

      The ORA Team.

    • Khushi

      > I’m horrible and moreover, anything that is related to writing. Does anyone have suggestions of interesting books from year 8s to 10s

      • Jack

        Peppa pig :)

    • Wonder

      Me 2 bt practise mkes perfetAdd a comment…

    • Zaman

      i think that teacher is stupid do not worry increase your practice and contact with me if it is possible

    • johns

      dont worry

  180. preeti

    thanks for advice ……

  181. Jedi Santos

    Thanks for the tips!I’m looking forward for more! :)


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