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Tips and Hacks to Write a College Essay that Deserves an A

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It’s a never-ending battle:

School teachers and college instructors assign (many!) essays to students, but it doesn’t make the latter enjoy the writing process. The reasons for such dislike of academic papers vary:

Some students lack the writing skills to cover assigned topics, others lack interest in the subject, and the rest may consider college essays unnecessary tasks and a waste of time.

One way or another, all have to deal with essay writing and want to get high grades for it. In this article, we’ll share practical tips and hacks on how to write a composition of college essays that deserve an A+.

Ready? Let’s get to work.

1 – Start Early

Classical college essays are relatively short (650-1000 words), and that’s where students might hit a snag:

They believe crafting such an essay will take little time, putting off writing until the last minute when deadlines are looming. This is a huge mistake.


Essay writing takes longer than you expect. The process consists of several stages: topic brainstorming, research, planning, writing, and revising the draft. Here’s the tip: Start working on your college essay 1-2 weeks before your deadline.

2 – Brainstorm and Research

As a rule, college instructors assign particular topics for you to cover in essays. With nothing assigned, they expect you to choose a topic, thus assessing your critical thinking, decision-making, and argumentative skills.

How to choose an A-worthy topic for your essay?

  • Stay relevant to the subject.
  • Consider the type of your assigned essay. (Should it be persuasive, narrative, argumentative, critical, compare-contrast, or other?)
  • Choose a topic you understand and have something to say about.

Research it:

You’ll need a thesis statement, arguments, and evidence to support those arguments in your paper. For that, research scholarly articles and other reputable resources to decide what you’ll include in the draft.

3 – Outline It. No, Seriously

Let’s face it: Most college students ignore this stage of essay writing because they are lazy or expect to deal with the draft “on the go.”

But you know what?

Outlining saves time, lets you structure your essay correctly, and makes writing more comfortable. It’s like a plan for your essay: You take notes on the content of each paragraph to ensure you will get all the points and evidence while writing and organize the text logically and cohesively.

4 – Find a Perfect Hook

A hook in college essays is the opening sentence of an introductory paragraph. Its purpose is to grab the reader’s interest in your topic and motivate them to keep reading. Types of hooks are many: a provocative question, a quote, an intriguing fact, an anecdote, a strong statement, etc.

For a catchy, A-worthy essay, you must choose a hook that perfectly fits your paper. Think of something unusual or surprising yet relevant to your topic and essay type.

5 – Use Arguments and Evidence

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Unless you write a narrative essay that shares a personal story or your unique experience, do your best to follow the rules of academic writing:

One paragraph = one point (argument) + evidence to support/prove it.

Arguments in your essay should be relevant to your thesis (the one you stated in the introduction). Evidence should come from reputable, up-to-date resources: academic books, scholarly articles, .gov or .edu websites (not Wikipedia!). Use them as references, and remember to include them in the bibliography.

6 – Mind Formatting and Citation Style

When it comes to academic writing, strict structure and formatting rules jump out at a student like the devil from a snuffbox. You get a list of components to mention in your paper, a bunch of prescriptions concerning font size, alignment, spacing, and other formatting details, and a citation style to use for references.

The good news is they aren’t as complex and challenging to follow as they seem.

Here’s the tip: Read your prompt carefully several times before writing. Complete the draft according to the prescribed citation style (APA, MLA, etc.), and don’t focus on word count or other technical details when writing. When proofreading, you’ll have time to format its font, spacing, and margins.

7 – Use Active Voice

Forget about passive voice in your college essays: This grammar construction makes your writing sound weak and unprofessional. Consider active voice instead.

The more active verbs (with a person in the subject position) and descriptive adjectives in your story, the better. They’ll make your paper look more compelling and allow the audience to relate to your message.

8 – Avoid Cliches

Say no to cliched phrases many students use to represent their experiences. Trying to sound more formal, they overplay lengthy phrases like “to put it more simply” or “another way to view this.” Or, they place too many -ly adverbs like “essentially,” “comparatively,” “ultimately,” and so on in their drafts.

Such phrases make your writing mediocre and vague. They bring no meaning but mere word count to your essay.

The tip: Keep it simple. Structure sentences for better readability, and use the words you know. There’s no need to stuff an essay with confusing language or sophisticated phrases to sound smart. Make friends with a thesaurus and use the wealth of language to your advantage.

9 – Revise Several Times Before Submission

Once your essay draft is ready, it’s time to edit and proofread it:

Read it aloud to spot typos, repetitions, poor grammar constructions or errors, and other drawbacks. Revise accordingly and polish your college essay the best you can. Proofread it several times to ensure everything is correct and flows well.

Ready to Write?

With all these tips and hacks, essays won’t feel like a punishment or nightmare anymore. Now, you have everything to start writing and impress your professors with a stellar college essay worth an A.