How to Write an Essay | How Long is an Essay?

How to Get Better at Writing an Essay

Have you ever struggled to write effectively? When it comes to writing essays, what seems straightforward is more complicated than you might expect. Honing your craft involves learning a few techniques and improving through practice. Here’s how to write professional or academic essays for more effective communication.


For the sake of simplicity, divide essay writing into two categories: writing and pre-writing. The writing includes developing a thesis, incorporating structure, applying transitions, and maintaining technical standards. That means using correct grammar and punctuation for optimal clarity and accuracy. Your essay will tick all the boxes if you consistently apply these writing techniques.


Some writers find pre-writing tasks helpful as a part of the writing process. That can include writing an outline, collecting your sources, and strengthening your writing skills. What works best for you is often a matter of personal preference.

How Long is an Essay?

The most common essay format is five paragraphs, with an introduction paragraph, three paragraphs that form the body of the essay, and a paragraph that concludes. The word count of an academic essay varies by the level of education. For example, an essay for an undergraduate class would likely be longer than an essay written for a high school course. Excelsior University provides an overview on traditional academic essays

Improve Essay Writing

More than anything, writing a suitable essay involves developing a clear thesis. Your thesis should target a particular subject or question and remain on the intended topic from start to finish. At its core, your essay should deliver a message unequivocally while maintaining the reader’s attention.


Think of your piece like a novel sequence. Typical storylines begin with background information about the protagonist and delve into details about a situation they’re facing. No matter how talented the author is, starting a book halfway through would be completely pointless. Readers must first follow your story (i.e., the central concept of your thesis) to appreciate its message.


Adding Structure

One way to zero in on your central concept is to add structure to your essay. While you may already know that most papers contain an introduction, body text, and a conclusion, it’s possible to stratify your text further. No two documents are entirely alike, nor are you limited to an absolute format. However, here are a few ways to better structure your writing:


  • Add additional headers to the body of your essay.
  • Include visuals like images, tables, or graphs to elaborate your point.
  • Add variations like bolding, italics, or a larger font for visual structure.


Including Transitions

Another concise writing tool involves deliberate flow. For example, words to improve essay writing include transitions like howeveralthoughconsequently, or afterwards. Something as simple as summarizing the main concepts at the end of a paragraph helps prepare readers for a new idea. While it’s OK to use transitions from the beginning, know that you can also add them in later revisions.


Minding your P’s and Q’s

Lastly, clear writing goes hand in hand with grammar and punctuation. A sentence miswritten can convey something other than what you initially intended. For that reason, it’s essential to check your essay for potential technical writing errors. Things like spelling, comma placement, proper citations, and subject-verb agreement all help you improve essay writing skills. 


Pre-Writing Tasks

Reading an essay may be straightforward, but writing one is a lot of work. So if you’ve ever wondered, “Why do I struggle to write essays?” or, “How do I become better at writing essays?”, know that pre-writing tasks may be beneficial.


Write an Outline

Your essay could be short or long, although getting started begins with an overview. First, create an outline to pinpoint your main topic, supporting ideas, and topic sequence. Identifying essential information and focusing on key concepts helps keep everything in perspective.


Collect Sources

Depending on the nature and length of your essay, it may require considerable research. Stay a step ahead by keeping a list of potential sources before writing begins. They don’t have to be total citations since this is mainly an organizational tool.


Writing Skills

Writing skills develop over time, so remember that practice makes perfect. If you find yourself asking what makes you a bad writer or how you can improve your writing skills, know that it all starts with a few easy strategies.


Pro tip: an essay editor or editing service can shed light on your strengths and weaknesses.


Rough Draft Realness

When you sit down to write, getting started may feel daunting. Cut yourself some slack by writing with reckless abandon in your rough draft. The main goal is to get your thoughts on paper before fleshing them out. Focusing on perfect writing isn’t necessary at this stage.


Refine and Revise

Your essay may require one revision or many, although the process is relatively similar. Whether you’re reviewing a rough draft or version five, start from the beginning and read all the way through. Make notes, corrections, or additions as needed to refine and revise your writing.


Final Thoughts

Getting better at writing an essay does take some effort, although it’s definitely within reach. By homing in on your intro, improving essay strategies, including pre-writing activities, and refining your writing, you’ll be well on your way to writing the perfect essay.


Do you already have an essay idea in mind? Do you still need some extra guidance? If so, feel free to reach out. We offer editing services for all of your needs. Our resource page also has some excellent advice to help you win at writing.