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Tutoring For Your Needs • Passion For Education

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Jul 092011

As I mentioned in a previous tip, a great way to improve your essay writing is to read your assignment aloud to yourself.  To go a step further, another great idea would be to have a friend or a parent read your assignment aloud.  Sometimes, when you’re reading your assignment out loud some errors may not stand out to you because you are the one who wrote the assignment and therefore tend to skim over grammatical errors because you know what you were trying to say.

By having a friend read the assignment out loud, they will not know your intentions beforehand and will read your essay as is.  If you listen intently, you will be able to pick up on mistakes and can make changes to your writing before you submit an assignment.

To improve your writing, have a friend or parent read your assignment out loud so that you can catch errors and revise your essay.

Jul 082011

Brock from California's Autobiography #1


Excellent job on your first writing assignment.  Thank you for reading the directions and trying your best to follow through on them.  This is one of the best first essay’s that I have received so far, so thank you.

Each time you submit an assignment I will scan and email you back the essay you submitted along with some things that I point out in red ink.  Be sure to look over the places that I marked so that you can make the appropriate corrections later on and also know what you did really well in your writing.  I will also tell you three things that you did well and three things that could be improved in your writing.  Here are those things now.

Things You Did Well:
  • Your thesis sentence, “It was awesome for three reasons.” is a clear and direct thesis sentence.  Although, it is not perfect, it does show that you understand what a thesis sentence is.  Many writer’s at your age do not.  You can improve your thesis sentence by being very specific. Explain what “it” is and say directly what your three reasons are.
  • The sentence, “It was like going downstairs Christmas morning and seeing all of your presents and getting to play with your new toy.” Examples like this are very interesting for people to read.  I can get a real sense about how excited you were to win the Championship.
  • The last paragraph was just one sentence, but the one sentence was very well-written.  The sentence you wrote is what I refer to as the restatement of your thesis.  Every conclusion that you write should restate your thesis in a clear and concise manner like you did in this essay.  In future conclusions, you should have more than just one sentence; however.
Needs Improvement:
  • Writer’s often use the phrase, “Show me, don’t tell me.” In your essay you were telling me what you were writing about.  For example, the first sentence, “I am writing about” and also in every body paragraph you write things like, “The first reason on why . . .” You should not use these in your writing.  Don’t tell the reader what you are writing about, simply show them.
  • In every body paragraph you wrote variations of this sentence at least once and sometimes twice . . . “why this was my most proud moment.” I like how you were specific in stating that this was a proud moment, but try different ways of saying that because it becomes a bit redundant.
  • Every essay that you write should try to “Hook” the reader into wanting to read more.  Your first sentence should always be as interesting as possible.  For this essay, try telling a story that gives people a sense of what the experience was like.  So, write a “hook” that uses a personal anecdote (a short story about yourself) at the event you described.
Excellent job on your first assignment and I can’t wait to read your revisions.  If you need clarifications on anything, send me an email and I will get back to you as soon as possible.


Jun 232011

Many student’s who are beginning to learn to write essay like to use the personal pronouns, “I, we, you.”  In the case of I or we, writing it is typically redundant.  Many students feel the need to write I believe or I think, but this is not necessary to state as it is obvious to the reader that the author of that particular piece is the one who is stating his or her thoughts and beliefs.

You is not good to use because every time you say, “you.” You are speaking directly to the reader.  How do you know what the reader is thinking or what the reader knows . . . the fact is you don’t.  So, you better not use “you” when you are writing serious essays for school.

There are always exceptions to these rules, but generally speaking, when talking writing about topics that are other than yourself or a group of people you are involved with, do not use, “I, we, or you.”

Jun 202011

When writing your essays you need to be very clear what each paragraph is about.  A big problem that students make is that they are unclear about the point they are trying to make when writing an essay.  Before you write an essay you should develop a clear understanding of what you want the essay to be about and what each paragraph is about.  Your opinions should be very strong and highly developed.

While your opinions need to be strong that does not mean that you can’t argue both sides of an issue when writing an essay.  I can remember when I was younger and my teacher’s always told me that I needed to develop an opinion one way or the other and I found that very difficult because I could always see both sides of the issue.  What I failed to realize and what my teachers failed to explain was that it wasn’t poor essay writing because I argued on both sides of an issue, it was poor because I blended both sides of the issue into the same paragraphs, thus mixing my message.

Each paragraph needs to argue a point in your essay.  If you can develop a strong opinion about why you think the way you do then your essay writing will surely improve as you will have a clearly defined idea of what your essay is about.  Your reader will then have a better understanding of the points you are trying to make and your essay writing will be better.

When writing an essay be sure to have conviction and develop strong opinions.

Jun 132011

This goes along with our Summer Creative Online Essay Writing Tip #14.  The paragraph’s in any essay must have clearly defined ideas.  Each paragraph needs to focus on a different idea.  If you jumble up ideas in your body paragraphs, the meaning of your essay and your paragraphs are lost.

Typically, the reason why many students fail at writing clear paragraphs is a result of having a poor thesis. If you can focus on a great thesis then it will be much easier to write the body paragraphs for an essay. The thesis is a guide and the body paragraphs are used to support that guide.  If each paragraph contributes to supporting your thesis and each paragraph covers a different idea then your essay will be much better for it.

When writing an essay, be sure to make sure that your body paragraphs cover different topics that address your thesis.

Jun 112011

One of the biggest problems that I have found in evaluating essays from Jr. High and High School students is that they often write phrases like: “In this essay,” “I am going to tell you,” or “I am writing this because.”  Why should you avoid using phrases like this in your writing?

The reason we should avoid using phrases like that is because they are redundant.  Typically, students feel that they need to make it look like they write more than they actually do and will add phrases that are not essential to the meaning of the writing sample in order to add length to their writing.  These phrases are nothing but “space filler.”  It is obvious what you are trying to say it is an essay.  It is obvious what you are going to try to tell us.  And it is obvious why you are writing something.

A good rule of thumb when writing an essay is to show the reader what you’re trying to do, and don’t tell them.  If you can imagine taking a friend on a tour of your home, when you take them on the tour you don’t tell them what they are seeing, you show them.  You must do the same thing in your writing. Show the reader what you want them to see.  Don’t tell them.

Jun 072011

What do “fun, good, bad, fine and boring” all have in common?  They all take away from the meaning of a sentence; they are all weak adjectives.

“Our vacation was a lot of fun.”  Think about that sentence, do you know what the person is trying to say?  From this sentence, I can understand that the author had a good time at the beach.  But what I don’t know is how or why.  As a reader, I am not interested that the author thought that their vacation was fun, but what I am interested in is why they thought it was fun.

“On our vacation we played on the beach, made sand castles and had a bonfire where we laughed and told jokes all night long.”  This sentence is much more descriptive.  The reader gets a sense that your vacation was fun and it is much more interesting.

In order to get readers more interested in your writing avoid using weak vocabulary like “good, bad, fun, fine and boring.”  Explain why things were “good, bad, fun, fine and boring,” instead of telling us they were.

Jun 062011

Yes, the title was done on purpose.  After grading thousand’s of essays, one of the biggest problems I have encountered is the use of repetition in a student’s written work.

Avoiding repetition is easy to do.  When you proofread your work, pay particular attention to areas where you may have repeated yourself and correct any problem areas you might find.

Repetition slows down readers from grasping the true intent of your writing sample and causes confusion.  To be a better writer, avoid repeating yourself.

May 302011

Autobiography Sample 3-1

Great job on your first essay!  It was truly a pleasure to read.  The most effective way to improve your writing is not to overwhlem you with corrections, but to guide you through the writing process.  With that in mind, each writing sample that I evaluate will have minor corrections on the assignment itself, which I will scan and send to you.  I will also give you three tips on ways to improve your writing and three things that I think you did well.


Needs Improvement:

  • Using paragraphs is extremely important in writing.  A paragraph separates main ideas of your story and makes your writing easy to follow for the reader.  For this assignment, you need to use five different paragraphs:  an opening, three body paragraphs and a conclusion.  Go through your writing and separate your story into three different sections and make those your body paragraphs.  Use one paragraph to introduce your story and sum it all up in your conclusion.
  • Never write in the essay, or I am going to tell you why you are writing about something.  Show the reader why you are writing about something, don’t tell them.
  • You have several incomplete sentences throughout your writing.  Try reading your writing out loud, to see if you can catch any of those mistakes.
Things You Did Well:
  • You told a great story.  I was interested in what you had to say from the beginning to the end.
  • You made a great attempt at a hook at the very beginning of this assignment.  But, I would have started with just the sentence . . . Eye contact.  And then continued my story from there.
  • The vocabulary that you used was very advanced.  You have a strong writing style and are very descriptive which makes your writing fun to read.
Please take the time to look over the suggestions that I have made for your writing, and re-write the assignment making the necessary changes.


May 292011

Some of my tips may seem obvious, but after grading 1,000’s of essays, some problems in my students’ writing really stand out.  One common oversight is the failure to indent paragraphs.

Indenting paragraphs is  important in essay writing because it helps organize ideas. It provides a clear separation from the idea before it.  Without indented paragraphs the reader can have a tough time understanding what the assignment is about. They are likely to become frustrated and disinterested.  Not to mention, nobody is excited to read a paper that is full of black ink with no breaks.

Indenting paragraphs makes essays easier to read and establishes clear breaks to allow the reader to process the information that is presented in the essay.