1. Make sure you understand the essay topic.
  2. Research the topic widely, choose source material, and record all sources for referencing.
  3. Make sure any direct quotes are acknowledged and copied accurately.
  4. Do not plagiarise!
  5. Keep your sentences to a manageable length (average 15-25 words), and don’t let them get too complicated, especially if English is not your first language.
  6. Vary the length of your sentences to keep the reader interested.
  7. Minimise padding words.
  8. Don’t make the paragraphs too long. Break to a new paragraph for a new topic.
  9. Don’t be repetitive.
  10. If you’re not sure of the meaning of a word, the dictionary is your friend. Don’t be tricked by words that sound alike.
  11. It’s good to use the thesaurus to expand your vocabulary and avoid overuse of particular words, but be careful when choosing synonyms. Make sure you choose a synonym for the correct meaning of the original word. Don’t choose a word that is too obscure.
  12. Track the word count as you write to make sure you stay within the limit. It’s much harder to remove large chunks of text later to bring an essay back within the limit.
  13. Make sure you have addressed the essay topic.
  14. Always run the spell-checker, but don’t expect it to find all the errors. You will still need to read the essay carefully to make sure your spelling is correct. The spell-checker will also highlight potential problems with grammar and punctuation. It can also give you statistics on average sentence length, and scores for reading difficulty.
  15. If possible, complete the essay several days before the due date to allow time to re-read it with fresh eyes, after a break. This will help you to find errors and identify any gaps.
  16. If you can, ask a friend to proofread the finished essay, or find an editor/proofreader to do this for you.

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