Writing Strategies to Use in College Essays

Academic writing has never been easy. Students travel a long way to high grades for essays: they research, outline, check for plagiarism, spend hours on editing… And yet, the most challenging checkpoint to pass on this wing is a writing technique to choose for the essay to sound comprehensive and engaging.

That’s where most students stumble.

While they know the basics of essay writing and follow a step-by-step algorithm of college paper creation, a few think of its audience. They don’t consider any writing tactics able to turn a standard five-paragraph essay into a literary masterpiece everyone would keenly read.

For all admission officers and professors to approve your essay, try the below strategies when writing:

Focus on introductions with hooks

Your college paper should capture readers’ attention from its first sentence, and that’s the reason why essay hooks exist: one or two opening sentences help the audience decide if they want to continue reading your work.

But don’t confuse hooks with introductions: while the former attract readers, the latter introduce your essay topic and thesis.

Hook types are many: you can start an essay with a question, a quote, a personal story, statistics, or common misconception. To decide which hook would be the best option, consider the type of your essay, its intended audience, and text structure as well as writing style you need to establish.

Often, it would be wiser to choose a hook and write an introduction after you’ve finished the essay itself. This trick helps to clarify a thesis and understand what type of hooks would fit your work better.

To get an idea of what a terrific introduction looks, watch the video tutorial from James who defines essay hooks as grabbers.

Avoid gobbledygook

While your essay is an academic work, it doesn’t mean you should use long words, difficult terms, and complicated expressions to make it sound “professional.” Fancy words won’t help to get a message, and neither will wordiness, weak verbs, or redundant adverbs.

Clarity is what your audience needs.

So, be your natural self; use clear writing that won’t force readers to jump from one dictionary to another in attempts to understand the definitions of the words you use.

Share a personal experience

This technique works best for essays written from the first person.

When professors assign a story, a book/movie review, or a critical precis, they want to see you, not bare arguments, between the lines. So share a personal experience to build emotional bonds with readers and keep them engaged.

More than that, essays sound convincing when authors describe or explain something they know well: a fact from life or personal perception is what can make your writing compelling.

Consider alternative structures

Depending on an essay type, think of applying alternative writing structures to your work: false starts, sparklines, chamomiles – all they have come from journalism and might be handy when you look for an interesting trick to hook readers.

While many focus on a predictable essay structure, techniques such as cycling, junction, or bucket brigades can help your writing stand out and you – focus on a thesis and keep a flow.

All these writing tactics are about the art of storytelling, considered by marketers the best and most actionable way to leave a message for consumers. For you, as for essay writers, it can be a great technique to keep readers interested, provide the context of your thesis, and help the audience draw conclusions from it.

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Use testimonials

Don’t forget about references and citations, as they help to prove theses and arguments you use in essays. Learn how to reference right, what types of testimonials are appropriate for different types of college papers, and when it’s okay to paraphrase rather than cite.

Never leave your academic work without references, and make sure you attribute them correctly. No educator will give a high grade to essays plagiarizing thoughts of well-known academic or creative geniuses.

Add interesting facts

Essays and other types of academic papers shouldn’t be boring. So when a topic allows, don’t be afraid of adding interesting information or surprising facts to make your writing more powerful.

Somehow it echoes the #1 point of this article: a fact may be a great hook to grab your readers’ attention. However, don’t limit yourself with introductions: add unexpected arguments, expose common misconceptions, and reveal controversial facts throughout your essay for the audience to stay engaged and ask for more.

Interact with a reader

The last but not least in the list is an audience involvement into your writing. Ask questions, start a dialog, write as if you talk to your reader, and try to trigger a reaction, even if a negative one. It’s what turns your paper into a one-of-a-kind writing piece.

Causing emotions, it becomes memorable; and after reading dozens of same-looking essays from your peers, a professor will go back to yours because there is something in it that makes him scratch head.


When used right and in place, these techniques help you create well-crafted college papers and understand that academic writing can be creative and fun, too. Do you consider any while dealing with your assignments?

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