Five Basic Guidelines to Improve Your Academic Writing

In the article today, we are going to discuss five ways to improve academic essay writing, TOEFL writing, IELTS writing, etc. This does not have to do with when you are writing a letter to your friend for example. We are talking about formal writing, maybe business writing, or academic writing.

Without further ado, let’s get started.

1. Do not use contractions

What is a contraction first and foremost? A contraction is a “shortcut”, the short form of the standard full word. Examples: “don’t”, “can’t”, “shouldn’t”, “couldn’t”, “wouldn’t”, “isn’t”, “haven’t”, “hasn’t” instead of “do not”, “cannot”, “should not”, etc.

Watch the video below to learn more about contractions.

2. Avoid “there is” and “there are”

Why would we avoid such formulations? One of the reasons is when we write, we want to write our ideas clearly and concisely. We don’t want the sentences to be long, but to the point and concise. Let’s consider two examples.

“There are many books the students have to read for their exams.” This sentence looks good but if you want to make a more appropriate sentence for academic writing, it should sound like this: “Students have to read many books for their exams.”

“There are many ongoing development projects that the company must carry out.” A better form in terms of academic writing would probably be: “The company must carry out many ongoing development projects.”

By taking out “there is” and “there are”, the sentence becomes stronger, clear, and to the point.

3. Avoid weak words such as “really”, “very”, “a lot”, “so”, “truly”, etc.

Such words weaken your writing. You need your writing to be strong and comprehensive. Let’s have few examples.

“Many people think like is very hard.” How can we improve this sentence? Instead of using “very hard” use a stronger word such as “difficult”, “complicated”, “challenging”, etc. So,¬†“Many people think like is difficult.”

Other examples:

“The bill is really controversial.” -> “The bill is controversial.”

“A lot of women don’t earn enough nowadays.” -> “Many women do not earn enough nowadays.”

“A lot of money is spent hand over fist.” -> “Much money is spent unconsciously.”

4. Passive vs. active voice

Unless you are in the science area (chemistry, physics, mathematics, etc), don’t use passive voice for academic writings related to sociology, humanities, psychology, etc. See why! Let’s have an example.

“The new trade regulations were successfully implemented by the government last week.” What’s the issue with the passive voice? Well, in the previous example, using passive voice takes away that the government implemented the new regulations, by diminishing the importance of the regulatory authority. So, in order the emphasise it, we use the active voice: “The government successfully implemented the new trade regulations last week.”

5. Use strong verbs

What is a strong verb and what is a weak verb? Let’s consider the following examples.

A weak verb “The sales representative gave assistance to my friend.” can be replaced with a strong verb “The sales representative assisted my friend.” What is the difference between the two sentences? In the first sentence, the word “assistance” is a noun. So, anytime you have a verb and a noun and the noun can be its own verb, use the noun in a verbal form instead.

Another examples: “made an objection” -> “objected”, “conducted and investigation” -> “investigated”, “did an audit” -> “audited”, etc.

Let’s consider more examples in the video below.

So here you have five tips brought to you by AdvancedWriters, that will certainly improve your academic writing skills.

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